Hiking in Vancouver lets you immerse yourself in the natural wonder of beautiful British Columbia.
What makes your perfect hike?
Is it mountain views, peaceful lakes as far as the eye can see…or foggy West Coast rainforests?
When you dream or fantasize about a hike, do you picture rugged climbs straight into the sky, anxious treks down steep mountainsides, or casual strolls along boardwalks and through meadows?
Whatever your pleasure or poison, Vancouver offers a hike to scratch your every hiking itch.
The first seven hikes on our list are conveniently located for people starting out in Downtown Vancouver. They’re accessible by public transit or form part of the city themselves.
They’re listed in order by length from shortest to longest (considering the total length available, since some can be broken into smaller sections).
The last few are hikes near Vancouver, which will require a bit of driving to reach (roughly 30 to 90 minutes).
Here are 13 of the best hikes in Vancouver.
– Grouse Grind Trail
Don’t underestimate the challenge of this 3-km one-way trail located at the base of Grouse Mountain Resort ski area.
Why? Maybe its nickname “nature’s stairmaster” will give you a hint.
Over the 3-km route, the Grouse Grind will punish your legs with an elevation gain of 800 meters.
You can walk or run up the trail but you can’t go back down the same way. The only way down is with a gondola which will cost you $15 CAD ($11 USD).
This is one of the best North Shore hikes if you’re trying to test your endurance. You might even run into the Vancouver Canucks hockey team training here!
The only downside, depending on the vibe you’re looking for, is that the Grouse Grind gets super busy so make sure you get there early.
Getting Here: If you’re coming from Downtown Vancouver, you can board the SeaBus to Lonsdale Quay and take the 236 bus to Grouse Mountain.
– Quarry Rock Viewpoint
The Quarry Rock Trail is one of the easy hikes in Vancouver — gaining just 100 meters in elevation over the course of its entire route but still offers amazing views of Quarry Rock’s bay.
This trail is only 3.8 km long and starts from Panorama Drive in Deep Cove. The trailhead is marked with a post and pretty easy to spot.
Like the Lynn Headwaters Trail (covered in this article below), its accessibility by public transit is a big plus.
This trail gets extremely busy with locals since it’s one of the most popular lower mainland hikes. Parking is limited so be sure to arrive early.
Getting Here: From Downtown Vancouver, take bus 211 to Deep Cove or take bus 212 from Phibbs Exchange.
If you’re looking for some easy hikes near Vancouver this one takes the cake.
Approximately 30 minutes away from Downtown, this is a great beginner trail to get your blood pumping.
From start to finish, this 6 km hike takes approximately 2 hours with minimal elevation gain throughout.
This park has a great view of the water stretching as far as Vancouver Island on a clear day. You can also see the iconic Lions Gate Bridge going into Downtown, and of course, a lighthouse!
Many locals also come here to enjoy the beach and have picnics in the summer.
The trails at Vancouver’s Stanley Park are a very different kettle of fish from Grouse Grind and some of the other options so far.
As far as Vancouver trails go, Stanley Park is more of an easy walk in the park rather than a hike.
It covers 405 hectares and is surrounded by Vancouver Harbour and English Bay.
The park’s 27 km of trails include an 8.8 km loop along the ocean at the famous Stanley Park Seawall.
Stanley Park’s trails are popular for family outings and suitable for a full range of recreational activities such as hiking, walking, running, cycling, and rollerblading.
Although it gets really busy here, paid parking is plentiful and you won’t have to worry about finding a spot.
If you’re in good shape and enjoy a challenge then we suggest attempting one of the best hikes in Vancouver, The Howe Sound Crest Trail.
Prepare yourself because you’ll likely need an entire day or two to finish this depending on your fitness level.
We highly suggest bringing camping equipment and staying overnight to enjoy the trails at your own pace.
It is a 30 km hike with an elevation gain of 1830 m. You can finish it in one day but it’ll be extremely challenging and if things don’t go according to plan, you could be hiking in the dark.
Once you reach the higher elevations you will see snow, even in the summer months so prepare accordingly.
Your efforts will be well worth it, as you will be rewarded with sweeping views of Howe Sound and gorgeous turquoise lakes.
If you don’t have two days to spare, you can attempt to hike St. Marks’ Summit instead, an 11 km moderate hike that takes approximately 5 hours depending on your fitness.
It is part of the Howe Sound Crest Trail and also offers amazing views of Bowen Island and Howe Sound.
Vancouver has several regional parks, the largest of which is Lynn Headwaters.
Lynn Headwaters Regional Park has 74 km of trails featuring some of the best local hikes, including backcountry treks, easily walked boardwalks, and flat trails.
One of the best features of Lynn Headwaters is that it can easily be reached by public transit. Simply take the SeaBus from Downtown Vancouver to the Lonsdale Quay bus loop, then taking either bus 228 (to Lynn Valley Centre) or 229.
Once you’re in the park you can pick your pleasure.
For an easy 5.2 km trek, choose the Lynn Loop that offers views of the San Juan and Gulf Islands.
