Top summer day hikes from Vancouver

July 12, 2012

Summer signals hiking season in Vancouver. Boasting lush, emerald forests, panoramic alpine views and spectacular wildlife, British Columbia is a true hiker’s paradise. Hundreds of trails accessible from the city cater to all fitness levels; check conditions online before setting out, never hike alone, and remember to keep a respectable distance from resident black bears.


Black Bear in Garibaldi Provincial Park – Timmy Page | All Rights Reserved
Black Mountain Loop
Vancouver’s Cypruss Mountain Resort is open for hiking-year-round, with loads of well-marked summer trails to choose from. This easy loop starting at the base of a chairlift winds through sub-alpine meadows and skirts several alpine lakes, offering great views (especially at sunset) from the Lake Yew Viewpoint and the Vancouver Lookout. For a more intense workout, try the 8.5km Horseshoe Bay to Cypress Mountain trail. Maps can be downloaded from the BCParks’ webpage).
Distance: 2.5km
Incline: 100m
Level: Easy
Hike time: 90minutes
Getting there: Follow the signs to Cypruss Mountain Resort, 30mins from downtown Vancouver on Hwy 99. For Horseshoe Bay, park at the lot at the north end of Eagleridge Drive, just off Hwy 1.


Garibaldi Lake seen from Black Tusk – Sarah Reid | All Rights Reserved


Garibaldi Lake
If there’s one hike every Vancouverite should do before they die, it’s this tough slog to one of the region’s most beautiful alpine lakes. During the first 6km stretch shaded by Douglas Fir Trees you’ll never want to see another switchback again, but from the junction (stay left) views build to a dramatic finale – a giant, blue-white glacier oozing into the clearest, turquoise lake you’ve ever seen. Don’t be afraid to take a dip – the waters’ not that cold. If you’ve got energy left, complete the final push through beautiful, wildflower-covered meadows to the starfish-shaped Black Tusk cinder cone for an aerial view of the lake and Whistler resort beyond. This extended loop can take 11hours, so be sure to start early, or camp at Garibaldi Lake or nearby Taylor Meadows.
Distance: 18kms
Incline: 850m
Level: Difficult
Hike time: 5hours
Getting there: Head north along Hwy 99 for about 90minutes, turning off at Rubble Creek just south of Whistler. Find the trailhead in the car park.


Stawamus Chief – All Rights Reserved | Sarah Reid


Stawamus Chief
Towering above the township of Squamish, “The Chief” is the largest granite monolith in the world next to Yosemite’s El Capitan. Check out the raging Shannon Falls before embarking on the steep ascent that winds through lush rainforest behind the granite face frequented by hard-core rock climbers. Toward the summit, the trail forks into three. Stay left to scale the easiest South Peak, using chains bolted into the granite to help you scramble to the top. Awarding stunning views of Howe Sound, the peak is a great lunch spot, though resident squirrels will expect you to share.
Distance: 11km
Incline: 600m
Level: Intermediate
Hike time: 4hours
Getting there: From Downtown, drive north for 50mins on Hwy 99. Pull into the Shannon Falls car park, just south of Squamish.


Joffrey Lakes – Sarah Reid | All Rights Reserved


Joffrey Lakes
BC’s best-kept hiking secret is a bit of a drive from Vancouver, but the journey is half the fun – spot bald eagles near Squamish (the Brackendale area has the highest concentration of the species in North America) and stop for lunch or dinner in resort town Whistler. Winding through the luscious, west coast rainforest and alpine furs surrounding three glorious, turquoise alpine lakes and a giant boulder field, you’ll be lucky to pass another hiker on this beautiful, other-worldly trail.
Distance: 11km
Incline: 400m
Level: Intermediate
Hike time: 5hours
Getting there: Take Highway 99 north past Whistler and Pemberton until you reach Mt Currie. Turn right towards Lillooet until you hit the Joffee Lakes parking lot off Duffey Lake Road. Allow 3hours for each leg.


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