When March finally arrives, Vancouver is literally buzzing with the prospect of spring, and people begin to itch for the outdoors. Although most of the hikes in our local mountains are still closed due to snowy and dangerous conditions, that won’t stop most Vancouverites from heading outside. A little rain won’t hurt us, right? To get you started, we wanted to share eleven of our most favourite springtime hikes to help kickstart your hiking season. From March to June, here are some ways to explore outdoors without strapping on your snow gear!
1. Lynn Canyon
Lynn Canyon is a great place to get your BC rainforest fix in the springtime. Whether sunlight is streaming through the trees or fog and mist is hanging low over the river, this place oozes with dreamy British Columbian vibes. This spot is a local favourite because of the iconic and highly photographed Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge that towers 150ft above the canyon. If you want the bridge all to yourself, we suggest avoiding peak afternoon hours! We love that you can pick your choice of adventure here - hike the relatively flat 5km Lynn Loop up through the forest and down past the rushing Lynn Creek, or maybe you’d prefer to meander on the shorter, 1.5km roundtrip to see Twin Falls. You will most definitely want to admire the crystal clear, emerald green waters of the 30 Foot Pool - another of the park’s most popular spots. Finally, the trail that circles the pretty Rice Lake which is accessible from Lynn Canyon Park is a great place to go for a leisurely hike. No matter what choose your own adventure you pick, you’ll get to enjoy the towering suspension bridge, the thick forested canopy, the sound of the rushing river, and the mossy, fern-lined trails.
2. Quarry Rock
There’s no doubt that Quarry Rock is one of Vancouver’s favourite hikes. With its relatively light incline, 2 hour (or less, if you don’t take your time) round trip journey through the forest, and its beautiful lookout over Deep Cove, Indian Arm, and Belcarra Regional Park - this hike is stunning year round, rain or shine. Because of its convenience, (a quick 30 min drive from the city), and rewarding view, Vancouverites flock here on the weekends. The trail is a combination of wooden stairs built seamlessly into the ground, packed mud, rock and roots, and natural-style boardwalks. We love heading here in early weekday mornings or evenings (right before sunset), for a quick nature fix. Sometimes we run it, sometimes we take our time, sometimes we bring a picnic and a blanket - but always, we savour the view. (If you’ve ever seen a good sunset here - you’ll know what we mean!) Tips: make sure you bring appropriate footwear, (good quality runners will do, but remember, it can get muddy in the rain), water and snacks and a bonus, and enjoy the lush forest along the way. Remember to stop at every stream and mini-waterfall, and, as if the view wasn’t reward enough, don’t forget to grab a donut from Honey’s when you’re done! Fun fact…this was the very first hike we ever did together, which makes it perfect first or second date material.
3. Whytecliff park
If you’ve looked up photos of Vancouver on Instagram, you’ve probably seen photos of Whytecliff Park. This beach is known for its dome-shaped island that’s accessible by a path of rounded rocks at low tide, and surrounded by water at high tide. If you do venture across the rocks to the island, make sure you pay attention to the tides, because people have been known to get stuck out there! (Not us, obviously). Whytecliff Park is buzzing in the summer, shrouded in fog in the winter, and a popular spot for scuba diving year round. If you visit in the cooler months, bring a coffee or hot chocolate, a warm blanket, and catch the sunset.
4. Bowen Lookout
Visiting Vancouver in the spring can be a tricky time for a hike in the mountains, as the local peaks are still covered in an abundance of snow. Unless you have snowshoes and proper winter gear, you might find yourselves more comfortable sticking to lower elevations. BUT, one of our favourite mini-hikes on Cypress Mountain can most definitely be accessed from March onwards, and boasts an incredible view over Howe Sound. The hike to Bowen Lookout might take you through some snow in the earlier months, but we often hike it in winter hiking boots, or even Blundstones. (We even see people do it in sneakers - but expect wet feet, and slippery conditions!) If you’re a little less experienced, make sure you have crampons, or snowshoes. The hike is short and sweet, an approximately 30 min semi-uphill climb - but we promise, the reward is worth the effort. Fun fact: we got engaged at Bowen Lookout after a night hike, at midnight on New Years Eve, 2016.
Drive from downtown: 30 min - Transit: N/A
5. The chief
If you’re heading up to see the sights in Whistler, there’s a few things you may want to check out. Your first stop might be to head up the Sea-to-Sky Gondola in Squamish for stunning, dramatic views across Howe Sound and the surrounding mountains. You may also want to check out the nearby Shannon Falls, BC’s third tallest waterfall, accessible by a short walk from the parking lot. If it’s a spring hike you’re looking for, one of the local hot spots is the Stawamus Chief. The Chief is one of the few mountains you can climb as early in the year as March, without much trace of snow. (Make sure you check conditions first, of course!) The Chief is an awesome place to get in a good workout, with an unreal view. Starting from the base near Shannon Falls, climb up the natural stair master with a 600 meter elevation gain, with just over 2km (4km round trip from the parking lot) to the First Peak. (There are three, you can hit them all, depending on how adventurous you are!) In our opinion, the First Peak boasts the best views, but it’s also the most popular. Bring snacks, lots of water, and don’t forget to leave yourself lots of time to take in the 360 degree views at the top. The view is UNREAL, and so quintessential BC!
