10 Best Vancouver Hikes
July 26, 2017
With so many trails to choose from in the lower mainland, you’ve got lots of options for your hiking plans. If you’re new to the area, visiting for the weekend, or just want to snag the best views, here’s where you can find them on these 10 best hikes around the Vancouver area. What other ones would you recommend adding to the list? Let us know if the comments below!
Pro Tip: If you’re looking to hike on a busy summer weekend, make sure you arrive early to be able to find parking near the trail head. Looking for more peace and quiet? Hike early morning mid-week to avoid the crowds.
At the top of any 10 best hiking list for British Columbia you’ll find Garibaldi Lake. With its turquoise-coloured water nestled between alpine mountains and a spectacular glacier as the backdrop, it is one of the most scenic destinations around Vancouver. Just south of Whistler you’ll find the trailhead for this 18 kilometre round trip hike. The first 6 kilometres are a series of switchbacks that might just feel like they’ll go on forever, but push through to the junction and you’ll find yourself at the tip of this picturesque lake – you won’t be disappointed! Garibaldi Lake Trail Details.
The name says it all. The views from Panorama Ridge are some of the most scenic in the Garibaldi Provincial Park area with views over Garibaldi Lake, Black Tusk and Helm Lake. While this hike at 30 kilometres round trip can be completed as a very long day hike, it’s generally more enjoyable to spend a night camping at Garibaldi Lake (see above) before continuing on to the ridge the next day. However you choose to complete it, it will be well worth the effort! Panorama Ridge Trail Details.
The jagged edges of the Black Tusk make it an easily identifiable mountain peak near Whistler, making it the perfect landmark to be hiked. It’s a full day hike at 29 kilometres round trip, or a weekend adventure if you choose to camp overnight at Garibaldi Lake (see above). The last section of the trail is a scramble over loose shale towards the base of the Tusk. Make note that BC Parks does not maintain a trail past this point and continuing on is at your own risk. If you choose to proceed to the base of the Tusk you’ll find views over the entire area surrounding Garibaldi Lake. Black Tusk Trail Details.
Located north of Pemberton, this hike with three stunning, glacier fed lakes makes the 10 kilometre round trip trek one with lots of pay off. From the trailhead it only takes about 15 minutes to reach the first of the three lakes. After you’ve enjoyed the view, head back to the main trail as you wind your way up to the middle lake. Home to the famous “log photo” this is a good spot for a quick rest break before you ascend up to the final lake. Once you’ve made it to the top you can wander around the campground and find your best vantage point to enjoy the lake and glacier backdrop before heading back. Joffre Lakes Trail Details.
Head east to Buntzen Lake in Port Moody for this top 10 hike near Vancouver. Named for is ten views, this hike offers beautiful scenery overlooking Indian Arm as you make your way around the Buntzen Lake area. The 15 kilometre loop trail makes for a full day out, so pack a lunch and enjoy a dip in the lake after the hike! Diez Vistas Trail Details.
Incredible views over Howe Sound await on this trail that starts from the Sea to Sky Highway. The first two kilometres of the trail are straight up the mountain so be sure to pace yourself as you climb over 500 metres in elevation. After that enjoy a walk along a flat section of an old logging road before arriving to your final viewpoint. Tunnel Bluff Trail Details.
Looking for a longer hike to work out your legs on? Try the 22 kilometre round trip trek to Elfin Lakes and back. It’s a longer distance than many of the hikes on our site, however the elevation gain is gradual making it less challenging than some of the shorter, steeper hikes listed here. Two back country cabins, one about halfway and one at the end, make for great spots to stop for a lunch break. Bring your bathers and enjoy a refreshing dip in the lake at the top! Elfin Lakes Trail Details.
St. Marks Summit
Park of the Howe Sound Crest Trail, save this hike for a sunny day for spectacular views over Howe Sound. Begin your ascent from the Cypress Ski Resort parking lot keeping an eye out for the map board and signs along the way. The trail starts off gradually winding up the mountainside, then crosses a few bridges before a series of steep switchbacks bring you to the scenic lookout point. St. Marks Summit Trail Details.
It may be one of the most difficult hikes in Garibaldi Provincial Park, but the spectacular alpine scenery and less busy trail make the grueling trek well worth it. It’s a steep hike up a series of switch backs and rockslides to this glacier lake. Pack a few extra layers for the top as it is significantly cooler with the breeze coming off of the glacier and then sit back and enjoy the view – you’ve earned it! Wedgemount Lake Trail Details.
The highest peak in Chilliwack, Mount Cheam offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the region, the Fraser River, and the surrounding Cascade Mountains as far south as Mount Baker. The trail to the top is not too difficult and is filled with wild flowers mid-summer. However, the real challenge to this hike is getting to the trailhead as the road is one of the worst and requires a high clearance 4×4 and a lot of courage. Find a friend with the right wheels and enjoy an afternoon spent on this breathtaking trail. Mount Cheam Trail Details
All of the hikes listed here are rated as intermediate or advanced and should only be attempted with proper footwear, a day pack with the 10 essentials and a hiking buddy. Looking for entry level hikes for your first time out? Check out the 10 Best Beginner Hikes around Vancouver.
Jennifer Kolbuc is an avid hiker, new mom and social media professional. Originally from Ontario, she moved to Vancouver 10 years ago and fell in love with the great outdoors. You'll find her sharing her hiking adventures on Instagram with other hikers and new parents.