5 Hidden Hikes Near Vancouver

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No matter what your definition of hiking is (elevation gain, fitness level required, time commitment), there is a hike for you close to Vancouver! With mountains, lakes, marshes, flatlands and rivers all in a short driving distance, the possibilities are endless. Here are five awesome day hikes around the city courtesy of the staff at the British Columbia Visitor Centre @ Peace Arch (it was almost impossible for them to pick just five!).

1. Serpentine Fen

A quiet pond surrounded by fall foliage.

Serpentine Fen in Surrey. Photo: Carlin via Flickr

Let’s start with an easy one. Serpentine Fen is a 150-hectare (371-acre) bird sanctuary located on King George Boulevard in Surrey, under an hour’s drive from Vancouver. The 3.5 kilometre (2.2-mile) loop trail encircles the fen that over 130 species of birds call home. As a part of the Pacific Flyway, the fen is an important stop for migratory birds traveling along the coast to rest, nest and feed. Take the kids – there are three observation towers for them to climb that give great views of the surrounding areas.

Insider Tip: Parking is available in a gravel lot just off on King George Boulevard.

2. Lions Bay Loop Trail

The Lions Bay Loop Trail is actually a combination of trails – Centennial, Crystal Falls, Soundview and Harrison, located about 40 minutes from Vancouver. The loop is over 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) and is considered an easy hike that takes about 2 hours. What’s best about this trail is it’s marked with educational signs and information along the way, so you learn about the forest that you’re traveling in.  The scenery is varied and you can enjoy all sorts of forest flora and fauna, as well as gorgeous views of Howe Sound. Parts of the trail are fairly close to the highway so there can be some road noise, but the views make up for it. There is a bit of an ascent, but kids can easily handle it – a fun trail for the family!

Insider tip: There are lots of instructions with this trail – make sure you’ve done your research ahead of time!  

3. Diez Vista

Two hikers sit at the edge of a lookout taking the water views.

The view from Diez Vista near Vancouver. Photo: footloosiety via Flickr

Diez Vista is named for the ten viewpoints that are your reward for tackling this Tri-Cities trail. The 15-kilometre (9.3-mile) loop is about an hour’s drive from Vancouver. It encircles Buntzen Lake and takes about 7 hours to complete. The trail is listed as moderate or intermediate – not the ideal choice for beginners. It starts with a steep incline through the forest to the first lookout point, before going into a series of switchbacks that lead you around the lake.  Reward yourself at the end of the hike with a dip in the lake to cool off before heading home!

4. Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area

A rocky stream travels through dense vegetation.

Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area. Photo: keepitsurreal via Flickr

The Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area is located in the city of Burnaby, about half an hour’s drive from Vancouver. The area offers a variety of trails for all fitness levels – just choose the path best suited to you! At the top of the mountain the views are incredible, and if you time it just right, the sunset is spectacular! Many of the trails intersect, so make sure that you take a trail map with you.

5. Norvan Falls

A rocky terrain surrounds a stunning waterfall.

Norvan Falls in North Vancouver. Photo: kteague via Flickr

Norvan Falls Trail is a 12 kilometre (7.5 mile) round trip hike located in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park in North Vancouver. The trail winds through an old forestry area, so it’s not uncommon to come across abandoned tools and rusting carts that Mother Nature is slowly reclaiming as her own. Once you cross the steel suspension bridge, you’re not too far from the falls. Even though Lynn Canyon is very popular and lots of people will be in the parking lot, most miss this quiet and special place.

Insider Tip: Don’t forget to be prepared when you head out for a hike!  Here’s a great resource to help you prepare: http://www.vancouvertrails.com/safety/

Did we miss your favourite hike near Vancouver? Share in the comments below.