The Getaway
15 Best Hikes In and Near Vancouver

Between the Pacific Ocean and the towering Coast Mountains, Vancouver is a hiker's paradise, offering a variety of trails that promise excitement at every turn. Whether you're a casual walker or a seasoned trekker, the region's diverse landscapes offer something for everyone. From the breathtaking vistas atop rugged peaks to the tranquil ambience of forested pathways, each trail tells a story. Imagine standing on a mountain summit, the cityscape and ocean stretching out beneath you, or wandering beside a serene lake, each step a deeper breath of fresh, pine-scented air. Ready to lace up your boots? Let's discover the trails that make hiking in Vancouver a truly unique experience.

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01 Grouse Grind

Gondola Ride to Grouse Mountain Top, North Vancouver Canada

The Grouse Grind, often referred to as "Mother Nature's Stairmaster," is a steep and challenging trail that tests the stamina of even the most seasoned hikers. This trail is not for the faint of heart; it consists of nearly 2,800 steps and takes on average about an hour and a half to complete. The reward at the summit, however, is unparalleled: sweeping views of Vancouver, the Pacific Ocean, and distant mountains. Facilities at the base include parking, restrooms, and a café, while the summit offers restaurants, a visitor center, and even a theater. Remember, the trail is one-way—downhill hiking is not permitted, but a gondola ride down offers a relaxing end to a rigorous hike.

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02 Garibaldi Lake

Garibaldi Lake with mountains in the background

Garibaldi Lake is a stunning glacial lake surrounded by snow-capped peaks, offering hikers a visually rewarding experience. The trail to the lake features a gradual elevation gain, making it a moderately challenging hike suitable for those with some hiking experience. The round trip covers about 18 kilometers and typically takes between 5 to 7 hours to complete.

For those planning to extend their adventure, camping is available near the lake with a backcountry permit, which must be acquired in advance to ensure the preservation of the natural environment. The area is also a haven for photographers, especially in July and August when the wildflowers are in full bloom, presenting a colorful display against the backdrop of the turquoise lake. Hikers should come prepared with sturdy footwear, water, snacks, and weather-appropriate clothing to fully enjoy the serene beauty of Garibaldi Lake.

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03 The Chief

Hiking woman at viewpoint in amazing nature landscape mountain hike. Aspirational outdoor lifestyle photo from Squamish Stawamus Chief Hike, British Columbia, Canada.

The Chief, officially known as the Stawamus Chief, towers over the town of Squamish and is a prominent feature in the Sea to Sky Corridor. This massive granite monolith offers three distinct peaks, each accessible via separate trails that converge at various points. The views from the top of each peak encompass panoramic vistas of Howe Sound, the Squamish Valley, and the surrounding mountains, making the strenuous climb worthwhile.

For first-time climbers, starting with the First Peak is advisable as it provides a good balance of challenge and reward. The trail is well-marked but steep and rugged in sections, so proper hiking boots with good grip are essential. It's also wise to bring along plenty of water and snacks, as the climb can take several hours.

Safety is paramount on The Chief. The granite surface can become extremely slick if it's wet, so it's important to check the weather before you go. Also, consider your start time; beginning early helps you find a parking space and avoid the larger afternoon groups that might delay your climb. Always stay on marked trails to protect both the natural environment and yourself.

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04 Lynn Canyon Park

Woman on Lynn canyon suspension bridge, North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada Preserved Light Photography / Getty Images

Lynn Canyon Park, a verdant oasis near Vancouver, is renowned for its lush forest trails and the iconic suspension bridge that spans the canyon. The bridge offers a thrilling view of the waterfalls and river below, making it a favorite among both locals and tourists. The park's trails vary in length, providing options for all fitness levels, and are particularly family-friendly, with educational signs that explain the local ecology.

Conservation is a key focus in Lynn Canyon Park. Visitors are encouraged to respect the natural environment by staying on marked trails to protect the delicate undergrowth and wildlife habitats. This not only helps in preserving the park’s biodiversity but also ensures the safety of all visitors.

Accessible year-round, the park is a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll or a more vigorous hike, depending on your preference. Unlike its neighbor, the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, Lynn Canyon’s suspension bridge is free to cross, offering a budget-friendly yet equally mesmerizing experience.

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05 Pacific Spirit Regional Park

Pacific Spirit Regional Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Pacific Spirit Regional Park serves as a serene escape from the urban bustle of Vancouver, providing a network of trails that cater to all levels of hiking enthusiasts. With over 73 kilometers of walking paths, the park offers a diverse range of environments, from dense forests to beachside trails, making it a perfect spot for nature lovers seeking a peaceful retreat.

