Your Guide to the Best 10 Winter Hikes near Vancouver

12 Min Read
Sep 21, 2023

Hey there, are you ready to dive into a world of winter wonder in Vancouver? The city's charm doesn't hibernate when the temperatures drop – in fact, it transforms into a breathtaking wonderland just waiting to be explored.

If you're aching to break away from the ordinary and embrace the chill, you're in for a treat. In this article, we're lacing up our boots and embarking on an exciting journey through Vancouver's best winter hikes.

So, grab your warmest gear, a spirit of adventure, and let's uncover the hidden gems and frozen landscapes that make Vancouver's winter hikes truly unforgettable.

1. Trail to Pump Peak on Seymour

Certainly, the Trail to Pump Peak on Mount Seymour is not just another walk in the park—it's an experience that encapsulates the best of what winter hikes near Vancouver have to offer.

Nestled amidst snow-laden trees and scenic vistas, Pump Peak, also recognized as the First Peak of Mount Seymour's triad, offers an extraordinary winter hiking adventure.

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For those who find themselves weighing the pros and cons of winter versus summer hiking, let us provide some clarity. While summer offers its own allure, winter truly elevates this trail into a spectacular experience.

The snowy terrain not only adds a layer of natural beauty but also provides more stable footing, making your hike both picturesque and practical.

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Accessibility is a key feature of this trail. Comparable in distance and elevation gain to Hollyburn Peak on Cypress Mountain, Pump Peak is suitable for hikers of varying experience levels.

However, don’t mistake its accessibility for monotony; this trail offers a unique blend of nature's finest elements, making it one of the standout winter hikes in Vancouver.

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Yes, the trail can get crowded, given its popularity. But rather than viewing this as a drawback, consider it a testament to the trail's appeal.

People flock here to capture a slice of winter paradise, and there's more than enough room for everyone to find their own snowy nirvana.

Location: Trail to Pump Peak on Seymour - Google Maps

2. Dog Mountain

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Dog Mountain, the quintessential winter outing for both two-legged and four-legged adventurers. Situated on Mount Seymour, just an hour's drive from downtown Vancouver, this trail has it all. What sets it apart? Glad you asked.

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First off, time is on your side. A round-trip jaunt will take you roughly two hours, making it an excellent choice for those who want to dip their toes into winter hiking without committing an entire day.

As for difficulty, it’s remarkably approachable. Classified as easy, the hike offers a gradual ascent peppered with just a few short, steep spots—nothing that'll have you questioning your life choices, promise.

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Now, let's talk atmosphere. Imagine walking through a forest where the trees stand tall like sentinels, their branches adorned with powdery snow. The serenity is almost meditative. And should you be fortunate enough to hike on a clear day, brace yourself for stunning views of Vancouver's skyline and expansive water vistas.

Even if the weather decides not to cooperate—yes, we do have those grey days—the trail remains a compelling experience. The forest provides its own kind of misty, ethereal beauty that's nothing short of enchanting.

Location: Dog Mountain - Google Maps

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3. Norvan Falls

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With a round-trip distance of 15 kilometres and a moderate difficulty level, this trail offers hikers a fulfilling day in the great outdoors without the thigh-burning elevation gains.

We're talking just 300 metres of total ascent, folks.

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Located in the lush confines of Lynn Headwaters Regional Park on Vancouver's North Shore, the trail commences in a mesmerizing forest setting. As you trek deeper, the towering trees form an almost cathedral-like canopy overhead, providing you a serene and ethereal pathway.

And the pièce de résistance? A captivating waterfall at trail's end that flows into a stunning green pool. Just when you think it couldn't get any better, winter adds its own magical touch. On the chilliest days, the waterfall can even freeze almost completely, transforming into a jaw-dropping natural ice sculpture.

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While the trail takes a good four hours to complete, don't let that deter you. The relatively flat terrain allows you ample time to soak in the wilderness, snap a few Instagram-worthy shots, and perhaps even indulge in a peaceful moment of reflection.

