Hiking Books for Southwest British Columbia

August 14, 2014

Written by: Michael Chang

I occasionally get asked what hiking books I’d recommend for the Vancouver or Southwest BC region. While a lot of hiking trail research is conducted online for the most up-to-date information, I still own several books and often refer to them when planning new hikes to compare against multiple sources.

The following hiking books are a few of the common ones that I use and would recommend:

Best Hikes and Walks of Southwest British Columbia by Dawn Hanna

Given to me as a Christmas gift in the 90’s, the Dawn Hanna book is the first hiking book I owned and really got me into hiking, The nice thing about this book is it has colour photos, colour maps, and a wide range of easy, intermediate, and difficult trails that cover the North Shore, Sea To Sky, Pemberton, and Chilliwack areas well. It also includes a lot of information about the area where the hike is in, such as different animals, types of plants, and some history.

The only thing worth mentioning is most of the trails in the book are the “most common” hiking trails and plenty of information can be found online for many of these. Still, for those interested in extending their hiking beyond a few trails they normally do, this is a good book to start with.

103 Hikes in Southwestern British Columbia by Jack Bryceland

This is another book that I bought years ago and it also covers much of the region, including the Sunshine Coast. What differs with this book is that the majority of trails are intermediate to difficult, with several above 8 hours. A more experienced hiker would definitely enjoy this book because there are several trails in the book that often aren’t included in other resources.

One thing I’ve always found annoying with this book is that the maps for each trail, the direction of north is not towards the top of the page. The maps are drawn on an angle depending on the side of the mountain the trail is on, hence the differences in where North would appear. It seems like a minor annoyance but when hiking a lot of the trails and comparing them to each other in the book, it can be a bit confusing.

Still, I’ve used this book a lot over the years and would highly recommend it, especially those who have done 20 or so different trails and want to go beyond and explore more areas.

109 Walks in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland by Mary Macaree and David Macaree

If you’re looking for easy walks and not strenuous hikes that go up a mountain, this book is for you. It covers several neighbourhood walking trails that many people wouldn’t consider hikes but are non-the-less enjoyable walks on trails and with great scenery. There are trails along Burrard Inlet in Burnaby, in Kitsilano in Vancouver, and several trails east of the city in Surrey, Fort Langley, and more.

Some of these trails I’ve found to be a bit too easy. Also, several do not have a significant site to see, like a view or a waterfall. None-the-less, they are still nice walks and I often find myself using this book in the winter months when it’s raining in the city and snow covers the local mountains.

Whistler Hiking Guide by Brian Finestone & Kevin Hodder

A wonderful book of hiking trails that focuses on the Whistler area. The booking includes detailed information on trails as well as local geology and wildflowers, which comes in handy when exploring Whistler in late-July and August.

The one thing I’ve enjoyed about this book is it includes the major hiking trails around Whistler but also several hikes and walks that other books don’t have and only locals would be familiar with. The book is also small in the sense it’s very portable and can easily fit in a small pack, meaning it comes along for several of the outings.

Burke and Widgeon: A Hiker’s Guide by Lyle Litzenberger

I discovered this book when I joined the Burke Mountain Naturalists on their annual hike along the Woodland Walk Trail to Sawblade Falls. The author, Lyle Litzenberger, also joined us on the hike and it was interesting hearing stories from him and other club members about the often “forgotten” Provincial Park in the Coquitlam area.

Lyle has taken great pains in mapping out and detailing the more accessible trails in Pinecone-Burke Provincial Park, including those on Burke Mountain in in the Widgeon Creek area. There are 28 trails included in the book, each with detailed descriptions, a trail GPS map, photos, and even some history and other information about the area.

Of interest is this book provides probably the most detailed information on reaching the Widgeon Creek Campground over land via a mutli-day trip. I am definitely looking forward to exploring more of the trails listed in this book.

The Great Hikes of Vancouver by Karl Woll (eBook)

Not a physical book but definitely worth a mention, Karl from Outdoor Vancouver has written an eBook that you can load onto your mobile device. The very reasonably priced book focuses on 10 trails, providing stats, detailed descriptions, and other pertinent information on the region.

In addition, Karl runs a local website called Outdoor Vancouver which contains plenty of information on adventures around Vancouver. He has also been a contributor to Vancouver Trails with his blogs about trail running.

Other Local Hiking Books

There are other local hiking books that I haven’t owned but that’s not to say they aren’t good resources too. The following few books come highly recommended:

Off the Beaten Path: A Hiking Guide to Vancouver’s North Shore by Norman D. Watt

The 2nd edition of this book featuring North and West Vancouver trails, also available as an eBook, was released in March 2014.  It adds 8 new hikes, including North Shore “high points” such as Mt. Strachan, Grouse Mtn, Mt. Fromme and Lynn Peak, as well as updating all of the original 31 hikes to reflect changes to trailheads, signage, trail descriptions and, in some cases, to include winter snow hiking information or additional photographs. Many of the hikes feature sites of local historical interest, such as old homesteads, cabins, logging camps and old-growth trees.

This book even has it’s own Facebook page.

Vancouver Trail Running by Rich Wheater

Published in April 2011, this guide provides information on 44 trails that are great for running in the Lower Mainland area.

BC Car Free by Brian Grover


I have not owned this book but it comes highly recommended for those who do not own a car.  It includes several hiking trails in the Vancouver area that are transit friendly.

2 responses to “Hiking Books for Southwest British Columbia”

  1. Dwayne says:

    You are missing one of the best local books. “Scrambles” by Matt Gunn http://cairnpublishing.com/guidebooks/scrambles.htm

    I highly recommend this book, I have done at least 10 of these hikes and all directions and instructions are great.

    • Michael Chang says:

      Totally forgot about this book! I remember seeing it years ago in the store. I’m going to order it! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

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