In Vancouver, you really only have a three or so month window of optimal hiking conditions, save for the rare and much appreciated pockets of dry weather in fall and early spring.
I write this fully aware that there are lots of people out there who are hiking/climbing and running through “Super, Natural B.C.” 365 days a year, optimistically slogging their way up soggy slopes in torrential downpours, but I am not one of them.
The Vancouver area has a wealth of great day hikes where, even if dogs aren’t technically allowed off-leash, they are ignored or tolerated as long as they’re well behaved. There are some great ones where dogs are allowed to roam restriction-free.
These are some of my favourites. Let us know what yours are by tweeting @darcynews or leaving a comment below, and we’ll use them in a future Vancity Buzz column. Happy hiking!
This park is a doggy paradise, with ample opportunities for your pup to leap through the woods and splash in the water. If you`re feeling like an easy day you can complete the Lynn Loop in under two hours, whereas major hikers can take the 14 kilometre journey out to Norvan Falls. There are a few trails that will take you up to Grouse Mountain as well. The trails are well marked, well maintained, and a really easy drive from Vancouver. Most trails are leash optional.
How to get there: Take the Lion’s Gate Bridge and follow signs to North Vancouver. Turn left at Capilano Road and hop onto Highway 1 east. Take the Lynn Valley exit, and follow the signs to Lynn Valley Road. Stay on until the dead end, which is Lynn Headwaters Regional Park. You can also hop on the 229 Lynn Valley bus, from the SeaBus terminal in North Vancouver.
Technically part of Cypress Mountain, expect about three to four hours of hiking and sweeping views of the Burrard Inlet, Vancouver and the Lions. The first part of this hike is straight uphill – about 15 minutes – but levels out for a while as you pass Fourth Lake. To get to Hollyburn Mountain, watch for a sign to turn left and stay on the trailhead. In the summer months, this trail is packed with bursting berry bushes. After about a 20 minute walk through some meadows, a rocky outcrop welcomes you to Hollyburn Mountain where you’re rewarded with amazing views of B.C.’s Gulf Islands and the Georgia Strait. Dogs must technically be leashed.
How to get there: Head west on Hwy. 1 and exit at Cypress Provincial Park (Exit #8). Follow the road to the junction and turn right. Parking is just before the map board, before the ski rental building. The trailhead starts near the map, and will follow under the power lines for the first little while. It’s about a 40 minute drive from Vancouver.
This one takes about an hour to reach from Vancouver, but the drive up the Sea-to-Sky Hwy. is scenic and lovely – and the vistas at the top are totally worth it. The Chief takes about two to three hours to climb depending on how fit you are and which peak you want to reach.
It is technically on-leash, but there are tons of well-behaved dogs doing the climb without a harness. With wooden steps carved into the well-worn ground, at times the Chief mimics the Grouse Grind. I’ve done this hike with my 16-pound terrier many times, and he loves it. If you have a dog that loves going off-trail, you’d be well advised to keep your pup leashed for some of areas that have a steep drop-off.
There’s also a ladder towards that top that you’ll have to carry your dog up (I’ve pushed a German shepherd up this, it’s doable). The top of the peak is a lovely place for a picnic with your pup. But keep them leashed if they’re prone to chase squirrels – there’s a few up there.
How to get there: Take Highway 99 north towards Whistler and keep your eye out of the giant rock on your right. Park in the day-use area of the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park and walk towards the rock to find the trailhead. You’ve missed the turnoff if you end up in town.
Like the Chief, when you reach the top of Quarry Rock in Deep Cove you’re rewarded with stunning vistas. Here, you get beautiful views of Indian Arm and the Belcarra Mountains. This is an easy hike, about 30 minutes through the woods and just a 100 meter gain, but the location of this trailhead means you could easily hike all day heading back towards North Vancouver.
This hike sits on the most eastern part of the Baden Powell Trail, which you can follow for 12 kilometers and end in Lynn Valley. Dogs are permitted to be off-leash at Quarry Rock but must be under control. This is another hangout for squirrels and birds, so be mindful to keep your dog close when you’re enjoying the view.
How to get there: Take exit 22 on Hwy. 1, Mount Seymour Parkway. Take the parkway for about 5km before turning left onto Deep Cove Road. The trailhead begins along Panorama Drive, past the park. You can also take transit from Vancouver. After taking the Seabus to Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver, take bus #229 to Phibbs Exchange and transfer to bus #212.
The proximity to the city makes it perfect if you feel like getting out for some fresh air with your dog for a few hours. With a total of 73 kilometers of trails winding through the endowment lands – more than 50 of which are designated for biking – the possibilities are just about endless. The park, which surrounds most of UBC, offers a wide variety of walking and hiking opportunities: You can meander with your pup through forested trails, or hit the hills and head down to Wreck Beach.
And if you’re ambitious and hit the trails on a weekend morning, it’s almost like a dog highway out there. For the most part, dog owners and hikers alike are really great here, and the park is a nice oasis in the city – where you don’t have to worry about your dog running into traffic.
The great part about this one is there are lots of off-leash trails that meander through the old-growth woods, and there’s lots of space for dogs to chase each other through the woods.
How to get there: The best part about the park is that it’s bordered by a few major roads, so it’s easy to get there. There’s loads of parking along SE Marine Drive, and West 16th Avenue. You can also walk in about 10 minutes from the UBC campus.
This stunning six kilometer journey traverses through old growth trees, following Whyte Creek before ending at Whyte Lake. It follows the Trans Canada Trail route, and there’s also a wooden bridge and a lovely stretch of boardwalk. Dogs should remain on-leash in ecologically sensitive areas.
How to get there: The trailhead is accessible from Westport Road, just south of the Upper Levels Highway at Nelson Canyon. You can also access another trailhead close to Horseshoe Bay, at Exit 1.
Well behaved dogs are welcomed on this lengthy loop, which traverses through groves of cedar and fir trees along the mountainside of this North Shore favourite. The trail wanders uphill until you reach a small bridge where you cross the creek.
Beautiful view of a waterfall here. Keep your eye out for the remnants of wooden rail ties – which were used by loggers in the early 1900s. The highlight of this hike is the Candelabra Fir: a 60-meter tall behemoth old growth tree towering over the woods.
How to get there: Access Brothers Creek from the trailhead at the top of Millstream Road – by taking Taylor Way and Eyremont Drive. There’s a wooden sign that announces the creek. You can also take bus #254 to British Properties and get off at the top of Chartwell.