The park is particularly popular among dog owners, as most trails are leash-optional. This allows for a more relaxed experience for both pets and their owners. Yet, it's key to follow park rules and be considerate of other visitors by maintaining control of dogs at all times.

Conveniently reached by public transport, particularly for those from the nearby University of British Columbia, Pacific Spirit Regional Park is a great spot for students and faculty to unwind after a busy week. Whether you're up for a short walk or a long hike, the park's extensive trail system ensures that every visit can be a new adventure.

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06 Mount Seymour

Mount Seymour is a versatile hiking destination that caters to a wide range of abilities, from novice hikers to experienced adventurers. The area features several trails, each offering a unique experience and varying degrees of difficulty. For beginners, the Mystery Lake Trail provides an easy and scenic hike, perfect for a family outing. More advanced hikers might tackle the Mount Seymour Summit Trail, a more demanding route that rewards climbers with breathtaking views of the surrounding area.

During the winter months, Mount Seymour transforms into a popular spot for snowshoeing. The park maintains a series of well-marked snowshoe trails that range from simple loops to challenging treks towards the peaks. Wearing the right snow gear is important for your safety and comfort when it's snowy.

On clear days, the summit of Mount Seymour provides stunning wide views that include the cityscape of Vancouver and extend to Mount Baker and Vancouver Island in the distance, offering a fulfilling experience for those who make it to the top. Whether visiting in summer or winter, Mount Seymour provides a memorable outdoor adventure for all who visit.

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07 Elfin Lakes

Photograph of Elfin Lakes around Squamish, British Columbia, Canada.

Elfin Lakes trail is a spectacular journey through the scenic Garibaldi Provincial Park, known for its breathtaking mountain vistas and vibrant natural landscapes. The trail spans 22 kilometers round trip, offering a moderate challenge with a steady elevation gain that unfolds into stunning views of the surrounding peaks and valleys.

Seasonally, the trail transforms dramatically. In summer, hikers are treated to a display of wildflowers and clear, expansive views. Come winter, the landscape shifts to a pristine white wonderland, necessitating snowshoes or skis for access. This seasonal variation adds a unique charm, making Elfin Lakes a year-round destination.

For those looking to extend their stay, camping facilities are available at the Elfin Lakes hut, which requires reservations. The hut provides a basic but comfortable shelter equipped with sleeping pads and a communal kitchen area. Campers are urged to practice Leave No Trace principles to preserve the area's natural beauty, including packing out all trash and minimizing their environmental impact.

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08 Joffre Lakes

A beautiful glacial lake in Canada. The turquoise Joffre Lake is surrounded by the Rainforest. Mountain peaks in the background. Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. British Columbia, Canada.

Joffre Lakes offers a captivating hiking experience with its three stunning turquoise lakes, each more mesmerizing than the last. The trail is 10 kilometers round trip and is accessible to most hikers, though some preparation is necessary due to the elevation gain and rocky paths. For the best hiking experience, it's wise to wear strong hiking boots, have enough water, and carry various clothing layers to adjust to different weather conditions.

Protecting the environment is very important in this area. The popularity of Joffre Lakes has led to increased visitor impact, making it necessary to follow Leave No Trace principles. This includes packing out all trash, staying on designated trails to prevent erosion, and being mindful of wildlife. With limited parking spaces, it's a good idea to get there early or visit during weekdays to avoid large groups and enjoy a peaceful hike.

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09 Eagle Bluffs

Beautiful landscape of mountains in Cypress Provincial Park, Canada. Concept photo beauty of Canada, copy space for text, selective focus, travel photo, nobody.

Eagle Bluffs, perched on Cypress Mountain, is a popular destination for hikers seeking panoramic views of Vancouver, the surrounding islands, and the distant mountains. The best time to visit is from late spring through early fall, when the weather is favorable, and the trail is mostly free of snow. Wildlife enthusiasts may also spot local fauna such as black bears, deer, and various bird species, making it essential to carry bear spray and remain vigilant.

When hiking to Eagle Bluffs, it's important to practice trail etiquette to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone. Keep to the right, allow faster hikers to pass, and pack out all trash. Also, since the trail can be crowded, particularly on weekends, beginning your hike early in the day can help you avoid large groups and improve your chances of seeing wildlife. Always stay on designated paths to protect the fragile ecosystem and ensure your safety on uneven terrain.

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10 Golden Ears

Beautiful Pathway in the colorful and vibrant Rain Forest during a sunny winter day. Taken in Golden Ears Provincial Park, near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Golden Ears, named for its twin peaks resembling the ears of a golden hare, is a demanding hike located in Golden Ears Provincial Park. The trail stretches over 24 kilometers round trip and ascends through lush forest, alpine meadows, and rocky terrains, culminating in stunning panoramic views from the summit. This hike is best suited for experienced hikers due to its length and elevation gain.

