Vancouver has recently been voted the third most “liveable place in the world” and honestly, I am not surprised. Arriving in Vancouver all you can see is people outside, jogging, walking, playing frisbee in the park. Being active and enjoying their free time outdoors. With so much nature in the middle of the city that’s not surprising. Vancouver doesn’t only have an incredible amount of green areas in the city but also an immense amount of wonderful hiking trails for all levels of expertise. From easy hikes to overnight adventures, Vancouver is a hiking and outdoors haven even during the offseason.
And what would be of a visit to Vancouver without a breath of fresh air? That’s right, it wouldn’t be. Here are some of the best hikes around ranging from beginner to intermediate that are also perfect for a day out in the autumn.
Did you know that Stanley Park is 10% larger than New York’s Central Park? This park in the heart of the city is, without a sombre of a doubt, one of the best hikes around Vancouver. With its over 4,000 Km² (1,500 sq mi) Stanley Park has plenty of routes (and a lake that is “eating” itself) you’ll want to explore. Whether it is the forest you enjoy or prefer the sea view, you’ll find a trail for you. And don’t let its prime location fool you, the Seawall promenade alone is almost 9 Km (5.5 mi) long, so plan for a day of walking and bring your comfy shoes.
Besides great hiking trails, Stanley Park is also great for cyclists and casual visitors alike, so whatever your preferred means of transportation is, make sure to stop by.
Lynn Canyon (and the surrounding area) is easy to reach by public transport for very little money, especially if you’re staying in Downtown Vancouver. This, combined with the variety of hikes available, makes this one of the best hikes around Vancouver if you’re visiting the city for a few days and want to enjoy the outdoors.
From Lynn Canyon suspension bridge you can follow several paths. Walking south from the bridge you’ll come into the Baden Powell Trail. With start in Horseshoe Bay and end in Deep Cove, this is, hands down, one of the best hiking trails in North Vancouver. With a combination of ruggedness and well-kept forest paths, this 48 Km (around 30 mi) route can be followed for as long or as little as you want without taking away from the experience.
Getting to Lynn Canyon by public transit: Take the SeaBus to Lonsdale Quay Station from Waterfront Station, there you’ll take bus 228 to Lynn Valley and get off at Northbound Lynn Valley Rd. @ Burrill Ave. (around 20 minutes – 25 Stops). From there it’s only 10 minutes walk through a lovely residential area to the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre.
Fares: Lynn Canyon (North Vancouver) requires a 2 Zone ticket, which will cost you between $3.35* and $4.20* for a one-way ticket or $10.25* for a day pass. However, if you are visiting on a weekend or a bank holiday, you’ll only pay for a 1 Zone ticket ($2.30* – $2.95*). You can find a trip planner, fare map and other useful information about public transport in Vancouver here.
(*All prices in Canadian Dollars)
Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve to Rice Lake
The starting point of this North Vancouver hike is also Lynn Canyon. With its mere 8 Km (5 mi) to get to Rice Lake, circle around and back to the Lynn Canyon suspension bridge, the Lynn Canyon – Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve – Rice Lake hike is probably one of the best short hikes in Vancouver. And if you are lucky, you may even spot some bald eagles!
Lighthouse Park is yet another super easy hike around Vancouver. And much like Lynn Canyon, it is also easy to reach by public transport from the city. This makes this West Vancouver hike a perfect destination for half-day getaways and THE spot for hiking beginners and families.
Overlooking Bowen Island to the east and the University of British Columbia’s west point campus to the south, this hike around Lighthouse Park has views hard to top. Its main three viewpoints (West beach, Juniper Point and Eagle Point) are well marked and easy to reach, even for the little ones. And don’t even get me started on the incredible variety of plants that you can spot in this park. A tree lover’s paradise!
Getting to Lighthouse Park by public transit: Take one of the following buses westbound: 250, 253, 254 or 257. The bus stop is at the intersection of West Georgia and Seymour Street. The buses will take you directly to Lighthouse Park in about 40 to 45 minutes.
Fares: Lighthouse Park (West Vancouver) requires a 1 Zone ticket, which will cost you between $2.30* – $2.95* for a one-way ticket or $10.25* for a day pass. All the information you may need about public transit in Vancouver is here.
(*All prices in Canadian Dollars)
Green Lake (Whistler)
This one is technically not in Vancouver but is definitely worth the trip up to Whistler via the Sea to Sky Highway. It is the perfect day hike from Vancouver. For as little as $35 for the return fare (and no luggage fees), Epic Rides is the best option for this trip if you don’t want to rent a car. And if you travel outside ski season you won’t need to book in advance. The drive up to Whistler takes around 1.5 hours and it takes you through some stunning landscape!
Once in Whistler, take a stroll through the main Olympic village towards north passing by the Squamish Lil’wat cultural centre. The start to the trail is on the far end of the parking lot. There you should follow the path to Lost Lake. Following the Sea to Sky Trail to Green Lake and back covers about 13 Km (around 8 mi) and will take you through calm forests, stunning lakes and if you are lucky, you may even spot some wildlife while at it. Just be careful of the bears!
These wonderfully easy hikes around Vancouver are a must for any visitor to the Canadian west coast. And not having a car available won’t be a valid excuse any more as all of these are easily accessible via public transit. Oh and when you do visit, don’t forget to give those trees a big ol’ hug!