British Columbia is home to tall mountains, turquoise lakes, islands, and the Pacific ocean all within a couple of hours’ drive. This is but a small number of excellent hikes across BC. Let it inspire you to pack your tent, strap on your boots and explore the region.
Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.
All text and original images by Mirae Campbell
1. St. Mark’s Summit
St. Mark’s SummitBowen Island, CanadaThis is another trail that starts off at Cypress Mountain. It is part of the Howe Sound Crest Trail. I have only hiked this during winter with my microspikes on. It made the descent that much easier. Go on a clear day to have a full view of the Howe Sound.
2. Brandywine Falls
Brandywine Falls is just south of Whistler with an easy walk to the viewing platform, but way sicker is working your way to the pool below the falls. The hike down to the canyon involves some serious bushwhacking, but it’s worth it. I’ve never been doused by such a strong current of mist before in my life. It was a challenge to take a good photo since we didn’t go equipped with the right gear to get soaking wet.
3. Stawamus Chief Provincial Park
Stawamus Chief Provincial ParkSquamish, CanadaThe Chief is a huge granite dome that overlooks the town of Squamish and Howe Sound. This hike leads to three different peaks as well as the Sea to Sky Summit. It’s possible to do all three in a day. The fun part is you will need to climb ladders, ropes, and use chains to pull yourself up. Be prepared and don’t think of it as a walk in the park.
Stawamus Chief Provincial ParkSquamish, CanadaWe hiked up to the Second Peak of The Chief and it was unreal. The hike wasn’t too long (maybe 1&1/2 to 2 hrs round trip) but it’s straight up (staircase style) for about 2,000 ft. The views from above are unreal! #hiking
4. Joffre Lakes
Joffre Lakes are some of the most popular and reachable alpine lakes in BC; you’re able to drive most of the elevation, and the hike to the upper lake is a short and sweet (by “sweet” I mean the most miserable uphill climb you definitely weren’t expecting) six kilometres. There are three lakes in total. The second is the one most people obsess over as there’s a log you’re able to climb out onto for a photo that offers a stunning backdrop of Mt. Currie and a pristine, glacial blue lake. The hike’s extremely popular due to the fact that it’s so short and available as well as dog friendly. I’d suggest camping overnight. Camping changes everything. It allows you to have those quiet life reflections while you watch the sunrise. Most importantly it allows you to connect with nature without strangers in your space or stealing the photo you’d been dreaming about.
5. Kokanee Creek Provincial Park
Kokanee Creek Provincial ParkNelson, CanadaThis is the Kokanee glacier. You have to drive up a logging road near the Kokanee Creek campground to access the trailhead. This is what’s known as the Keyhole, a hike that veers off the main trail to the lake and goes up. You have to scramble up large boulders and some steep scree so it’s not an easy hike. If I remember right it took about 3 hours. #hiking
6. Garibaldi Lake
This is one of the most accessible alpine lakes that we have here in BC. It’s only 10 kilometres to the lake from the parking lot near Whistler, and it’s a healthy, consistent incline. The view is definitely worth the hike. The colour of the water changes as the seasons pass, and by the end of August it’s a kind of blue you can’t capture or describe to anyone unless they’ve made the trek and swum in it themselves. I came to this lake for the first time with my dad for my 20th birthday, and I have been coming ever since.
I made it to this lake seven times this year alone, and it never gets old, as every experience is unique with each group that accompanies me when I go. Because Garibaldi Lake is so easily accessible, there are always heaps of people that come up for a day trip. To fully appreciate the place you need to camp overnight and drink it in when the crowds have passed.
7. Black Tusk
Black TuskWhistler, CanadaThis is a hike you wouldn’t want to skip. Black Tusk itself is an extinct volcano that can be seen from the Sea to Sky. The incline is not extreme. However, use caution if you do decide to take the chimney to the top.
8. Panorama Ridge
This is where I’d live if it were acceptable to set up lean-tos in provincial parks. The ridge is located in Garibaldi Provincial Park, and walking from the lake it’s about an extra four hours, depending how skilled you are scaling rocks. I’ve visited the ridge just as many times as I have the lake, for obvious reasons — the view’s mind-blowing. It’s the kind of view that makes you drop your mouth and open your eyes as wide as you can because you can’t take it in fast enough. I’ve watched sunsets, sunrises, the falcons fly beside us, and the snow melt off of the surrounding mountains as the seasons changed from every visit.
