Vancouver prides itself on being a very outdoors lifestyle city of the world. A popular activity for locals to do is one of the many hikes in the surrounding mountains. With most of these only 45 minutes on public transport from downtown Vancouver, even if you are visiting, you can take a walk through nature to escape the high rises.
Located towards Horseshoe Bay, the 250 bus will wind along Marine Drive and drop you off near the entrance to the park. The longest hike is only 6 kms, but the park has lots of shorter hikes. Take a picnic and find a secluded spot to look out over the sea. This is a great spot for people who do not like the strenuous hikes. The paths are well kept and have only slight increases in elevation.
The Grouse Grind
Catch the free shuttle bus to Grouse Mountain, follow the signs to the beginning of the Grind. The trail is 2.9 kms and is very steep with a little under three thousand stairs taking you to the top. Good news once you are there, you have the choice of doing any of the Grouse Mountain Activities for free (a few exclusions of course). The lumberjack show is always good for a laugh and don’t forget to check out the Grizzly bears. Take the Gondola down for only $10. The hike is a bit of a workout and your legs will feel like jelly, but you will save $45 on the 2 way gondola trip.
A 3.8 km hike to walk off the donuts from Honeys Doughnuts. Allow an hour and a half for this hike. Located at Deep Cove, this escape from the city can become very busy, even during the weekdays. Get the public transport to Deep Cove, follow the main road to the left and you will see the start of the hike up some stairs. Once you reach the view point, you will be rewarded with views of the inlet, Burnaby and Vancouver in the distance. It can be steep in parts but you don’t have to be super fit to complete this one.
Beyond the Capilano Bridge Park, you have the Capilano Canyon. Hop on the public buses and jump off after the Capilano Bridge stop. Don’t go into Capilano Bridge Park though. Keep walking up the main road an extra kilometre or so and you will see a sign for the Hatchery. Take this road and follow it for about 700m. You will walk past a little car park on your left and then you will reach the start of the trail. This hike hugs the river and has wide open pathways. Stop off at the hatchery on the way and gander at the free exhibit. The last part of the hike is up some stairs to the top of the Capilano Water reserve – the main drinking water for Vancouver. The bus back into town is located near the entrance to the dam.
Baden Powell trail – Lynn Canyon to Grouse Mountain
This one way hike is about 10kms and is not too strenuous. I would suggest catching the bus out towards Lynn Canyon and starting your trek there. This way you can finish at the base of Grouse Mountain and catch the free shuttle bus back to the downtown area. The path can be a little rough with tree roots and rocks poking out. It is also a popular trail for mountain bikers. Take a packed lunch and find a spot on the way to stop at and take in the fresh air. Depending on what time of year you tackle this hike, wear some bug repellent to scare of the mosquitos.
The next two hikes are a bit further outside of Vancouver any require your own vehicle to get to. They are well worth the visit though!
The Chief towers over Squamish and is a little bit easier than the Grind. There are up to 11kms of trails you can do but if you are restrained for time or only want to hike smaller treks, feel free to visit the first and/or second peak. The drive is only an hour from Vancouver and the views overlooking Howe sound is breath taking. Take a packed lunch and find a perch on top of the large granite rock. You won’t be the only ones wanting to snack on some food, the local chipmunks have made it their duty to look cute and basically beg for any food scraps. Be aware with this hike of the chains used to climb up in a couple of sections.
Saving the longest hike for last, Garibaldi lake is a 18 km return trip. The hike starts at the base of the hill and is an 1 hr 45 mins drive from Vancouver. Allow 5-7 hrs for this hike, with the option of camping overnight and tackling the other two view points – Panorama Ridge and Black Tusk. The hike is about 5 hours of walking and 2-3 hours of sitting on the edge of the lake and admiring the sheer beauty surrounding you. The aqua blue water is caused from the Glacier at the opposite end of the lake. On a nice clear day, the lake is tempting for a swim but can be a little cold when you first dive in. A great way to freshen up and prepare for the hike back down the mountain.
For a more complex list of Hiking trails and detailed information, head to https://www.vancouvertrails.com/