Location: Norvan Falls - Google Maps

4. Hollyburn Mountain

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Hollyburn Mountain is the trail you'll want to conquer. A snowshoeing favorite located on Cypress Mountain, this trail is a bit of a tease.

It starts off easy, luring you into a false sense of "Hey, this isn't so bad," but just wait. The second half throws in some steep and exhilarating challenges that will have your leg muscles singing—or maybe pleading for a break.

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Here's the play-by-play: Once you move past Cypress Mountain's official nordic ski area, the trail transforms. It's like a roller coaster, but instead of looping upside down, you’re navigating a series of false summits.

Just when you think you’ve made it, that final ascent to Hollyburn’s peak? It's a doozy, nearly vertical. This isn't rock climbing, but it's about as close as you can get without needing to break out the ropes.

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Now, before you think of bailing, the reward is worth the grind. On a clear day, the summit offers panoramic views that could make even the most seasoned hikers weak in the knees. You’ll want to bring a camera; trust me on this.

Location: Hollyburn Mountain - Google Maps

5. Quarry Rock

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Quarry Rock, is the darling of Deep Cove and a must-do on any list of Vancouver winter hikes. What's the appeal? For starters, it's one of those rare gems that offer a big payoff for not much work.

We're talking a 1.5-hour round-trip hike, so it's ideal for those who are looking to squeeze an adventure into a busy day or perhaps introduce the kids to the joys of hiking.

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Accessibility is one of Quarry Rock's strong suits. Just hop on public transit, and you're pretty much at the trailhead. As you navigate your way along the well-tended Deep Cove trail, you'll encounter a manageable ascent that leads you to a viewpoint like no other.

And the vista from Quarry Rock? It’s nothing short of a postcard scene. Picture yourself looking down on the quaint Deep Cove, across the expansive Indian Arm, and over to Belcarra on the opposite side. It's a panoramic treat for the eyes that never gets old.

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Location: Quarry Rock - Google Maps

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6. Black Mountain

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Black Mountain, nestled in the Cypress Mountain area, this moderately challenging trail offers a slightly different experience, and it’s often less crowded than its more famous neighbors.

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You'll start your journey right next to the Eagle Express chair lift, and for those keeping track, it's also the starting point for the trail to Bowen Lookout. Now, here's the fun part: the trail runs parallel to the ski run Maelle Ricker's.

That means as you're trudging uphill in your snowshoes, you'll get an up-close view of skiers and snowboarders zooming down the slopes right beside you. It's like a dynamic landscape painting that's constantly changing!

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The trail itself requires a good bit of effort. Expect a steep climb that takes about 2.5 hours for the round trip. The legwork is totally worth it, though. The summit offers some of the most scenic panoramas you'll find around Cypress Mountain.

From the top, you're granted a sweeping view that feels like you've just stepped into a snow globe. Now, for those of you who happen to have a ski pass, you can cheat the system a little. Just take the Eagle Express chairlift to the summit and soak in the vistas without breaking a sweat.

Location: Black Mountain - Google Maps

7. Brother's Creek

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Brother's Creek, a slice of heaven for the nature lover tucked away in West Vancouver. Now, if you're the type who adores tall trees and the sound of water trickling nearby, this hike is going to feel like a homecoming.

The trail leads you through a lush forest dominated by grand Western Red Cedars, evoking an almost fairy-tale ambiance.

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Your adventure starts off with a tranquil ascent that isn't overly demanding. Think of it as a warm-up, a leisurely stroll through nature that eventually leads you to a quaint wooden bridge. Here, you'll cross Brothers Creek, and it's like stepping into another world.

As you continue, the trail takes a gentle turn downhill. And it’s here that you'll want to keep those eyes peeled. To your left, at intervals, you'll catch sight of two gorgeous waterfalls cascading down the jagged, rocky cliffs like natural works of art. It’s like nature’s own version of fireworks but in liquid form.

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While the trail doesn’t require you to be a mountaineer, it’s no walk in the park either. It offers a well-balanced blend of uphill and downhill stretches, perfect for someone looking for a moderate hike that isn't just a simple stroll.