Preparation is key for tackling Golden Ears. Wearing strong, waterproof hiking boots and carrying several layers of clothing to adjust to the unpredictable mountain weather is necessary. It's also important to bring extra food, water, and a simple first aid kit for this full-day adventure. Given the trail's challenges, including steep and sometimes slippery sections, having trekking poles can also be a significant advantage.

Reaching the summit rewards hikers with breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks, the Fraser Valley, and, on clear days, the distant cityscape of Vancouver. The sense of accomplishment, coupled with the natural beauty, makes Golden Ears a memorable and rewarding experience for those who are well-prepared and up for the challenge.

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11 Baden Powell Trail

Back view of hiker in forest. Beautiful rainforest scenery in summer with tall trees. A woman is walking on a wooden boardwalk path. Baden Powell hiking trail North Vancouver. Selective focus on woman

The Baden Powell Trail, a scenic and historic route, spans 48 kilometers across the North Shore from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove. It's named after Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout Movement, reflecting the trail's emphasis on outdoor adventure and exploration. This extensive trail passes through a variety of landscapes, including dense forests, creeks, and scenic viewpoints overlooking the city and the ocean.

Accessibility is a key feature of the Baden Powell Trail, with multiple entry points that allow hikers to tackle shorter sections of the trail, making it ideal for day trips or even shorter hikes. Key sections include the challenging terrain near Grouse Mountain and the more tranquil stretches through Lynn Canyon Park. Each segment offers unique points of interest, from the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge to the panoramic views at Quarry Rock in Deep Cove.

Whether you're looking for a rigorous hike or a leisurely walk in the woods, the Baden Powell Trail offers a slice of wilderness adventure just a stone's throw from urban Vancouver.

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12 Buntzen Lake

A scenery view from Rocky Point park and Buntzen Lake park in a heavy fog day of early winter, Port Moody, BC, Canada

Buntzen Lake, located in a scenic area surrounded by mountains, is a favorite spot for those who love the outdoors. The lake is a center for swimming and canoeing, offering a cool retreat during the hot months. Around the lake, various trails are available for hikers of all skill levels. The Buntzen Lake Trail, an easy 10-kilometer loop, provides beautiful views and a mostly level path, perfect for families and casual walkers. For those looking for a bit more of a challenge, the Diez Vistas Trail offers a moderate hike with rewarding views of the lake and nearby regions.

Facilities at Buntzen Lake are well-kept, including picnic spots, restrooms, and plenty of parking. Visitors should be aware of the rules in place to protect the natural setting and promote safety. Dogs are allowed but must be on a leash in certain areas to reduce disturbances to wildlife and other guests. As a well-liked location, especially on weekends, it's wise to arrive early to find parking and enjoy a quieter visit.

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13 Capilano Canyon

Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver Alexandre Deslongchamps / Getty Images

Capilano Canyon, located just north of Vancouver, is renowned for its dramatic landscape and rich history. The area features rugged terrain enveloped in lush forests, making it a captivating destination for nature enthusiasts. The highlight of Capilano Canyon is undoubtedly the Capilano Suspension Bridge, which stretches 137 meters across and 70 meters above the Capilano River. This paid attraction not only offers unique, breathtaking views but also a touch of adrenaline for those who dare to cross.

For the best experience, visiting during the early morning or late afternoon is advisable as these times are generally less crowded. This allows for a more tranquil exploration of the canyon and its natural beauty. The area around the canyon is full of historical significance, offering visitors a look back at the area's history and its importance to the native Indigenous communities.

Visitors should come ready for a somewhat demanding hike because of the canyon's uneven and steep terrain. Sturdy footwear and appropriate outdoor gear are essential for navigating the trails safely. The Capilano Suspension Bridge, while a paid feature, is an integral part of the experience, offering unmatched views of the surrounding forest and river below.

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14 Mount Strachan

Howe Sound Pacific Northwest Coast Mountains BC Canada

Mount Strachan, located in Cypress Provincial Park, offers a variety of trails leading to its summit, each providing a unique hiking experience. The most popular route, the Strachan Meadows trail, is known for its scenic meadows and the spectacular views of Howe Sound and the surrounding mountains from the summit. Wildlife enthusiasts may encounter diverse flora and fauna, including the occasional black bear, highlighting the importance of preserving this natural habitat.

Hikers should be well-prepared for sudden weather changes typical of the area, carrying adequate water, layers for warmth, and navigation tools like a map and compass. Sticking to marked paths is key to reducing human impact on the environment and keeping oneself safe. Also, having bear spray and properly storing food helps avoid unexpected encounters with wildlife, making the hike safer and more pleasant for all.

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