These five stunning hikes show off the best of the Vancouver area and its nearby mountains. Two hikes are accessible via public transit and the other three are at most a two-hour drive away.
1. Stanley Park
Trailhead: West end of Georgia Street west of downtown Vancouver, off Beach Ave., or southbound off Lion’s Gate Bridge.
Stanley Park, a 1,000-acre preserve of temperate rainforest, sits on a peninsula jutting into Burrard Inlet at the northwestern edge of downtown Vancouver. Walking the full 10K circumference of the seawall is a quintessential Vancouver experience. Marvel at the imposing bulk of a cruise ship as it passes beneath Lion’s Gate Bridge; watch the float planes; smell the fresh salty air; be enchanted by the park’s beauty.
2. Lighthouse Park
Trailhead: Marine Drive to Beacon Lane, West Vancouver.
Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver isn’t big, but it packs a lot in its 75 hectares. Hike on approximately 10K of easy to moderate trails through old growth rainforest where you’re sure to see massive western red cedars and Douglas firs, some of which are 600 years old. Visit the lighthouse that dates to 1874. For expansive ocean views and fun rock scrambling don’t miss a chance to hike on the Juniper Point Trail.
3. Stawamus Chief
Trailhead: Look for signs to Shannon Falls or Sea to Sky Gondola off Highway 99. The trail begins near the Chief campground.
From Squamish, it’s hard to imagine that Stawamus Chief, the world’s second largest chunk of granite, is accessible to hikers. But a trail climbs the back side of the rock and offers accessibility to three peaks. First Peak is the easiest and most popular. It climbs 513 metres over 1.5K on a well-marked trail. Near the top be prepared for short stretches of ladders and chains. The reward – spectacular views of Howe Sound.
4. Elfin Lakes
Trailhead: East on Mamquam Road in Squamish and drive 16K up a rough gravel road to the parking lot.
The 11K (one way) hike to Elfin Lakes in Garibaldi Provincial Park takes you into a pretty, subalpine area filled with wildflowers, the lakes themselves (one you can swim in) and spectacular views of the Tantalus Range once you hit tree line. The elevation gain is a moderate 600 metres. Camping at the lakes opens up possibilities for longer hikes to the Gargoyles, the Opal Cone, an extinct volcano and Mamquam Lake.
5. Black Tusk
Trailhead: East off Highway 99 past the Rubble Creek Bridge. Follow the signed and paved road 2.5K to Rubble Creek parking lot.
The unmistakable Black Tusk is a great choice as a destination if you’re up for an epic 29K return hike. You don’t have to go to the summit to earn bragging rights. Stop at its base where you can enjoy an airy lunchtime view of Garibaldi Lake through to the Tantalus Range. Much of the hike – after you’re through the tedium of the forest, is in beautiful high alpine meadows dotted with wildflowers.