Best Hiking and Snowshoeing in January
January is a fantastic place in Vancouver to get out snowshoeing & hiking. Seymour Ski Resort just minutes from downtown Vancouver has some beautiful, and free snowshoeing & hiking trails with amazing views of the city far below. Dog Mountain and Suicide Bluffs is a short 4.4k (return) snowshoeing trail that starts right from the ski lifts on Seymour. You can park right next to the trailhead for free and the trail is well used and well marked all winter. Pick a clear day and you will be amazed by the views. Similar, yet even more dramatic views of Vancouver can be seen from the Hollyburn Mountain hiking/snowshoeing trail. The trailhead runs from the cross country ski area of Cypress Mountain just 30 minutes from Seymour Ski Resort. Hollyburn is much more challenging than Dog Mountain. It is 7.7k (return) and fairly steep at times, but the views are fantastic.. and start right from the trailhead. You will see many people hiking these Vancouver trails, that is without snowshoes so it is possible if you prefer, especially if there hasn't been recent snow. The hiking trails further north of these two mountains in Vancouver, you can find even more challenging and more amazing hiking and snowshoeing adventures. In Squamish, just 45 minutes north of Vancouver, you will come to the gateway of . The Diamond Head area is the southernmost edge of the fantastically beautiful , and one of the nicest snowshoeing/hiking trails around. The 22k roundtrip route to Elfin Lakes and back is amazing. The first 5k is a bit boring, running gradually uphill through a big tree forest. But after clearing the forest you come to an amazing ridge with views on both sides of jagged, distant, snowy mountains. The 6k, well marked ridge walk to the beautiful Elfin Lakes Hut is easy and barely gains elevation. This hiking trail will be consistently buried in snow from late November until mid June so bring snowshoes or you will have a difficult time hiking. If you would rather be hiking than snowshoeing in Vancouver try the amazing trails at Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver. A spider web of trails in this amazing park run about 10k in total, but you can do as little at 2k and see some amazing forest trails and beautiful ocean views. Another great aspect of this park is it's location, as it is convenient and close to Vancouver, the drive to it in West Vancouver is quite beautiful as well. You would have a difficult time finding a more beautiful, relaxing and easy hiking trail in Vancouver than Lighthouse park. It has a lot going for it. Beautiful, massive tree forest, wonderful, sunny rock outcrops to picnic on, and tremendously beautiful views across to downtown Vancouver as well as the Lions Gate Bridge. Pacific Spirit Park surrounds the University of British Columbia on the shores of Georgia Straight. The park has a beautiful array of trails, 73 kilometres in total, that run along beaches, some old growth forest and even a bog. The network of trails interconnects so often that you can do small 15 minute sections if that is all you are after. Pacific Spirit Park is one of Vancouver's most popular parks and located in the wonderful and expensive neighbourhood, Point Grey. You can wander the park for hours if you want as there are an endless number of trails heading in all directions. Other good hiking (non-snowshoeing) options in January would be the Stawamus Chief in Squamish and Shannon Falls and Upper Shannon Falls trail also in Squamish. Squamish is only 45 minutes away from Vancouver and well worth the drive. The Shannon Falls Trail is very short and therefore accessible year-round on foot and the Stawamus Chief trail is fairly steep and well used year-round so is usually hike-able when all the other trails require snowshoes. The Chief hike will take you about 2 hours roundtrip and towers above Squamish with amazing views and the Shannon Falls hike only takes about 20 minutes roundtrip. If you are really motivated to find an incredible snowshoeing destination from Vancouver in January than you have to try Joffre Lakes. It is well known for it's incredible turquoise coloured lakes in the summer, but in the Winter it is a frozen, snowshoeing paradise. It is located 3 hours north of Vancouver and not surprisingly is a well loved, though very long, Vancouver-locals, favourite snowshoeing day-trip. Be very careful on this hike though. Be well prepared with a map, very warm clothes and headlights. Though the hiking trail is well tracked out by skis all winter, variable weather can obscure these tracks and the short daylight hours can leave you in the dark. So try to only go on a nice, sunny day, and be well equipped for the unexpected. The beautiful Whistler area, 1.5 hours north of Vancouver is a mecca of hiking and snowshoeing as well as a world class ski resort. There are a dizzying array of hiking and snowshoeing trails ranging from easy to difficult. There are several snowshoeing trails that have an entrance fee but there are lots of even better trails that are convenient, amazing and free. For a list of the free, best easy snowshoeing trails try here.. And a comprehensive list of free, moderate to challenging snowshoeing trails in Whistler try here.. So don't let the snowy, cold weather keep you out of the mountains. Vancouver is extraordinarily beautiful and photogenic any month of the year and even so in January. One thing to keep in mind when hiking or snowshoeing in and around Vancouver in January is the short daylight hours and unpredictable weather, especially in the mountains. Be well prepared with extra clothing, lights etc. Assume the possibility of being caught out after dark and you won't be worried when the light begins to fade as it inevitably does around 4pm. Take a look at the the best hiking and snowshoeing trails in Vancouver here..
