Hiking Sea to Sky

Hiking Near Vancouver: 7 Spectacular Hikes

posted in: Lifestyle, Outside | 3

Hiking near Vancouver is a dream come true for any outdoor enthusiast. The number of trails within a days drive from this gorgeous city will keep you busy every weekend for a year. Here are 7 Spectacular Hikes you can do if you venture out of Vancouver by heading west on Highway #1 over either the Iron Worker’s Memorial Bridge or the Lion’s Gate Bridge.

Quarry Rock:

  • Spectacular Factor:  Location, Location, Location.  The start of this moderate hike is in the quaint seaside village of Deep Cove, BC which has a little taste of everything Vancouver is becoming famous for:  Outdoor water sports like Kayaking and paddle boarding, amazing food including the world-renowned honeys donuts, parks a plenty, an art gallery and even a distillery.  The hike itself won’t take even the most novice of hikers more than a couple of hours so when you are finished ooh-ing and ah-ing over the view at the top you’ll have plenty of time to explore the little town.

climbing quarry rock
the secret side of quarry rock.. can you find it too?
  • The Stats:
    • Start Hiking Here: N49.330205 W-122.949835
    • Distance: 3.8km round trip
    • Time Needed:  1.5 – 2hrs
    • Elevation Gain:  100m
    • Difficulty:  Easy
    • When to Go: Any Time of Year
  • How to Get There:  From Vancouver, take Highway #1 over the Iron Workers memorial Bridge and take exit 22B onto Mount Seymour Parkway.  After 5.5km you’ll head down a steep hill and turn left at the bottom onto Deep Cove Road.  After just over 1km Deep Cove Road veers right and becomes Gallant Ave, running right through downtown Deep Cove.  Turn left at Panorama Drive and you’ll see a parking lot immediately to your left.
  • How to Find the trail head: Head East on Panorama Drive and look for a trail marker on the right hand side of the road.  Keep your eyes peeled for a wooden staircase as it’s literally right beside someone’s driveway.


  • Spectacular Factor:  A 360 degree view from 1455m.  You can see the sprawl of Vancouver, Howe Sound, Indian Arm and Mount Garibaldi.  Standing at the top of a mountain is something that everyone should do at least once in their life and this opportunity is less than a hours drive from downtown Vancouver.    If you are really ambitious you can keep going to Second Pump Peak or the top of Mount Seymour.  Bonus:  in the summer, the mountainside is covered in wild blueberry.
near the summit of first peak
Near the Summit of First Peak
  • The Stats
    • Start Hiking Here:  N49.367516 W-122.949211
    • Distance:  9km
    • Time Needed:  5 hours at least if you want to take in the breathtaking scenery.  Which you most definitely should do.
    • Elevation Gain:  450m
    • Difficulty:  moderate
    • When to Go:  Mid-Late June – October… although you may find slush in June.
  • How to Get There:  From Vancouver, take Highway #1 over the Iron Workers memorial Bridge and take exit 22B onto Mount Seymour Parkway.  After 4.3 km turn left onto Mount Seymour Road.  Follow this road up to the parking lot as it winds it’s way up the mountain.
  • How to Find the Trail Head: At the north end of the parking lot is a BC Parks sign board and map.  From here, take the trail on the left and follow the signs and markers for First Peak.  There are numerous trails on Mount Seymour so always be sure to check which trail you are on.


