With so many trails so close to the city, taking your dog out with you for your favourite hikes is fun for you both, as well as being good for your mental and physical health.
Before recommending some great dog friendly hikes in Vancouver, keep in mind some of the basic trail and preparations before you and your pooch hit the trails.
- Research and obey all park rules. Many parks state that dogs must be on a leash at all times and there is often a good reason for that, including safety for you and your pet in the backcountry. For example, a dog was recently rescued by North Shore Rescue from the Cypress area because they weren’t on a leash.
- Take note of signage throughout the parks stating when dogs can be on and off leash. When a trail allows for dogs to be off leash, ensure that your dog is under strict voice command so that they are able to do a down-stay or come to you if other trail users are coming near, especially for other dogs and horses.
- Trail users are responsible for themselves and their dogs while trying to preserve the trails. Many hikes have sensitive ecological terrain so keep dogs on trail.
- Ensure that you bring bags and remove all poop from the trails. Do not leave poop bags along the trails, nobody picks them up!
- Bring water and food for your dog. Trails will often be dry in the summer months with little or no sources of water.
- Assess your dogs physical fitness level and plan for a hike that is properly suited for them.
Here are some popular hiking areas to take your dogs on throughout Vancouver.
For an easy, year-round hike only 10 minutes from Vancouver there is Pacific Spirit Regional Park. This park has a series of trails that run throughout the more than 750 hectares of forest and many of these trails allow dogs. Watch for signs designating which trails can be used with dogs as well as “Canine Code of Conduct” signage. The trails are wide, mostly flat and in many parts shaded, making this a great trek for even those hot summer days.
All dog poop must be disposed of properly so it does not attract wildlife. Camosun Bog is part of an ecologically sensitive area so all visitors must stay on the boardwalk and all dogs must remain on leash. Many of the Pacific Spirit trails allow horseback riding so keep dogs close so they do not get under foot. Enjoy the forest trailways with your happy friend taking in the sights and smells.
Just north of Port Moody is a spectacular 8km trail which loops around Buntzen Lake. This is one of the most popular dog-walks in the region, with clear signage showing the on-leash areas, the two off-leash designated areas and the dog friendly beach area.
Dogs are not allowed anywhere in the main beach area. Park rules are enforced by park staff and RCMP and there is a $115 fine if you do not adhere to leash rules. Poop bags are available in some sections of the trail for dog waste disposal. All dogs must be on leash for the trail looping around the beautiful lake through the groves of second generation Cedar and Douglas Fir Trees.
Immerse yourself in the rainforest with the company of your trusty sidekick at Capilano Canyon. If you take the trail, which loops around via the pipe bridge, it will take approximately one hour and makes for a wonderful trek. Shorter hikes can be especially good for small or older dogs that can’t make the longer, more difficult trails.
There are other trail sections, which allow for off-leash hiking as well. We suggest familiarize yourself with the Capilano River Regional Park Dog Management Plan to note which trails allow for off-leash hiking.
Take joy in the serene forest setting through one of Vancouver’s popular destinations.
For a very popular destination for dog friendly hiking with some choices in challenge level, there is Lynn Headquarters Regional Park. Before choosing your climb, take note of the level of fitness both you and your dog have. Remember, if your pooch can’t make it the whole way, you will be carrying them the remainder of the way. Most of the trails below are on leash but if you venture to one of the off-leash areas, all dogs must be under control, not venturing further than 10 metres from you, coming immediately when called and being well mannered when coming in contact with fellow hikers and animals. No dogs are allowed around Rice Lake or the trails directly leading up to it.
Many hikers set out on an easy, on-leash stroll taking the Lynn Loop trail. This 1.5 hour hike takes you through lush forest and loops around taking you back along Lynn Creek with minimal elevation gain.
If you are an avid climber and usually have your pup with you, you could hike either Lynn Peak which is a 4 hour hike with a 720 metre elevation gain taking you through steep, rocky trails much harder than the regular hiking trails in the area and leading to the summit. Close to the summit you can see a view of Seymour Mountain.
For a different challenge with less elevation gain but a longer distance, there is the trail to Norvan Falls. For many dogs, this would be too difficult as it is 14 kms winding through forest trail but if you are up for the challenge, the gorgeous forest trails along the rushing waters of Norvan Falls will make it all worth it
Minnekhada Regional Park
In northeast Coquitlam, approximately one hour from downtown Vancouver, Minnekhada Regional Park is a great day hike for you and your dog. There are different trails to choose from but the most common does a loop around the main marsh which is split between upper and lower sections. This 10km runs through protected marshland so keep your dog leashed at all times and ensure that you do not allow them out into the marsh water. Watch the wildlife surrounding you like ducks, deer and beavers but also beware as bears are a common sighting here, as well as, there is the occasional cougar sighting. Please clean up all dog poop and dispose of it properly.
There is a small steeper section to the High Knoll providing a magnificent viewpoint of the lower marsh and the Pitt River running through the farmland. This is the place to go for serenity away from the city center for you and Fido to appreciate together.
View a complete list of Dog-Friendly hikes. What has your experience been hiking with dogs?