The city of Vancouver is known for its proximity to hiking trails, but there are so many that choosing one can be difficult. Below is a list of Vancouver hikes that are way better (and less busy) than the city’s most popular trail, the Grouse Grind. All are day hikes.
1. Brothers Creek Loop – West Vancouver
Although the British Properties neighbourhood is not likely where you’ll find yourself hanging out (it has some of the most expensive real estate in Greater Vancouver), this is where you’ll find the trailhead for Brothers Creek Loop. This 7 km hike traverses a Western Red Cedar forest, which includes an old growth tree (now dead) measuring 60 metres high and over 9 metres around. Follow the “5+6” sign to what is called the “Candelabra Fir” to marvel at it.
There are a few lakes at the north end of the loop that are great for stopping to have lunch at, or you can push on and bypass them. On the latter part of the loop, after crossing the creek west, watch out for the waterfalls on your left. They thunder down rocky cliffs and provide a lovely hiking soundtrack. The total loop should take you 4 hours, although there is an optional “Crossover Trail” that shortens that time almost in half.
2. St Marks Summit Trail (Cypress Provincial Park) – West Vancouver
This summertime trail covers just over 5 km each way for a 5 hour round-trip hike. St Marks Summit makes up a part of the larger Howe Sound Crest Trail (30 km), so follow the Crest trail signs to stay on route. There are great views throughout this hike, starting with the Lions (two conical peaks that can be seen from all over Vancouver) and then Unnecessary Mountain.
After climbing up many switchbacks, there is a gorgeous lookout where you can see up and down Howe Sound and its islands, and north to the Tantalus Mountain Range. Most people spend some time here and eat their lunch among the friendly squirrels.
3. Norvan Falls (Lynn Headwaters Regional Park) – North Vancouver
Located in the pretty Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, the Norvan Falls trail is a 14 km, 5 hour “loop” that is great year-round because of the minimal elevation gain. The lush second growth Cedar forest encloses a wide gravel path for the first couple of kilometres and then narrows for the rest of the way.
Norvan Falls is a great stopping point for lunch – take a path down to the creak bed for the best view. A portion of the trail can be done in a loop, so you can go back through a different part of the forest, one with a nice viewpoint (along the Headwaters Trail).
- Downside: During the rainy season, the middle part of the trail can be very muddy.
4. Baden Powell – North Vancouver
Covering 48 km of North Vancouver, the Baden Powell trail can be broken up into sections and hiked a few hours at a time. My favourite chunk of the trail is the 12 km eastern section, which begins in Deep Cove. It follows the popular Quarry Rock trail that leads to giant rocks with a beautiful view over Indian Arm, Deep Cove and across the water to Belcarra.
The trail continues north of Quarry Rock – watch for the orange markers and continue into Mount Seymour Provincial Park. You’ll cross two roads along this hike, but otherwise the forest is dense. Near the end of the hike, there is a beach area where you can see Lynn Creek rushing through a canyon, and a waterfall called Twin Falls.
The hike ends by crossing the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge (the free alternative to the Capilano Suspension Bridge). There is a café, ecology centre and washrooms here. This section of the trail will take 5 hours.
- Downside: This trail is not a loop, so take the time to plan your route using public transit and / or a combination of driving and then taking public transit back to your car.
5. Mount Seymour (Mount Seymour Provincial Park) – North Vancouver
Most known for its skiing, Mount Seymour is also a great summer destination for hiking. There are some relatively flat trails in the area that lead to lakes, but the best hike is up Seymour Mountain itself, along the 4.5 km steep ascent (9 km round-trip). It should take 5 hours to complete, climbing 450 metres.
There are 2 peaks on this trail, both with glorious views over Vancouver and the Coastal Mountains. They’re steep climbs but well worth the effort. The final ascent up Seymour Mountain rewards you with views of Vancouver, Indian Arm, Grouse Mountain and north into the vast wilderness of the Coastal Mountain range.
- Downside: There’s a wide, exposed gravel area on the way up and much of the trail is exposed, making sunscreen and plenty of water essential during hot weather.
6. Diez Vistas (Buntzen Lake) – Port Moody
East of Vancouver, Buntzen Lake has a variety of trails to explore, but the one with the best views and heart-pumping inclines is Diez Vistas, Spanish for “ten views.” This 15 km loop circles Buntzen Lake’s upper ridge and takes between 6 – 7 hours.
The steepest section is at the beginning, as the trail climbs up to the ridge and the first viewpoint. Here you will see Vancouver and Belcarra, as well as the nearby (and smaller) Sasamat Lake. The following lookouts have great views over Indian Arm and into Deep Cove and Mount Seymour across the water in North Vancouver. You’ll notice remote houses along the shoreline, where access is boat-only.
- Downside: The last several kilometres of the trail is along the lower (and fairly uninteresting) Buntzen Lake trail.