Tag Archives: vancouver

Woman looks across blue lake and Brunswick Mountain

15 Weekend Adventures Near Vancouver

You don’t have to travel far from Vancouver to get your fix of the great outdoors. It’s so easy, in fact, that you can have some pretty incredible micro-adventures in the space of a weekend – no vacation required.

So pack your bags on a Friday afternoon and head out into the wilds with these 15 weekend getaways near Vancouver. You’ll be home for dinner on Sunday.

*Non-essential travel isn’t recommended right now. But when it is, you’ll have a few ideas up your sleeve.

1. Kayak the Indian Arm

Launch a kayak from Deep Cove and paddle the length of the Indian Arm, an 18km-long fjord. At the end you’ll find a gorgeous waterfall called Granite Falls, as well as a couple of rustic campsites that are free of charge. Sea-faring vessels can be rented from Deep Cove Kayak Centre.

Related: Overnight Kayak Trip Up the Indian Arm.

Kayaking on the sea
Kayaking up the Indian Arm

2. Go backcountry camping in Seymour Provincial Park

With the North Shore Mountain on Vancouver’s doorstep, those wanting to sleep under the stars have plenty of options. Seymour Provincial Park is a good place to start, with backcountry camping allowed north of Brockton Point. During the winter months, snowshoe or ski tour to the First Pump and set up camp. The snow usually melts come late July, allowing for overnight trips to Elsay Lake.

3. Hike the Howe Sound Crest Trail

The Howe Sound Crest Trail is a 29km thru-hike from Cypress Bowl to Porteau Road (or vice versa). It’s a physical challenge and involves scaling up and down various peaks, including St Mark’s Summit, Mount Unnecessary and The Lions. The reward? Stunning scenery and some of the best views around.

Related: Hiking the Howe Sound Crest Trail.

Woman hikes through alpine meadow with purple backpack
The Howe Sound Crest Trail

4. Go hut hopping in Tetrahedron Provincial Park

Get a ferry to Langdale and head over to Tetrahedron Provincial Park on the Sunshine Coast. Leave civilisation behind by hiking, snowshoeing or ski touring between four backcountry cabins. Mount Steele is the preferred destination for most, but you could devise a route to visit all four, should you want to.

Related: Hiking in Tetrahedron Provincial Park.

Backcountry cabin in the forest
Edwards Lake cabin

5. Kayak the Sechelt Inlet

Staying with the Sunshine Coast, did you know there are nine marine access camping sites along the Sechelt Inlet – all of which are completely free to use? Rent a kayak from Pedals and Paddles, load up with supplies and zig-zag your way along the coast. Your itinerary can be dictated by the number of nights you have and the amount of energy you want to expend.

Red tent on the shores of a calm inlet
Camping at Tzoonie Narrows

6. Bikepack to Galiano Island

Galiano Island is a bikepacking hotspot amongst Vancouverites, and with good reason. It’s just a short ferry journey from Tsawwassen, and the quiet roads and modest hills are ideal for touring on two wheels. Pitch a tent at Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park or Dionisio Point Provincial Park. Then kick back and enjoy island life.

Related: Bike Touring Galiano Island.

woman sits on rock at sunset
Looking at the coastal mountains from Dionisio Point

7. Go camping in the Sea to Sky corridor

Highway 99 is famous for being one of the most scenic drives in Canada. It’s also billed as the gateway to adventure. Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton offer ample opportunities for hiking, climbing, mountain biking, fishing, horse riding, kite-surfing and skiing. Choose an activity (or two) and combine it with a spot of car camping. Front country sites include:

  • Porteau Cove Provincial Park (Porteau Cove)
  • Mamquam River Campground (Squamish)
  • Cat Lake Recreation Site (Squamish)
  • Cal-Cheak Recreation Site (Whistler)
  • Nairn Falls Provincial Park (Pemberton)
  • Owl Creek Recreation Site (Pemberton)
  • Twin One Creek, Lizzie Bay and Driftwood Bay (on the shores of Lillooet Lake near Pemberton)
Woman hiking towards glacier in sunshine
Hiking to Iceberg Lake, Whistler

8. Get a cabin on Bowen Island

Gallivanting around the great outdoors can be exhausting. For some downtime, rent a cosy cabin and enjoy the old-world charm of Bowen Island. Stretch the legs by taking a stroll around Killarney Lake. For views, hike to Dorman Point or the summit of Mount Gardner, which is snow-free for most of the year. On a clear day, the sunsets from Cape Roger Curtis lighthouse are a real treat.