But the real treasure? Those momentary glimpses of the waterfalls as they tumble down cliffs, framed by a backdrop of magnificent cedars.

Location: Brother's Creek - Google Maps

8. Dam Mountain Trail | Grouse Mountain

Dam Mountain Trail, a delightful trek located at Grouse Mountain. This hike is affectionately known as the "Snowshoe Grind", and trust me, it's the winter counterpart of the Grouse Grind you never knew you needed.

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So, here's the lowdown. You start by taking the Grouse gondola up to the mountain's summit. Once you're up there, keep an eye out for the orange SSG markers—they're your guiding lights for this adventure.

Oh, and if you're the competitive type, you'll spot a timer chip where you can keep track of your hiking time. Not a necessity, but certainly adds a dash of challenge, right?

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Now, let's talk terrain. The hike itself is a 4.3 km journey through a winter wonderland. Expect some steep stretches that'll get your heart pumping, especially if you're tackling them in snowshoes.

But don't worry, it's rated as easy-moderate, meaning it's manageable while still offering a good workout. Total time? About an hour of snow-crunching fun.

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As you ascend Dam Mountain, the snow-capped peaks and evergreens serve as a natural canvas that's just picture-perfect.

Location: Dam Mountain Trail, Grouse Mountain - Google Maps

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9. Diez Vistas

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Diez Vistas at Buntzen Lake might just be the expedition for you. Offering views that are nothing short of spectacular, this hike falls under the "moderate to hard" category and typically takes about four hours to complete.

Now, before you go lacing up those snow boots, let me tell you: most of the trail stays snow-free, so your trusty hiking boots will do just fine.

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Your journey kicks off with a tranquil walk along the eastern edge of Buntzen Lake. It's a real treat for the senses, offering not just visual splendor but also the gentle, rhythmic lapping of the water as your soundtrack.

Once you cross the bridge at the far end of the lake, that's where the real climb begins. Yep, you'll diverge from the Buntzen Lake loop and start heading up towards the multiple vistas that give Diez Vistas its name.

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What's in store? Well, along your ascent, you'll encounter several openings in the tree cover that offer breathtaking views of Indian Arm and Deep Cove. For those who've hiked Quarry Rock, seeing this panorama from another angle is like meeting an old friend in a new place.

But perhaps the cherry on top is the bird's-eye perspective of boats sailing gracefully below you, with Vancouver's skyline posing in the distance.

Location: Diez Vistas - Google Maps

10. Tunnel Bluffs

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Tunnel Bluffs is a destination that'll satisfy your craving for awe-inspiring vistas. Located in Lions Bay, this trail has become a local favorite, so it’s advisable to get an early start to beat the crowds—and snatch up one of those elusive parking spots.

Trust me, parking can be a bit of a game here.

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The initial part of this hike could make you work up a bit of a sweat, I won't lie. You’ll be faced with a steady climb that'll make your calf muscles question your life choices.

However, hang in there because the trail soon gives way to a more level terrain, allowing you to catch your breath and actually enjoy the journey.

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What awaits you at the top is nothing short of mesmerizing. The viewpoint delivers panoramic sights of the majestic Howe Sound and the sprinkling of islands below.

It's the sort of view that seems to suspend time, making you forget the little inconveniences—like limited parking and an uphill slog—that you faced on your way up.

Location: Tunnel Bluffs - Google Maps

To Sum It All Up

Alright, folks, there you have it—a whirlwind tour of some of the best winter hikes that Vancouver has to offer. Whether you're a seasoned trailblazer looking for a challenge or a weekend warrior aiming for a relaxed stroll, there's a trail out there with your name on it. From the awe-inspiring views at Tunnel Bluffs to the ethereal beauty of Brothers Creek, each hike offers a unique, unmissable experience.

Remember, preparation is key. Always check trail conditions, pack the right gear, and maybe toss in a thermos of hot cocoa for that extra winter warmth.

But above all, take a moment to soak in those spectacular views, breathe in the crisp winter air, and revel in the peace and solitude that only a hike can offer.

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