Discover 12 Best Snowshoeing Spots in and around Vancouver

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14 Min Read
Nov 11, 2023
In the heart of winter, Vancouver transforms into a snow-clad paradise, inviting adventure enthusiasts to embark on exhilarating snowshoeing escapades. Nestled amidst the scenic beauty of British Columbia, the city and its surrounding areas offer a plethora of snow-covered trails waiting to be explored.
 
As the snow blankets the rugged landscapes, snowshoeing becomes not just an activity, but an immersive experience, allowing you to traverse through enchanting forests, climb majestic mountains, and discover hidden gems off the beaten path. This article serves as your comprehensive guide to the world of snowshoeing in and around Vancouver, unveiling the most picturesque trails, essential tips for beginners, and insider insights from seasoned snowshoeing enthusiasts.
 
Whether you're a novice eager to embrace the tranquility of winter or a seasoned adventurer seeking new challenges, our curated selection of trails and expert advice promises a snowshoeing journey like no other. Join us as we navigate the snowy terrain, immersing ourselves in the serene beauty of Vancouver's winter wonderland, one snowshoe step at a time.
 
Get ready to don your snowshoes, breathe in the crisp winter air, and embark on a thrilling odyssey amidst nature's frozen splendor!

1. Grouse Mountain

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Ah, Grouse Mountain, a winter wonderland that's practically in Vancouver's backyard! If you're hunting for a snowshoeing spot that offers a cocktail of convenience, natural beauty, and options galore, this is your place.

Just a quick jaunt from the city, you'll find yourself transported to the tranquil environs of Munday Alpine Snowshoe Park, located a stone's throw away from the Peak Chalet. The mountain isn't just about its famous gondola and ski slopes; it's a snowshoer's paradise, too.

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With four distinct trails to choose from, you'll never get bored here. Whether you're a newbie searching for a comfortable groomed path or an expert on the lookout for some rugged single track snowshoeing, Grouse Mountain delivers.

Each trail has its unique personality, offering a variety of terrains and difficulty levels that cater to all types of snowshoe enthusiasts.

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One of the stellar things about snowshoeing on Grouse is the balance it strikes. You get to experience a blend of groomed and single track trails, meaning you can amp up the adventure or dial it back as you see fit.

So, whether it's your first time strapping on those snowshoes or you're practically a pro, Grouse Mountain ensures you won't leave disappointed.

Location: Grouse Mountain - Google Maps

2. Cypress Mountain

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Ah, let's journey from one iconic mountain to another, shall we? Say hello to Cypress Mountain, another gem in Vancouver's ring of winter marvels. Just a drive away from the bustling city, you're greeted with 11 glorious kilometres of well-marked snowshoe trails at Cypress's Nordic ski area.

The sheer size of this network is a dream come true for anyone with a soft spot for snowy escapades. And if you're worried about getting lost, the Cypress Mountain snowshoe trail map has got you covered; it's your trusty companion as you plan your frosty adventures.

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One thing you've got to love about snowshoeing at Cypress is the mid-adventure pit stop. Nestled along the trails, you'll find the Hollyburn Lodge. This isn't just any lodge—it's historic and brimming with charm.

Imagine trudging through a winter fairy tale, and halfway through, you get to warm your soul with a cup of hot chocolate. A snowshoeing journey that feels like a warm hug—what's not to love?

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Location: Cypress Mountain - Google Maps

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3. Mount Seymour

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Ready for a more challenging yet rewarding snowshoeing experience? Let's head over to Mount Seymour, a spot that's a hit in the summertime for its hiking trails but is equally magical when covered in a blanket of snow.

Sure, it's not for the faint-hearted, but if you're up for a moderate to hard snowshoeing challenge, the first peak of Mount Seymour offers big rewards. We're talking sweeping views of Vancouver and the surrounding mountains that will take your breath away—well, what's left of it after the hike, anyway!

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The trail stretches 7km and has a 500m elevation gain, leading you to vistas that'll have you pulling out your camera quicker than you can say "Snowshoeing in Vancouver."

But here's a word to the wise: after a fresh snowfall, the trail can be tricky to navigate. It’s easy to lose your way, so make sure you download a trail map before you start, and keep your eyes peeled for trail markers.

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Now, for the adrenaline junkies out there, you might be tempted to conquer all three peaks. While it’s doable, be warned—it can get steep and treacherous.

If you're not an experienced snowshoer, tackling all three peaks might not be the best idea.

Location: Mount Seymour - Google Maps

4. Garibaldi Provincial Park

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Alright, folks, time to venture a little further out from Vancouver for a snowshoeing experience that’s nothing short of epic.

Meet Garibaldi Provincial Park—a destination that's in a league of its own when it comes to breathtaking natural beauty. If you’ve ever wanted to feel like you’re in a winter postcard, this is the place to be.

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Let’s start with the trail conditions. The folks in charge do a top-notch job, as the Garibaldi Lake Trail is well-maintained and in excellent condition.

