Best Rainy Day Hikes Near Vancouver
September 24, 2020
Rain is a fact of life in Vancouver. While it can rain at any time of year, we get a lot of “liquid sunshine” between October and March. But just because it’s rainy doesn’t mean you have to stop hiking. With the right attitude and some waterproof gear, hiking in the rain can be lots of fun: Splash through puddles, admire the lush and green forest, take moody photos in the mist, or head to a thundering waterfall. Here are my picks for the best rainy day hikes near Vancouver.
What Kinds of Trails are Best in the Rain?
Having fun while hiking in the rain takes some planning. The key is to pick the right trail. Avoid hikes where the destination is a viewpoint – it will likely be covered in clouds. And hike down at lower elevations to stay out of fierce mountain weather. Trails that involve fording creeks, steep and slippery terrain, or paths that are prone to flooding are not good options for wet weather.
In general, riverside trails or hikes to lakes are a good bet for rainy days. Choose trails deep in the forest, to let the tree cover shield you from the rain. I also like to pick hikes that use a network of interconnected trails. That way I have lots of options at one destination and I can turn back early if I get too cold and wet, or push on if I’m still having fun.
Best Rainy Day Hikes on the North Shore
Brothers Creek Loop
My go-spot for rainy day hikes is the Brothers Creek Loop in West Vancouver. The trail climbs up through the verdant forest, which protects you from the worst of the rain. There’s even a grove of spectacular old-growth trees. And on wet days, the waterfalls and cascades in Brothers Creek really get pumping. The hike is part of a larger network of trails, making it easy to extend your trip or turn back early.
The trail to Whyte Lake in West Vancouver is especially pretty on rainy days when mist lingers in the trees and the giant ferns glisten with moisture. The hike follows the rushing waters of Nelson and Whyte Creeks uphill to tiny Whyte Lake. Huge Douglas-firs provide shelter from the rain.
Lynn Loop and Norvan Falls
For a longer rainy day hike, head to North Vancouver’s Lynn Headwaters Regional Park. The bottom half of Lynn Loop Trail is flat and easy as it follows the banks of Lynn Creek, while the top half rambles through the forest on rougher terrain. If you want to extend your trip, make a longer loop by using the Cedar Mills and Headwaters Trails. Or head further upstream to Norvan Falls, which is often thundering on rainy days.
Best Rainy Day Hikes in the Sea to Sky Area
The trail network in Alice Lake Provincial Park in Squamish is a great destination for hiking in the rain. Follow the Four Lakes Trail as it loops past several lakes and passes through sections of unbelievably green and mossy forest that somehow seems lusher when it rains. To extend your trip, add a stroll on some of the nearby mountain bike trails.
The short hike to Brandywine Falls is a worthwhile destination on a wet day. The increased water flow makes the falls surge violently, which is incredible to watch. To make a longer trip, don’t stop at the falls. Instead, follow the Sea to Sky Trail to the Cheakamus River canyon where there is an incredible viewpoint at the Whistler Bungee Bridge.
Whistler Train Wreck
A rainy day is a perfect time to hike to the Whistler Train Wreck. The trail meanders through jungle-like rainforest and crosses a beautiful new suspension bridge before arriving at the famous crashed train cars. Mist from the rain makes the brightly coloured graffiti on the abandoned box cars really stand out. If you want a longer hike, use the nearby Trash Trail to make a loop back to the road.
Best Rainy Day Hikes in the Fraser Valley
In the summer, it can be hard to find parking at Buntzen Lake in Anmore, but on a rainy day, you might have the trail mostly to yourself! As the path circles around the lake, you’ll cross countless bridges over tiny streams, each one burbling downhill through moss and ferns. In most areas, there are lots of trees overhead to keep the rain off.
The Admiralty Point trail at Belcarra Regional Park is one of the only trails near Vancouver that follows the ocean as it dips and weaves through the forest along the shores of Burrard Inlet. Follow spur trails towards the water for great views of Burnaby Mountain and Deep Cove, sure to be swirling with moody fog on rainy days. To extend your trip, add on the Jug Island Beach Trail. It leaves from the same parking lot.
Misson’s Steelhead Falls really gets pumping in the rain. The walk to the falls is through the gorgeously lush forest that is especially pretty on wet days with lots of moss and ferns. It’s a short walk to the falls, but you can extend your hike by continuing along the Hayward Lake Reservoir Trail.
This short hike near Hope leads to an incredibly tall waterfall. Flood Falls drops over 300m, but you will only be able to see the bottom section. The waterfall is quite thin and in the summer almost dries up, making it a bit underwhelming. But if you visit on a rainy day, the volume of water cascading down the rock steps increases and makes for much better photos.
Taryn Eyton is a Squamish-based outdoor and adventure travel writer and Leave No Trace Master Educator. She is the founder of the hiking website HappiestOutdoors.ca and the author of Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia: The Essential Guide to Overnight Hiking Trails (Greystone Books, 2021).