5 best hikes in Vancouver

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Looking for the perfect way to spend your next free afternoon? A hike offers the perfect way to get outdoors and appreciate our beautiful backyard while getting an amazing workout in the process.

From steep, challenging terrain to more casual hikes, I’m confident that there’s something you’ll enjoy listed below.

While there are many places to hike in Metro Vancouver, here’s five of the best to choose from!

Lynn Peak

lynn peak north vancouver

Image: Vancouver Trails

My personal favourite and one of the North Shore’s best kept secrets. Lynn Valley is technically a rainforest, meaning you can expect a cornucopia of beautiful greens which will leave your senses tingling. Much less crowded than its counterparts on Grouse, Lynn Peak weaves through a lush second growth forest en route to stunning views of Seymour Mountain, Vancouver, and as far south as the USA.

The summit makes for the perfect summer picnic, so take a seat, and soak in the view before making the return trip. The terrain is rocky in sections and quite steep (it climbs 700 meters in 4.5km or so), but not as steep as the Grouse Grind or BCMC trails. Plan to budget 3-4 hours for the return trip.

To get to Lynn Peak, park at Lynn Headwaters and turn right on the gravel trail after the bridge over Lynn Creek. Follow the gravel for 10 minutes before turning left onto the Lynn Loop Trail. As you follow Lynn Loop upwards for another 10 minutes, look for the trail head to Lynn Peak on your right.

Black Mountain to Eagles Bluff

black mountain eagles bluff

Image: Vancouver Trails

The longest and most rewarding of all the hikes listed, Black Mountain is one of the peaks which makes up the Cypress Mountain ski area. The return trip will put you around five hours, but the stunning views of Howe Sound, the Gulf Islands and the Sunshine Coast not only make this an instagrammers dream, but also one of my summer favourites. On clear days you’ll also get expansive views of Mt. Garibaldi, Mt. Baker, among others.

The trailhead (and parking lot) is literally right next to the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal. For specific driving directions, google map ‘Horseshoe Bay Drive’ and follow it until you hit a small parking lot on your right (and the lineup of cars for the ferry terminal on your left).

Before you get going, check the signs to ensure you’re following the Baden Powell Trail. It resembles an old fireroad for the first 20 minutes before transforming into a lush evergreen forest filled with large coniferous trees.

It should be noted that two-thirds the way to Eagles Bluff, you’ll hit a massive rock field. Take caution navigating this section, especially on your way down.

Old Buck to the Lakes

old buck trail

Image: nsmba.ca

The perfect mix of smooth trail with challenging steeper sections. Old Buck climbs up Mt. Seymour, crossing half a dozen streams and a host of other trails along the way. The trail is split into sections, so you can hike as far up as you like before turning around and heading back down, or linking the route with other trails.

The first half climbs up for 3 km, passing through Bridal, Baden Powell, and Power Line trails before spitting you out on the Mt. Seymour Road. Cross the road and walk down for 20 meters to link up with the second half of Old Buck. From here, the snaking 4 km hike is well worth it as you’ll hit two beautiful lakes: Flower and Goldie.

Budget 4-5 hours return to give you some lakeside leisure time, or even quick refreshing dip before heading down. Old Buck has a parking lot on Anne MacDonald Way in North Vancouver.

Norvan Falls

Norvan Falls

Image: Vancouver Trails

Expect four hours return at a hiking pace. Norvan allows for more of a gentle uphill saunter than the other hikes listed. This is the perfect hike for larger groups of differing activity levels. The terrain is welcoming, and moderate, but you’re rewarded with fantastic riverside hiking, rickety wooden bridges, and a beautiful waterfall at your final destination.

Like Lynn Peak, Norvan slices through a dense old growth forest consisting of cedar, fir, maple, and even the odd sitka spruce — perfect nourishment for the body and soul.

The trail to Norvan leaves from Lynn Headwaters, following the lower section of the famous ‘Lynn Loop Trail’ for 30 minutes before veering away from the river into more inspiring terrain. Check the trail map at the trailhead near the bridge over Lynn Creek for the specific directions.

BCMC

BCMC trail

Image: Rick Wheater

You know the famous ‘Grouse Grind’ everyone in Vancouver raves about doing? This trail is right beside it and far superior than the glorified staircase that is the grind. If you don’t want to dodge hoards of jean wearing dudes keeled over hacking mid-hike smokes on the side of the trail, give BCMC a whirl.

From the Grouse Grind trail head, follow the trail straight, instead of veering left to the grind. Look for the black ‘BCMC’ signage then follow the red flags all the way up. BCMC is steep, rooty, and rocky, perfect for sculpting your summer beach booty.

The trail takes 5-10 minutes longer than the grind, and spits you out on top of Grouse right next to the grind. From the top, you can download via the gondola, or if you’re looking for a challenge (or too cheap to pay) take BCMC back down.

 

Written by Connor Meaken, a mountain ultramarathon runner and marketing / social media strategist. Read about his mountain adventures and musings on productive, healthy living on his personal blog. If you have any specific questions on routes, timing or conditions, connect with him on Twitter at @ConnorMeaks.

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