Best Hiking and Snowshoeing in February
February hiking and snowshoeing in Vancouver is even more amazing than January. The days are a bit longer and a bit warmer than January and there is considerably more snow to play in. For an absolutely unforgettable hiking and snowshoeing experience go for two days into the mountains of Garibaldi Park. Elfin Lakes, just an hours drive north of Vancouver in Squamish is just about as good as it gets. The 11k moderately easy hiking trail takes you through a big tree forest along a gradually uphill and well marked trail to a cute little hut with a wood stove. This is the Red Heather Hut at the 5k point of the Elfin Lakes Trail. A great place to warm up before tackling the relatively easy, though spectacular beautiful final 6k to the wonderful Elfin Lakes Hut at Elfin Lakes. This 6k stretch of the trail runs along a ridge with incredible views in all directions, and ends at the well equipped Elfin Lakes Hut. Propane heated, solar powered, and room for 33 to sleep, this "hut" looks and feels more like a ski lodge, which of course it really is. More info here on the amazing Elfin Lakes Hut and amazing snowshoeing hike here.. Of course this can be done as a snowshoeing day-trip for free and because the trails is so well marked, returning after dark to your car is possible with good headlights. For hiking destinations in Vancouver there is the amazing Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver that can be hiked. This runs through a beautiful forest to amazing ocean views across to downtown Vancouver. You will rarely see snow here in February on this amazing network of trails through a big-tree forest. The trails run as short as 2k to as long as 10k and all trails lead to beautiful ocean views and tranquil little beaches. And driving there is half the fun as Lighthouse Park is located in West Vancouver, so the short, 20 to 30 minute drive from downtown Vancouver takes you across the beautiful Lions Gate Bridge and along the wonderful ocean view road to West Vancouver. Another nice trail in Vancouver to hike in February if you like huge trees is in Lynn Park in North Vancouver. Here you will find two beautiful, snow free trails through towering forests of trees. These are Lynn Peak and Lynn Canyon Park. Both are in the same area of North Vancouver, less than 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver. The beautiful Cypress Falls trail has two nice waterfalls to see as well as an impressive forest of old growth Cedars and Douglas Firs. The trailhead to Cypress Falls Regional Park is located in West Vancouver, just off the Sea to Sky Highway(99). From the trailhead to the lower falls is easy to follow. There are quite a few smaller trails that join the main trail leading to various connecting routes to the main trail. Always stay on the main trail to avoid getting lost. When you reach the lower falls the main trail splits in two. The Kitsilano Beaches begin as soon as you cross the Burrard Bridge and enter the residential paradise of Kitsilano. Though only this first beach is named Kitsilano Beach, you can walk from one beach to the next via some short and scenic residential detours. So you can connect the beautiful Kitsilano Beach to Jericho Beach, then Locarno Beach then Spanish Bank Beach. Walking them all will add up to about 8k (one way) of wonderfully varied beaches, parks, marinas, the enormous Kits Pool and endless vantage points to English Bay and Burrard Inlet. The Stawamus Chief and Shannon Falls trail are great. The Shannon Falls Trail is very short and therefore accessible year-round on foot and the Stawamus Chief trail is fairly steep and well used year-round so is usually hike-able when all the other trails require snowshoes. The Chief hike will take you about 2 hours roundtrip and towers above Squamish with amazing views and the Shannon Falls hike only takes about 20 minutes roundtrip. Snowshoeing options in February are quite good as well. Seymour Ski Resort just minutes from downtown Vancouver has some beautiful, and free snowshoeing trails with amazing views of the city far below. Dog Mountain and Suicide Bluffs is a short 4.4k (return) trail that starts right from the ski lifts on Seymour. You can park right next to the trailhead for free and the trail is well used and well marked all winter. Pick a clear day and you will be amazed by the views. Similar, yet even more dramatic views of Vancouver can be seen from Hollyburn Mountain. The trailhead runs from the cross country ski area of Cypress Mountain just 30 minutes from Seymour Ski Resort. Hollyburn is much more challenging than Dog Mountain. It is 7.7k (return) and fairly steep at times, but the views are fantastic.. and start right from the trailhead. If you don't have snowshoes you can rent them at either trailhead for a decent price. If you don't mind a 1.5 hour drive north of Vancouver to Whistler you will find an amazing array of snowshoeing trails in February. Most are free to use. For a list of the best easy snowshoeing trails try here.. And a comprehensive list of moderate to challenging snowshoeing trails in Whistler try here.. Take a look at the the best hiking and snowshoeing trails in Vancouver here..