Best Hikes for Views of Vancouver
July 21, 2021
In Vancouver, we are lucky enough to have mountains close to the heart of the city. One of the best ways to get incredible views of our hometown is to go for a hike. You can see the city from several nearby mountain summits, and from a spectacular ocean viewpoint too. Here are my picks for the best hikes for views of Vancouver.
Vancouver Viewpoint Hiking Tips
- Most of the trails on this list are best in summer (between July and October). The rest of the year, they are too snowy for hiking.
- Choose a sunny day for a viewpoint hike. There’s nothing worse than hiking all the way to the summit to be met with fog. Check the forecast before you go, and remember that it is often cloudier in the mountains than in the city.
- Pack the 10 essentials and leave a trip plan on every hike. Make sure you include warm clothes. Even if it’s a sunny day, it can be much colder up in the mountains.
Perched high above West Vancouver, Eagle Bluffs has an incredible. You can look down to Lighthouse Park, across to UBC at Point Grey, and east along Burrard Inlet to downtown Vancouver. Looking west you’ll see Bowen Island and the waters of Howe Sound. There are two ways to hike to Eagle Bluffs: the intermediate route up and over Black Mountain from Cypress Mountain or the long and difficult Baden Powell Trail from Horseshoe Bay.
The easy trails at Lighthouse Park visit several beautiful viewpoints. Since it is at sea level, you can hike here all year. For the best views of downtown Vancouver, head to Eagle Point from the Arbutus Trail or the East Beach Trail near the famous lighthouse. On a clear day, you might even be treated to a view of Mount Baker looming behind the city skyline.
Grouse Grind and BCMC Trail
The Grouse Grind and the BCMC Trail climb steeply and relentlessly uphill to finish at the Grouse Mountain Resort. The BCMC Trail is a bit more rugged than the Grouse Grind, but both are rated difficult. At the top, enjoy the gorgeous view of Vancouver (and a snack) from the patio at Altitude’s Bistro or the Lupin Cafe. Or hike a few minutes further up the ski resort access road to the true summit of Grouse Mountain for an even better view.
If you’re already taken the gondola up to Grouse Mountain, Thunderbird Ridge is an easy hike away. The rugged (but short) trail heads up behind the ski resort to a long, gentle ridge. From a rocky bluff at the end, you’ll get a great view of the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge, East Vancouver, and Burnaby. You can also look down into the wilderness of the Lynn Creek Valley.
The difficult hike to the summit of Crown Mountain behind Grouse Mountain will challenge even experienced hikers with lots of ups and downs and some very steep terrain. But the view from the rocky peak is worth it. You get a 360˚ of the nearby mountains including the Lions. Gazing down to the south, you’ll spot Stanley Park and the heart of downtown Vancouver.
The intermediate hike to the top of Lynn Peak is steep, so it makes a great workout as you ascend through the forest. A rock outcropping just below the true summit has a great view. Rice Lake is just below you. Looking south you can see the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge, East Vancouver, and Burnaby Mountain.
There are lots of hikes to North Shore mountains on this list, but the trail to Dog Mountain is definitely the easiest one. The flattish trail rambles through the forest before finishing at a bluff with an incredible panorama. It faces southwest so you can look down across all of Vancouver. You can even see Vancouver Island on clear days.
The rocky summit of Mount Seymour has a great view of downtown Vancouver, Burrard Inlet, and Stanley Park. It’s a great place to catch the sunrise since it faces east as well. That means you can see Coquitlam, the Port Mann Bridge, Surrey, and even Mount Baker too. It’s an intermediate trail with some tricky footing, so take your time on the ascent.
Nicknamed the Burnaby Grind, the Velodrome Trail climbs over 500 steps up the steep north side of Burnaby Mountain. At the top, take a break at Burnaby Mountain Park to enjoy the spectacular view next to the Kamui Mintara (Playground of the Gods) sculptures. Gaze downhill across North Burnaby to the downtown skyline. This lower elevation hike is accessible year-round.
Sendero Diez Vistas
This intermediate trail loop high above Buntzen Lake is known its ten viewpoints. (In Spanish it’s name means “the trail of ten views”.) While some of the vistas are getting a bit overgrown, many of them are stll spectacular. The first few viewpoints look southwest across Indian Arm towards Burnaby and Vancouver. The remaining vistas provide an elevated perspective of Indian Arm.
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).