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Hikes near Vancouver BC

There are many fantastic hikes near Vancouver BC, and with the summer hiking season in full swing, I thought I’d list my top 5 favourite. Hiking is a great (and inexpensive) way to take in all that Vancouver has to offer, and since I’ve been here in Germany, I find that I really miss having such fantastic hiking options so close to where I live.


It’s easy to find hikes near Vancouver BC – all you have to do is look up towards the mountains. :) But here are some gems you shouldn’t overlook.

Golden Ears (north of Maple Ridge)

Time needed: 2 days, or one very long day hike (24km round trip)

This is perfect for a beginner hiker (who is still relatively fit) looking for an overnight trip. It was my first hike in Vancouver, and I loved every minute of it. You’ll have to do a small amount of scrambling on rock, and cross a permanent patch of snow to get to the summit, but the view from the top is spectacular. There are a lot of bugs (I got eaten alive in July) on the trail – so bring bug spray!

5,629 ft / 1,716 m
5,629 ft / 1,716 m

Black Tusk (south of Whistler)

Time needed: 2 days, or one very long day hike (approx 28-29km round trip, depending on the route)

This is one of my favourite hikes near Vancouver BC. Well worth the effort for the spectacular views (the photo in this post is from the peak). The hike to the base of chimney is pretty easy. Lots of switchbacks which lead to open meadows. It’s quite stunning. As for the chimney? Bring a helmet if you’re unsure (I didn’t, but wish I had). The rock is crumbly and loose (it will literally break apart in your hands as you grab onto it). So make sure you’re confident in your abilities. The view from the top is absolutely breathtaking.

7,608 ft / 2,319 m
7,608 ft / 2,319 m

Garibaldi Lake (south of Whistler)

Time needed: 6-8 hours (18km round trip)

This is a fun day hike near Vancouver BC, and good for a group of friends. It’s easy enough for beginners, but the views are stunning enough that it’s worth it for hikers of any skill level. The hike could be extended into an overnight trip, or you can use the camping area at Garibaldi Lake as base camp to hike up to Black Tusk. There are also 4 or 5 basic huts lining the lake shore that are great for socializing, cooking, or just hanging out.


Lynn Peak (North Vancouver)

Time needed: 3-4 hours (9km round trip)

I feel like people ignore Lynn Peak. It’s an easy hike. I did this with a non-hiker one evening after work and it took us about 3.5 hours round trip. I really like this hike because the entire time we didn’t see a single person (even though it was July), and it’s short enough that you can do it on a nice summer evening.

3,330 ft / 1,015 m
3,330 ft / 1,015 m

Widgeon Lake (Pitt Lake area)

Time needed: 2 days (16km round trip), you will need a canoe

Love love love this hike. It starts with a one-hour paddle to Widgeon Slough. From there, you head to Widgeon Lake. The first portion of this hike is literally just a walk in the park. The rest of the way? It’s uphill and challenging with a heavy pack. Lots of root grabbing and scrambling over rock. And you don’t see any glimpses of the lake until you’re actually there. Down by the lake shore there are very nice camping spots, and when I was there in July, I had the entire lake to myself. Absolutely gorgeous.

approx. 2,952 ft / 900 m
approx. 2,952 ft / 900 m

Joffre Lakes (Pemberton area)

Time needed: 4-6 hours (11 km round trip)
This is a great day hike, and is worth an overnighter. Oh, and bring proper hiking boots! While the hike itself isn’t hard, you will be crossing multiple boulder fields and the trail is muddy. But it’s completely worth it. You pass by beautiful lakes that are an amazing turquoise colour. And once you get to the Upper Lake, you’re surrounded by mountains and glaciers. You can use Joffre Lakes as a base camp to climb Joffre Peak, or any of the other surrounding mountains.

Climb up from the edge of the lake for some breathtaking views.
Climb up from the edge of the lake for some breathtaking views.

Juan de Fuca Marine Trail (Vancouver Island)

Time needed: 2-4 days (47 km)

A beautiful hike along the west coast of Vancouver Island. This is a one-way hike (not a loop), so make sure you figure out your transportation situation! We ended up hitchhiking, which is not uncommon in the area. The trail is super muddy, lots of up-and-down through river valleys, and the beaches are gorgeous. It wasn’t a super difficult hike, but the days are long and you have to be in decent shape. We hiked 21km on Day 1, 7km on Day 2, and 19km on Day 3.

JDF Trail provides both forest and oceanside hiking, making it the perfect west coast hike.
JDF Trail provides both forest and oceanside hiking, making it the perfect west coast hike.

Grimface Mountain (via Wall Creek, Cathedral Park)

Time needed: 2-3 days (approx. 36 km round trip)

This is my all-time favourite hike. It’s about 4 hours east of Vancouver (just before Keremeos), but totally worth it. The trail was difficult with a 45lb. pack on, and really tested my limits. The Wall Creek route is significantly more difficult than the traditional way (via the Lakes). The scramble to the summit was really exhilarating, and there were a couple exposed steps – so I would only recommend actually climbing the summit if you are sure of your own feet. Because it is a long way down. Especially when you’re not roped in! I did this hike in a casual 4 days (hike in, rest day, summit day, hike out). When I was on the summit, I saw 2 people in the distance approach the base of the mountain, and then turn back. But other than that, I didn’t see a single person for the entire trip. I definitely want to go back there one of these days.

Looking straight ahead towards Grimface Mountain.
Looking straight ahead towards Grimface Mountain.

What are your favourite hikes around the Vancouver area?

Krystal Yee

Krystal Yee is a travel blogger and personal finance expert with substantial media credits to her name. Lover of off-beat travel, hiking, French macarons, barefoot shoes, and her iPhone. Excel spreadsheet addict. She is currently living in Vancouver, plotting her next adventure.

Comments

Karen Graham

Thanks for all these great suggestions for hiking in and around Vancouver. I hope to head back there next year, so I might try to do one or two of them. My brother lives in Horseshoe Bay, so I’m a frequent visitor, but I haven’t done many hikes yet. I’ve climbed Grouse Mountain (more of a slog than a picturesque hike, but the beer was good at the top), the Chief at Squamish, and I’ve also done some hiking on Bowen Island (which I loved). Can’t wait to be back there!

Krystal Yee

I’ve heard great things about Bowen Island – all my friends rave about the hiking, but I have yet to get out there myself! :) Maybe I’ll make it a goal for next summer.

Tawcan

Grimface is a fun scramble. :)

Mike

Hi there, thanks for the great list. There are so many great places to hike on Vancouver Island as well! Check out Strathcona Park if you’re out this way again!

Cade

Your photos are outstanding. You are a talented writer, Krystal, I hope you get back into posting again. I went to college at Univ of Oregon and love the Pacific Northwest. Your post makes me want to leave FL for a trip out there. Thank you.

Eric Yee

Another Yee! Love it. ;)

Anyways, I ventured to Vancouver a lot before but I don’t know why I’ve never even looked into doing any of these hikes! That first one, Golden Ears, just looks amazing. I’ll probably end up doing that on my next trip. I normally find myself enjoying the hikes from Lynn Canyon Park (down to the river). Never have I thought of climbing up in the mountains! Awesome post and thanks for the tips!

Isaac R. Solorzano

Thanks for the information. I have never been to Vancouver and plan on visiting in mid July. Any suggestion for a guided overnight stay at one of the places you mentioned? I am looking for hiking and night photography..thx