An Expert Guide to Hiking in Vancouver, BC, Canada

Taking a trip to Vancouver, BC? Hiking expert Amy Boissonneault has some recommendations for trails you might want to check out.

Photo by Jeremy Allouche
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Vancouver, BC is the kind of city where you can go skiing in the morning, kayaking in the afternoon, and out to a fancy dinner in the evening. All that to say… it has a little bit of everything. Another thing it’s full of? Some of the best hikes. Below you’ll find a list of hikes with options for all skill levels in Vancouver and the surrounding area, organized by distance from the city. If you find yourself visiting, make sure to carve out some time for nature and explore at least a few of these quintessential trails.

Quarry Rock: Best for the whole family!

A man looks out at a lake at Quarry Rock with his back to the camera
A lucky quiet moment to enjoy the view at Quarry Rock. Photo by Amy Boissonneault
  • Location: North Vancouver
  • Distance: 2.4mi / 3.8km
  • Time to complete: 1.5 hours
  • Elevation gain: 328ft / 100m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Season: Year-round

Okay, real talk—this hike, located in Deep Cove, is one of the most popular hikes in Vancouver. Not only is it an easy hiking trail, it’s short, accessible, and beautiful. Just be prepared to join the crowd when you arrive at the viewpoint. For the full Quarry Rock experience, be sure to swing by Honey’s Donuts for a post trail treat (although, I must admit I prefer a snack from Bluhouse cafe).

This hike is accessible via public transit on the #239 and #212 buses. Find driving directions here.

First Peak: Best for views of the city!

A woman looks out at a view of mountains and valleys
At First Peak on Mount Seymour – mountains on one side, city views on the other. Photo by Amy Boissonneault
  • Location: North Vancouver
  • Distance: 5.6mi / 9km round-trip
  • Time to complete: 5 hours
  • Elevation gain: 1476ft / 450m
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Season: July through October

This hike is located in Mount Seymour Provincial Park on one of the local ski hills. During summer months, you can complete this hike, which takes you to a stellar panoramic view of the city of Vancouver and surrounding mountains! At the start of this hike you’ll also pass the trailhead for the Dog Mountain trail—a much shorter and simpler hike which also features a great view of the city. You can snowshoe First Peak (also referred to as simply Mount Seymour or Pump Peak) in the winter months, but watch out for skiers on the first portion of the trail!

This hike is not accessible via public transit. Find driving directions here.

Norvan Falls: Best for getting your steps in without going up the mountain!

The river and mountains at Norvan Falls
View of the river and mountains along the trail to Norvan Falls. Photo by Amy Boissonneault
  • Location: North Vancouver
  • Distance: 8.7mi / 14km round-trip
  • Time to complete: 5hrs
  • Elevation gain: 650ft / 195m
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Season: Year-round

Located in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, this is a great trail for those who want to get out for a solid hike, but maybe not climb a mountain. With pretty minimal elevation gain, you’ll enjoy a hike through the lush forest and along the river. Pack a lunch to enjoy when you arrive at the waterfall!

This hike is accessible via public transit on the #228 bus to Lynn Valley. Find driving directions here.

Twin Falls and Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge: Best for anyone and everyone!

A woman surveys a river
Looking out at the river. Photo by Amy Boissonneault
  • Location: North Vancouver
  • Distance: 0.9mi / 1.5km round-trip
  • Time to complete: 1 hour
  • Elevation gain: 213ft / 65m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Season: Year-round

Twin Falls is a shorter hike located in Lynn Canyon on the North Shore. At the start of this hike you’ll cross the Lynn Canyon Suspension bridge above Lynn Creek (164ft below) to link up with the trail on the other side. Twin Falls takes you on an easy hike through lush rainforest and beside the river.

This hike is accessible via public transit on bus #228 to Lynn Valley. Find driving directions here.

St. Mark’s Summit: Best for views of Howe Sound!

A woman looks out at the water of Howe Sound
View of Howe Sound and surrounding Gulf Islands at St. Mark’s Summit. Photo by Amy Boissonneault
  • Location: West Vancouver
  • Distance: 6.8mi / 11km round-trip
  • Time to complete: 5 hours
  • Elevation gain: 1509ft / 460m
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Season: July through October

Part of the much longer Howe Sound Crest Trail, St. Mark’s Summit starts from Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver and offers stellar views if you luck out with clear skies. Enjoy views of Mount Unnecessary, The Lions, and Howe Sound on the way up, and once you’re at the top you’ll be looking out at the Tantalus Range, the Gulf Islands, and even Vancouver Island in the distance. I hope you like switch-backs because this trail has plenty of them!

This hike is not accessible via public transit. Find driving directions here.

Mount Gardner: Best for escaping the city!

The trees and water off the Mount Gardner hiking trail
Looking out over the Sunshine Coast atop Mount Gardner. Photo by Amy Boissonneault
  • Location: Bowen Island
  • Distance: 10.6mi / 17km round-trip
  • Time to complete: 7 hours
  • Elevation gain: 2359ft / 719m
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Season: Year-round

Hop on a 20 minute ferry from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver to make the short trip over to Bowen Island! This charming little island is well worth a visit, and the hike to Mount Gardner provides views of Vancouver on one side and the Sunshine Coast on the other. You can even walk or bike the 1.9mi (3km) from the ferry terminal to the trail head if you don’t have access to a vehicle. Make sure you read trail directions carefully as this trail isn’t as well marked as most. It makes for a great day trip with scenic views, and be sure to grab a treat at one of local eateries after your hike!

This hike is accessible via public transit on the #257 or #250 buses to Horseshoe Bay. Be sure to look up the ferry schedule. Find driving directions here.

The Lions Binkert Trail: Best for serious hikers and stellar views!