Dog sits on snowy mountaintop
The summit of Mount Gardner on Bowen Island

9. Cycle and hike to Paton Peak

Paton Peak is located in the shadow of Coliseum Mountain and has beautiful views across the Seymour Lake Watershed. Come prepared to spend the night on the plateau, where you’ll see the lights of downtown Vancouver twinkling beneath you. But here’s the catch: you have to cycle nearly 10km along the Seymour Valley Trailway to the trailhead, making for a multi-disciplinary excursion into the backcountry.

Woman sits on edge of cliff and looks over lake and tree covered mountains
Paton Peak

10. Hike to (and camp at) Garibaldi Lake

Garibaldi Lake is high on the tourist to-do list, so if you’re in search of solitude, you probably won’t find it here. Even so, this is one of those bucket list destinations that you might be keen to tick off. Be sure to make a reservation at Garibaldi Lake campground. If you have the energy, you can set up your tent before continuing on to Black Tusk or Panorama Ridge.

Blue alpine lake surrounded by snowy peaks
Garibaldi Lake

11. Explore Manning Provincial Park

Manning Provincial Park is an adventure playground, regardless of the season. In summer, frolic amongst the wildflowers and swim in the lakes. In autumn, hike to see the golden larches on Frosty Mountain. Come winter, choose between downhill skiing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. There are campsites dotted across the park, including front country, backcountry and winter campsites.

Woman looks across mountain range
Manning Provincial Park

12. Go mountain biking on the Sunshine Coast

While there’s no shortage of trails on the North Shore, a mountain biking trip to the Sunshine Coast makes for a fun weekend, especially if you want to visit Coast Gravity Park. The campground at Porpoise Bay Provincial Park is a good base. Located on the shores of the Sechelt Inlet, you can head straight to the beach after your ride for a refreshing dip.

If you have a bit more time…

Sometimes a weekend isn’t quite long enough. The following suggestions are best if you have just one or two more days to spare.

13. Surf on Vancouver Island

Ah Tofino. Vancouver Island’s prime surf destination is a long way to go for a weekend trip, but is ideal for a long weekend or short break. Catch some waves, breathe in the salty sea air and amble along the vast sandy beaches. Guaranteed to refresh the soul.

Related: Top 5 Reasons to Visit Tofino.

Woman on top of hill looks across sandy beach and sea with waves rolling in
Cox’s Bay, Tofino

14. Go mountain biking in the Chilcotins

The South Chilcotin Ranges are a backcountry mountain biking mecca. Weave your way down dusty single track, through alpine meadows and along mountain passes. Get a helping hand with the ascent by booking a float plane with Tyax Adventures. They’ll either drop you at Warner Lake or Spruce Lake. You can begin your pedal from there.

Woman on mountain bike
Mountain biking in the South Chilcotins

15. Hike a section of the Sunshine Coast Trail

The Sunshine Coast Trail is a 180km hut-to-hut hiking trail on the northern Sunshine Coast. The whole thing takes about eight days to complete. If you don’t have that much time, pick a section and enjoy one or two nights on the trail. Inland Lake to Confederation Lake is good option, as is Saltery Bay to Fairview Hut.

In theory this could be done in a weekend. However, the journey to the northern Sunshine Coast is a fair distance from the mainland, so it might be a bit of a squeeze.

Related: My Brief Encounter with the Sunshine Coast Trail.