Drive from downtown: 30 min - Transit: N/A
6. Jug island
Jug Island is a tiny, perfectly rounded island nestled in the mouth of Indian Arm. If you’ve ever done the Quarry Rock hike you may have seen it from across the viewpoint. The Jug Island 5.5km round trip hike begins in Belcarra Regional Park, with a steep gravel path, that levels out into a beautiful trail through the lush forest. We’d say this hike is easy to intermediate, and it’s accessible year round. We particularly love this hike on a sunny day, as the beach is a perfect spot for a picnic. Sit on the rocks across from the island and enjoy the views across Indian Arm, because it’s oh-so-pretty! This spot is definitely Insta-worthy - so make sure you take some photos along the way.
7. Dog Mountain
If it’s mountains you crave, Dog Mountain on Mount Seymour might be the hike for you. We do this hike as early as March, but expect snow - and wear suitable footwear. (Snow boots or winter hiking boots will do, or snow shoes if you’re less comfortable). As the months progress, the snow will begin to melt - but expect muddy, wet conditions, and dress appropriately. This hike is a good one because it’s not difficult, and it’s only a 5km round trip with minimal elevation gain - except you get to be in the mountains! The best part? The end of the hike gives you a crazy view over Vancouver. On a clear day, you can see downtown Vancouver, Stanley Park, and even the Lions Gate Bridge.
Drive from downtown: 45 min - Transit: N/A
8. Lower Falls Trail
Whenever we want to escape a little further from the city, our favourite place to head to is Golden Ears Provincial Park. Just driving through this park is breathtaking, you’ll never see such densely packed, vibrantly green, moss covered trees anywhere else in the world. When it’s still snowy in the mountains, this is the perfect little hike to get immersed in nature. The hike to Lower Falls is very easy with no elevation, and only just over 2.5km each way (about an hour, total). The hike takes you through the forest along a wide, gravel path, and the lush ferns lining the forest floor will take your breath away. Soon you’ll hit Gold Creek and you can walk along the rushing water, or stop to skip stones. Your goal? To reach the beautiful, cascading Gold Creek Falls. You’ll hear them before you see them - and you might even feel the mist. The springtime is an amazing time to check out the waterfall due to the heavy runoff. Be sure to be extra careful, as it is not advised to get too close to the falls.
Drive from downtown: 1 hr 15 min - Transit: N/A
9. Buntzen Lake
Buntzen Lake may be known as a popular swimming spot in the hotter, summer months, but it’s a great spot for a moody, BC hike in the drearier, cooler seasons. Once you walk towards the lake from the parking lot, you might recognize the often photographed boathouse that’s viewable from the main beach. The lake itself is beautiful - surrounded on each side by mountains, and, if you’re lucky and you visit on a calm day, the reflections on the water can be incredible. You can hike the entire loop around the lake, (a round trip of 10km), or, you can choose to wander part of the way. Feel free to bring your pup, there’s even an off-leash area for dogs to run free!
Drive from downtown: 1 hr - Transit: N/A
10. Cleveland dam and the capilano river
In our opinion, Capilano Canyon is one of the lesser known spots for hiking around Vancouver, but it’s definitely worth the visit. The Cleveland Dam is a concrete dam at the head of the Capliano River, which provides the majority of fresh drinking water for the entire Greater Vancouver region. Across Capilano Lake, you’ll see an incredible view of the Lions, and Grouse Mountain off to the right. One you enter the park, there are a variety of easy trails that will take you through the forest, and you can also visit the Capilano Salmon Hatchery (It’s free!). Walk along the rushing river and be surrounded by trees and water. Hike up to 3km, or take a shorter route if you prefer.
11. Lighthouse park
When you think of rocky coastlines and west coast views, you may picture a classic lighthouse on the edge of the sea. Lighthouse Park has exactly that image. The park boasts some of the largest Douglas firs in the Vancouver area, and offers something for everyone. Whether you want a short jaunt through the woods to check out the lighthouse, or a longer, meandering hike (up to 6km roundtrip) through the woods and along the rocky coastline, it’ll definitely give you a taste of life in BC. The hikes are super easy and accessible by any skill level, and it’s a great spot to bring a picnic or some snacks.
The information on this page may not always be accurate or up-to-date. Please take the time to research current conditions.
ALL PHOTOS IN THIS BLOG POST WERE TAKEN AND EDITED BY BRIE & REUBEN OF VANCITYWILD.