Our Top 7 Best Backcountry Trips Near Vancouver, BC

Vancouver, BC is nearby so many incredible campgrounds and backpacking trips, and we’re often asked for our favourites that are close to the city. This blog will be sharing our Top 7 spots to backcountry camp near Vancouver with the best views, amenities, and trails! We spent an entire summer hiking to these incredible backcountry views and I’m excited to share what BC has to offer.

We’ve personally hiked to all of these places and can tell you from experience that these are all very hard hikes, and even harder with an overnight pack. This list is for those visiting or living in Vancouver who are prepared to backcountry camp and are physically capable of longer, harder hikes. It always takes more effort to find the best views and best campgrounds, and they are absolutely worth adding to your bucket list. If this sounds like what you’re looking for to plan your upcoming trips, keep reading!

Hiking in BC & What to Expect

Always make sure to research your hike before you start and download an offline map if you don’t have a GPS system with you. It’s always good to study the route on AllTrails and look up recent reviews! The hiking trails near Vancouver are well-maintained and kept well for us all to enjoy, so make sure to have some pride and respect for the outdoors. This includes leaving no trace, packing out what you pack in, and being courteous to other hikers on the trail.

When hiking near Vancouver or anywhere in BC, you should always be checking the weather advisories to know ahead what kind of weather you are hiking through and pack appropriately. We always bring a puffer jacket and a waterproof shell jacket with us along with extra clothes, extra food/water, and extra fuel. It’s important to wear proper shoes and/or hiking boots while backcountry camping because it can often be wet and slippery with rain.

Preparing for your Hike

You should always be prepared to arrive at the trailhead early so that you can secure your parking spot, and you should expect most of these popular hikes to be busy during the day and on weekends. This means you should pack your overnight bags ahead of time, make sure you have a full meal for breakfast and drink plenty of water before your hike. There are often washrooms at the trailhead and you won’t have to pay parking fees if you’ve already reserved your backcountry reservation.

Not sure what to pack for your backcountry camping trip? Check out our Beginner Gear Guide for Backcountry Camping. It’s extremely important to pack your 10 Essentials and be prepared for changing weather conditions in the mountains. We always make sure to bring enough water or research if there will be a water source on our trail, we bring extra clothing and waterproof jackets, and we always pack more food in our bear bin than necessary!

Best Time to Visit & Plan your Camping Trip

All of the hikes on this list were backcountry camping trips that Jake and I completed in Summer 2022. We started doing backcountry hikes at the end of June because it was a late start to the season and we wanted to camp without any snow on the ground. This meant that temperatures were hot during the day and stayed warm overnight so that we were comfortable camping. The summertime is definitely the best to enjoy Vancouver & surrounding areas from June – September.

It can get extremely hot during the summer in BC and for this reason I want to remind people to bring plenty of water and a water filter so that you’re staying hydrated. Some of these backcountry trips we completed in the middle of heatwaves and it’s not fun to run out of water. Since summer is when wildlife are also most active, make sure to bring your bear spray and be aware.

Our Top 7 Spots to Backcountry Camp Near Vancouver

  • Garibaldi Lake
  • Wedgemount Lake
  • Golden Ears Summit
  • 5040 Peak
  • Tin Hat Mountain
  • Watersprite Lake
  • Joffre Lakes

Garibaldi Lake

Distance: 18.2 KM, Elevation: 972 M, Difficulty: Hard, Location: Garibaldi Provincial Park

Garibaldi Lake campground is at the very top of our list of best backcountry camping near Vancouver. Located in Garibaldi Provincial Park, this campground is one of 2 options on this loop trail. Both Garibaldi Lake and Paradise Meadows are great options to set-up camp with bear hangs, bathrooms, kitchen shelters, water sources and tent pads.

The campgrounds are located on a loop trail and it’s worthwhile to visit both on your backcountry trip. These campgrounds also connect to some of our Top Hikes & Views Near Vancouver by leading to Panorama Ridge, Black Tusk and more hikes. You will need to pay $10 a night per adult & register your campgrounds by visiting BC parks.

Wedgemount Lake

Distance: 12.6 KM, Elevation: 1362 M, Difficulty: Moderate, Location: Garibaldi Provincial Park

Wedgemount Lake is a backcountry campgrounds that felt like heaven on Earth! This is a long trail with a lot of elevation and a builder field you have to scramble right at the end of your hike. Do not underestimate this one! You’ll notice there are not very many views along the trail until you climb up the final boulder field and reach the beautiful blue lake.

Wedge Mountain is huge and in your face and you’ll be treated to an outhouse, an emergency shelter, water sources and tent pads. When we camped here, all of the tent pads were taken despite us buying & registering our backcountry camping pass. Make sure you register on BC Parks! This campground will cost $10 a night per adult.

