The Eagle Bluffs trail in Cypress Provincial Park is one of the most popular hikes in Vancouver. Its close proximity to the city, moderate difficulty and amazing views over downtown Vancouver and Howe Sound make it a favourite Vancouver hike amongst tourists and locals alike.
Eagle Bluffs Hike Overview
How to Get to Cypress Provincial Park
To reach Cypress Mountain from downtown Vancouver, take the Trans-Canada Highway, Highway 1, out towards Whistler. The exit you need to take is Exit 8 onto the Cypress Bowl Road towards Cypress Mountain Ski Resort, which is well signposted.
The drive up to the base of the ski area is a fairly steep road via long switchbacks. There is a viewpoint about 1/3 of the way up this road called the Highview Lookout that is worth stopping at. It has uninterrupted views the whole way across the city, and it looks just as good at night time as well.
Once you reach the top of the mountain, there are several places to park your car. The main car park closes the gate at 7pm so if you plan on heading later in the evening, make sure you park in one of the many parking spots outside the gates. There is no fee for parking your car here.
Eagle Bluffs Trail
The route to the bluffs starts in the Cypress Mountain downhill ski area. Walk passed the lodge and the first ski lift on your left which ascends up Black Mountain. There will be a path on the left hand side with signs to Black Mountain. The first few hundred metres of this trail are flat and take you along a narrow gravel path through the trees.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t stay flat for long. The first half of this hike is a fairly steep and brutal climb up the face of Black Mountain. Similar to many hikes in the area, such as Bowen Lookout and St Mark’s Summit, there is a series of switchbacks which help you gain elevation quickly up the face of the mountain. These switchbacks are nice and wide for the most part, and made up of loose gravel and some large rocks making the surface nice and easy to climb along.
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Along this trail you will come across several junctions but as it is in the provincial park, they are all very well signposted. Just make sure you are following signs to Eagle Bluffs and Black Mountain.
After around 40 minutes of climbing, the trail thankfully levels out as you reach Cabin Lake. If you are feeling brave or have hiked on a hot day, then this is the perfect spot to go for a swim. The water is fairly chilly but you’ll definitely feel refreshed after a quick dip.
On a hot day at the weekend Cabin Lake actually tends to get fairly busy with lots of people bringing inflatable floaties up so they can chill out on the lake for a few hours. To continue towards the bluffs, turn left at the lake.
A few minutes further along this trail and you will get to a large slab of rock which marks the summit of Black Mountain and gives you some amazing views out over the water. While this is a great spot to enjoy the scenery, your views aren’t as uninterrupted as at the bluffs due to the amount of trees at the summit.
Unfortunately, with this hike you start to descend back down the mountain – meaning you have to climb back up again on the return journey. From this point onwards the trail also gets really muddy. Although it is better to do it towards the end of the summer, it stays quite muddy year-round.
The trail becomes much more rugged as it descends through the forest and you climb over rocks and tree roots. You will also pass several more small lakes on the trail including Owen Lake and Cougar Lake. While the descent isn’t as bad as the climb you have to do to reach the summit of Black Mountain, you still to lose a decent amount of elevation that you will have to trek back up on the way home.
Eagle Bluffs Viewpoint
After around 45 minutes of hiking through the forest you will see a clearing up ahead and as you emerge out from the trees onto the rocky Eagle Bluffs and the view around you opens up completely.
The views are spectacular on a clear day with downtown Vancouver on the left hand side and Howe Sound to your right. It can often be unexpectedly cloudy at the peak, but usually if you have some patience the cloud will clear for at least a few minutes so you can enjoy the amazing scenery. This is one of the best views you can find in and around Vancouver and on a really clear day you can even see the snowy peak of Mount Baker.
As we mentioned, this is one of the more popular hikes in Vancouver so don’t expect to have the viewpoint all to yourself. There were a bunch of other people when we visited, but it is such a large area that it is easy to find your own spot to sit and enjoy the views while enjoying a well-earned hiking snack.
The bluffs are also home to lots of different wildlife including chipmunks, whiskey jacks and jays. These animals are so used to humans that they have no fear and the chipmunks are especially cheeky and will happily crawl up your legs and over you bags in search of food. While it may seem cute to feed the animals, it is something you should definitely avoid doing. Even without food you’ll still get a close up look at all of the different animals.
After enjoying the incredible views and getting some energy back, it’s time to head back. This means the first half of the return journey is slightly back up hill and through the mud to reach the top of Black Mountain before descending back down the Eagle Bluffs Trail to the bottom of the downhill ski area. The overall time spent on this hike, including a break at the bluffs should be around 3.5 – 4 hours, depending on your level of fitness.
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The Eagle Bluffs Trail is a must do hike for any Vancouver local or for any tourists looking for one of the best views in the area. It can get very busy, especially on weekends and holidays, so if you can visit during the week this will help you beat the crowds. This is an epic hike which doesn’t take too much effort and has some awesome views, which makes it an easy choice for your next adventure.
Have you done this hike recently? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
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