The trek kicks off with a journey through two smaller bodies of water—Barrier Lake and Lesser Garibaldi Lake. They serve as a lovely prelude, offering nice spots to catch your breath before you continue your voyage.

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The first 5 kilometres of the trail may test your endurance with a series of switchbacks. While they're tiring, they’re not overly steep, making it a manageable challenge. But oh boy, the reward is spectacular!

Garibaldi Lake is the star of the show, flaunting an incredible hue that looks like something straight out of a fantasy movie. Pair that with jaw-dropping views of the surrounding landscape, and you've got a setting that's hard to beat.

Location: Garibaldi Park - Google Maps

5. Sasquatch Provincial Park

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If you're on the hunt for a snowshoeing experience that's beginner-friendly yet utterly delightful, let me introduce you to Sasquatch Provincial Park. Tucked away near Mission in the Fraser Valley, this park offers a trail that loops around the base of Sasquatch Mountain Resort.

The best part? It’s an easy-going route, so even if you're new to the world of snowshoeing, this is a fantastic place to start your winter adventures.

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One of the unique aspects of snowshoeing here is the valley-bottom route. The trail meanders through a captivating forest that will have you believing you've stumbled into a winter fairy tale.

Plus, you'll be in the delightful company of a babbling creek throughout your journey. The combo of the forest and the creek creates a peaceful ambiance, making it an ideal spot for families, couples, or anyone looking to escape the city's hustle and bustle.

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Need snowshoes? No problem! Sasquatch Mountain Resort has got you covered with on-site rentals.

That means even if you decide on a spur-of-the-moment snowshoe expedition, there's nothing stopping you from enjoying this winter paradise.

Location: Sasquatch - Google Maps

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6. Dog Mountain

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Ah, Dog Mountain—no, it's not a haven for four-legged furballs, but it is a sanctuary for snowshoers seeking breathtaking views without the leg-burning climb.

This trail, part of Mount Seymour's plethora of outdoor offerings, stretches a manageable 5.5km out and back, with only a smidgen of elevation gain. What that means for you is simple: this is a highly accessible route, attracting a good number of folks, especially on weekends.

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Now, because of its popularity, you might find the trail completely tracked out. If that's the case, you could opt for microspikes instead of full-on snowshoes.

But tread carefully! Muddy spots, protruding roots, and concealed rocks could make an appearance, turning the trail into a real-life obstacle course. Your best bet? Come prepared and think about recent weather conditions while picking your footwear.

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The pièce de résistance of Dog Mountain has to be the view you get at the end. Imagine standing there, overlooking Vancouver and the ocean—priceless!

And the journey to that point is equally awe-inspiring. As you make your way, you'll come across frozen ponds like little winter jewels, and towering trees wearing their snow like royal cloaks.

Location: Dog Mountain - Google Maps

7. Elfin Lakes / Red Heather Hut

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If you're someone who loves the "wow" factor in your outdoor experiences, let's talk about Elfin Lakes and the Red Heather Hut route—a snowshoeing spot that’s nothing short of spellbinding.

Honestly, it’s no stretch to say this could be one of the finest snowshoe experiences in the Vancouver area. Here's why.

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First off, the trail is 20km round trip with an 800-meter elevation gain. But don't let those numbers intimidate you. The incline is gentle enough that you’ll only exert a moderate amount of effort.

The initial 5km takes you along a generous path flanked by towering trees, making for a serene introduction to your trek. Though it's more of an appetizer when it comes to views, it leads you to the Red Heather Hut—a cozy warming hut that's perfect for a break.

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As you move past the Red Heather Hut, get ready for a feast for your eyes. The forest curtain lifts, unveiling jaw-dropping mountain vistas that could easily grace the pages of a National Geographic magazine.

It’s like nature’s version of a standing ovation. Another 5km ahead, you’ll reach Elfin Lakes, complete with another warming hut and a shelter that even offers bare bunk beds, should you wish to extend your adventure overnight.

Location: Elfin Lake - Google Maps

8. Elk Mountain

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Let's shift gears and venture into Elk Mountain, a trail that boasts an impressive resume. We're talking an 8km trek with a substantial 750m of elevation gain.

But before you balk at those numbers, here's the good news: the trail's popularity means that much of the snow is usually packed down by other adventure-seekers. So there's a high chance you won't even need your snowshoes or microspikes until you're halfway through. Still, you'd be wise to bring some straps or bungee cords to secure them to your pack for when they do come in handy.

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The initial part of this trail is a bit of a leg-burner, I won't sugarcoat it. It's a steep climb, but let's consider it the price of admission for what comes next: unobstructed, glorious views of Mount Baker and the Northern Cascades. Trust me, once you get to that vantage point, every bead of sweat will feel like a down payment on a memory you'll cherish forever.

Now, a pro tip for maximizing the Elk Mountain experience: pick a sunny day. There's no understating how dramatically the views improve when the sun is out. With clear skies, the mountains become a postcard-perfect backdrop that'll make even your most Instagram-savvy friends green with envy.

