British Columbia·Photos

5 Lower Mainland hikes to fall in love with

Karl Woll recommends The Chief, Dog Mountain, Crown Mountain, Garibaldi Lake and Joffre Lake as spectacular destinations that may hook some newbies on hiking.

Hiking is an easy activity to pick up, but make sure you're being safe

It would be a shame to spend all of these sunny days indoors, and in an area like B.C.'s Lower Mainland, opportunities to get outside are everywhere.

Karl Woll, a local hiking enthusiast and author of the e-book The Great Hikes of Vancouver, says hiking is a popular outdoor activity and it’s one with few barriers for tenderfeet who want to get started.

“I think one of the unique opportunities in Vancouver is you have so many day hiking opportunities in such close range to an urban environment, that you don’t have in a lot of places in the world,” says Woll. “There’s this vast array of backcountry wilderness right on our doorstep.”

If you want more good reasons to become a Metro Vancouver-area adventurer, here are five of Woll's favourite high-reward day trips for the beginner-to-intermediate hiker:

  • The Chief, Squamish. 

​​North of Vancouver, the granite monolith known as The Chief is one of the most distinctive features in the Sea-to-Sky region.

Three separate peaks can be hiked individually or all at once.

“You can go from the Sea-To-Sky and see over Howe Sound and all of Squamish,” says Woll. “You can see what you can accomplish with your legs over a short time.”

  • Dog Mountain, near Mount Seymour. 

This one’s really beginner-friendly, with little change in elevation and easy-access from the Mount Seymour parking lot area.

“It’s un-intimidating and has a great view to Mount Baker and beyond,” says Woll.

  • Crown Mountain, North Vancouver. 

This one’s more challenging, with an exposed rock scramble at the end.

Woll said viewpoints along the trail to Crown Mountain provide a unique perspective on the North Shore, including Hanes Valley, and look back all the way to Vancouver Island and over Grouse Mountain itself.

“It really gives you a sense of being remote,” he says.

  • Garibaldi Lake, near Squamish. 

Though it is a strenuous hike, the trail itself is beginner-friendly. Hikers travel up on a non-technical, well-groomed trail that even young kids can handle to a glacier-fed lake.

The hike might be hard, but the turquoise-coloured lake is a reward at the top and the provincial park offers opportunities for backcountry camping.

  • Joffre Lake, North of Pemberton. 

​​This one takes you to a remote location, but it’s not too strenuous. The route goes past creeks, lakes and waterfalls and the water comes from Matier Glacier.

“You can literally walk up to Matier Glacier. Many people haven’t seen a glacier up close,” says Woll.

Woll wants anyone considering heading out on a hike to have fun and enjoy new and known trails safely, and to do research to judge the trail's difficulty-level for themselves.

And, if you plan on exploring his favourite five Lower Mainland spots, or any other great trails, make sure you bring what Woll calls “the 10 essentials” for safety.

Woll's 10 essentials:

  1. Illumination: a flashlight is good, but a headlamp is better.
  2. Fire making kit: waterproof matches or a waterproof lighter are essential. Consider bringing some firestarter such as dryer lint.
  3. Nutrition and hydration: bring at least a litre of water and some high energy snacks.
  4. Clothing: be prepared for different weather, and layer. Bring clothing that would allow you to survive the night should something go wrong.
  5. Navigation: a compass and map should be brought on any trip that isn’t on a well-marked trail. Make sure you know how to use them!
  6. First aid kit: these can be purchased prearranged. Consider adding some pain killers.
  7. Emergency shelter: a bivy sack (a small, lightweight, waterproof shelter), orange tarp or a space blanket are good, as they are visible at a distance.
  8. Pocket knife: this is invaluable, as is a multitool like a Swiss army knife.
  9. Sun protection: this is important for avoiding heat stroke. Hat, sunglasses and sunscreen are highly recommended.
  10. Signalling device: a whistle or mirror can save your life if search and rescue needs to find you.

Is there a B.C. trail that got you hooked on hiking? Tell us about it in the comments below.


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