Plenty of challenging hiking trails in Vancouver to choose from. St Mark's Summit, the Lions and Mount Harvey are all on the amazing Howe Sound Crest Trail. Mount Elsay is far in the backcountry of Mount Seymour Provincial Park and Coliseum Mountain is deep in the Lynn Valley.
St Mark's Summit is a relatively easy way to get hiking deep into Vancouver's amazing mountains. Starting this hike at Cypress means you drive most of the elevation. Even though you still have another 460 metres in 5.5k to hike, the beautiful forest and frequent Howe Sound views make it seem quick and easy. It takes about 1.5 hours to reach St Mark's Summit and the views are fantastic. Not only because of the incredible vantage point over Howe Sound, but the abruptness of St Mark's Summit. The cliffs below you are frighteningly vertical, making the views fantastically majestic. Also the sheer drop off makes Howe Sound and the speck sized boats seem so surreal. The third and possibly the best feature of the St Mark's Summit hike is the intricately huge and varied terrain on the summit. You stand and marvel at one viewpoint, then moments later your friend appears at an extraordinarily improbable, and worryingly dangerous rock outcrop a few dozen metres away. This hilarious game of hide and seek, seemingly can go on forever. As one leads to another, then another. Over and over, the St Mark's Summit reveals one breathtaking vantage point after another, until you are exhausted more with the views than the hike that got you there. When you estimate your hiking time for St Mark's Summit, but sure to include an hour at least at the top. And before you begin your hike back to Cypress, take a moment to glance back at the distant Lions. This incredible trail continues to them and beyond, you've just done 5.5k of the 29k, phenomenal Howe Sound Crest Trail. St Mark's Summit is part of the amazing Howe Sound Crest Trail in Cypress Provincial Park and is one of the many beautiful peaks to be climbed if desired on the 29k trail.
Why should you hike to St Mark's Summit?
One stunning vantage point after another at the end of a relatively easy hike. The 5.5 kilometres are steadily uphill, but not terribly strenuous. Once you reach St Mark's Summit, the places to explore are everywhere. The startlingly abrupt cliff overlooks Howe Sound and on a sunny day the world is filled with blue sky, blue ocean and lush, green forests covering all the islands.
The Lions or Twin Sisters lie in North Vancouver, about one hour from downtown Vancouver. The two distinct, rocky peaks are visible from downtown Vancouver. The view from the top is spectacular. Howe Sound stretches out into the blue distance. A tough but wonderful hiking trail.The first half of the hike is very easy as you follow a disused, though beautifully overgrown logging road gently uphill. The trail after this road is very well marked with flagging tape, tree markers and paint indicators on the rock faces. There are two plateaus before the final, very difficult ascent to the summit of the West Lion. Both plateaus have incredible views and most make the second plateau their final destination. It is at the base of the West Lion. There are not really any suitable places to put up a tent, but if you had to choose, somewhere in the vicinity of these two plateaus would be the place to do it. If you continue to the summit be prepared for a four metre rope descent. The ropes are there, fixed to a tree above, but are alarmingly worn. If you have ropes, you may want to bring them for this part. After this, you will cross the narrow col connecting to the West Lion. This begins the very difficult section. Clinging to narrow rocks and ledges you have to make your way around the right hand side of the steep West Lion. This section is so dangerous that there are permanent ropes fixed in places to prevent you falling several dozens of metres if you lost your grip...
Why should you hike the West Lion(Binkert) Trail to the West Lion?
The trail to the Lions is through a beautiful forest with occasional views of Howe Sound. Closer to the West Lion you get amazing, almost 360 degree views of Howe Sound and the surrounding mountains. If you are brave enough to summit the West Lion you get a full 360 degree view and the satisfaction of conquering this very challenging Vancouver icon.
Mount Harvey is one of the huge, visible and hikeable summits in the North Shore mountains. It is located on the Howe Sound Crest Trail in Cypress Provincial Park near The Lions. Reachable via the Howe Sound Crest Trail or by its own trailhead in Lions Bay. The same trailhead used for , Brunswick Mountain and . There are no trail use fees, parking fees or camping fees from this trailhead. The trail is challenging, though not out of technical skill but due to its steepness of the trail. You gain 1400 metres in just 6.5k. The final scramble to the summit can be dangerous in poor weather, but generally not too difficult. The trail to Mount Harvey is well worn, but poorly marked for the first half of the hike. From the trailhead continue up the old, overgrown logging road. Bear right at the first intersection. The second intersection you come to, bear right again (left goes to Mt Brunswick). The third junction you come to bear right again. Finally at the fourth intersection you will see a sign for The Lions pointing to the right. You want to take the trail to the left here. This is the crucial trail marker not to miss and therefore it is very visible. From here the trail is easy to follow.