Trees and mountains
Mountains as far as you can see at the top of The Lions. Photo by Amy Boissonneault
  • Location: Lions Bay
  • Distance: 10mi / 16km roundtrip
  • Time to complete: 8 hours
  • Elevation gain: 4199ft / 1280m
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Season: July through October

The Lions are the two most familiar peaks in Vancouver and can be seen from almost anywhere in the city on a clear day. Along this trail you’ll pass a few scenic waterfalls, enjoy views of Bowen Island, Howe Sound and surrounding mountain peaks, scramble over boulders from previous rock slides, and hike through Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar forests. This is a challenging hike. It is a long and steep climb, but it delivers with an epic view at the top. Start early and make sure to bring lots of snacks and water to keep you going. I recommend hiking poles for this hike—you’ll be especially glad you have them on the descent.

This hike is not accessible via public transit. Find driving directions here. Note: Parking here is very limited—arrive early!

Sea to Summit: Best for enjoying a cold beer with a view at the top (that you didn’t have to carry up)!

People walk along the suspension bridge at the top of the Sea to Summit trail
Suspension bridge at the top of the Sea to Summit trail. Photo by Amy Boissonneault
  • Location: Squamish
  • Distance: 4.7mi / 7.5km one way
  • Time to complete: 3.5 hours
  • Elevation gain: 3012ft / 918m
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Season: March through November

The Sea to Summit trail is a steep hike that rings true to its name—start at sea level, underneath the Sea to Sky Gondola, and end at a lodge at the top! This trail is one way, meaning you hike to the top, enjoy the scenery, and then purchase a gondola ticket to get back to where you started. Don’t forget to pack money for your gondola ticket! If you decide to opt out of the hike but still want to take in the views, hop on one of the gondolas and wave to hikers on your way to the top!

This trail is not accessible via public transit. Find driving directions here.

The Stawamus Chief: Best for views overlooking Squamish, BC!

Two women smile at the camera in front of the view of Squamish, BC
An eagle eye’s view of Squamish, BC from one of the peaks of The Chief. Photo by Amy Boissonneault
  • Location: Squamish
  • Distance: 6.8mi / 11km round-trip
  • Time to complete: 2.5 - 6 hours
  • Elevation gain: 1969ft / 600m
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Season: March through November

A classic hike about an hour from Vancouver. As you drive into Squamish you can’t miss the sheer rock face of The Stawamus Chief—a popular climbing spot as well as hiking. The Chief has three peaks, and it’s possible to visit them all in one day. Generally, hikers opt to visit either the first or second peak which will take roughly 2.5 hours roundtrip. There are some challenging sections and features such as ladders and ropes that have been added to assist hikers. From the top, soak in views of Squamish, Garibaldi Provincial Park, and the Howe Sound.

This hike is not accessible via public transit. Find driving directions here.

Elfin Lakes: Best for overnight trips in a cozy hut!

People hike towards snowy trees
A fall hike to the Elfin Lakes Hut on an overnight trip. Photo by Amy Boissonneault
  • Location: Squamish
  • Distance: 13.7mi / 22km round-trip
  • Time to complete: 6 hours
  • Elevation gain: 1969ft / 600m
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Season: July through October

The Elfin Lakes are located in the beautiful alpine of Garibaldi Provincial Park. Approximately an hour down the trail you’ll arrive at the Red Heather Hut—a great place to stop for snacks, rest, and use the outhouse. From here, continue on up into the alpine and take in the surrounding expansive views. You will eventually arrive at the two lakes and the Elfin Lakes Hut. Swimming is allowed in the upper lake only as the lower lake is reserved for drinking water. This hike can be completed as a day hike, or you can reserve a night in the hut and spend a night! Also a great snowshoeing trip in winter months.

This hike is not accessible via public transit. Find driving directions here.

Crooked Falls: Best hidden gem!

A person looks out at a waterfall
Side viewpoint at Crooked Falls. Photo by Amy Boissonneault
  • Location: Squamish
  • Distance: 3.7mi / 6km
  • Time to complete: 3 hours
  • Elevation gain: 1247ft / 380m
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Season: April through November

This hike is a true Squamish gem. With several scenic views of the Squamish River and valley along the way and an impressive waterfall at the end, there’s plenty to look forward to. Once you arrive at Crooked Falls, there are two viewpoints—one directly in front of the falls and one off to the side (pictured above). The trail to the side viewpoint can be quite slippery so tread carefully. The spray from this waterfall is strong so expect to get a little wet.

This hike is not accessible via public transit. Find driving directions here.

Joffre Lakes: Best for glacier views!

A person stands on a snowy hill looking out at a lake in winter
Upper Joffre Lake during winter. Photo by Amy Boissonneault
  • Location: Pemberton
  • Distance: 6.2mi / 10km round-trip
  • Time to complete: 4 hours
  • Elevation gain: 1214ft / 370m
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Season: June through September

Joffre Lakes is arguably one of British Columbia’s most beautiful hikes. Along the trail you will pass all three lakes as well as a cascading waterfall. There’s even a campsite at Upper Joffre Lake, nestled below the Matier Glacier which looms above. In winter months, you can snowshoe to Upper Joffre Lake. This hike is located near Pemberton, BC, which is 3 hours from Vancouver. The upside to the long drive is you get to experience the scenic Sea to Sky highway!

This hike is not accessible via public transit. Find driving directions here.

These are just a handful of some of the best hikes in and around Vancouver (including a few of my favorites). Enjoy your time on the trail and click on the link to my profile below to drop me a line and talk about all things hiking and camping related!

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Growing up on the west coast, camping and getting outdoors in general was always (and continues to be) a priority. Whether it's skiing, hiking, camping, or something a little more off grid, it seems like we're always looking for the next adventure. ​ I might live in the city these days but I spend t...

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