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2-6548-hiking-Cypress
Cypress Provincial Park
(Patrice Halley photo)

Vancouver, Coast & Mountains

North Shore Mountains

The North Shore Mountains are comprised of six mountains and two suburban communities laid out along the north shore of Burrard Inlet.

This is the beginning of the majestic Coast Mountain Range, which extends north along BC’s coast and right through Alaska.

An established hiking destination, it’s extremely wild and rugged despite being less than half an hour from downtown Vancouver. Healthy populations of bear, coyote and cougar live here, so exercise caution on all trails. Deer, squirrels and a variety of bird species also call the area home.

The main hiking areas are Cypress Provincial Park, Mount Seymour Provincial Park and Grouse Mountain. These areas feature dense forests, alpine lakes and meadows, stunning summit views, and moderate to difficult trails. Cypress also features an easy, wheelchair-accessible loop trail.

Mountain Biking

The North Shore, so called because it sits on the northern shore of Vancouver's Burrard Inlet, is widely recognized as the birthplace of free-riding. Its vast network of mountain biking trails is mainly concentrated on and around Mount Seymour. Some of the world's most challenging trails are here, which is one reason the area is regularly featured in mountain biking magazines and videos. There are many intermediate-level trails as well but only a limited number of cross-country opportunities.

Ned's Atomic Dustbin (intermediate to difficult), is one of the area's original and most popular trails. It offers lots of man-made structures on a gentle slope. CBC (difficult), which runs through old-growth forest, is arguably the area's most beautiful trail. Fisherman's Trail (easy) is a popular, multi-use gravel trail that runs alongside the Seymour River and past a number of historical sites of interest.

The North Shore's environmentally sensitive trail building methods have caught the world's attention. "North Shore-style" trails, with stunt structures that protect nature as they provide challenge, are now being used in several US states.

North Shore trails are 20 to 40 minutes from downtown Vancouver and are directly accessible from the North Vancouver and West Vancouver suburbs. Some trails can be ridden year round but the best time for riding is March through October.

Mountain Biking Safety Tips:

  • New riders are strongly advised to seek some form of local guidance on the North Shore. Guided rides are available.
  • Many downhill trails can be accessed from Mt. Seymour Road but be prepared: they don't loop back to the road.

Hiking

Baden-Powell Trail
The 42km/25mi Baden-Powell Trail is the main route in the large system of North Shore Mountain trails. It extends all the way from Horseshoe Bay (west) to Deep Cove (east). Because it is not intended as one long hike, but rather as several shorter ones, it can be accessed from several points.

Beginning from the trail's most westerly point, hikers ascend about 1,140m/3,740ft to the top of Black Mountain in Cypress Provincial Park. From there, the Baden-Powell gradually descends toward the charming village of Deep Cove. Savour breathtaking views of Vancouver as you traverse through densely forested trails past trickling streams and rocky bluffs.

For an abridged version of this journey, hike the trail from Deep Cove to the high bluff overlooking Indian Arm.

Hiking the Baden-Powell Trail:

  • Rated: advanced, with some moderate and easy sections
  • Approximate time required: varies by route
  • Best time: March - October (lower portion) and June - October (western portion)

Cypress Provincial Park

Cypress Provincial Park has been one of the Lower Mainland’s most popular hiking destinations for more than 100 years. The 3,000ha/7,413ac park is thick with western red cedars and yellow cedars, while wildlife such as coyotes, deer, black bears and squirrels plus a wide variety of birds call it home. Sparkling mountain lakes are found below the park’s peaks of 1,454m/4,770m Mount Strachan, 1,217m/3993ft Black Mountain and 1,325m/4,347-ft Hollyburn Mountain. Cypress offers stunning vistas of Vancouver.

Signature trails include:

Yew Lake Trail (Easy): This short, wheelchair-accessible trail loops through meadows past several small lakes. Length: 2km/1.2mi. Time required: 1 hour.

Eagle Bluff Trail (Intermediate): This route leads hikers up Black Mountain, through forest and past small lakes before reaching a rocky bluff and opening to breathtaking views of Howe Sound. Try a picnic lunch here. Length: 11km/6.8 mi round-trip. Time required: 5 hours.

Howe Sound Crest Trail (Advanced): This rugged, strenuous route leads experienced (and well-equipped) hikers from the ski-area parking lot to the shoulder of the 1,654m/5,427ft Lions, two formidable peaks that are fundamental to Vancouver’s skyline. The route continues past Deeks Lake before descending to Highway 99. Length: 29km one-way. Time required: Overnight.

Cypress Provincial Park is located in the North Shore Mountains, a 40-minute drive from Vancouver. The ski-area parking lot is accessible by a road that winds its way up to a 900m/2,953ft elevation.