Why should you hike to Mount Harvey in Vancouver?
Mount Harvey is a very challenging hike with amazing views of Howe Sound. Far less frequently hiked than the nearby Lions, yet with arguably better views.
Mount Elsay is a tough 16k roundtrip hike that takes you beyond Mount Seymour and the crowds into the desolate backcountry of Mount Seymour Provincial Park. To get to the marked Mount Elsay trail you have to follow the trail to Mount Seymour. Mount Elsay is a difficult and dangerous trail to hike if you are unprepared or poorly equipped. The trail is often very difficult and losing the trail is very possible even in good weather. The trailhead for Mount Seymour (which leads to the Mount Elsay trail) is easy to find once you have reached the main parking lot to . To get to the main parking lot simply drive until you come to the end of the road and the end of the final parking lot (you will see ski lifts). Looking towards the end of this long parking lot you will see a large, round wooden map board (indicated on the map below by the red marker). Walk along the trees (directly up on the map below). From here on there are frequent tree markers and signs directing you to Mount Seymour. Follow this route until you get to the col between Second Peak and Third Peak where the Elsay trail starts.
Why should you hike to Mount Elsay in Vancouver?
Mount Elsay is located in the back of beyond of Mount Seymour. Well into the wilderness, this challenging trail is tough, rewarding and well off the beaten track. Don't expect to encounter people after you leave the shadow of Mount Seymour behind.
Coliseum Mountain is one of several beautiful hikes in the Lynn Valley's beautiful . It's not terribly difficult, but it is very long. 12 kilometres from the trailhead to the summit. Although the first 7 kilometres are along the very easy Headwaters Trail with little elevation gain. The final 5 kilometres is at times challenging, but manageable by most as there is only a few short sections of scrambling terrain, but certainly not technical. The route is well marked along the way with flagging tape, so the main safety concern is the distance of the trail. 24k roundtrip will take most hikers 8+ hours, so be prepared with lots of food and start early. At a decent hiking pace you should reach the summit in 4.5 hours and take 3.5 hours back to the trailhead. But of course that doesn't count the amount of time taking in all the views from the top or the various stops along the way.
Why should you hike to Coliseum Mountain in Lynn Valley?
Coliseum Mountain is a challenging hike to some stunning views. The trail feels as though you are far from civilisation and there are several nice sights along the trail to the summit.
More Challenging Vancouver Trails
Brunswick Mountain is the highest peak in the North Shore mountains. Located in the beautiful , Brunswick Mountain is among several other prominent summits on the amazing Howe Sound Crest Trail. You can reach Brunswick from the Howe Sound Crest Trail if you begin your hike from the Cypress Mountain Ski Resort, however reaching it from the trailhead in Lions Bay is much shorter. This trailhead is also used to reach , and . The trail is challenging as you gain considerable elevation in a short distance, 1550 metres in just 7.3k. , visible from downtown Vancouver, towers behind . It was appropriately named due to its crown shape over 150 years ago by an English captain charting the area. This very challenging hike offers some phenomenal views from its summit, deep in the . There are three main ways to reach the amazing Crown Mountain. As it is located near , the most direct way to reach it is via Grouse Mountain. You can either hike the for free or take the SkyRide for $25 (return). is at the far north end of the beautiful Howe Sound Crest Trail which runs from Cypress Resort 29k away. The trailhead near Porteau Cove is the access point for both . It is a steadily uphill hike as you gain 1615 metres in just 8k. The trail is also very overgrown and strewn with fallen trees. Mount Hanover is another amazing and accessible peak in the North Shore mountains. Located in the beautiful Cypress Provincial Park, Mount Hanover is among several other prominent summits on the amazing Howe Sound Crest Trail. You can reach Mount Hanover from the Howe Sound Crest Trail if you begin your hike from the Cypress Mountain Resort, however reaching it from the trailhead in Lions Bay is much shorter. This trailhead is also used to reach The Lions, Mount Harvey and Brunswick Mountain. Mount Unnecessary gets its peculiar name from the fact it once was part of the route to reach The Lions whereas now the route avoids it. This now, unnecessary mountain, no longer needs to be climbed to reach The Lions. Unnecessary is part of the amazing Howe Sound Crest Trail in Cypress Provincial Park and is one of the many beautiful peaks to be climbed if desired on the 29k trail.