The Cypress Provincial Park corridor that goes north with the Howe Sound Crest Trail gives access to several stunning peaks that are minutes away from Vancouver. This outing takes you to one of those summits, photogenic Mount Harvey (1,652 meters). Like any hike that originates form Lions Bay, prepare for a thigh-burner; this has a gain of over 1,400 meters in only 6.5 kilometers!
The trailhead is located Lions Bay at the end of Sunset Drive, 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver. There are free parking spots along the road, and the parking area just before the gate is free in winter (there’s a fee in summer). Make sure you read the parking signs carefully to avoid a bad surprise when you return.
The trail starts with eight switchbacks on a gravel road that could be snow-covered depending on the conditions. As the weather is usually mild at that elevation, the hike should be mostly snow-free until an elevation of around 700 meters.
After about 3 kilometers and an elevation of 700 meters, the trail to Mount Harvey appears on the hiker’s left. From that point, it’s a 2-kilometer grind through multiple switchbacks to gain the ridge at 1,400 meters. The toughest part of the ascent is over, and visitors are rewarded with fantastic views of the Lions and Howe Sound.
From the ridge, most of the ascent is behind you, but the final 250 meters are completed over 1.5 kilometers and can be steep and mildly technical at times depending on the conditions. In winter it can be done with snowshoes, but bringing crampons and an ice ax is a good idea. As this trail is not very travelled in winter, trail-breaking may be necessary from this point.
Once on the summit, the beautiful mountain scenery of the North Shore will reveal itself. Mount Harvey’s position means it offers one of the finest views of the Lions and of Brunswick Mountain. This is truly one of the gems of the North Shore. You need another reason to go? Mount Harvey sees less traffic than neighboring summits.
On the way back, take a few minutes to admire the ridge you took to ascend Mount Harvey. It is truly spectacular with its forested south side, open north side, and with the Lions and Howe Sound in the background. The return is via the same trail.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.