View of Confederation Lake hut from the lake
Confederation Lake hut

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Sunset from Cypress Mountain

7 Ski Hills Near Vancouver

When it comes to skiing or snowboarding near Vancouver, the options are a-plenty. The following seven ski hills are all within easy reach of the city, making for a great day trip.

Cypress Mountain Resort

Distance from downtown Vancouver: 28.4km

Cypress is the biggest of all Vancouver’s local ski hills, with 53 ski runs and 600 skiable acres. The terrain is varied, with something to suit all abilities. On a clear day the views across the Howe Sound are second to none.

  • Vancouver’s biggest ski and snowboard resort
  • Hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics
  • Gets very busy, especially at weekends

Grouse Mountain

Distance from downtown Vancouver: 12.8km

Known as the Peak of Vancouver, Grouse Mountain features 33 ski runs and 212 skiable acres. Visit at night to see the city lights twinkling beneath you.

  • A hub of winter activities for all the family
  • Easy to access because the parking lot is rarely covered in snow
  • Limited parking and long line-ups for the gondola

Mount Seymour Resort

Distance from downtown Vancouver: 27.6km

Last in the line-up of Vancouver’s local ski hills is Mount Seymour, which has 40 ski runs, three chairlifts and a couple of magic carpets. A family-run operation, Seymour has a laid-back vibe that’s perfect for little ones and beginners.

  • Family friendly
  • Terrain park
  • May be too mellow for some

Whistler Blackcomb

Distance from downtown Vancouver: 122km

Perhaps the only resort on this list that needs no introduction. With 32 lifts and a whopping 8,171 acres of terrain, Whistler Blackcomb is an internationally renowned ski resort with good reason. The question is: are you will to pay for it?

  • Lots of terrain
  • Something for everyone
  • Expensive lift tickets

Sasquatch Mountain Resort

Distance from downtown Vancouver: 130km

Formerly known as Hemlock Valley Resort, Sasquatch Mountain is compact with just three chairlifts and 36 runs. But it sure does pack a punch on a powder day. Just beware of the access road – snow tires with chains are a must.

  • Good value for money
  • Not usually very busy
  • Snow chains required for access road

Manning Park Resort

Distance from downtown Vancouver: 218km

Sitting at a high elevation, and located further inland than the coastal mountains, Manning Park often gets some of the best snow around. With only two chairlifts, plus a handle-tow and a T-bar, this place has a quaint charm about it.

  • Lots of glade skiing
  • Inexpensive
  • No cell phone service – so don’t lose your friends!

Mount Baker

Distance from downtown Vancouver: 143km

Grab your passport, apply for an ESTA and head across the border (assuming it’s open – which as we all know, isn’t a given). You’ll be rewarded with a variety of terrain, accessed via eight chairlifts – two of which are ‘experts only’.

  • Mid-size mountain with a local’s vibe
  • Known for breaking the world record of snowfall in a single season
  • Few options for beginners
Woman hikes into a forest

Hikes on Vancouver’s North Shore

Vancouver’s North Shore is teeming with hiking trails. In fact, it can be a little overwhelming to know where to start. To help you out, I’ve put together a list of what are (in my humble opinion) the best hikes on Vancouver’s North Shore. That way you can pick and choose depending on your mood.

Where possible I’ve provided links to other sites which provide descriptions of the routes.

Best for little-to-no elevation

Sometimes you want to get outdoors for a good few hours, but you don’t feel up to tackling any mountains. I get it. If so, I recommend the Big Cedar and Kennedy Falls trail on Mount Fromme. This undulating trail is a 10km round-trip, so it’s still a reasonable distance. But with only 150m elevation gain, you don’t need to worry about any thigh-burning ascents.

Dry creek on Mount Fromme

En route to Big Cedar and Kennedy Falls

Another good option is Norvan Falls in Lynn Headquarters Regional Park. It’s very similar in terms of terrain, but is a little longer at 14km.

Woman stands in front of waterfall

Norvan Falls

Both are also great hikes for the winter months, thanks to their low elevation.

