The Vancouver area has no shortage of natural beauty, from its sparkling lakes and rivers to its rich and lively forests. For those who love the outdoors, it is definitely the place to be. Hikers in particular can keep busy year round with countless trails to explore and peaks to summit. In fact, the sheer number of hiking opportunities can be overwhelming for anyone looking to plan their next excursion.
When exploring your hiking options in Vancouver, consider these five opportunities to help pinpoint the perfect trip for you:
1. Pick Your Peak
For a hike that packs three summits in one punch, be sure to check out the Stawamus Chief in Squamish. Located halfway between Vancouver and Whistler at Stawamus Chief Provincial Park, the peak – more commonly referred to as ‘the Chief’ – is one of the largest granite monoliths in the world. Visitors can choose to hike all three summits in one day or set their sights on one. All of them have stunning views of the Howe Sound, offering the perfect perch for hikers to enjoy a packed lunch while looking out over the breathtaking scenery.
Even if travellers are planning a shorter trip that includes just the first summit, it’s important to dress appropriately and prepare for staircases, ladders and chains in some areas.
For those looking to bring out their climbing harnesses and ropes, the Chief also offers great rock climbing opportunities. For more, go to http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/stawamus/
2. Steady Incline
For a hike that puts your glutes to the test but doesn’t require the navigation of climbing apparatuses, head north of Vancouver, past Squamish to Garibaldi Provincial Park for a trip to the spectacular Elfin Lakes. Also in Squamish, this well-marked trail scores a moderate ranking on the difficulty scale and can be completed in six to eight hours. That is, if you’re able to peel yourself away from the magnificent heather meadows, refreshing waterfall and alpine scenery. Not to mention the lakes themselves, the uppermost of which makes for great swimming in the summer months, while the lower lake offers a welcoming drink to thirsty travellers.
Although dogs aren’t allowed on this trail, the destination has the perk of a 33-bed hut that warms snowshoers in the winter and provides shelter to campers in warmer weather. Beds are first-come first-served, so visitors are urged to come early and bring a backup tent for the nearby campground. Whether you are spending the night or making this 22-kilometre round trip a day’s adventure, Elfin Lakes is sure to impress with all its natural wonder.
For more information, visit http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/garibaldi/
3. Stepping Steeply
For experienced hikers looking for a more strenuous conquest, Needle Peak’s 850-metre elevation gain may be just what they’re looking for. Located off the Coquihalla Highway just north of Hope, this hike includes a walk along a ridge, a tucked-away lake and spectacular views of the Coquihalla area. While it doesn’t necessarily require technical skills, the steepness of this hike requires scrambling in some sections that could leave some with sweaty palms and an uneasy stomach. But other parts of the trail offer relief with their stability, as hikers move from treed areas to rocky terrain and eventually make their way along a ridge.
After a scramble to the summit, visitors can choose to follow a trail in the opposite direction to the nearby lake, which has flat surrounding areas suitable for backcountry camping. Find this tantalizing trail off the Zopkios Ridge rest area off Highway 5, and allow six to eight hours to complete it.
4. Deep Exhale
Don’t have all day to dedicate to an eight-hour excursion? Calm things down with a relaxing hike at Quarry Rock in Deep Cove. Located in North Vancouver, this dog-friendly jaunt is only 3.8 kilometres and can be done in just two hours. Surrounded by Douglas Fir and Hemlock trees, visitors trail through a forested area before arriving at the rocky outcrop overlooking boats in the cove below.
After their descent, hikers can use the time they have left in the day to visit Deep Cove’s restaurants, shops, marina and pier.
For more information, visit http://vancouversnorthshore.com/what-to-do-outdoors/things-to-do-in-deep-cove/
5. Vancouver’s Ultimate Challenge
For an extreme outdoor experience, serious hikers may consider Vancouver Island’s West Coast Trail, a week-long hike that expands 75 kilometres in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Parks Canada cautions hikers to prepare for uneven terrain; slippery conditions on muddy trails, boulders and rocky shorelines; wading through rivers, climbing ladders and using cable cars; unexpectedly damaged structures; and accidents and injuries. But the spectacular natural surroundings of a history-rich temperate rainforest are what make this hike well worth the difficulties for many adventurers. Once a telegraph line and lifesaving route for shipwrecked mariners, the trail is now closed from October to April due to weather conditions.
Those wanting to hike the rugged trail from May to September must make reservations or register on a standby list, as well as participate in an orientation session and obtain a park permit. Taking on this feat requires plenty of planning and consideration, but could just be the experience of a lifetime.
No matter your level of experience – or daring – there is a hiking adventure waiting for you in the Lower Mainland. From leisurely strolls that spare technical skills without skimping on the wild wonder of nature, to strenuous climbs that can be mentally and physically taxing, there is all manner of opportunities in the Vancouver area. Use these trails to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and catch up on some much needed alone time, or bring along friends and family to spend quality time with. Whatever your motivation may be, it’s time to strap on your hiking boots, fill up your water bottle and pull out your map of Vancouver or heck, the whole province of British Columbia– because the great outdoors are waiting.
About Dr. Kumar
Dr. Kumar Shivdasani is a medical practitioner with 25 years experience. He began his career in emergency at Vancouver General Hospital and addiction medicine – later branching into cosmetic medicine. He is the owner of CuR Laser and Skin in Vancouver, BC. Education, good lifestyle and diet changes lay the foundation for developing overall health and wellness, helping Kumar’s clients achieve and maintain their target goals. Dr. Kumar is also dedicated to helping others as shown by his support for Summits of Hope and Turning Point Recovery.