Planning a Hike in Cypress Provincial Park:

  • While the park is open year round, the most ideal times for hiking are from late April to mid-October
  • Routes vary in length and difficulty
  • Please leave the area you visit undisturbed and be sure to carry out your garbage
  • If travelling with pets, be aware that restrictions may apply

Safety Tips in Cypress Provincial Park:

  • Obey posted signs and keep to designated trails
  • Be aware: mountain weather changes frequently

Grouse Mountain (Grind and Mountain)

Just a 25-minute drive from downtown, Grouse Mountain presides majestically over North Vancouver. The Grouse Grind™, a trek up the face of the mountain, is such a popular hike in Vancouver that it's even been trademarked. Locals often refer to the 2.9km/1.8mi slog up 853m/2,800ft as "Mother Nature's Stairmaster."

Something of a cult classic among fitness buffs, the trek is more aerobic than scenic until you get to the top. The prize for huffing and puffing your way up is a glorious, panoramic view of downtown Vancouver, Washington's Mt. Baker, the Pacific Ocean and – off in the distance – Vancouver Island.

If your energy level hasn't completely crashed, consider an easy stroll along the trails starting in and around the mountaintop.

Grouse Mountain is located 25 minutes from downtown Vancouver.

Planning a Hike up Grouse Mountain:

  • Rated: advanced
  • Approximate time required: 1.5 to 2 hours
  • Best time: late spring to October
  • Proper footwear is a must
  • The trail is free (many pay the fee to ride the aerial tram down)

Lynn Canyon Park

Lynn Canyon Park 250ha/164ac is a municipal park located at the foot of the North Shore Mountains. It features pockets of second-growth coastal rainforest; sheer canyons; creeks; natural pools; a suspension bridge and a café. Vegetation includes Douglas-fir, western hemlock, western redcedar and 40 types of moss. Visit the Lynn Creek Ecology Centre, near the parking lot, for more information about flora and fauna in the park.

The first thing most people do when they enter the park is cross the Lynn Creek suspension bridge adjacent to the parking lot. The bridge hangs 50m/164ft above the creek and sways and springs underfoot. Once across, you can walk upstream 10 minutes to 30 Foot Pool or downstream to Twin Falls, a 15-minute walk. You can also link to trail networks in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve and Lynn Headwaters Regional Park. The reserve features a short loop around Rice Lake and Fisherman’s Trail, which runs alongside the Seymour River. The regional park has trails that extend deep into the mountains.

Many trails have steep stairways, roots and rocks, so exercise caution in slippery conditions.

Lynn Canyon Park is located in North Vancouver, 35 minutes from downtown Vancouver.

Planning a trip to Lynn Canyon Park:

  • Rated: easy to moderate
  • Time required: varies by route
  • Free admission

Mount Seymour Provincial Park

Mount Seymour Provincial Park has been a popular hiking destination since the 1920s. Trails in the 3,508ha/1,420ac park lead hikers through awe-inspiring old-growth and second-growth firs, cedar and hemlock; past meadows and small lakes; as well as by towering rock faces en route to panoramic views of Vancouver , the Fraser Valley, Indian Arm and the Coast Mountains. Look for wildlife along any of the trails such as coyotes, deer, black bears and cougars as well as a wide variety of birds.

Signature Trails include:

Mount Seymour Trail (Advanced): This popular trail passes through sub-alpine meadows before a steep ascent to the 1,449m/4,754ft summit of Mount Seymour, where hikers are rewarded with incredible vistas. Length: 8km/5mi round-trip. Time required: 5 hours. Elevation change: 450m/1,476 ft.

Dog Mountain Trail (Intermediate): This hike, an excellent choice for families, winds through towering cedars and firs, past ferns and blueberry bushes before reaching the bluffs with their open view of Vancouver. Length: 6km/3.7mi. Time required: 3 hours.

Mount Seymour Provincial Park is located in the North Shore Mountains, a 40-minute drive from Vancouver. The park is accessed by a paved, winding road that ends at the downhill ski area parking lot at an elevation of 1,020m/3,346ft.

Planning a Trip to Mount Seymour Provincial Park:

  • While the park is open year round, the most ideal times for hiking are from late-April to mid-October
  • Lower mountain trails are shared with mountain bikers; upper mountain trails are restricted to hiking
  • Routes vary in length and difficulty
  • Please leave the area you visit undisturbed and be sure to carry out your garbage
  • If travelling with pets, be aware that restrictions may apply.

Safety Tips in Mount Seymour Provincial Park:

  • Obey posted signs and keep to designated trails
  • Be aware: mountain weather changes frequently