Best for steep elevation

On the flip side, maybe you’re keen for a challenge. For some people, a hike ain’t a hike unless there’s a grinding slog uphill. If you’re one of them, I urge you to try Mount Harvey. The hike begins on the logging trail from Lions Bay, then takes a left turn – after which, it’s a steep climb to the top. Once you get there, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best views around. There’s also a secret whiskey stash near the summit!

Mount Harvey summit

Mount Harvey summit

Whiskey stash and note on top of Mount Harvey

The whiskey stash on top of Mount Harvey

If you don’t take the left-hand turn, you’ll end up on the Lions Binkert trail. This is another classic North Shore hike, again with a steep ascent and stunning views.

Because of their high elevation, these hikes are only suitable between the months of July and October (or November if there is no snow). Five hikers died on Mount Harvey in 2017, so please stay safe.

Best for lakes

During summer, you might be keen for a refreshing dunk in an alpine lake. There’s so many to choose from, but I particularly enjoy hiking up to Deeks Lake for a swim. If you start at Porteau Cove then it’s a steep ascent, but that just makes it all the more rewarding. You’ve got to work for it, right?

Two men balance on a log in a lake

Deeks Lake

If you’ve got time, head past Deeks Lake and onto Hanover Lake. It’s not so good for swimming, but the turquoise water set against the backdrop of Brunswick Mountain is beautiful.

Woman looks across blue lake and mountains

Hanover Lake

Remember that alpine lakes are cold! Muscles can quickly seize up, making it difficult to swim. So, stay close to the edge and use a buoyancy aid if needed.

Best for peace and quiet

Despite the abundance of hiking trails near Vancouver, it can sometimes feel like the whole city is out there with you. If you’re craving seclusion, hike to the top of Mount Fromme. You’ll encounter mountain bikers to begin with, but human contact quickly peters out. On a clear day you can see all the way to Mount Baker from the summit.

Woman stands on top of Mount Fromme

Mount Fromme summit

Alternatively, you could make your way to Mount Elsay. Once you get past the turning for Mount Seymour the trail becomes extremely quiet. Although be careful, it can be easy to lose your way. There’s also an unforgiving boulder field to cross. For these reasons, this one’s best left to those with the necessary experience.

Boulder field near Mount Elsay

Boulder field at the bottom of Mount Elsay

Whenever you go on a hike, be sure to leave a trip plan with a family member, friend or colleague. This is particularly important if you’re heading to a lesser-travelled trail.

Best for backcountry camping

If you’re looking for an overnight hike, then top of the charts has got to be the Howe Sound Crest Trail. This 29km trail stretches between Cypress Bowl and Porteau Cove, and takes in a number of the North Shore Peaks. Most people opt to camp at Magnesia Meadows or Brunswick Lake. Take note – this is no walk in the park.

Views across trees and mountains

Hiking along the Howe Sound Crest Trail

Or consider an overnight hike in Seymour Provincial Park. Wilderness camping is permitted north of Brockton Point, although fires are prohibited year round.

Sign towards Elsay Lake

The Mount Elsay Trail is classed as difficult

Don’t forget that snow continues well into the summer months in the North Shore. Hikes such as the Howe Sound Crest Trail and Elsay Lake in Seymour Provincial Park are not do-able until July (unless you are an experienced mountaineer, of course).

Best for foraging

When the forest is dripping with berries, I like to stop for a tasty nibble. In the past, I’ve found the trail to Norvan Falls to be rife with salmonberries, while the trail to Eagle Bluffs offers rich pickings for blueberries. Just remember not to take too much – this is bear food after all!

Woman holds up freshly picked berry

Fresh pickings

It goes without saying that if you don’t know what something is, don’t eat it!

Best for a quick walk

When does a walk become a hike? I’m not sure, but I know that sometimes I just want a little stroll amongst the trees. Nothing too long, and nothing too strenuous. In these situations, my go-to move is either Lynn Loop in Lynn Valley Headquarters, or Rice Lake in Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve.