Trip Ideas

BC Hiking Trails

British Columbia’s hiking trails lead to some of the world’s most spectacular terrain, from the heights of the Rockies to the forests of the coast. Stride to the top of the Stawamus Chief, stroll along the beach on Haida Gwaii or revel in the accomplishment after hiking the West Coast Trail.

49.371448,-123.098676|49.675141,-123.15672|50.069295,-122.946551|53.067046,-121.516711|53.050604,-119.214206|48°36'35.78"N / 124°44'2.78"W|48.937386,-125.550392|54.010291,-132.143755

5 49.371448,-123.098676|49.675141,-123.15672|50.069295,-122.946551|53.067046,-121.516711|53.050604,-119.214206|48°36'35.78"N / 124°44'2.78"W|48.937386,-125.550392|54.010291,-132.143755
  1. Grouse Grind
  2. Stawamus Chief
  3. High Note Trail
  4. Barkerville Trails
  5. Berg Lake Trail
  6. West Coast Trail
  7. Wild Pacific Trail
  8. Haida Gwaii

The Grouse Grind

The Grouse Grind is just a few minutes from downtown Vancouver. Start at the base of Grouse Mountain and head up – way up. On the 2.9-km/1.8-mi trail, gain 853m/2,798ft of elevation and step up 2,830 stairs. The average time is an hour and a half – though you can try for the course record, which is just less than 24 minutes.

But don’t worry, the Grind isn’t just a grind – the forest is gorgeous, and the trail leads to the mountaintop where stunning views make it all worthwhile. Dine in The Observatory or Altitudes Bistro, where a drink and city views await. Those with enough energy can hike down via a trail of meandering switchbacks or, for a small fee, ride the Skyride gondola all the way down.

Stawamus Chief

Squamish. Photo Credit: Brendan van Son

Drive an hour north from Vancouver to the outskirts of Squamish to see the sheer face of the Stawamus Chief, a 700-m/2,297-ft dome of ancient Cretaceous rock. There’s no need to climb straight up – that’s for experienced rock climbers – so start at the trailhead and set out on the 1.8-km/1.1-mi trail that winds slowly to the top. Like the Grouse Grind, it’s steep but rewarding, with panoramic views of Squamish, Howe Sound and the surrounding mountains. For a less strenuous hike, take a pleasant 20-minute stroll on the Shannon Falls Trail for spectacular views of Shannon Falls.

The High Note Trail

Travel to Whistler and stop for breakfast at the retro-styled Southside Diner. Afterwards, ride the PEAK 2 PEAK or Whistler gondola to the top of Whistler Mountain and try to keep your jaw from dropping on the High Note Trail. Stride through alpine meadows filled with wildflowers, and take postcard pictures of surrounding peaks. Return by the Musical Bumps trail to complete a 9.4-km/5.8-mi loop to Whistler’s Roundhouse Lodge; finish the day with an après snack in the alpine air.

Barkerville Trails

Barkerville. Photo Credit: BC Heritage/Leif Grandell

Strike gold in historical Barkerville, an 1860s townsite and living museum east of Quesnel in BC’s Cariboo region. Step back in time with a stroll past the Gold Rush buildings. Grab a root beer in the saloon, ride a stagecoach, catch a show at the Theatre Royal, and see who’s on trial at the courthouse; it’s all part of BC’s largest historic site. Hiking trails around town follow rugged routes that once brought thousands of prospectors to the area. For a more demanding trip, tackle the Yellowhawk Trail, a 10.5-km/6.5-mi hike that leads to lovely outlooks over the Cariboo Mountains.  And don’t miss nearby Wells, a small mountain heritage community alive with the arts.

Berg Lake Trail

Mount Robson Provincial Park. Photo Credit: Chris Jaksa/All Canada Photos

Trek the beauty of Mount Robson Provincial Park on the Berg Lake Trail, a 23-km/14-mi, multi-day hike deep into the Rocky Mountain backcountry. Bliss out in the rugged surroundings on the way to the bright waters of Berg Lake, where a glacier tumbles into the water and the striking Emperor Face of Mount Robson soars high above. A reservation system is in place for camping spots on the Berg Lake Trail, so you’ll want to be sure to register before arriving. Check with the Mount Robson Visitor Centre for more information.

West Coast Trail

West Coast Trail. Photo Credit: Chris Cheadle/All Canada Photos

Test your mettle on the West Coast Trail. One of the world’s top wilderness hikes, this week-long, 75-km/47-mi trek takes you through lush rainforest and along driftwood-strewn beaches on Vancouver Island’s west coast. A challenging trip, the trail rewards with remote beaches, rugged coastal scenery and glimpses of seals, sea lions, eagles and whales.

Numbers are limited on the trail and reservations are recommended. If you’re travelling independently, the West Coast Trail Express Bus can shuttle you to and from the trailheads from Victoria or Nanaimo. Several companies, including Sea to Sky Expeditions and Ecosummer Expeditions offer guided trips.
Prefer a shorter hike? The Juan de Fuca Trail, along Vancouver Island’s southwest coast, has several access points so you can enjoy rugged coastal scenery on a day trip or a multi-day trek.

Tofino and Ucluelet Trails

On the west coast of Vancouver Island, hike around rugged headlands and through coastal rainforest on the Wild Pacific Trail. This shoreside path, in three sections in and around the village of Ucluelet, offers an easy and accessible taste of the area’s magnificent coastal scenery.

Near Tofino, numerous trails in the Long Beach Unit of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve include the lovely Schooner Cove Trail, a 2-km/1.2-mi round trip that leads to a secluded sandy beach.

Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands)

Haida Gwaii. Photo Credit: Tom Ryan

For a really, really out-there experience, fly or take the ferry to Haida Gwaii, a chain of isolated islands off BC’s north coast. Near Massett, hike as far as your heart desires on North Beach’s wide, untracked sands. Enjoy beachcombing, roaming past sand dunes and watching waves roll in from the north. For scenic views of Alaska, hike up Tow Hill, where an elevated view gives the feeling of being at the edge of the world. Before leaving the islands, stop at the cedar longhouses of the Haida Heritage Centre to see ornately carved works of traditional Haida art.