21 BEST HIKES IN VANCOUVER, BC

by | Vancouver

The west coast of Canada is an incredible place to live and the city of Vancouver is the perfect hub to get out and explore from. As residents of this beautiful place, we wanted to put together a list of what we think are the best hikes in Vancouver, BC. The choices are almost endless when picking the best Vancouver hikes, but the hikes on our list stand out a little bit more.

As well as picking the top hikes in Vancouver, we also wanted to include some of the best hikes around Vancouver as well. All of the trails that we have suggested can be done in a single day, starting from Vancouver. This is a spectacular part of the world and we hope this list encourages you to get out and explore as much of beautiful British Columbia as possible.

While many of the best hiking trails Vancouver has to offer can be done year-round, there are a few hikes that you shouldn’t attempt in winter. For a full guide on the best winter hikes around Vancouver, you can read this guide.

 

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The Best Hikes in Vancouver, BC

Bowen Lookout

  • Time needed: 1.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

Bowen Lookout is one of our favourite easy hikes in Vancouver as you get sensational views without having to work too hard to get them. You’ll find Bowen Lookout at Cypress Mountain, which is just over a 30-minute drive from downtown Vancouver.

The views that you get from the lookout are amazing and as this is such a short hike, it is one that you can easily stay late at to enjoy the sunset. The trail starts by winding through the forest, and there are actually several routes that you can take, but we recommend going via Yew Lake to get the best all-around experience.

After a pretty walk through the forest, you just have to tackle a few switchbacks, which while relatively steep are quite short and will be manageable for people of all ages. Once you reach the viewpoint, you can sit on the bench or along the concrete blocks and enjoy the views over Howe Sound and Bowen Island. It is also common to see lots of wildlife at the lookout including chipmunks, squirrels, birds and rabbits.

Bowen Lookout at Cypress Mountain

St Marks Summit

  • Time needed: 4 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

St Marks Summit is one of the most popular hikes in the Vancouver area and it’s easy to see why. This trail is a bit like the bigger brother of Bowen Lookout as it is longer, has more elevation gain, and is more difficult. But while it may be more difficult you get unobstructed breathtaking views from St Marks Summit.

The viewpoint from the top offers a better vantage point to take in Howe Sound in both directions, as well as over the different islands and all the way over to the Sunshine Coast. This trail also starts from Cypress Mountain and you can do Bowen Lookout as part of this hike.

This hike has only around 500 metres of elevation gain so it isn’t too punishing and a good portion of the trail is well maintained. This is also a part of the Howe Sound Crest Trail that runs all the way to Porteau Cove and one of the cool things about this trail is that you can backcountry camp along it as long as you are outside of the ski area.

This means that you can enjoy the sunset and sunrise views from the top without having to worry about hiking back in the dark. This is easily one of the most beautiful hikes in Vancouver and you’ll want to come back here every year.

St Marks Summit Hike, Cypress Mountain

Quarry Rock

  • Time needed: 1.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

Another one of the great short hikes in Vancouver is Quarry Rock which is located in Deep Cove. One of the great things about this hike is that you can access it quite easily via public transit. It is a short hike through the forest to reach Quarry Rock and when you get here you will get amazing aerial views over Deep Cove and Indian Arm.

As this is a short and easy hike that is also accessible by public transit, expect it to be quite busy, especially on weekends with nice weather. But don’t let the business stop you from completing this hike and enjoying the great views. For those who are new to hiking or if you just want an easy trail with a nice view, this is a superb choice.

Quarry Rock Hike in Deep Cove

Tunnel Bluffs

  • Time needed: 4 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The Tunnel Bluffs hike in Lions Bay is one of the best hikes near Vancouver and will give you very similar views to those at St Marks Summit. One thing to note about this hike is that it is extremely popular but there is very little parking. If you aren’t there before 8am (or even earlier!) on the weekends you are unlikely to get a spot.

This is a moderately difficult hike and the first half is where you will complete all of the elevation gain so this part is a bit of a slog. But once you have gotten through the first section, it is a pretty easy route to the top of Tunnel Bluffs. When you reach the main viewpoint you will get fantastic views over Howe Sound and over the surrounding mountains.

Having completed this hike, it is easy to see why it is so popular and it is worth getting out of bed early for. Or if you can visit during the week it would be much quieter as well.

