Top Hikes Around Vancouver- Hiking Essentials

Updated: Nov 4, 2020

Now that the rainy season in Vancouver has started, I start to reminisce on my favourite summer past-time: Hiking.Vancouver and British Columbia have been my home for so many years and there are so many wonderful memories I have with hiking here. In this article, I want to share not only my recommendations for first time hikes, but hikes that I have routinely gone back to year after year because of the beauty at the top and all throughout. For those of you who haven’t been to these hikes, I would recommend all of them for their varying difficulties and beauty. In this article, I want to share my favourite hikes and my list for hiking essentials that I have obtained over the years.

1. Cypress Mountain and St. Marks Summit

This hike follows the Howe Sound Crest Trail to the peak of St. Marks Summit and offers views of Howe Sound and even Vancouver Island on a clear sunny day. The hike roundtrip can be finished in around 4-5 hours and parking at the Cypress ski parking lot is sufficient in the summer. Remember to pack some snacks and sandwiches for the hike up and you might even get a view of the chipmunks mounting away their snacks during the resting viewpoints. The 11km hike is a moderate hike and about a half an hour drive from Vancouver. It follows a portion of the popular skiing trail at Cypress Mountain. One of my favourite things to do in the summer is to retrace the ski path to get ready for skiing in the winter.

2. Garibaldi Lake and Panorama Ridge

I first completed the hike at Garibaldi Lake when I was 5 years old and have done the hike every year in university since then. Garibaldi Lake is a fairly easy loop trail consisting of a 5 hour roundtrip and 18km in distance that leads to a crystal clear lake and campsite. If you want to continue on to the Panorama Ridge hike, plan for an entire day(around 10 hours) in the summer where you should be prepared to ascend through glaciers and climb multiple ascending sections. One of the most rewarding elements however, is the view from the top at Panorama Ridge; you feel that you are at the top of the world, until however, the downward treck.

3. Sea To Sky Trail

The Sea to Sky Trail is located near Squamish and is considered an advanced trail because of it’s distance and elevation. It takes around 3-5 hours roundtrip and is 6.5 km one way. Park at the Sea to Sky Gondola parking lot and make your way to the trailhead through markers that eventually take you to the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola, which you can take the Gondola down for around $15. There is even a restaurant at the top with a magnificent view which makes the hike all the worthwhile on a summer day.

4. The Chief

The Chief is one of the most classic hikes around the Squamish area and offers views of 3 mountain peaks that are all possible to attempt in one day. Many first-time hikers choose this hike to begin with because you can pace yourself easily at the many rest-points and section markers.Starting off the hike, you are challenged with gruelling stairs, near the end of the hike you are challenged with a combination of ladders and chains that bring to to the viewpoint. At the top on a clear day, it is possible to see views of Squamish, Howe Sound and Garibaldi Lake.The hike takes around 6 hours and is 11km round, depending on whether you want to attempt all 3 of the peaks.

5. Burnaby Mountain

This is a popular hiking trail in the Burnaby and Tri-Cities area that is around 2 hours for a roundtrip loop starting from the base at Horizons restaurant. The loop takes you down the 500 stairs and past the bike park, which you eventually ascend up the steep hill past the Suncor Energy plant to Simon Fraser University. Be aware of frequent bear sightings in this area and always carry bear spray with you.Summer nights are known to be popular as people wait on the hill to see the sunset; however, if you truly want to get the full experience, hike the round trail and then see the sunset like I always do.

6. Diez Vistas

Located near Port Moody, this hike is another popular hike in the Tri-Cities area and offers amazing views of Indian arm as you make your way across the Butzen Lake area. The hike begins at the Butzen Lake parking lot and takes you through 6-7 hours of elevation and views of the surrounding mountains. End your hike with a dip in at the beach on a hot summer day or attempt to hike other trails in the Butzen Lake area.

7. Joffre Lake

Joffre Lake is located near Whistler and is a must-see hiking destination for hikers wanting to catch the beauty of the Pemberton area and viewpoints of several glaciers along the way. The water is crystal clear and excellent for photos and videos. It is a relatively easy flat 4 hour hike encompassing 3 lakes and offers superb views of the Matier Glacier. It has been increasingly instagram-worthy in the past years because of the views of the glacier that give it similarities to the hikes in the popular Banff area.

What to Wear While Hiking

1.Sports Bra-

1.Girlfriend Collective

The Paloma Sports Bra from Girlfriend Collective is the perfect bra for short and long hikes alike. There are multiple colours available and limited editions, so be sure to grab yours before the colours are gone. I am a Girlfriend Collective affiliate and have gone to the gym, ran and hiked and never felt it lacking in support.

The Girlfriend Bra is available here :

2.UnderArmour - great sports bras that provide great support and durability.

2.Hiking Socks

As an experienced hiker, hiking socks are a must to navigate the tough terrain that hiking trails include. Be sure to have the proper socks for every type of season including winter and summer socks. It is best to buy socks made from wool even if they can be a bit expensive, but their quality is of the high side and are longer lasting.

  1. Danish Endurance - High quality Merino wool socks for all seasons

2. Merrell - High-engineered socks with compression to give your feet extra durability

3. Hiking Shoes

Again, your regular running shoes won’t do for muddy hikes and hikes with tough terrain such as The Chief and Panorama Ridge. Invest in a proper brand of hiking shoes such as Merrell or Columbia that include sturdy footing on the exterior.

  1. Columbia Hiking Shoes- A strong, reliable brand for outdoor activities

2. Merrell - These are the shoes I can testify the long lasting quality for over 4 years!

4. Hiking Pants

Although yoga pants and leggings are okay for simple hikes, the more experienced hikers tend to wear stretchable and comfortable material for hikes.

  1. Columbia - Invest in a pair of hiking pants like I did, and they will last for years

Rdruko Waterproof Pants- Another option for hikers

5. Hiking Outwear

In the winter, it is imperative to have a hiking jacket that is both water-proof and wind-resistant because the temperature in the mountains can easily change from minute to minute.

  1. Marmot - Womens Jacket

2. Columbia Men's Rain Jacket

6. Most Importantly: Hiking Backpack !

The Hiking backpack is the most important element of all the hiking gear because you can put all your necessities in it. From bear spray to water to essential food and layering, the essential backpack can accommodate all that.

  1. Marmot Essential Hiking Backpack- I have carried this backpack with me throughout various trails in North America, and have prepared myself with bear spray, bug spray, jackets, gloves and other necessities in times of need.

2. Neekfox Lightweight Backpack- A starter backpack for new hikers

The Importance of Appreciating the Outdoors

I have been hiking for over 5 years today, and I can honesty testify that being surrounded by nature has been a driving force helping me get through times of depression and loneliness. The West Coast mountains have always been there for me when I needed them, and I have in a sense developed a co-existence with nature because I recognize the importance of harvesting a relationship with nature and maintaining that over time. I can't wait for the rainy season to be over, and for the sunny days to come back in full swing.

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