Golden Ears Summit

girl camping on tent pad with hubba hubba nx2 tent on golden ears summit

Distance: 22 KM, Elevation: 1695 M, Difficulty: Hard, Location: Golden Ears Provincial Park

Golden Ears Summit is definitely the most difficult backcountry campground we’ve hiked to. It’s the longest trail with the most elevation on this list! The trail features a lot of different terrains through the forest, above the trees and up the mountain to the summit. Do not underestimate this one either! The hike back down was truly the hardest part, but we were happy to enjoy the dog-friendly trail with Rosie.

The mountain range of Golden Ears Provincial Park is stunning and vast, and there are 7 tent pads placed in the most perfect spots. We arrived here early to get our desired spot and enjoyed seeing the outhouse, emergency shelter, water source and empty tent pads. There are plenty of spots for tents if the tent pads are taken but be mindful. This will cost you $5 per adult a night for a reservation at West Canyon on BC Parks.

5040 Peak

girl camping in her hubba hubba nx2 tent on 5040 peak Vancouver Island

Distance: 7.1 KM, Elevation: 937 M, Difficulty: Hard, Location: Port Alberni, Vancouver Island

5040 Peak is located between Tofino and Port Alberni and it’s our top hike and backcountry campground on Vancouver Island! This trail is a backpackers paradise and full of different views. We stopped so many times on this trail just to enjoy the scenery and we had lunch at Cobalt Lake both on the way up and a swim on the way down. Although it’s only 7KM, this trail features a ton of elevation in a short time and is definitely a grind to the top.

You have options on where to pitch your tent, there is a bear cache and good spots for a tent at Cobalt Lake but no outhouse. If you climb further past Cobalt Lake, you will find the rentable ACC 5040 Peak Hut, bear caches, and an outhouse (with the best outhouse view in the world, I’d say)! Finally, you can climb all the way to the summit and find multiple spots scattered around the mountain for your tent. This is a free backcountry site with no reservations needed.

Tin Hat Mountain

Distance: 12 or 4 KM counter-clock wise, Elevation: 300-900M, Difficulty: Moderate-Hard, Location: Powell River, Sunshine Coast

The Tin Hat Mountain hut is our favourite view on the Sunshine Coast and it will take you a couple of ferry rides to get there. This hut is part of the multi-day Sunshine Coast Trail where you’ll find different routes with multiple huts like this one. We didn’t do a multi-day hike and opted to do 1-night at the Tin Hat Hut which is arguably the most beautiful stop on the entire trail! The hut is free without a reservation, but priority is given to multi-day hikers and there are plenty of spots for your tent outside, too.

There are a few different routes to get here, and we chose to hike the counter-clock wise route. You will follow a logging road to the first trailhead which will take you 12KM to hike, and only if you have a 4×4 vehicle you can continue climbing the mountain road to the second trailhead which will cut your hike into about 4KM. By doing it this way, it took us less than an hour to climb to Tin Hat Hut with our backpacking gear and was an epic off-roading trip.

Watersprite Lake

Distance: 19 KM, Elevation: 736 M, Difficulty: Moderate, Location: Squamish

Watersprite Lake is found at the end of a logging road in Squamish, and you’ll need a 4×4 vehicle to reach the trailhead. If you do, this is one of the most enjoyable trails we’ve done despite the long distance! There are great views for most of the trail, a couple of adventurous boulder fields to walk across, and a stunning blue lake at the end of your hike. I’d rate this between moderate and hard, but it’s a really great day-hike option too.

When you reach the lake, you’ll continue walking around to the other side of the lake to find 20 tent pads. You’ll also find an outhouse and bear caches. You’ll need to make a reservation on BCMC website and pay $20 per night for your tent spot.

Joffre Lakes

Distance: 7.4 KM, Elevation: 491 M, Difficulty: Moderate, Location: Joffre Lakes Provincial Park

This is by far one of the coolest views and bluest lakes in BC, and there’s a good reason why this is such a busy hike. Escape the crowds by spending the night at Joffre Lake’s campground at Third Lake, where you’ll cross a boulder field and find plenty of backcountry tent spots. By staying the night, you’ll likely have the lakes to yourself at sunset and sunrise.

You’ll find washrooms at the trailhead, at the second lake and at the third lake near the campground. You have to reserve your tent spot, and it will cost $5 a night per adult on BC Parks website.

5 Bonus Backcountry Camping Spots

  • Leading Peak, Anvil Island
  • Mystic Beach, Vancouver Island
  • Elfin Lakes, Garibaldi Provincial Park
  • Lake Lovely Water, Tantalus Provincial Park
  • Howe Sound Crest Trail, North Vancouver

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Prev Post

40 Unique Gift Ideas for your Outdoorsy Friends

November 11, 2022

Next Post

10 Amazing & Fun Winter Activities to do in Vancouver

December 3, 2022