5 Vancouver Hiking Trails Guide

Vancouver is popular for its many hiking trails for varying levels of difficulty.

The place is a breathtaking beauty, owing to its alpine trees, emerald lakes and snow capped mountains.

In this article, you can find guides to some of the hiking trails you shouldn’t miss when in Vancouver.

St. Mark’s Summit

St. Mark’s Summit is a part of the Howe Sound Crest Trail, that starts from the Cypress Mountain parking lot.

Hiking the entire Howe Sound Crest Trail spans a distance of around 29 kms and would take around 1-2 days. The highest elevation of the trail is the Unnecessary Ridge, and considering the difficulty of the hike, it is generally preferred by experienced hikers. St. Mark’s Summit is an easy to moderate hike on the trail for beginners and less experienced. The route is well marked.

The best time to visit it would be from July to late September, when the snow has just melted.

The hike begins from the parking lot and up north. You see signboards of the Howe Sound Crest Trail sign all the way up to the summit, and you would just need to follow that. As soon as you enter the trail path, you enter the forest and then hike uphill. Shortly after, you get a view of the Lions off from a distance. As you make your way up further, you pass through beautiful meadows and bridges. The terrain is rocky and steep at some parts, but the stunning views of the mountainside you get to enjoy all through, makes it all worthwhile.

As you hike through the steep mountains, you get to a flat trail from where you can spot the Unnecessary mountains and a closer view of the Lions off. As you walk a little further on the mountains, you reach the summit of St. Mark. Instead of continuing the trail ahead that takes you to the Unnecessary ridge, you can wander nearby to get some breathtaking views. From the St. Mark’s Summit, you would get a view of the Howe Sound and the Vancouver island, at a distance.

You can enjoy your lunch there, with the amazing views that St. Mark’s Summit has to offer, and then head back the same way back.

Difficulty level: Intermediate

Average time for the hike: 4 to 5 hours

Trail: Howe Sound Crest Trail

Distance: 11 kms

Dog Friendly: Yes

Dog Mountain

The Dog Mountain is one of the most popular hikes in the Mount Seymour Provincial Park. The trail is not very steep, but it can be slippery so wearing good shoes are highly recommended. It’s a short hike that spans around 1 to 2 hours but the difficulty level can be intermediate because of the muddy and slippery pathway, which demands that you wear good hiking boots (men’s, women’s) if you want to last.

The hike starts from Mount Seymour parking lot, from where you need to follow the path that leads to the First lake first. As you reach the lake, towards the west of the lake you see a signboard for the Dog Mountain trail. As you start hiking up through the trail, you get to pass through refreshing river streams and cute wooden bridges. As you reach the summit at the end of the trail, you get spectacular views of North Vancouver. You also get to see the Fraser Valley, Mount Baker, and Stanley Park in the surroundings.

You can soak in the beauty of the place while lunching there, and then get back to the parking lot of Mount Seymour, or extend the trail to the Mystery lake.

The best time to hike the mountains would be from June to October, whereas in the winters it makes a popular snowshoeing destination.

Difficulty level: Beginner to Intermediate

Average time for the hike: 1 to 2 hours

Trail: Dog Mountain trail

Distance: 5 kms

Dog Friendly: Yes

Garibaldi Lake

Garibaldi Lake is an alpine fed lake, surrounded by snow capped mountains and pretty alpine flowers.

The hike starts from the Rubble Creek parking lot, and is a decent uphill for the first 6 kms through a forest full of Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar trees. As you reach there, you see a map with directions – there are two trails to reach the Garibaldi Lake. The right one is the shorter route, which takes you straight to the lake. If you have time to spare and do not have a problem with trekking a few kms more, you could take the left wherein you pass through the Taylor meadows. It takes around 20-30 minutes of uphill to reach the meadows.

The Taylor meadows is an excellent place for those who love camping. There are many campsites that are situated at the place where you camp overnight, and then extend your hike to Panorama Ridge or Black Tusk the next day.

The meadows are full of colorful Alpine flowers, and they are in full bloom almost all through the year except for July and August. July-August is an offbeat time to visit the meadows, where you will find it to be less crowded. Also, please make sure that you do not leave the trails so as to not tread upon the beauty of the meadows.

If you take the trail towards to your right, you will pass by the Barrier lake. And towards the end of trail after a few switchbacks you get to witness the majestic Garibaldi Lake. The turquoise waters of the lake, the glacier backdrops, all make it a pristine location.

You can take a dip in the lake (depending on the chillness of water), and can setup your campsites there. If you are looking at options for camping tents, you can have a look at some really great tents for backpacking either right here on Boot Bomb or on another outdoors site, such as Outdoorily. You can continue your hike up to the Balck Husk or return through the same way to the Rubble Creek parking lot if you had planned a one day hike.

Difficulty level: Intermediate

Average time for the hike: 5 to 6.5 hours

Distance: 18 kms

Dog Friendly: No

Mount Cheam

Mount Cheam takes around 3 hours to reach from Vancouver, and requires a four wheeler ro reach the trailhead. Mount Cheam is the highest peak in the Fraser Valley, and a hike up to the summit gives you stunning views of the entire valley, along with other views such as of Mount Baker, Jones Lake, and Lady peak.

The best time to hike it is between July to October as it is covered with snow the rest of the year. After a 15 minute walk from the trailhead, you pass through a meadow and then on to the Spoon pond that is dry or filled with water depending on the time of the year you visit.

Throughout the hike, you are surrounded by stunning views that you shouldn’t miss while looking at the next step forward.

As you make your way up to the summit, the greenery of the place begins to lessen, and if you enter a worn path, it marks the proximity to the summit. After hiking uphill for around 30-40 minutes, you reach the ridge that gives you a view of the Fraser Valley, but this is not all. Just a few more minutes of uphill and you reach the summit of Mount Cheam. This is where you get the full reward of your hiking, where you get an unobstructed 360 degrees view of the Fraser Valley.

Make sure to take enough stops in between the hiking to enjoy the majestic views on the way, and not only at the summit.

Difficulty level: Intermediate

Average time for the hike: 4 to 5 hours

Distance: 9.5 kms

Dog Friendly: Yes

Buntzen Lake

Buntzen Lake is a 45 minutes drive from Vancouver. It is just located behind Port Moody, which is near the Eagle Mountain. The lake is surrounded by Belcarra Regional Park from one side and the Indian Arm Provincial Park from the other side.

The lake is particularly popular in the summer because of the varying activities it supports such as swimming, kayaking or picnicking in the nearby beaches.

The trail starts from the parking lot, and you would find signs marking the Buntzen Lake trail that takes you through the floating bridge after which you get glimpses of the Buntzen Lake already. After you cross the floating bridge, follow the trail till you reach a pumphouse from where the trail becomes narrow. It is when you enter the forest in which the lake accompanies you for a After the descent, you reach the Buntzen lake. It is a relatively easy hike as compared to the others in the article, but nonetheless very beautiful.

Difficulty level: Beginner

Average time for the hike: 3 to 4 hours

Trail: Buntzen Lake trail

Distance: 10 kms

Dog Friendly: Yes

Conclusion

So, that’s it guys! Let me know in the comments if you have hiked up any of these trails in Vancouver, or if you are planning to visit one in the near future. Would love to hear your stories! 🙂

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