Tunnel Bluffs Hike

Eagle Bluffs

  • Time needed: 4 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Another one of the epic trails around Cypress Provincial Park is Eagle Bluffs. This hike takes you up Black Mountain, which is opposite Cypress Mountain, where Bowen lookout and St Marks Summit are located. It is also quite similar in terms of difficulty to St Marks Summit although the views are slightly different.

On your way to Eagle Bluffs, you will also pass Cabin Lake where you can go for a swim in the summer months if you are feeling brave. Once you reach the main lookout at Eagle Bluffs you will get stunning views over downtown Vancouver as well as partial views of Howe Sound. This is also one of our favourite dog-friendly hikes in Vancouver so you can take your furry friend on your adventure too.

The lookout is also home to lots of birds and you’ll see some very cheeky chipmunks who won’t be afraid to climb up your legs and across your lap in search of some food. This is a very muddy hike so wear hiking boots or an old pair of runners that you don’t mind getting dirty.

Eagle Bluffs Trail, Cypress Mountain

Joffre Lakes

  • Time needed: 4 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Although it is a 2.5 hour drive from Vancouver, we couldn’t leave Joffre Lakes off of our list as it is one of the most beautiful hikes near Vancouver. The trail takes you to 3 different glacial lakes, with each lake a different shade of blue. The middle lake is the prettiest of the three, but it is still worth making the extra effort to reach the third lake which sits right beneath Matier Glacier.

The middle lake and top lakes are both a breathtaking shade of blue, while the first lake is more of a greenish-blue. This might just be the most popular hike on the west coast and you can expect this trail to be busy, regardless of when you visit. That being said, it is so worth visiting this spectacular place and you can even camp up at the third lake if you want to stay overnight and escape some of the crowds.

Along with Garibaldi Lake (more on Garibaldi below), this is one of the most beautiful, blue glacial lakes that you will find on the west coast of Canada and should be high up on your bucket list whether you live here or are just visiting.

Joffre Lakes Hike

Norvan Falls

  • Time needed: 4 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Enjoy a long and beautiful trail through the forest to reach Norvan Falls. This trail is 14 kilometres round-trip and is ideal if you are looking for a slightly longer hike that isn’t too difficult. Although it is long, there is only around 300 metres of elevation gain, which makes it easy to cover the distance quickly and you will likely see a few trail runners along the path.

This is one of the best hikes in North Vancouver and you will find the trailhead to Norvan Falls in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park. The waterfall at the end of the hike is impressive as the water cascades into a crystal-clear green pool as the base of the falls. In the summer this is a nice spot to go for a quick swim (the water will be freezing) to cool off before making the return journey.

Norvan Falls Hike, North Vancouver

Panorama Ridge

  • Time needed: 11 hours
  • Difficulty: Hard

There are a lot of amazing hikes in and around Vancouver but the hike to Panorama Ridge is our absolute favourite. The aerial view over the incredibly blue Garibaldi Lake and surrounding glaciers is jaw dropping and we plan to do this hike every year that we live here. It is a beast of a hike as it is just under 30 kilometres long and has over 1500 metres of elevation gain.

This can be done in a day if you are feeling brave, but we recommend staying at least one night at either Garibaldi Lake or Taylor Meadows campgrounds to split up this trip. As well as getting to enjoy the view from above, you can walk along the shores of Garibaldi Lake and enjoy the stunning views at water level. If you are feeling really brave you can even go for a swim in the icy cold water.

This is one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen (especially if you visit during wildflower season which runs from mid-July to early September) and the long and difficult hike is so worth the effort. Walking back through the meadows at sunset as they were covered in colourful wildflowers was just as impressive as the view from Panorama Ridge and we guarantee you will love this hike.

While we think it is worth the effort to make it all the way to the top of Panorama Ridge, if you don’t fancy a hike of this distance or with this much elevation gain, it is still worth hiking just to Garibaldi Lake.

Hunter Trail

  • Time needed: 2.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

If you want to truly escape the city for the day, then check out the Hunter Trail in Mission. This trail is less than 1.5 hours drive from downtown Vancouver but you will feel like you are a million miles away as you drive along narrow and winding roads through the countryside.

The trail itself follows a moderate trail up a logging road and you don’t get much of a view until you reach the very end of the trail. From here you get a stunning view over Stave Lake and the snow-capped mountains that surround this lake. This is an epic spot to sit and enjoy your lunch before making your way back home. If you do drive out this direction we also recommend checking out Cascade Falls and making a full day of it.