People who question why I’ve done the hike so many times haven’t done the hike themselves to understand my obsession with it. Every visit’s been unique, and the only time I ever regretted my choice to hike it was in the snow with my favourite adventure pal, who has the patience of a monk and the spirit of adventure equivalent to Indiana Jones. We had to blaze our own trail in waist-deep snow, and, although I was unable to feel my feet for the majority of it, the view we were rewarded with was the best of all of my visits. We were able to experience something not many people had, and we worked the hardest we ever had to get it. Anyone can hike the ridge in the summer, but it takes a certain mental discipline to do it in the snow.
9. Elfin Lakes
Elfin LakesWhistler, CanadaA spectacular hike to Elfin Lakes take about 2-3 hours and leads to 2 lakes one of them for drinking and the other one for swimming. There is a spacious cabin there to spend the night and lots of tenting platforms. From there you can explore further and go onto more hikes in the Garibaldi Park. Absolutely spectacular hike and relatively easy/moderate too! #hiking #camping
Elfin LakesWhistler, CanadaLocated in Garibaldi Park is a lake surrounded by snowcapped mountains. The trail ascends at a moderate grade. It is also shared by cyclists. Remember to look around you and appreciate the scenery.
Elfin Lakes ShelterWhistler, CanadaBeautiful place to go snowshoeing in the winter, or hiking in the summer. You can sleep in the cabin, but get there early to guarantee a spot. Otherwise bring a tent. If you don’t want to overnight you can make it up to the lake in a day, winter or summer. #hiking #snow #snowshoeing #views
10. Christie Falls
Christie FallsLadysmith, CanadaJust did this hike to Christie Falls in Ladysmith, south of Nanaimo. You have to walk down a logging road for a while before you get to the trailhead. This set of falls is the first one you come across, then you cross the creek on a log with roof shingles nailed to it. The hike then keeps elevating, at some parts quite steep, but it keeps alongside other falls. At the top you’re surrounded by water running down the hills, very beautiful. #hiking #waterfalls
11. Mt. Seymour
This is the place that got me into outdoor gear and obsessed with taking pictures in nature. Every sunset, every sunrise, every snowfall, every day was perfection. I spent my winter working in the resort and my summer catching sunsets on the lift towers. I’m so in love with the mountain’s every aspect. Plus it offers the best view of Vancouver without having to go far.
12. Idaho Peak
Idaho PeakSilverton, CanadaIdaho Peak is an easy hike from where you park and has super stunning views. The wildflowers go off in early summer so that’s an ideal time to visit. It’s not in Nelson but about an hour drive from town. #hiking
13. Cheam Peak
Cheam PeakFraser Valley E, CanadaTo start this hike, you first have to drive through a forest service road. The ditches are so deep that a 4×4 is strongly recommended. This is a fairly rugged hike that leads you to a panoramic view of the Fraser Valley at the top. Be sure to go on a clear or cloudy day. Either way you won’t be disappointed.
Cheam PeakFraser Valley E, CanadaCheam Peak was a great hike that had spectacular 360 degree views from the top.
9.5 km roundtrip.
700 meters of elevation gain.
The road to get to the trailhead had some big ditches so a vehicle with high clearance would be beneficial.
14. Brandywine Meadows
Brandywine meadowsWhistler, CanadaBrandywine meadows and peak in the early fall is an amazing place to be as all the plant life changes colors. In the past the meadows were swampy and hard to hike through but with the new boardwalks it is a lot more accessible. #hiking #camping
15. Wedgemount Lake
Wedgemount LakeWhistler, CanadaOne of the most rewarding hikes I have ever done. At 7 km, this hike is strenuous with a scramble towards the end. However, you are rewarded with an intense turquoise lake, ice caves and glaciers. It is important to be well equipped for alpine conditions, as temperatures are below freezing.
Wedgemount LakeWhistler, CanadaA very challenging hike to Wedgemount Lake takes about 7 hours. At the top you can take a refreshing dip in the glacier lake. There is a tiny cabin at the top for campers or you can camp in your tent. One of the best hikes near Vancouver/ Whistler.
#hiking #extreme #snow #camping
16. Hilda Peak
Hilda peakCentral Kootenay K, CanadaTop of Hilda Peak! One of the steeper climbs in the Valkyr mountain range. To get to the trail head, go south from Fauquier down applegrove road. After crossing past the power lines and you start driving down the big Hill take the forest service road on the left after driving past pin road. This road gets pretty skinny as you get higher up so you might just have to find a place to park and hike the rest of the way. At the end of the fsr is a cut block. At the far northeast end is a creek, if you follow that up it will lead you to the Hilda meadows. Be sure to be bear safe, as they love to hang out in the meadows! #hiking #valkyr
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