The Greater Vancouver area is a mecca for hiking with many stunning trails that are easily accessible from the city centre. Here is a list of my favourite trails for when you need to get into the forest and break a sweat! They range from 1.5 to 6 hours in duration.

Joffre Lakes near Pemberton

Joffre Lake is past Pemberton but it’s such a gorgeous hike, it has to be mentioned! The trail climbs to three alpine lakes of varying clarity, all stunning. The insta-worthiness makes this a VERY popular trail. Visit in the early morning, mid-week and outside of summer holidays to beat the crowds. There are camping spots, though they need to be reserved in advance. As far as scenery goes, this one is hard to beat. The glaciers and lakes make for some stunning rewards.

Drive time from Vancouver: 3 hours

Distance: 10km

Time: 4 hours

Difficulty: Intermediate

Ancient Cedars in Whistler

Ancient Cedars is a beautiful trail through the forest with views of Cougar Lake. It takes 2 hours and is of moderate difficulty. Ancient Cedars tends to be a quiet hike, expect to find some serenity on this one. The only thing to note is that the drive can be pretty hairy. There’s 4.5km on a gravel service road that has some pretty large potholes. It’s not easy to access in a small car or most sedans. If your vehicle can make the journey, it’s worth it!

Drive time from Vancouver: 2 hours

Distance: 5km

Time: 2 hours

Difficulty: Intermediate

Crater Rim in Whistler

This trail offers the unique opportunity to hike around an extinct volcano. It’s not heavily trafficked, which is one of the best features! Park at Logger’s Lake lot in the Whistler Interpretive Forest. Take the Logger’s Lake trail a short distance until you see the small signpost for Crater Rim, follow it uphill into the trees. Quickly ascending through the forest, it’s not long before there are views of the lake. You circle Logger’s lake from the ridge above for most of the hike. It’s stunning, moderate and peaceful. What more could you ask for!

Drive time from Vancouver: 2 hours

Distance: 4.5km

Time: 2 hours

Difficulty: Intermediate

Cheakamus Lake

This easy hike is located in the Whistler Interpretive Forest, 15 minutes up a forest service road. It’s relatively flat and winds through lush forests before reaching gorgeous Cheakamus Lake. The lake is only 3km from the trailhead, so if you want to do a shorter hike you can easily hike to the lake and back in 90 minutes roundtrip. It’s pretty popular with plenty of people staying at the campground at the 8km mark.

Drive time from Vancouver: 2.15 hours

Distance: 16km (Only 6km roundtrip to the lake)

Time: 5 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Garibaldi Lake in Squamish

Garibaldi Lake is one of the most scenic views in BC. The turquoise waters are framed by mountains and a spectacular glacier. The hike is a long series of switchbacks through endless Doug Fir trees. It does seem like much of the same for a long time, but the trail is nicely graded and the destination is worth it. Ensure that you bring food and plan to spend some time at the lake when you arrive. It’s so stunning you might just want to stay there. Thankfully, you can! Taylor Meadows campsite is popular, so book ahead. You can then hike Blacktusk or Panorama Ridge, which cannot be done in a day.

Drive time from Vancouver: 1hr 45 minutes

Distance: 18km

Time: 5 hours

Difficulty: Intermediate

Stawamus Chief in Squamish

The Chief is one of the most notorious hikes in the region. It’s a steep uphill to three peaks, with expansive views of the ocean and mountains. If you wish to only hike 2 of the 3 peaks, it can be done in 2.5 hours roundtrip. If you wish to do all 3, it takes 6 hours. Most of the hike involves climbing a steep wooden staircase. There are a few ladders and chains up the steepest sections. Thanks to the gorgeous views, it’s a popular hike, be prepared to be patient. It’s close to the sea to sky gondola in Squamish, which makes for a great combination visit.

Drive time from Vancouver: 1hour

Distance: 11km

Time: 3-6 hours 

Difficulty: Intermediate to hard

Tunnel Bluffs in Lions Bay

Tunnel Bluffs is the hardest hike on the list, climbing straight up and gaining 500m in elevation in the first 2km. I’m a big fan of getting the toughest part out of the way and thankfully the rest of the trail is easier. The views on this hike are second to none, as you take in the Howe Sound from Bowen Island to the Sunshine Coast. It’s a gorgeous hike but it’s steep and long, which means you’re not fighting millions of people for the view. Make sure to pack food and water with you for this one.

Drive time from Vancouver: 40 minutes

Distance: 8km

Time: 4.5 hours

Difficulty: Hard

Whyte Lake in West Vancouver

Whyte Lake is located in West Vancouver on the way to Horseshoe Bay. The trail winds through the forests, alongside a river. It’s mostly flat and hikers are rewarded with a small lake at the end. Whyte Lake offers great option to stretch your legs when you don’t feel up to anything strenuous.

Drive time from Vancouver: 30 minutes

Distance: 5km

Time: 2 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Quarry Rock in Deep Cove

I debated whether to include Quarry Rock, as it’s THE hike to do in Vancouver. If it’s a weekend and not raining, forget it! Expect to see kids, dogs, and hoards of people. When it’s mid-week, outside of summer, it’s enjoyable. Quarry Rock is a beautiful short trail that’s close to the city, with an excellent view at the end. That’s why it’s so busy!

Drive time from Vancouver: 30 minutes

Distance: 3.8km

Time: 1.5 hours

Difficulty: Easy

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