Hunter, Mission

Murrin Loop and Quercus Viewpoint

  • Time needed: 1.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

If you want an easy hike and a killer sunset then check out Murrin Loop and Quercus Viewpoint near Squamish. A short climb up through the forest will take you to Quercus viewpoint which gives you an amazing view right down Howe Sound and over the surrounding mountains. As this is such a short trail it is ideal for sunset as you won’t have to hike back in the dark.

If you do come here then we recommend going all the way up to Jurassic Ridge. It isn’t much extra effort, but few people make the effort to come up here, so you might have it all to yourself. There are some more fun, technical sections to navigate and the view is just as good if not better than from Quercus Viewpoint.

Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody Review

The Chief

  • Time needed: 6 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

One of the most iconic hikes on the west coast of Canada is the Stawamus Chief in Squamish. This unique chunk of rock sits out by itself and is one of the highlights of the Sea to Sky Highway. It is a pretty brutal hike to the top of the Chief but you’ll get awesome 360 degree views from the top over Howe Sound, Squamish and the surrounding mountain peaks.

You can complete all three peaks on this hike but you only really need to do one of the peaks as they are all relatively similar. This will be one of the busier hikes in the area as it is so iconic, but it is definitely worth doing at least once.

Stawamus Chief

Buntzen Lake

  • Time needed: 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

The Buntzen Lake trail is a 10-kilometre circuit that runs right around the edge of Buntzen Lake. There is some gentle undulation along this loop but there is very little overall elevation change and no sections of the trail are steep or particularly difficult. The path hugs the shoreline for much of the trip and there are several beaches and viewing platforms along the way that will give you great views over the lake and the surrounding forest.

At the far end of the lake is the highlight of this hike. You will find a picturesque picnic area and a small wooden dock where you can stop for some lunch, enjoy basking in the warm summer sun and go for a swim in the lake to cool down as well. This is one of the best lake hikes near Vancouver and another great option if you want a slightly longer hike that has almost no elevation gain.

Buntzen Lake Loop

Diez Vistas

  • Time needed: 4 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate/Hard

Another awesome hike that you can complete at Buntzen Lake is the Diez Vistas trail. This is more challenging than the Buntzen Lake loop as you do climb up along the ridgeline on the West side of Buntzen Lake. We recommend incorporating the first part of the loop trail and walking along the east side of Buntzen Lake before breaking off this trail and climbing up to Diez Vistas. Essentially you will want to head in a counterclockwise direction.

Once you reach the top you will stop at several incredible viewpoints that look out over Indian Arm, Deep Cove and all the way to downtown Vancouver on a clear day. If you have done the Quarry Rock hike it is cool to see a similar view from across the water and it’s also great to watch the boats cruise by right below you.

Diez Vistas

Lindeman Lake

  • Time needed: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

If you are looking for a hike east of the city then check out Lindeman Lake. This is a relatively short but moderate hike that leads you to a stunning alpine lake that is a magnificent shade of green. It’s awesome to have so many beautifully coloured lakes on our doorstep and Lindeman Lake is a very different colour to the likes of Joffre and Garibaldi Lakes.

You can hike along the edge of the lake and continue on to Greendrop Lake or you can take on the challenging climb to Goat Ridge for an aerial view of Lindeman Lake and Chilliwack Lake. This is another very popular hike, so get there early if you want to beat the crowds.

Lindeman Lake

Elk Mountain

  • Time needed: 4 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Another awesome hike in the Chilliwack area is Elk Mountain. We had seen some pictures of here before but didn’t expect it to be as good as it was. When we visited we were blown away by the stunning views over the Fraser Valley and on a clear day you get a magnificent look at the snow-capped Mount Baker in the United States.

It is a decent climb to reach the top but once you reach the exposed ridgeline and you get to walk along the top with unobstructed mountain scenery surrounding you, you’ll find it was worth the effort. If you are willing to hike down in partial darkness then stay up here for sunset as it is absolutely incredible to watch the final golden rays of sunshine filter through the mountains and light up the Fraser Valley.

Elk Mountain trail

Lower Falls Trail

  • Time needed: 1.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

The Lower Falls Trail in Golden Ears Provincial Park is one of the best short hikes near Vancouver. The trail to the falls is relatively flat the whole way and as you walk the trail you will pass by the crystal clear waters of Gold Creek and on a clear day you’ll get to see the impressive mountain peaks that tower above you. As this is such an easy trail it is very popular for families with young kids.

