Our Top 10 Best Hikes & Views Near Vancouver, BC

Vancouver is nearby so many incredible hikes and backpacking trips, and we’re often asked for the best trails closest to the city. For the absolute best views and our top picks for difficult hikes that are worth the effort, I’m here to share our check-list of the best hikes near Vancouver, BC!

I’ve created this list with people in-mind who are visiting Vancouver and are looking for the best bang for their buck when it comes to hiking. I’ve also kept in mind that these hikes need to be at least less than 2-3 hours away from the city, and that these hikes are for people who are active hikers with the physical capability to complete the hardest hikes.

We’ve personally hiked all of these trails and this list comes from our best experiences. We know that it takes a lot of effort to find the best views and that there are some people (like me) who enjoy the challenge. It’s absolutely worth it to add a few of these hikes to your Vancouver itinerary, and if you’re interested in reading about our top recommendations for hiking near Vancouver this blog is for you!

Hiking in BC & What to Expect

Before you hit the trails, I’m here to offer some advice on hiking in Vancouver and what to expect. The trails & hiking areas in Vancouver that I’ve listed here are all very well-kept and maintained for us all to enjoy, so it’s important to have some pride and respect when using these trails. This includes leaving no trace, packing in what you pack out, and being courteous to other hikers.

When hiking in Vancouver, you should check weather advisories to know what kind of weather you’ll be dealing with and pack appropriately. Bring extra clothes, extra water and extra fuel. Since it rains in Vancouver often, you can expect parts of the trails to be wet, slippery or even muddy. This is why it’s important to be prepared with proper hiking boots!

Preparing for your Hike

You should be prepared to be at the trailhead early so that you can secure your parking spot. Most of these trails are popular for a good reason, and you should expect the trails to be busy on weekends or during the day. Most of these trailheads provide paid-parking and have washrooms available at the trailhead.

Not sure what to pack for your day-hike? Check out my day-hike packing list. All of the gear I reference here can be found on our guide. I truly think that it’s important to be prepared while you’re hiking and the initial investment will last you for years. Plus, it makes hiking so much more enjoyable with proper gear!

Best Time to Visit Vancouver

Vancouver is an enjoyable destination all year round, but the best time to enjoy hiking in Vancouver would definitely be in the summer. All of the trails will be accessible during the summer as all of the snow in the mountains will have melted, and the weather is beautifully warm. It’s best to hike in the morning to avoid extreme heat in the afternoon!

I would also give a shoutout to Fall hiking! The warm weather continues into the Fall and you’ll find the leaves changing colours on most of these hikes. The Spring is often very wet and muddy due to heavy rain.

Check-List of the Best Hikes Near Vancouver, BC

Panorama Ridge

Distance: 28 KM, Elevation: 1,610 M, Difficulty: Hard, Long Distance, Location: Whistler

If there’s only one hike to do on your trip to Vancouver, it’s this one. Panorama Ridge is definitely one of the top views in BC and maybe in all of Canada. It’s a long 30KM round-trip of a hike, but know that hundreds of people attempt this one and the view is worth it. Make sure you’re prepared with extra water on this hike, fuel and extra clothes. You most definitely need proper hiking boots to cross this one off of your bucket-list and hiking poles help too. 

You’ll start at Rubble Creek parking lot where you’ll need to purchase a parking pass for the day in advance. This route is going to take you up multiple switchbacks through the forest before coming to a forked road. To your left, you can take Taylor Meadows campground route. To your right, you can take Garibaldi Lake campground route. We’ve only hiked through Taylor Meadows and I recommend it because the walk through the meadow is gorgeous! You’ll get to enjoy flat boardwalks with mountains surrounding the expansive meadows. Garibaldi Lake is also a must-see so consider looping this route on the way back. 

You’ll start to climb up the mountain towards Panorama Ridge and may encounter snow on the trail depending on the season. It’s a pretty clear trail with loose rock and a few sketchy sections but not too exposed. Soon, you’ll reach the top of the ridge to one of the most beautiful views in BC. Another option that most people do is to split the hike over 2-days by camping at one of the three campgrounds available. Make sure to check recent reviews and judge whether or not this hike is for you! 

Wedgemount Lake

Distance: 12.6 KM, Elevation: 1,362 M, Difficulty: Hard, Scramble, Location: Whistler

This alpine lake is heaven on earth! We hiked Wedgemount Lake as a backpacking trip but saw plenty of people doing it as a day hike. It’s a long trail with a challenging final push at the end. The trail was relatively easy but constantly uphill until the final boulder field which involved minor scrambling. Don’t give up here, as the best view is right above you! Make sure you’re prepared with extra water & fuel on this hike and wear proper hiking boots. 

