The Vancouver hiking enthusiast’s guide to the most beautiful trails

One of the things that make Vancouver one of the most livable cities in the world is how accessible nature is. Even if you have never been much of an outdoorsy person before, rest assured that an afternoon on some beautiful trails will leave you invigorated, inspired and with a new-found appreciation for Vancouver. There are options for any kind of hiker, biker or walker spanning every kind of difficulty. Many of the West Coast’s hiking spots run alongside each other intertwining in and out of the city, making Vancouver an adventurer’s dream. We’ve put together a list of a few of Vancouver’s best for your next day off, so pack a picnic or dust off those old hiking boots and take to the trails! 

Stanley Park

Time: 1-3 hours depending on preference

Difficulty: easy

Source:www.letsgobiking.net
Source: www.letsgobiking.net

We have to start with the easiest collection of trails; Stanley Park is a gorgeous mass of forest practically right inside the city. In fact, you can wander around to Prospect Point and Beaver Lake, and then come out, walk to Denman Street and treat yourself to a bowl of Pho. Various entries to the park can be accessed by bus, and the mostly flat terrain is perfect for running and long introspective walks. From the Lost Lagoon with its swan and raccoon inhabitants to the seashell filled sands of Second Beach, a day in Stanley Park is a lush treat. After tackling the trails and reading various informative signs on the park’s trees, vegetation and wildlife, make a trip to the Rose Garden and the Vancouver Aquarium for a well-rounded day.

Pacific Spirit Park

Time: 3 hours

Difficulty: easy 

Source: www.pacificparklands.com
Source: www.pacificparklands.com

We’re taking you to the west side for this one. The beautiful Pacific Spirit Regional Park spans over 750 hectares of forest, and is easily accessible with the beginning trail gate on 16th Avenue by Camosun Park. This is a perfect one for the whole family, and a great way to follow up a Sunday brunch with a friend for a conversation catch-up. The park surrounds the endowment land of UBC on the shores of the Georgia Strait, so visit the historically rich Museum of Anthropology and take in some aesthetic beauty with the UBC Botanical Gardens after you have had enough of the trails.

Burnaby Mountain

Time: 3 hours

Difficulty: easy to moderate

Source: www.outdoorproject.com
Source: www.outdoorproject.com

Located in Burnaby and home to Simon Fraser University, Burnaby Mountain is a lovely collection of trails fitted perfectly to biking, running and dog walking. Most of the trails are on the east side of the mountain and are marked by names and difficulty. Depending on which trails you take, this hike can actually be prolonged—from Mel’s Trail to the Trans Canada Trail, you can encompass steep inclines (watch out for BMX bikers ripping down these twisty corners), or grab a lunch at the Horizons Restaurant and view the mountain’s collection of Ainu totem pole-esque carvings in Centennial Park—an artistic tribute to the merging of Burnaby and its sister city Kushiro, Japan. Burnaby Mountain is open year round, and also houses a picturesque rose garden.

Norvan Falls

Time: 5 hours

Difficulty: easy to moderate

Source: https://www.vancouvertrails.com
Source: https://www.vancouvertrails.com

Gentler than some of the others on the list, this hike features a variety of difficulty levels and gorgeous riverside views. You will be leaving from Lynn Headwaters Regional Park and this old logging area offers picturesque experiences year-round. Goat Mountain and its rocky terrain offer a larger than life feel and the forest floor is so wonderfully British Columbia. If you are heading out on this trail by yourself, set up a nice playlist and be prepared to fall in love with the province all over again.

Lynn Peak

Time: 4 hours

Difficulty: moderate to hard

Source: https://www.vancouvertrails.com
Source: https://www.vancouvertrails.com

A rainforest, the Lynn Headwaters Regional Park is a site to behold with lush growth and views of both Seymour Mountain and even a bit of the U.S. This trail begins some of the steeper ones on our list, with fairly rocky terrain. It is not, however, as steep and busy as the Grouse Grind and BCMC trails. For a more solitary workout, take on the Peak and its 700-meter climb between the months of May and October. About 4.5 km in length, this hike earns you views that are well worth the time.

