You’ve made it to Vancouver, and now you’re eager to get out and enjoy the wilderness you’ve heard so much about, but when you start researching hikes, you realize a lot of them seem to require a car to get to. This is our definitive list of transit friendly hikes. Don’t worry, this is not a consolation list: these are some of our favourite hikes in the Vancouver area period. Car or no car.
1. Hanes Valley Traverse
This is one hike where driving would actually be a bother- this hike is not a loop, it starts at Lynn Valley and ends atop Grouse Mountain. Both ends are well served by transit that can take you to/from the Lonsdale Quay Seabus terminal.
Getting There: Catch bus #228 from the Lonsdale Quay to Lynn Headwaters Regional Park. Walk up the small road into the park and cross the river bridge to get to the signboard and map. Follow the route to Norvan Falls. Once there, follow the sign over the suspension bridge for Hanes Valley/ Grouse Skyride. Following markers and flagging tape through the forest and a rockfield to top out behind Grouse with options to summit Goat and Crown Mountains. Otherwise, continue until you are at the Grouse ski resort. Pay $15 to take the gondola down. Catch bus #236 at the bottom of Grouse Mountain to Lonsdale Quay.
2. Whyte Lake/ Eagle Bluffs Lookout
The trails in this West Vancouver park transport you into old growth Cedar and Douglas Fir forest alongside a beautiful creek. Following the signs for Whyte Lake trail leads to a small forest lake which offers a secluded lunch spot and opportunity for a refreshing swim in summer months. For the eager and energetic, the Baden-Powell Trail continues from Whyte Lake up, up up to Eagle Bluffs lookout on Black Mountain.
Getting There: Catch bus #250 downtown. Start looking for your stop after Lighthouse Park. Your bus stop is Cranley Drive. Walk up Cranley Dr., and after 500m or so, look on the right for a sign post and trail heading into the forest. From here, wind up, following sign for Whyte Lake, through an uphill section, under the highway overpass high above, a short section of old road, past a water tower and then into the forest proper. From here it is well signed to Whyte Lake, and from the Lake junction, to the Baden-Powell Trail.
Useful Link: Whyte Lake Trail Map PDF
3. Mosquito Creek Cascades/Mt. Fromme Summit
A hike to Mosquito Creek or the summit of Mt. Fromme offers a chance to see many old growth trees, stunning views, and, best of all, these trails do not get nearly as busy as others in town.
Getting There: Catch bus #236 from Lonsdale Quay to Grouse Mountain. Head away from the base of the resort to the right (east) and you will see a wide gravel path. This is the Baden-Powell Trail. Walk up the BPT for some time until you come to a small parking lot and signboard with trail map. Look at the trail map. For Mosquito Creek, plan to head up the Cascade Trail. For Mt. Fromme, take St. Georges trail, cross the old road, and then continue uphill onto the Peer Gynt Trail, where you will start to see signs on trees for Mt. Fromme.
4. Diez Vistas or Lindsay Lake Loop
A trip to Buntzen Lake east of Vancouver offers several superb trails at various levels. The most popular, the Diez Vistas Trail, is a moderate day trip that winds up to a ridge and offers 10 separate view points of Indian Arm, Vancouver and the mountains. Another option, Lindsay Lake, climbs up a hillside to numerous small lakes and returns on a ridge with stunning views.
Getting There: Catch bus #20 out of downtown and get off at E. Hastings at Commercial Dr. Transfer to bus #160 to Coquitlam Station. Catch bus #C26 which will take you to the parking lot at Buntzen Lake Park. From here you can choose the Diez Vistas or Lindsay Lake route. Note: Bus C26 only offers the park service on weekends during July and August.
5. Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island
This option offers a pleasant day trip and invigorating hike all in one. Bowen Island is a small, sleepy community that is fun to explore in its own right. From the top of Mt. Gardner you will enjoy panoramic views of the Sunshine Coast, Tantalus Mountains, Georgia Straight and all the way out to the Olympic Mountains in Washington.
Getting There: Catch bus #250 or #257 Express out of downtown to the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal. Board the ferry to Bowen Island as a foot passenger. A short while later you dock and can walk to the trailhead. The beginning and end of the Mt Gardner trail are well marked, but there is a confusing section partway through. Stay left at all forks and you will stay on the correct trail.
Useful Link: Mount Gardner Trail Info
6. Norvan Falls/ Coliseum/Lynn Peak/Lynn Lake/The Needles
Hiking in Lynn Headwaters is a great way to experience Vancouver’s wilderness with just one short bus ride. There are hikes of varying length and difficulty within the boundaries of Lynn Headwaters. Norvan Falls or Lynn Loop are shorter outings, whereas trekking to South Needle or Coliseum are challenging all-day endeavours.
Getting There: Catch bus #228 from Lonsdale Quay to Lynn Headwaters Regional Park. Walk into the park on the road and cross the river bridge to find the signboard with the trail map. All routes are well marked on the signboards throughout the park.
Useful Link: Lynn Headwaters Park Map PDF