Editor’s note: Joanne Chui is a Vancouver-based photographer with a penchant for the great outdoors. Her ability to provide a sense of scale and choice to often include a person (sometimes herself!) really highlights the magnitude of nature, specifically around beautiful Vancouver, Canada. Check out these 13 images from Joanna’s adventures that left us feeling small in a wonderful way.

All photos by author.


Tower above the city at Eagle Bluffs

About a 30 minute drive from downtown Vancouver up Cypress Mountain, the trail begins just past the chairlifts. Careful, it starts with switchbacks, but the views are totally worth it. Summertime bonus: jump in Cabin Lake after those switchbacks to cool down before carrying on to the bluffs.


Then stay and watch the sun go down over Vancouver and beyond

Watch the city go orange and Howe Sound, Bowen Island, and the islands turn into shady silhouettes while sun rays pour over them from behind. Watch the ferries come and go, wait for the lights on Lions Gate to come on, and the city go a blue. It never gets old.


Walk Among the Giants in Lynn Headwaters

Less than 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver is Lynn Valley and Lynn Canyon Park. This trail leads to Norvan Falls, Coliseum Mountain, Cedar Mills, and the Hanes Valley Route. Remnants of the old logging days can be found, such as trees growing out of old logging carts. This trail is more popular and accessible to tourists so go early or late in the day.


Ascend the iconic Lions

The Lions - and specifically the pair known as The Sisters - watch over Vancouver from their craggy peaks, but did you know you can hike to them? Again just about 30 minutes outside downtown Vancouver, on the 99, the exit is Lions Bay. While it starts off deceiving flat, it is a 16km route that takes about 8 hours and gains over a 1km. This image was taken in June 2015, proving that even in the hottest months there can still be snow along the way. If you climb all the way to the West Lions, you get a nice view of the East Lions. Despite the long hike there's non-stop views, vistas, and scenic points along the way.


Wade the creeks in Cypress Falls

Head west on highway 1 and take exit #4, and you'll find the calm old growth trail of Cypress Falls. Lesser known to tourists, and therefore quieter, and easy, it's a moving stroll through the massive trees, many of which are up to 300 years old and survived the logging days. Bonus: You can find a rusted out old car next to the upper falls. Standing on the edge of the creek, you'd never know you were in a city of over two million people.


Sway on the suspension bridge at Cascade Falls

Just over 90 minutes east of Vancouver is Mission, BC, which is where you can access Cascade Falls. Unlike Capilano, this suspension bridge is free and park of the short, easy hike. For a closer option, there is also Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, also free, and closer, but thus also very busy and very, very popular.


Wander the boardwalk to Whyte Lake

Back in West Vancouver, many locals haven't heard of Whyte Lake and it's often overlooked. It's exit #4 off the highway and part of the Trans Canada Trail. The wooden boardwalk brings you through more old growth and ends at the lake. This is an easy 5-km hike.


Enter into Hanes Valley

Carrying on from Lynn Canyon, you follow the Lynn Headwaters Trail and it will lead you to Hanes Valley. You'll go through an old growth forest, cross an old metal bridge, and begin the ascent that leads to Grouse Mountain. You'll notice fewer and fewer hikers the further you go, leaving the tourists behind and crossing only other hikers and trail runners. Eventually the trail opens up into Hanes Valley, unlike any other valley in the area with it's lush green growth and you really do need to stop and take it all in. Should you carry on you need to know that the hike is difficult, involves boulders, and literally brings you up the side of a mountain. You also need to know this is considered a one-way hike, so most people come in two cars, dropping one at the top of Grouse and then driving the other to the entrance in Lynn Valley. But really, look at this view. It's worth it.


Take in the sheer perfection of Garabaldi Lake

If you can handle hours and hours of switchbacks through Douglas Fir trees, you'll be rewarded with one of the best views in all of BC: glacially blue Garabaldi Lake, fringed with old growth forests, and backed by snow-capped mountains. About 45 minutes outside Vancouver, after Squamish on the Sea to Sky, you'll see the signs for Garabaldi. It's a long hike up but there's camping at the lake if you can manage the gear. You can carry on to Black Tusk and if it's the right time of year, you might get fields and fields of wildflowers, too.


Ski or snowboard literally any mountain

We have an abundance of peaks to carve down so put them to use. While the ride down is obviously the best part, taking in the views from the chairlifts, often paired with near silence or just the wind, can provide a much needed moment of solace and gratitude. This particular chairlift is in Whistler, the epicentre of the ski and snowboard world.


Cower under the Matias Glacier, past Joffre Lakes

Joffre Lakes are over three hours from Vancouver, but it's possible to do them in one very long day, and certainly over a weekend. Near Pemberton, in the summer it's a turquoise blue, and in the winter it's more of an emerald green (when not covered in snow). Just beyond Joffre Lakes are a number of glaciers, such as Matias, seen here. If you want to actual reach the top of the glacier, you'll need another 4 hours and the right gear. However there are several huts up this way (Red Heather Hut and Elfin Lakes Hut) where you can stay for $15. The night sky alone is worth that experience. If you can't handle that hike on top of Joffre Lakes, you can camp at Joffre as well.


Go canoeing at Pitt Lake

Tucked in behind Coquitlam and Maple Ridge is Pitt Lake and a number of brilliant hikes, all about a 1 hour drive from Vancouver. Take the Highway 1 eastbound and take exit 44. But from there, use Google Maps because even the most seasoned Vancouverite cannot navigate the Mary Hill Bypass and nest of exits around Coquitlam. You can rent a canoe at Pitt Lake Canoe Rentals on a first-come-first-served basis, and then make your way along the lake amid the mountains.


Bonus: surf the storms in Tofino

Alright, Tofino is absolutely not "near" Vancouver in any sense. A two hour ferry ride plus a 2.5 hour drive, minimum. But it is a great weekend trip, or better yet, a whole week. Regardless, few places will dwarf you like the raging waves, pounding wind, towering trees, and the wide, long beach (aptly named Long Beach) that you'll find in Tofino. Famous for it's crazy storms, whether you hit the waves or watch from shore, it's almost always guaranteed to be a show, especially outside of summertime.