Crown Mountain

Time: 7 hours

Difficulty: hard 

Source: https://www.vancouvertrails.com
Source: https://www.vancouvertrails.com

Often compared to the Grouse Grind, Crown Mountain requires some heavy-duty hiking and commitment; set a whole day aside and be prepared for consistent uphill trek. With views of the Capilano Watershed, the Lions and the city of Vancouver, this hike will give you a both a visual and physical sense of accomplishment. The most difficult part of the hike is the trek down the trail into Crown Pass before hiking up the steep side of Crown Mountain; you will be required to return the same way so expect a double elevation change during your journey. The trailhead is located in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park and the best way to access this is through the Alpine Trail behind Grouse Mountain. Feeling nimble? Take on the Grouse Grind, BCMC Trail or Hanes Valley route if you want to prolong your day.

Hanes Valley Trail

Time: 9 hours

Difficulty: hard

Source: www.trekitnow.com
Source: www.trekitnow.com

Set in North Vancouver and filled with wildlife and greenery, this lengthy hike puts you entirely out of city mentality and into the elements. Starting in Lynn Valley and taking you to the top of Grouse Mountain, this is a difficult hike and rewards its hikers with drawstring bridges and waterfalls views. Are you searching for adventure on a budget? Take the BCMC trail down the mountain instead of the gondola.

Eagle Bluffs and Black Mountain

Time: 4 hours

Difficulty: hard 

Source: Eagle Bluffs and Black Mountain
Source: Eagle Bluffs and Black Mountain

One of the peaks in the Cypress Mountain ski area, the Black Mountain hike has gorgeous vantage points; you will be rewarded with views of Howe Sound, the Gulf Islands, Mount Baker, The Sunshine Coast and various others. And it is easily accessible for Vancouverites and visitors as entry can be found right beside the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal. Take the Baden Powell Trail when you’re ready to begin and pack yourself a good lunch and plenty of water. There is a lot to see but it won’t be easy. 

Grouse Grind

Time: 2 hours

Difficulty: hard

Grind

Want some killer exercise? Tackle the Grind for an ultimate buns-of-steel making experience. Spanning 2.9 km uphill, this fitness heavy hitter is a wooden stair climb workout. The Grind is located in North Vancouver, and takes you to the peak of Grouse Mountain. With 2, 830 stairs, this is no chill hiking venture. There are progress marks, and the Gondola ride down the mountain is $10 as trekking down on foot is prohibited. This is Vancouver’s most used and probably most famous trail. Alternatively, for a more peaceful journey, try one of the below trails that run beside the Grind.

BCMC Trail

Time: 2 hours

Difficulty: hard 

Source: ttps://www.vancouvertrails.com
Source: ttps://www.vancouvertrails.com

Running right along the Grouse Grind up the Grouse Mountain, the BCMC trail leaves from the same trailhead but offers a less crowded route. While the Grind is an awesome workout, the mounds of people it attracts can get a little overwhelming. The BCMC is steep and rocky, so be prepared for a good workout too. Open from June to September, there are markers to show you where you are on the North Vancouver trail. Wear some good hiking boots for this one (as with any of the moderate to hard hikes on this list), and conquer that mountain!

Old Buck

Time: up to 2 hours

Difficulty: moderate

Source: bearfootedhiker.wordpress.com
Source: bearfootedhiker.wordpress.com

A hike that also sees Mount Seymour, this is one for hikers that want a mix of the easy, moderate and hard trail levels. Climbing up the mountain, the Old Buck trail passes through Bridal, Baden Powell and Power Line trails while passing by Flower and Goldie lakes, small adorable streams and lush berry bushes. If you take on Old Buck be prepared with a map for that large network of trails that follow along an old logging road. This is a fairly busy trail, so be aware of your surroundings.

Lighthouse Park Trail

Time: 2 hours

Difficulty: easy

Lighthouse Park Trail www.vancouvertrails.com_blog_the-best-coastal-viewpoints-at-lighthouse-park

Open year round, this absolutely stunning member of Vancouver’s many parks sits on the shores of West Vancouver and is filled with large Douglas Fir trees and great spots for picnicking. The Lighthouse Park Trail is especially nice if you are visiting from out of town and want to feel that Pacific Ocean breeze in a flurry of West Coast spirit. Visit the Starboat Cove and view the Lions Gate Bridge for a maximized experience.