One of the things Vancouver is most known for is the stunning greenery. And hiking is a favorite pastime with both locals and tourists in Vancouver because it’s the best way to get sweeping views of the city. If you want a good workout and gorgeous views, here are the seven best trails you need to hike near Vancouver, British Columbia. And don’t worry – we have options on this list, so you can choose between easy or challenging hikes!
1. St. Mark’s Summit
If you can conquer St. Mark’s Summit, you’ll truly feel like you’re on top of the world. At the peak of the hike (if it’s a clear day), you get views of Howe Sound and Vancouver Island. This hike is about 11 kilometers round trip and takes most people approximately 5 hours to complete. You’ll be challenged with some winding switchbacks as the hike’s total elevation gain is 460 meters.
The hike starts on a primarily rocky landscape, but you soon find yourself spending hours climbing through the dense forest. When you get near the top, the trees begin to thin out, and you’ll start seeing the first signs of a view. It’s important to note that you won’t find clear signs directing you to St Mark’s Summit – it’s simply a lookout you’ll want to find on the path. However, if you’re hiking on a sunny day, you’ll only have to follow the other hikers to see the viewpoint. There is also a sign at the exact spot once you do find it.
2. Garibaldi Lake
If you’re up for an all-day challenge, consider tackling Garibaldi Lake. You start at Garibaldi Provincial Park, which is about a 1-hour drive from Vancouver. The hike is continuous switchbacks uphill through forest totaling around 18 kilometers roundtrip. BC Parks cautions that this isn’t an easy hike and takes most people between 6-7 hours to complete. But, all that hard work is worth it when you see the stunning, bright blue lake at the top.
Note that Garibaldi Lake is a glacier lake, so it’s pretty cold even in the summer months. If you do take a dip, it will likely be only for a few minutes.
3. Quarry Rock
Not every hike around Vancouver is going to take up your entire day. Quarry Rock is especially popular because it’s a short, easy hike that still rewards you with views of Vancouver’s scenic ocean views. This hike is located in North Vancouver, just a 35 to 40-minute drive from downtown Vancouver. The entire hike takes most people around 1.5 hours and totals 4 kilometers roundtrip. You gain 100 meters in elevation and can try to find a spot to sit and have a snack at the top.
After your hike, we recommend taking some time to enjoy North Vancouver. In particular, you should reward yourself with a donut from Honey’s Donuts post-hike.
4. The Chief
For those that live in Vancouver, hiking The Chief is a right of passage. This steep hike is located in Squamish, which is about an hour’s drive out from Vancouver. The hike is definitely only for the adventurous as you’ll use ladders, stairs, and even chains at different points. Hikers can choose to hike to one of the three peaks. The first peak is 540 meters in elevation, the second peak is 590 meters, and the third is 630 meters. Hiking one of the peaks should take around 3.5 hours while completing all three can take up to 6 hours.
The hike itself is gorgeous as you wind your way through the forest. Each of the peaks offers spectacular views of the mountains and the ocean. Just make sure to pack some snacks because this hike will work up your appetite!
5. Golden Ears
Probably the most challenging and longest hike on this list is the Golden Ears hike. Golden Ears Provincial Park has several hiking routes within it, ranging from short to long. But, the hike we recommend is the summit to the top. The entire hike is approximately 24 kilometers and 1700 meters in elevation gain. You can spend the whole day completing this hike (roughly 12 hours) or camp at the top and make it a multi-day affair. The summit gives you beautiful views of British Columbia’s mountains, water, and extensive green landscape. This is a hike that makes you put in the hard work, but when you get to the top, you see it’s all worth it.
6. Joffre Lakes
Joffre Lakes is a bit of a drive away from Vancouver, taking most people 2.5 hours to get to the hike. Still, the drive is worth it to see what are undeniably Vancouver’s bluest lakes. This hike brings you to three turquoise lakes that look as impressive in person as they do in photos.
Hiking to the lakes is manageable even for an inexperienced hiker. In fact, the first lake is only a 10-minute walk from the parking lot. The second and third lakes are a bit more of a trek, taking you more uphill with a total of 400 meters in elevation gain. If you hike all three lakes, it’ll be 11 kilometers total and will take you four hours. Many people opt to skip the third lake unless they’re camping there for the night.
7. Diez Vistas
About an hour’s drive from Vancouver is Port Moody – a city full of nature. Port Moody is full of hikes, but the most popular one is probably Diez Vistas. The name translates to “10 views” in honor of the (you guessed it) 10 amazing views on this hike. The hike takes you rapidly uphill through dense forests. You’ll gain 460 meters in elevation and cover 15 kilometers roundtrip. The entire hike takes most people between 5-6 hours, and most people choose to take a dip in Buntzen Lake (at the bottom of the hike) when they’re done. A hike with 10 views and a lake to swim in – it’s the perfect summer adventure!
So, time to pack a lunch, hop in the car, and explore the beautiful nature that Vancouver has to offer! And if you’re hungry after, check out our list of the best takeout spots in Vancouver!