One of the greatest luxuries of living in British Columbia is the abundance of nature destinations to visit and experience. From mountains to water, you name it and BC’s got it. While performing your daily work out at the gym may become a bit routine, during the summer months, there are plenty of outdoor based activities that you can get involved in instead. With countless routes to choose from with a variety of difficulty levels, hiking is a great alternative to your regular cardio exercises. Not only do you get your daily dose of physical activity, you also get to enjoy great views and fresh air along the way, two birds with one stone! With that said, here are 5 of the best hikes in and around Vancouver:
1) St. Mark’s Summit:
Considered a moderate to easy hike, St. Mark’s Summit is a great trail to take if you want to enjoy both the breathtaking views of Howe Sound, as well as to immerse yourself in a heavy dose of nature at its finest. With the start of the trail at the Cypress Mountain Day Lodge, expect to drive most of the elevation, although you will still have approximately 460 metres of elevation left to hike within a 5.5 km distance (11 km round-trip). Part of the much longer 29 km Howe Sound Crest Trail in Cypress Provincial Park, bring your camping gear if you want to experience the trail in its entirety!
2) Diez Vistas:
This is THE hike to go on if you want to enjoy an array of views; in fact, the trail was named “Diez Vistas” after its “ten views.” Overlooking Indian Arm and enroute towards Buntzen Lake located in the Tri-Cities area, Diez Vistas is a moderately easy hike with 460 metres of elevation in approximately 7.5 km, but expect a longer round-trip, capping off at 15 km in total. Along the route, you will be treated to the glorious sights of Sasamat Lake, Belcarra Regional Park, and Deep Cove just to name a few. Remember, you can always up the intensity in your hike by increasing your pace. With this kind of trail, there are various jogging friendly parts.
3) Mount Seymour:
One of the Vancouverite’s favourite hiking destinations, the Mount Seymour Trail, located in Mount Seymour Provincial Park, with the trailhead just off of the main resort parking is a moderate to difficult hike. Expect an elevation gain of 450 metres in 4 km (to 4.5 km), and an approximate 8 km round-trip. This is a dog friendly trail, and also one with a great view on a clear day- we’re talking seeing as far out as Vancouver Island! Otherwise, expect beautiful views of the Gulf Islands and Lower Mainland. If you’re looking for an easier hike, the Mount Seymour trail also branches out into the Dog Mountain trail not far from the start of the hiking route.
4) Stawamus Chief:
The prime destination for professional mountain climbers and the everyday hiker alike, the Stawamus Chief overlooks the town of Squamish and promises views of both Howe Sound, as well as Garibaldi Provincial Park. One of the more difficult hikes on this list, you can expect to climb a total elevation of 600 metres within 5.5 km, and an 11 km round-trip. Ask anyone who’s ever hiked The Chief, and no doubt they’ll tell you that the view’s completely worth the trek once you get to the top.
5) The Grouse Grind:
This is the hike to take solely for the purpose of physical exercise. While definitely a bit tougher on the knees (expect steep rocks and stairs), the rewards of a cold beer/drink at the restaurant atop the Grind, coupled with scenic views may just be worth the trip. With a whopping 853 metres of elevation in just 2.9 km, this trail isn’t called the “grind” for nothing. Unlike the other trails on this list, don’t expect to hike back down, rather plan for a gondola ride. This is one high traffic, and steep route down that you don’t want to be taking.
Written By: Anna Zhao
All Images Courtesy of VancouverTrails[dot]Com