After living four months in the Vancouver, we prepared the ultimate list of the best one-day hikes near the city.
The list of the best hikes in the surrounding of Vancouver is based on our experiences from the short stay in Canada. That means that we may have missed many interesting trails. We hiked most of them in September so you can imagine how intense this month was. Full of new adventures and discovering amazing landscapes only to discover even more beautiful vistas on the next hike! Anyway, check them out! All of them are great hikes worth your time and effort!
That was our first hike together in the States! It’s longer drive from Vancouver and border crossing might take time, but it’s worth it. It’s a very easy hike, at least in the beginning. Trail goes slowly up in the valley and one can enjoy great views to the peaks. In our case we had beautiful autumn colors in the valley, but couldn’t see that much peaks, because of clouds. But sometimes we could spot something. After the saddle, a steeper climb on switchbacks started. That time we were already in clouds, so no views, but a lot of yummy blueberries!
Like the Hannegan Peak hike, this trail is also in Washington. It’s in the same area around Mt Baker. Again an easy trail, but with some attractions. You have to cross several creeks running down from the glacier. When the water is high, there is no way to cross with dry feet. The trail leads straight to the glacier which you can touch and enjoy refreshing ice and snow on warm summer day.
The first Canadian hike on the list. It is close to Vancouver next to Sea-to-Sky Highway. Stawamus Chief has three peaks, all connected by trail. The trail to the first peak is well maintained and by far the most popular, but each peak has great views. When hiking pay attention to unofficial path that lead to the edge of the vertical rock. From there you can see the highway and sea hundreds meters below you. Except the hiking trail there are some chains and ladders in one rock (between first and second peak) where you can walk in a bit more exposed area. The hike is a good idea for quick escape from the city. Be there early in the morning to avoid crowds. If weather is good on the weekend, families and “Sunday tourists” occupy the trail and will make you wait in lines on stairs or in narrower passages on the rocks.
This hike is to the east from Vancouver. Relatively far and accessible by car only. The effort to travel is worth it. As we were there in the fall we experienced sunshine, rain and snow. It was snowing in the higher areas and ground was quickly covered with white flakes. What was now on the top, was rain in lower parts and as there was some sun, we saw strong and clear rainbow. The area is well know for its larch meadows. There are 2000 year old larches growing around 2000 m a.s.l. Very interesting to see it, because the larches grow quite big despite the elevation. Pines and spruces so high are not tree size, but rather one meter tall or smaller bushes. Unfortunately, we were there to early to see the larches in yellow cover.
The only hiking trail on the list that leads to the lakeside, but on the podium not only due to cool water color in the lake. The main reason the hike is so high on the list is the proximity of the glacier to the Wedgemount Lake. So where the official trail ends, you can easily continue a bit around the lake and you will see a beautiful glacier stretching from where you stand almost up to the peaks. The melting of the glacier created a small lake at its foot. There is also a hole in the glacier’s ice so don’t fall to it! Oh, and the hike got so high also because of extra steep approach to the lake. Some sections in the forest were very steep. And just before the lake above there was a not so easy, slippery path with many moving rocks.
2. Black Tusk
The Black Tusk requires a long walk, but the views are quite good on the way. However, the best part of the hike is where the official trail ends under the peak. After that you can enjoy the amazing landscape with the dominant pinnacle of the mountain. The magnificent Black Tusk is volcanic rock that gets hot even in September sun. While sitting we were warmed up by the rocks and felt cooling effect of the snow that was few meters from us. Already the bottom of the tower has some great vistas to the surrounding landscaped with, as usual, several glaciers and lakes, but on the other side you can see several needle like formations made of the same rock as the Tusk. Plus some exposure starts here. When continuing to the top, you have to climb a chute that is a bit exposed and in addition has many loose rocks, so beware what you hold. The top is perfect place for sunbathing! And it’s relatively quite as not many people climb up the chute!
1. The Lions
Only one of the Lions is accessible, but it is a great scramble. Sometimes it actually gets scary. There are couple of places that are pretty exposed. It is easy to find a spot where you can enjoy the views with your legs hanging above the abyss. When going to the Lions you can choose between two trails from the Lions Bay settlement. The most popular way is an easy hike, but going through Unnecessary Mountain will be challenge in itself. Going down that way was fun too. The trail goes mostly through forest, but some parts are overgrown with bushes and seedlings. There are very steep sections where soil is sliding from under your feet. The hikes offers good look at Vancouver in the far distance and even better look on the sea which seems to be right under you when you look from the vertical cliffs that are plenty along the way. At least on the way through the Unnecesary Mountain. On the other hand, the more popular approach gives good look to the Lion from the bottom and reminds you where you can end up if you trip or slip.