Best Hiking Trails in Vancouver
Hiking is one of the most inspiring ways to discover Vancouver’s natural beauty. Every path, hike, and walkway is a scenic goldmine; with waterfalls, glacial pools, wildflowers, mountain views, and animal sightings to surprise and delight along the way. There is a plethora of walking and hiking trails in Vancouver, but there’s much to discover a short drive or transit-ride away. Here are some of the best hikes near Vancouver.
Tips for hiking in Vancouver
Trails in British Columbia often meander through provincial parks, so you may need a BC Parks Pass to access the trails. Other trails may require a day pass. Research the trail you plan to hike to make sure you have any passes you need before you arrive. You can print most passes that can be printed off at home or purchased online easily.
Vancouver hikes are known for their seaside views, waterfalls, and swimming holes. So it’s always worth putting a bathing suit in your backpack in case you discover a place to take a dip.
If you’re hiking in the winter months, you may want snowshoes or crampons (treads that attach to your shoes) for some hikes. Make sure you understand whether the trail is maintained during the winter and dress in layers.
The 8 best hiking trails around Vancouver
From mountain tops and glacial pools to valleys and forests, these trails range from easy to challenging. Here are eight of the best hiking trails all within a few hours of Vancouver.
1. Joffre Lake
This hike is located in Joffre Lake Provincial Park, just north of Pemberton, and takes about two-and-a-half hours to reach from central Vancouver. The glacial history here has visibly shaped the curves and valleys in the land, and rushing streams and jagged peaks keep things interesting. The trail is easier to access than other local alpine hikes and meanders along a scenic trail, with stops at three glacier-fed lakes and stunning views along the way. Turquoise-blue water and easy access make it a high-reward hike that’s known as one of the most beautiful hikes in British Columbia. Look out for beautiful views of Matier Glacier as you explore and notice how the water colour grows more vibrant from lake to lake.
Difficulty: This hike is somewhat of a choose your own adventure; the first lake is only a short 15-minute walk in, so you can modify the hike to suit the length or level of difficulty you feel up to. The final scale has a bit of an uphill scramble, so be prepared for a fair bit of effort if you’re planning on doing the full hike.
2. Lynn Canyon
The trials of Lynn Canyon are accessible and pretty, with canopies of trees, river rapids, and swimming holes. Lynn Canyon hosts a series of loops and trails that start at 2.7 kilometres. Mix and match to build a trail that suits your skill level. These trails might be a tad busy in the summer months, so keep this in mind and consider a weekday hike if you’re hoping to commune with nature alone.
Difficulty: This is a friendly, accessible hike that’s appropriate for beginners. You might notice some mud, roots, or debris in the rainy months but this is a great trail for hikers of any skill level or ability.
Pacific Spirit Regional Park offers a set of trails and loops on the West side of Vancouver that meander through seemingly endless forests. The creeks, cliffs, and bogs visible from the trails are close to the city centre and easily accessible to Vancouver residents. The Pacific Spirit paths are great for a relaxed hike, running, and nature viewing.
Difficulty: Great for beginners, with natural views that you can access even if you’re a slow walker or experience limited mobility.
4. Mount Cheam
The 360-degree mountain top view at the end of this hike makes it well worth the journey, and the path there is steady, smooth, and lined with wildflowers. Tall wavy grasses and a lush natural environment make this an enjoyable, refreshing trek. Before you hike, read about the Indigenous history of the Cheam people. Learn about the stories and ancestry of the mountain, including tales of Mount Cheam. For the Stó:lō, this mountain is Lhílheqey, a woman transformed by Xexá:ls and given the responsibility of looking out over her people. You can get to this trailhead in about two hours if you’re driving from Vancouver, but save time for the final bumpy stretch to the trailhead. Make sure you pause to enjoy the view on your way up, because they are constantly changing.
Difficulty: This hike itself is comfortable enough for beginner hikers, but the road leading in is not for the faint of heart. You’ll need a 4x4 vehicle with a confident driver to access the Forest Service Road.
The Elfin Lakes are two lakes in Garibaldi Provincial Park near Squamish, popular with hikers and cyclists for their 22 kilometres of scenic, winding trails. Expect at least a two-and-a-half hour commute to drive here from central Vancouver. If you hike to the top of the lake, there’s an opportunity to cool off with a swim. A confident hiker should reach the lake within two hours. You’ll need to purchase a free day-use pass to access this hiking trail. Keep your eyes peeled for the wooden ski huts halfway through this hike and read about their history.
Difficulty: This hike is strikingly long if you choose to do the 22 kilometre loop, but you can choose to trek in as far as you feel comfortable with. There’s a decent elevation gain, but the trail is steady and sloping. Most intermediate hikers should feel confident and comfortable on the first leg of the trek.
The “Diez” in this name refers to the ten views that speckle the trek, meandering through forests and offering cinematic sightings of Deep Cove and Belcarra Park. Just one hour outside of Vancouver, this 15-kilometre round trip offers a lake swim halfway through and mountain views throughout. Around three kilometres of this trail winds through Say Nuth Khaw Yum Provincial Park (Indian Arm Park), which is partly administered by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. Indian Arm has several other beautiful hikes to explore, including the challenging Lindsay Lake Loop and Dilly Dally Loop.
Difficulty: This hike is moderately difficult, with a steep elevation; the first set of tricky switchbacks appear about ten minutes into the trail. Once you pass these, the slope is moderate and simple to get to the next viewpoint. If you’re not a hardy hiker, you could enjoy the first two viewpoints and call it a day.
The Seaside Greenway is the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path, and includes the nine kilometre walk along the Stanley Park Seawall, through Stanley Park. This scenic walk, jog, or bike path has been around since 1917, and it’s a great way to explore Vancouver’s nature and scenery. Try walking the stretch between Ferguson and Prospect Point to begin; the views here are especially beautiful. The full stretch takes approximately an hour to walk, with seaside views throughout. Expect it to be busy; the accessibility and reputation of this path makes it popular with tourists and locals.
Difficulty: This is an easy path to walk, and it’s also paved and accessible to those with mobility aids, wheelchairs, or other supports. Make note of the dividing line between walkers, bikers, and joggers on parts of the path to ensure you’re not slowing down runners or impeding leisurely strollers. In the winter months, the path can get slippery when it freezes so watch out for black ice.
This scenic hike has several names, interchangeably called “Eagle Bluffs,” or “Eagleridge Bluffs.” The trek starts at the Cypress Mountain ski resort, so you’ll need to get a free backcountry tag to get past the ski lifts in the winter. Eagleridge Bluffs is a stunningly scenic hike overlooking Horseshoe Bay and Bowen Island in West Vancouver. The whole thing takes around three hours and is just over eight kilometres.
Difficulty: This trail is moderately easy, especially in the summer months. But it has stages of sharp elevation. The trail is well maintained, so you’ll find clear paths even in the snowy winter months.
Looking for more things to do in Vancouver? Read our article on the best farmers’ markets in Vancouver.
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