At the end of the trail, you reach the Lower Falls which are an impressive sight. There is a wooden viewing platform at the base of the falls where you will get cooled down by the spray of the falls as they crash into the water below. Follow the trail around a little further and you can enjoy this waterfall from above as well. This is the perfect trail if you want to get some great views but you want to put very little effort in or if you have young kids with you.

Lower Falls Trail, Golden Ears Provincial Park

Dog Mountain

  • Time needed: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

One of the easier hikes at Mt Seymour is Dog Mountain. This short but sweet hike takes you through the forest and along a stream until you reach the main viewpoint. On a clear day, you will get epic views over downtown Vancouver. The trail itself winds fairly gently up through the forest with no difficult sections.

This is a great hike to complete year-round and you will find it is just as busy with snowshoers in the winter as it is with hikers in the summer.

Dog Mountain Snowshoe

Mount Seymour – Pump Peak

  • Time needed: 3.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

If you are looking for a more challenging hike at Mt Seymour, then check out the hike to Pump Peak. This is a more difficult hike than Dog Mountain but is still moderate with around 470 metres of elevation gain. Even if you visit in early summer you’ll still encounter a decent amount of snow at the top but it is manageable in hiking boots.

From the top you’ll get sensational 360 degree views over the surrounding mountains and all the way down to downtown Vancouver. This is a beautiful hike and if you want to extend it some more you can actually summit all three peaks at the top of Mount Seymour.

First Peak at Seymour Mountain

Jug Island Trail

  • Time needed: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

The trail through Belcarra Regional Park to the beach next to Jug Island is a cool hike through the forest with a beautiful, secluded beach at the end. There isn’t that much elevation gain on this hike but there are some sections where you have to climb across roots and over some trickier parts of the trail which is why we marked it as easy/moderate.

Once you descend down the final section of the trail to the beach, the forest opens up to reveal the beautiful scenery of Jug Island, a tiny island just a stone’s throw from the beach, and down into Indian Arm. During the summer you can swim to the island and it is common for kayakers and stand-up paddle boarders to paddle around the headland to get here.

The low elevation and trail through the dense forest makes this an ideal rainy day hike in Vancouver and it can be completed year-round which is awesome.

Jug Island Trail, snow free hikes vancouver

Pacific Spirit Regional Park

  • Time needed: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Easy

It may be a slight stretch to call this a hike and it may be better classified as one of the best walks in Vancouver. This is a network of trails which runs through the beautiful old-growth forest of Pacific Spirit Regional Park. You can come for a quick walk or spend hours navigating through the trails here as they criss cross and span across a huge area.

This is ideal when you want something that is really close to the city centre and can also be a great choice for rainy days. The dense forest offers good protection from the elements and looks even lusher in the rain.

Pacific Spirit Regional Park, year round hikes vancouver

Cypress Falls and Whyte Lake

  • Time needed: 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

These can both be done as separate, shorter hikes if you would prefer – however, we think combining the two makes for a better option. At 10 kilometres, it’s a nice length and it’s cool to get to visit a waterfall and a lake in the same trip. This is one of the cool waterfall hikes Vancouver has to offer and is a really nice trail that is super close to the city.

Cypress Falls are quite impressive and there are several different viewpoints which gives you a look at the different levels of the falls. After hiking through the forest for a few kilometres you will then come to the small and serene Whyte Lake, which is surrounded by trees and is often perfectly flat as it is protected on all sides. If you are looking for some good hikes near North Vancouver, this is a great option.

Whyte Lake

Final Thoughts

The area in and around Vancouver is full of ridiculously spectacular hikes and these are just a few of our absolute favourites. There are plenty more epic hikes to choose from but we hope our list of the best scenic hikes in Vancouver helps you decide where to go on your next adventure.

We are sure there are a bunch of your favourite hikes that didn’t make our list. Let us know what you think are the best hikes in Vancouver in the comments!


Looking for more adventures around Vancouver? Check out more of our travel guides here:

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Wild About BC About Us

Hi, we’re Luke and Roxy, a couple of adventurers that are head over heels in love with British Columbia, Canada.

We share our activities and outdoor adventures with the hope of inspiring others to get out and enjoy beautiful BC!

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