  • Spectacular Factor:  If you want to get to the top of Grouse Mountain without the parade of yoga pant clad fitness freaks and unprepared tourists, skip the Grouse Grind and do the lesser known path about half a km further, the BCMC.  The Trail is maintained by the British Columbia Mountaineering Club and it gets you to the same place as the Grind but with a less grueling ascent and a fraction of the foot traffic.  It starts off  on a steep incline similar to The Grind, but mellows out just over halfway up.  You can still have a pint on the sky deck and look out over the city from atop a mountain and sneak over to the Wildlife Refuge to say hello to Grinder and Coola, the two resident grizzlies.
view from BCMC hike near Vancouer
view from about two thirds up the BCMC
  • The Stats:  
    • Start Hiking Here: N 49.371617   W-1123.098483
    • Distance: 3km one way.  Most hikers take the gondola down, which is $10
    • Time Needed: 1.5 – 3 to summit depending on fitness
    • Elevation Gain:  853m
    • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
    • When to Go:  Late may – Early October
  • How to Get There:  Take Highway 1 from Vancouver.  If coming from the Iron Worker’s Memorial Bridge, head west towards Horseshoe Bay.  Take Exit 14 onto Capilano road and head north (right).  If coming from the Lions Gate, stay right of the bridge onto Marine Drive and take the first right, which is Capilano Road.  Capilano road turns into Nancy Greene Way and at the end of this road is the parking lot for Grouse Mountain.
  • How to find the Trail Head:  The trail starts the same place as the Grouse Grind, at a gate to the right of the gondola near the gravel parking lot.  About 5m in there is a junction, that isn’t all that well marked.  Stay to the right.  If you find yourself climbing steeply uphill for more than 10m you’ve missed it.  About 5-10 min in you’ll see where the Grouse Grind used to start and 20m after that a tree with an orange marker signals the start of the BCMC.  Turn left there and start climbing.

St. Mark’s Summit

  • Spectacular Factor:  This portion of the popular Howe Sound Crest trail offers breathtaking views of Howe Sound along the way.  At the end of the trail, you’ll be bombarded by whiskey jack’s and chipmunks hoping that you will feed them.  I have mixed feelings about recommending this hike for that reason, but the truth is, that’s what made this hike special for me.

view from St. Mark's Summit

  • The Stats:
    • Start Hiking Here:  N49.395863, W-123.203891
    • Distance:  11km (return)
    • Time Needed: 4-5 hours or longer depending on how long you want to hang out at the summit feeding the wildlife.
    • Elevation Gain:  460m
    • Difficulty:  Moderate
    • When to Go: July – October
  • How to get there:  The Cypress Mountain Parking lot is at the top of Cypress Bowl Road.  Head west on highway 1 out of Vancouver towards Whistler and take exit 8, which is Cypress Bowl Road.  Stay to the right and take this all the way to the downhill ski area at the top of the mountain.
  • How to find the trail head:  The trails are well marked once you are up there and the simplest thing to do is just follow the signs.  The big map at the bottom of the run is your firsts stop.  From there, head across the ski run parallel to the main lodge and follow the signs that lead to the Howe Sound Crest Trail.

The Lions

  • Spectacular factor:  This trail takes you UP!  And through some very diverse terrain that will make other hikes in the same area seem like a leisurely stroll.  This hike begins on a fire road, which then narrows into a gravel path climbing slowly but steadily up, past waterfalls and offering peak-a-boo views of Howe Sound through thee trees.  About one third to a quarter of the way up, it gets steep as you climb through rainforest.  Eventually you come through the trees and into the alpine where you scramble your way to the top through a series of vistas.  At the summit plateau, you can enjoy panoramic views from the two most distinct  mountain landmarks that can be seen from Vancouver.  Caution:  The ascent from the plateau to the unreal view atop the west lion is treacherous and not suitable for novice hikers.
view from the Lions hiking near Vancouver
Welcome to the Alpine
  • The Stats:  
    • Start Hiking Here: N49.470653, W-123.234793
    • Distance:  16km (round trip)
    • Time Needed:  8-9 hours
    • Elevation Gain:  1280m
    • Difficulty:  Difficult
    • When to Go:  July – October, but check conditions before you go

  • How to Get There:  The town of Lions Bay is approximately a 1 hour drive from downtown Vancouver Take Highway 1 over the Lions Gate Bridge and head west towards Whistler and past Horseshoe Bay.  Take the Lions Bay Avenue exit onto Ocean View Road, then immediately left onto Cross Creek Road.  Turn Right on Center Road.  Turn left on Bayview road, which will take you past the school.  Park at the school if parking at the trail head is full.  When Bayview Road reaches Mountain Drive, turn left.  When Mountain Drive reaches Sunset Drive turn left and look for parking near the end of the street.

