Vancouverites have a serious advantage in wilderness adventure. Although the day to day can hinder us from being submerged in the woods at all times, we have the luxury of being able to gaze out at the beautiful north-shore mountains from the offices across the pond.
There are a wide variety of hikes in the area; from casual strolls through the forest with minimal incline, to full-blown haystack climbs. This past summer I spent a great deal of time wandering through the wilderness and discovered three beautiful hikes in the Vancouver area. The great thing about these hikes is that they all offer a completely unique experience and are of different levels, for variety’s sake.
1. Mystery Lake, Mount Seymour (easy, 3km round trip)
On the top of Mount Seymour lies a beautiful little lake. Swimmable, camp-able and incredible, this serene spot had my heart captured as I saw it sparkle through the trees. We parked at the Seymour lot and followed the signs as the trail wrapped around and beyond the top of the chairlift. It was a rainy summer day on the verge of sundown, but we had our swimsuits and we were determined to take a dip in the mysterious lake. This took us approximately three hours to leisurely go up, have a quick dip and hike down.
2. St. Marks Summit, Cypress Mountain (medium difficulty, 11km round trip)
Marching through the trees like a tribe on the hunt, we rounded up several friends to join on this mid November hike. Partnering with friends is always a great idea for afternoon exploring. Starting in the lot of Cypress Mountain, the trail twists up and between smaller summits around it. Through wooded trails and fairly easy terrain, St. Marks comes up quickly and you may miss it if not for the crowd of people hanging around at its peak. If you venture down and around the path, you’ll find other spots to set up for lunch that are less crowded. All in all, it’s a relatively laid-back hike, with a bit of distance and a beautiful vista of Howe Sound and the Gulf Islands. (Can you name them all?)
3. The Lions Peaks, Lion’s Bay (difficult, 16km round trip)
When we reached the top of the Lions, we were speechless, completely in awe of where the trail had led us. The view was absolutely perfect, and I questioned if I’d ever seen anything more beautiful. In that moment I was the most in love with Vancouver that I’d ever been. Beginning from a parking lot in Lion’s Bay, the trail twists and turns in many ways. A wide dirt road evolves to a narrow path, and even becomes a stroll through a stream. This trail is quite overgrown and challenging, with few people making the trek. Searching for markers and launching over logs for 16kms round trip has this hike as the most difficult on my list, and one hundred percent the most beautiful.
In Vancouver, we’re fortunate enough to explore throughout all seasons of the year. Whether you’re an extremist, strapping on snowshoes for a winter escapade, or adding these to your summit bucket list, they’re worth your time. I promise.
Happy (Vancouver) trails.