For a stiffer 8 km challenge, opt for the Lynn Peak Trail which some people compare to the legendary Grouse Grind. The Lynn Peak Trail’s elevation rises 720 m over just 4 km.
It’s all worth it in the end as you’ll be rewarded with scenic views of Vancouver and Mount Seymour!
The next few trails are not nearly so conveniently located for people starting out in Downtown.
Fortunately, hiking near Vancouver is just as good if not even better. These trails are located as much as 2.5 hours away from Downtown but worth the trip if you’ve got the time and a way to get there.
These six hikes are listed in order of distance from downtown Vancouver (closest to farthest).
Nicknamed “The Chief” by the locals, this is one of the most rewarding and best hikes around Vancouver.
Located in Squamish, BC approximately an hour away from Downtown, this 62 km trail is extremely popular.
If you want to avoid the crowds on the weekend you’ll need to be here at the crack of dawn. Get to the trailhead by 7 AM in the morning and you’ll have the viewpoint to yourself.
If you end up starting the hike a bit later, bear in mind that it’ll get pretty busy — patience is key as you’ll have to share the trail with other hikers.
So what makes The Chief one of the most popular Vancouver hiking trails?
The varying hiking terrain is fun but challenging and you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views as you reach the peak.
There are 3 peaks in total and there are some areas where you’ll literally have to use a chain to pull yourself up.
Once you get to the first peak, you’ll have the chance to catch your breath while soaking in the view. The trail up to this point is considered to be moderate in difficulty.
The 2nd and 3rd peaks are considered difficult hikes, as it involves climbing steep uphills and using chains to pull yourself up.
Getting Here: Take Highway 1 West until it becomes the Sea to Sky Highway. When you’re nearing The Chief you’ll start seeing some very unique rock formations in the distance. As you reach the Sea to Sky Gondola parking lot follow the signs and then turn right at the exit. If the parking lot is full (it usually is if you’re not there early) there is plenty of overflow parking.
This 7 km roundtrip trail starts once you get off the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish. It has an elevation gain of 440 m over its route.
One thing that stands out about Al’s Habrich Ridge trail is the diversity of walking and hiking experiences.
You’ll walk on a forest road, climb a granite ridge, walk through an alpine meadow, then traverse a rough and rugged trail.
The highlight? The view of Howe Sound from the ridge.
Getting Here: Drive 45 minutes from Vancouver to the Sea to Sky Gondola, then walk or ride from there.
If you know anyone from Vancouver, chances are you’ve seen parts of Garibaldi in their photos.
One of the most popular hikes near Vancouver is the Garibaldi Lake Trail — a 21 km, 7-hour marathon full of never-ending uphill switchbacks.
This park has some of the most scenic views in BC with stunning turquoise-hued lakes.
The view is well worth it and is the true definition of the Great Canadian outdoors. Breathe in the clean crisp mountain air and marvel at the glacier-fed turquoise lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains.
The other amazing trails in Garabaldi Provincial Park include Panorama Ridge, Wedgemount Lake, and Black Tusk Trail, all of which are more difficult trails.
Each one offers stunning views and incredible picturesque landscapes.
Getting Here: Take the scenic Sea to Sky Highway until you reach Daisy Lake Road, follow it until you reach the parking lot.
This Whistler trail comes with good news…and bad news.
So what’s the good news?
Starting at the peak of Whistler, this 9.5 km trail offers incredible views of Cheakamus Lake and Black Tusk, among other alpine lakes and meadows.
…and the bad news?
To get to the start of the trail, you have to take — and pay for — the Whistler Gondola and Peak Chairlift.
Getting there is a 1.5-hour drive from Vancouver to Whistler, then a ride up the gondola to the summit.
Located just past Whistler village near the city of Pemberton, is one of the best day hikes in Vancouver, Joffre Lakes.
Due to the old-growth forest, the trail is sheltered for the most part and will remain nice and shady during your hike.
Joffre Lakes consists of 3 stunning blue glacier-fed lakes, the next one more beautiful than the last. This moderate hike has high rewards for anybody who attempts it.
If you come here on a rainy day, the clouds can cast an eerily beautiful mist over the lakes.
Just my luck, both times I’ve come here it was raining!
Keep in mind, pets are not allowed on this trail as of May 2018 due to wildlife conservation.
Starting at Blackwall Peak Road off of Highway 3, the longest stretch of this 21.5 km trail is a pleasant walk through wildflower meadows.
Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by the scenic views.
Although the trail begins with a leisurely walk going downhill for the first few kilometers, The last bit of the trail climbs up the Three Brothers Mountain that peaks at an elevation of 2,272 m!
Getting Here: The trail is located in Manning Provincial Park, roughly a two and one-half hour drive from Vancouver on Highway 1 and 3.
Hiking in Vancouver is some of the best in the world. We asked you earlier, what makes your perfect hike?
Chances are, it can be found right here amongst the endless mountain ranges, lakes, and old-growth trees.
These 13 trails — among thousands of kilometers of options in the Vancouver area — are just enough to pique your appetite.
We hope this guide helped you experience the great outdoors of Vancouver through hiking.
Do you feel like we overlooked any trails? Let us know in the comments below!
Happy hiking, and be safe.