Click here for a map.

  • How to find the trail head:  If you manage to find the parking area, you’ll have no trouble finding the trail head.  The gate at the end of Sunset Road marks the start of the trail.

Sea to Summit:

  • Spectacular Factor:  The top of the Sea to Summit is a destination unto itself.  Summit Lodge at the top offers refreshments and a patio with jaw dropping views of the ocean and the rugged peaks of Sky Pilot, Ledge Mountain and Mount Habrich.  There are also viewing platforms, a suspension bride and a small network of easy walking trails.  For the more experienced back country adventurer the Sea to Sky is a gateway to several other fantastic hikes.
viewing platform on sea to summit
one of the viewing platforms at the summit
  • The Stats: 
    • Start Hiking Here:  N49.40319 W-123.09603
    • Distance:  7.5km to the summit.  Most people take the gondola down, which costs $10
    • Time Needed:  3-4 hours to reach the summit
    • Elevation Gain:  835m
    • Difficulty:  Moderate
    • When to Go: April to end of October.  Check gondola hours here.
  • How to Get There:  From Vancouver, take Highway 1 over the Iron Worker’s or the Lions gate bridge and head west towards Horseshoe Bay and Whistler, BC.  A few kilometers before reaching Squamish, turn left into the parking lot for the Sea to Sky Gondola.  If this lot is full you can park next door at Shannon falls or Stawamus Chief Provincial Park.
  • How to Find the Trail Head:  There is more than one route to the trail, but the simplest is to follow the signs from the Sea to Sky Gondola to the back of the parking lot.

Wedgemount Lake

  • Spectacular Factor:  This place defined spectacular for me – The turquoise lake against the grey of the dramatic mountain crater you find yourself in at the end of the trail. It’s an amazing reward after a truly grueling uphill climb.  You feel much farther away from the hustle and bustle of the city than you really are.  This can be done as a day hike, but I did it as an overnight and I would highly recommend doing that if you have proper gear and are willing to carry the extra weight.  It’s important to remember that this hike takes you into the Alpine and as cell reception is limited and the hike itself is fairly grueling, you will want to be prepared.
wedgemount lake shadows
having some fun at Wedgemount Lake
  • The Stats:
    • Start Hiking Here:  N50.17173 W-122.86573
    • Distance:  14km round trip
    • Time Needed:  Between 6 and 8 hours, without camping gear.
    • Elevation Gain:  1160m
    • Difficulty:  Difficult
    • When to Go:  July – September
  • How to Get There:  From Vancouver take Highway 1 west towards Whistler, BC.  Just over 11km past Whistler, you’ll see a very small sign saying “Wedgemount” Turn right here, cross the train track and go over a bridge.   Turn left on a gravel road called Wedge Creek Forest Service Road (no obvious sign).  After 200m turn right and follow this to the trail head.  You will likely have to park along the side of the road well before the trail head.
  • How to Find the Trail Head:  The trail head starts as soon as the road ends.  It crosses a creek almost immediately before making a sharp right turn at the start of the ascent.

Helpful links for hiking near Vancouver




3 Responses

  1. Sand In My Suitcase

    You’ve hit on a great list of Vancouver hikes! We lived in Vancouver for years before recently moving to Victoria – and loved hitting the trails in the forests there. There are a couple of hikes you list that we missed though – Wedgemount Lake and Quarry Rock. Something to do when we visit next :-).
    Sand In My Suitcase recently posted…Snapshot Story: A peek into Gdansk Old Town

  2. Richard M.

    Exciting routes. I’d like to go through at least one of them. Thank you for the detailed assessment of each route. I add to my wishlist.

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