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Location: Elk Mountain - Google Maps

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9. Manning Park

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Ah, Manning Park—where challenging trails and breathtaking views go hand in hand like a perfect pair of snowshoes.

This one's a bit of a doozy, spanning 16km with a 500m elevation gain. If you're up for more of a demanding day, buckle up! The payoff is totally worth it.

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Start your journey at the Similkameen River Bridge. The initial 2km is a leisurely walk beside the river, allowing you to get a feel for the terrain and settle into your pace. This is the warm-up before you face the trail's main feature—switchbacks that wind up the mountain.

The path in some stretches is wide, resembling an old road, making it easier to navigate. Still, never underestimate Mother Nature. Fresh snow can easily camouflage the trail, so a map should be a non-negotiable item in your pack.

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Now, let's talk about that fire lookout at the top. While it might not offer amenities like a warming hut or fireplace, it's got something arguably better—a map upstairs that details the names of all surrounding mountains.

It's a fantastic place to take a breather and soak up the scenery, safely shielded from the elements for a few minutes.

Location: Manning Park - Google Maps

10. Bowen Lookout

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If you're looking for a trail that mixes ease with a touch of adventure, look no further than Bowen Lookout.

With its prime location, it offers some of the most stunning vistas of Bowen Island and Howe Sound. But that's not all—you're in for a scenic saunter through a frozen marsh before things get a little more exciting.

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Your journey kicks off on a flat trail that winds through the frosty marshland, a tranquil starting point that makes you feel like you're walking through a winter wonderland. If you're new to snowshoeing, or perhaps just want to enjoy a more laid-back pace, this part of the trail is your jam.

Just when you start getting comfortable, the trail throws a curveball—literally. Toward the end, you'll find yourself scaling a steep hill. It might make you huff and puff a bit, but conquering it means gaining access to the coveted Bowen Lookout point. Trust me, the view from the top is the kind of breathtaking sight that makes you forget all about that short but heart-pumping climb.

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Location: Bowen Lookout - Google Maps

11. Hollyburn Mountain

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If you're in the mood for a snowshoeing experience that starts off easy but has a little twist at the end, Hollyburn Mountain might just be the trail you've been looking for.

Located at Cypress Mountain, this 7km trail begins with a gentle incline that's easy on the legs and super inviting. You'll stroll along, taking in the serenity of the snowy landscape, and you might even think, "Hey, this is a piece of cake!"

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But hold on to your snowshoes, because this trail has a trick up its sleeve! Just when you're riding high on a wave of confidence, the trail pivots, heading steeply upward. You'll probably pause and wonder, "Is this the same trail? Am I actually supposed to climb this?" Yep, you are.

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This sudden turn of events makes the last kilometer a doozy. It's so steep that people often choose to slide down on their behinds during the return trip rather than risk a clumsy tumble.

If you're planning on joining the sliders, make sure you're wearing waterproof pants or have something to slide on; you don't want to end up soggy.

Location: Hollyburn Mountain - Google Maps

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12. Whistler

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Ah, Whistler! Often hailed as a skier's paradise, but let me tell you, this place is a snowshoer's dream come true as well.

Imagine walking through an untouched winter landscape with nothing but the crunch of your snowshoes to break the silence. If you're looking for that quintessential winter experience, Whistler snowshoeing is a can't-miss adventure.

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Part of the appeal is the Whistler Winter Wonderland series of tours. You'll venture into the depths of Whistler Mountain, navigating tree-lined trails blanketed with snow.

Don't be surprised if you encounter some of the local wildlife on your journey. We're talking curious birds and possibly even some four-legged residents of the mountain.

If you would like to be guided through the Whistler’s Winter Wonderland - consider Snowshoe Tour by The Adventure Group. Their snowshoe tours range from serene walks through old-growth forests to vigorous treks on our trails in the Whistler Backcountry.

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The best part? You don't need to be an expert to enjoy this experience. If you can walk, you've got what it takes to snowshoe. This makes it a fantastic option for families, groups, or anyone looking to try something new this winter.

And hey, if you're traveling with kids or just a fan of some good, old-fashioned fun, there are snow slides that promise a thrill for all ages.

To Sum It All Up

Well, there you have it, folks—a whirlwind tour of some of the most captivating snowshoeing spots in and around Vancouver. Whether you're new to the game or a seasoned snowshoer looking for your next challenge, this list has something for everyone.

From the heavenly views atop Hollyburn Mountain to the magical tranquility of Sasquatch Provincial Park, each location offers its own unique blend of natural beauty and physical challenge. If you're still undecided, why not make a snowshoeing bucket list and tackle them one by one?

You could make it a weekend adventure or spread it out over the season. Remember, the journey is just as important as the destination. So, download some trail maps, bundle up, and set out on your winter wonderland adventure. And don't forget the hot chocolate—nothing warms you up better after a chilly hike than a steaming cup of cocoa!

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