You’ll start at the Wedgemount Lake parking lot and begin your hike through the forest. There aren’t very many views along the way but you’ll cross a couple of boulder fields and rivers. The final boulder field is the most difficult part but it doesn’t take very long to get up it (maybe less than 5 minutes). Once over the boulder field, you’ll be welcomed by the beautiful alpine lake with multiple tent pads and places to hangout by the water. I definitely recommend going for a swim here, especially after a long, hard hike!

Mount Brunswick

Distance: 14.3KM, Elevation: 1,546 M, Difficulty: Hard, Exposed Scramble, Rock Climb, Location: North Vancouver

Mount Brunswick is an awesome hike with an amazing view. It’s also known as the highest point on Vancouver’s North Shore mountains. This hike is a long, hard slog and I wouldn’t underestimate it. This was one of our first sketchy, exposed scrambles and one of the highest elevation climbs we’ve done. When you reach the end, there’s a false summit with lots of room to relax and enjoy the view over Howe Sound. If you’d like to reach the highest point, you’ll climb a bit further towards a sketchy scramble/rock climb where most people get their famous photo. It’s an epic view and worth it!

You’ll start at the trailhead parking lot in Lions Bay which is the same parking lot as Tunnel Bluffs & The Lions These trailheads all start at the same point where you’ll begin by climbing 2KM uphill. At this point, the hike flattens out for about a KM or two before reaching a fork in the trail that directs you either straight towards Tunnel Bluffs or to the right towards Mt Brunswick. Once you start the trail towards Mt Brunswick you’ll be hiking uphill the rest of the way. It was a bit overgrown when we visited and a tight path. You’ll eventually break free from the forest and your climb will start to get more exposed with loose gravel. Pushing through this section is rewarding and you’ll soon make it to the peak.

Golden Ears Summit

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

Distance: 22 KM, Elevation: 1,695 M, Difficulty: Hard, Long Distance, Scramble, Location: Maple Ridge

Golden Ears Provincial park is one of our favourite places to hike and camp, and the summit of Golden Ears is one of the coolest hikes we’ve ever done. Not to mention, it’s also one of the hardest hikes. With 22KM and 1,695M elevation gain it’s definitely a long slog. This trail seemed to go on forever (maybe because we were hiking with overnight packs) and we kept getting fooled thinking we were close or going to make it soon. After breaking out of the forest, you’ll start to climb ladders, ropes, and rocks to get to the peak. There was not much exposure on this hike but the climb was exhausting!

You’ll start at the West Canyon parking lot at Golden Ears Provincial Park and follow an easy 7KM through the forest. Save your energy and enjoy this part! You’ll start to head towards Alder Flats which is surprisingly a lot of hiking uphill. You’ll hike all sorts of different terrains on this trail with the next section being loose rocks going uphill. There is a spot with a large clearing and some logs/rocks to sit on and take a break before another huge climb out of the forest. Once you break out of the trees it starts to get very rocky with more climbing as you get closer to the summit. The feeling you get when you finally reach basecamp is awesome, and there’s about 20 minutes more left of climbing a not-so-obvious trail to the real summit. 

This is one of our number one backcountry campgrounds because of the tent pads, fresh water stream, views and outhouse available. We seriously enjoyed this campground and it’s definitely one of the best spots we’ve pitched our tent. However, the climb back down was absolutely miserable on our legs. Climbing back down really sucked and felt never-ending. Alder Flats was surprisingly the worst part coming down and the long 7KM of flat trail to the car felt like it was taking forever. Still worth it!

Joffre Lakes

Distance: 7.4 KM, Elevation: 490 M, Difficulty: Moderate, Location: Pemberton

One of the most beautiful alpine lakes in BC is actually 3 separate lakes. Joffre Lakes is also the most distance away from Vancouver but the drive down the sea to sky highway into Pemberton towards Joffre Lakes is so enjoyable. This is one of the most well-known spots in BC and you’ll need to score a day-pass to even hike it. You can also camp here with a permit past the 3rd lake! The bright blue colour of the lakes surrounded by mountain peaks is mesmerizing and definitely one of BC’s treasures.

You’ll park in one of the 2 parking lots designated for Joffre Lakes. Once your day-pass is checked, you’ll hit the trail and arrive to your first lake after 5 minutes of hiking. The first lake is so easily accessible and a really beautiful start. However, the best lake (in my opinion) is the second lake which will take more effort. It’s a constant climb uphill and not necessarily easy for everyone. You’ll need proper hiking boots for this one! After a long climb you’ll be rewarded with the most beautiful alpine lake with plenty of spots around the lake to relax, take photos and have lunch. The famous Joffre Lakes log is at this lake and an awesome spot to jump in!

The third lake is another 30-minutes away from here and involves a bit more uphill hiking but it’s not as hard as the hike to the second lake. The third lake is also beautiful and often less crowded for those that want to enjoy a swim or a more peaceful experience. This is a very popular hike and you should expect to see a lot of people here, but it’s popular for a good reason and very well worth it.

St Marks Summit

saint marks summit viewpoint with girl walking across the cliff ledge with tent set up

Distance: 10.4 KM, Elevation: 586 M, Difficulty: Moderate, Long Distance, Location: North Vancouver

This hike is a must if you’re visiting Vancouver and looking for a local, moderate hike. Although I say moderate, this hike is 10KM with a 586M elevation gain. It’s still a fair workout but the reward for your effort is huge. St Marks Summit gives you one of the best views over Howe Sound and it’s one I recommend when my friends are visiting. What’s even better is the location – it’s located at Cypress Ski Resort which is about 20-30 minutes from downtown Vancouver.  

You’ll park at Cypress Ski Resort and begin your hike just behind the ski hills. You’ll start with some fair uphill hiking through the forest with a lot of roots to be aware of. This is one of the more popular hikes in the area and you can expect to see people on this trail. You’ll know you’re close when the trees start to thin out and you’ll get sneak peak views of Howe Sound. Once you reach the first viewpoint, know that there is a second (and better in my opinion) viewpoint a bit further down. The Howe Sound views are incredible and I love hiking this one for sunset. 

Tunnel Bluffs

girl and dog watching sunset at tunnel bluffs vancouver

Distance: 11 KM, Elevation: 518 M, Difficulty: Moderate, Location: Lions Bay

This is another one of our top recommendations – not only because it’s an easier hike, but the snow on this hike melts way quicker than others. The one thing I warn my friends about before attempting this hike is that the first 2KM are a long slog. It’s an unenjoyable climb until you reach the 2KM mark where it flattens out. The rest of the hike is awesome and it’s one of our favourite off-leash trails to bring our dog. 

When you reach the end of the trail you’re met with a large, flat rock slab. There’s so much room here for multiple people to sit, relax and enjoy the views. This was our first sunset hike in the dark and although we were scared this was straightforward on the way down and we enjoyed an awesome sunset show.

Watersprite Lake

Distance: 19 KM, Elevation: 735 M, Difficulty: Moderate, Long Distance, Location: Squamish

One of the most enjoyable trails on this list was definitely to Watersprite Lake. The views you get along the trail are incredible, and the trail itself is very well-maintained. Since the hike is so straightforward, there are only a few difficult spots of boulder fields to climb over but without any exposure. The final push to the lake is the steepest part but the hard part is over quickly.

When you arrive at the lake you’re met with a beautiful blue alpine lake set in a gorgeous meadow surrounded by mountains. We came here during wildflower season and really enjoyed hanging out by the lake for hours before heading back down. This is a popular one, and you’ll need a 4X4 vehicle as the trailhead is at the end of a difficult logging road.

Elk Mountain

Distance: 8KM, Elevation: 745 M, Difficulty: Moderate, Location: Chilliwack

This was one of our favourite hikes in the Chilliwack area and an awesome way to see some views of the mountains on this side of Vancouver. This will probably soon be replaced by Cheam Peak but we haven’t hiked that yet. Elk Mountain is a really enjoyable, straightforward hike while going uphill most of the way.

The views you can get include views over the city of Chilliwack, views of Mount Baker, and the mountains that border Canada and the US.

Stawamus Chief

Distance: 6 KM, Elevation: 653 M, Difficulty: Hard, Location: Squamish

I put this one at the very end of our list because it’s one of the most famous hikes around, yet one of the least enjoyable for me! People often enjoy this climb but it’s an incredibly steep hike with plenty of technical sections. You’ll enjoy rope climbing, climbing ladders, and steep exposure if you’re thinking of climbing all 3 peaks. However, it’s one of the coolest views in Squamish and I’m glad I’ve crossed it off my bucket-list.

Additional Hikes we haven’t done yet/didn’t make the list:

  • Anvil Island’s Leading Peak
  • Cheam Peak
  • Mount Rohr/Rohr Lake
  • Flora Peak/Goats Ridge/Lindemann Lake
  • Tin Hat Mountain

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