The Lions South Vancouver Hiking Regions
The Lions tower in the distance, visible from all around Vancouver. Located in North Vancouver about an hours drive from downtown Vancouver. The view from the top of the West Lion is spectacular making this a tremendously popular hiking trail. Howe Sound stretches out into the blue distance. The trail to the base of the West Lion is tough but
wonderful hike. The scramble to the summit of the West Lion is a very difficult, dangerous, yet very rewarding hike. There are two ways to reach the Lions. The Howe Sound Crest Trail is the amazing route that takes you from the Ski Resort at Cypress past various peaks such as Mt Strachan, St Mark's Summit and Mt Unnecessary before reaching the Lions just over 10.5k from the trailhead. The other, more direct route is called the Lions Binkert trail, and it begins at Lions Bay, 1 hour north of Vancouver. The description of The Lions hike from this trailhead in Lions Bay is shown here.
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. Among the hiker friendly mountains (from Cypress north) on the Howe Sound Crest Trail are: Mount Strachan, St Mark`s Summit, Mount Unnecessary, The Lions, Mount Harvey, Mount Hanover, Brunswick Mountain and finally Deeks Peak. As Unnecessary lays in the middle of the Howe Sound Crest Trail, it has its own trail from Lions Bay which makes it a manageable day-trip. The trail is well marked but very steep and overgrown. It is sometimes compared, as so many other North Shore trails, to the Grouse Grind. Harder, better views and no people, is the usual description.
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.
Mount Strachan is part of the trio of mountains, also Black Mountain and Hollyburn Mountain that form a bowl, or Cypress Bowl that give the resort its name. The Cypress part of the name comes from the Cypress or Yellow Cedar that fills the valley. Both Strachan and Hollyburn are easy hikes from the Cypress Resort parking lot. For Strachan you can start near the main lodge walk directly up the gravel road past the chairlift and bear left. The route is boring and uneventful as you are following ski runs, however the summit has amazing views and well worth the relatively short hike.
Hollyburn Mountain (aka Hollyburn Peak), in Cypress Provincial Park, is an amazing place to snowshoe or hike. The Hollyburn trailhead is an astonishingly close, 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver. The 30 minute drive is quite something as well. From the always beautiful crossing of the beautiful Lions Gate Bridge, to the incredible views of Vancouver from the approach drive to Cypress Mountain and the Hollyburn Mountain trailhead. This hike has it all. Great views, easy hike, convenient times to use, and of course free. Hiking or snowshoeing Hollyburn Mountain is yet another spectacular piece of the whole amazing Vancouver experience. Hollyburn Mountain is easily done in a half day trip from Vancouver as it is quite close and quite a short hike/snowshoe, at only 7k roundtrip. Go early for the amazing sunrise, or late in the day for the unbelievable sunset.