When it comes to accessing the outdoors, Vancouver locals know they’ve got it good. Home to a cityscape contained between a rocky coastline pockmarked with bays, fjords and inlets and the southern reach of British Columbia’s Coast Range, the scenery doesn’t disappoint. Nor does Vancouver's abundance of trails.
Hiking is big here, and it shows. Vancouver and the province of British Columbia have invested heavily in creating exceptionally well-marked trails and infrastructure for accessing some surprisingly rugged terrain in the surrounding North Shore and Squamish area mountains while minimizing impact on the environment. Boardwalks are common. Trams will transport you up or down, allowing for one-way hikes. Skywalks and suspension bridges place you among the forest canopies and over ravines.
Whether it's scrambling up to panoramic summits above steep glacier-carved inlets, exploring kelp-laden coves and lighthouses along the shoreline or strolling down serene pathways through temperate old growth, it’s all there within the city’s reach. In fact, it’s all accessible within the same day. And a 45-minute drive north up the Sea-to-Sky Corridor will open up an entirely new playground of possibilities among Squamish’s granite cliffs and cascading waterfalls.
To help get you started, we've compiled a list covering some of Vancouver's top scenic trails, parks and climbs. Take a hint from the locals and add Vancouver to your list of outdoor destinations to explore. You’ll be glad you did.
- Grouse Grind + Goat Ridge: Vancouver's most popular trail climbs Grouse Mountain over 3,000 feet. Panoramic vista of the Pacific Ranges. Hikers can pay to take the gondola down.
- Lighthouse Park: Scenic rocky coastline and gigantic old-growth trees explored via network of trails. Rock climbing above the water and a lighthouse are additional bonuses.
- Quarry Rock: Boardwalk trail through old-growth ending at a beautiful vista overlooking Indian Arm Fjord. Relatively short hike.
- Eagle Bluffs, Cypress Mountain: Climb 3,000 feet to to the top of Eagle Bluffs overlooking Vancouver, southern Howe Sound and Bowen Island.
- Mount Seymour Summit: Easy access from the city. Steep climb providing 360-degree views over the city of Vancouver, the Salish Sea, Vancouver Island and the Pacific and Cascade ranges.
- Elsay Lake Trail: Remote lake lake in the Mount Seymour Provincial Park wilderness. Likely to find solitude here.
- Capilano Suspension Bridge Park: Ideal for families and kids. Explores the forest canopy and cliffs along a series of suspension bridges and skywalks. Fee for admission.
- Sea-to-Summit Hike: Recently completed in 2014. Steep and strenuous trail offering stellar views of Howe Sound and surrounding mountains. Option to ride the gondola back down.
- Stawamus Chief Summit Trail: Steep trail to the top of Squamish's famed granite peaks. Incredible views of Howe Sound and surrounding mountains.
- Shannon Falls Provincial Park: Stunning waterfalls and forest that can be explored via a network of trails.
Golden Ears Provincial Park
- Golden Ears Summit Hike: Strenous full day hike or overnighter to Golden Ears' Summit. Climbs nearly 5,000 feet in 7.5 miles. Phenomenal views of Vancouver region and surrounding mountains.
- Gold Creek Falls, Lower Falls Trail: Gradual hike to Gold Creek Falls along Gold Creek. Great for families and kids. Swimming hole opportunities.