The Howe Sound Crest Trail is an iconic one-way hiking trail on Vancouver's doorstep. The trail is most commonly done as an overnight hike due to the varied and, at times, very demanding terrain; however, it is possible to complete it in a single day. Whether you are choosing the more conventional start of Cypress Ski Resort or beginning closer to sea level at Porteau Cove, you will experience a variety or forests, terrain, lakes, wildlife and stunning views that extend along Howe Sound and across to Vancouver Island, Vancouver itself, and even into Washington state.
The trail traverses the series of peaks that separate Vancouver from the Howe Sound. The lower elevations lead hikers through lush green forests with a towering canopy of pines and firs that can provide welcome respite from the summer heat as you climb up the trail. Once the crest is reached the forests give way to sparser alpine terrain and the smooth trail turns to a loose and rocky surface that will test your footing. The trees thin out and give way to an abundance of meadows filled with wildflowers and a succession of spectacular views across both sides of the crest.
The mid-section of the trail between Brunswick Mountain and Mount Unnecessary is the most challenging, combining steep and technical sections. Hikers will need to persevere through a series of scrambles that often require the aid of the provided ropes and chains. The equally steep descents test even the more seasoned backpackers. The hard work is more than offset by the ever-changing and always impressive views. Look also for soaring eagles and ravens that frequent this part of the trail, along with black bears.