Springtime is when a lot of people get back into hiking for the year. Winter can seem overwhelming to get the right gear, understand snow conditions, and drive through mountain roads to microspike hike or snowshoe through snowy trails. While I love love LOVE a good day out in the snow, I totally get it. But lucky for us we’ve got plenty of snow-free trails already!
The snow level will change year to year, and can change drastically even day to day. If it’s been mild and sunny, the snow may be washed away mid-way up the mountains. But if it has been raining a lot, it could very well be snowing up in the higher elevation trails. Your safest bet for finding a snow-free trail is to stick to hikes that stay at low elevation. Check the max elevation stat on trail reports. That will tell you the highest point from sea level. This time of year most trails on our local mountains are clear up to about 500 metres. But note that the shadier the trail (lots of tree cover), the longer it can take to clear also because the sun isn’t hitting the forest floor.
The best way to know for sure is getting a recent trail report. Thanks to social media we can get a lot of these! You can follow me on Instagram and Facebook for trail reports on hikes I do, and there are lots of other great ones. My faves are the facebook groups Chilliwack BC Hiking Group and Women Who Hike BC.
Just in case you do encounter snow I would recommend wearing waterproof shoes or boots or my go-to work around for years was just bringing along waterproof socks because I loved my summer trail shoes too much. You should also carry some microspikes with you in case you do run into ice or snow so you don’t have to turn around. They’re super light and compactable, now bulky and awkward like snowshoes. Here are products I use and love:
But without further ado, here are some awesome spring hikes you can tackle right now and likely avoid any snow. Listed from harder/longer to easier/shorter:
Bowen Island’s most popular hike, and for good reason. It’s a real beaut of a view up top. Mind you it is a deceivingly long, long hike. Especially if you walk on the ferry and hike right from Snug Cove, this hike will take you a good 6 hours if you hike at a moderate pace. It’s pretty much flat til the trailhead, then up, up, up you go! Keep an eye out for trailmarkers as people often get lost here. It’s 17 km round trip gaining 720 metres so be sure to pack a headlamp if you don’t start early in the morning.
Sea to Summit
This is a tough hike but it’s oh so beeeeeUteeeeeFUL! It’s the trail that leads up to the top of the Squamish gondola. 7.5 km one-way, this trail climbs a whopping 918 metres. Yup, tough on the puppies but it burns so good! Like the Grouse Grind, this is a one-way trail, meant for people to enjoy the top then take the gondola down for $15.
This is another long trail but not nearly as steep. AKA Sendero Diez Vistas, this 15 km loop around the Tri-Cities’ Buntzen Lake in Anmore climbs 460 metres. While the trail name is Spanish for 10 views, the tree growth makes that name a bit of a stretch. While it’s a great hike with some stunning views over Indian Arm, don’t hold your breath waiting for 10 like that. Most viewpoints are peek-a-boo views through trees with a few sick spots that will make your jaw drop.
You are not a real Vancouverite until you’ve hiked The Chief. It’s like an initiation into the west coast way of life. The sweat dripping down your back as you slog up the steep slope, the burning as the dirt gets in the scratches on your hands as you climb the sharp rocks and ropes, but most importantly the awe you feel gazing out over ocean and mountaintops as stand motionless, overwhelmed that this out-this-freakin-world beauty is right here, 30 minutes from home. Yes, you need to experience this. Go. Now. Like, seriously. Go. I’m not even going to tell you the trail stats. You need to do it anyway. You won’t regret it.
A long trail for those wanting to spend the day outdoors but not get too sweaty-like. This North Vancouver trail is a 14 km trip but has minimal elevation gain. The winter often washes out some of the bridges so it does get climbey at point so prepared for a bit of work, but overall this hike is pretty chill, just long. Lynn Headwaters at its finest.
Located in Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park, this trail is also great for practice backpacking. It’s a short 3.5 km trail climbing 300 metres to a beautiful lake complete with camping platforms. The trail does continue much further up to Greendrop lake, but you have to traverse a boulder field and gain a lot more elevation so the snow is present there much longer.
West Vancouver’s best kept secret, the trail to Whyte Lake is wonderful any time of year. It’s 6 km from the Westport Road trailhead or 10 km if you start along the Seaview Walk in Gleneagles, near Horseshoe Bay. The trail gains 346 metres going up through the forest along Nelson Creek and pops you out at a little lake with a quaint boardwalk around it, complete with a rope swing for summertime swimming. This trail connects to the Baden Powell trail which traverses the entire North Shore. For a full trail description see my post here.
Probably Minnekada Regional Park’s most popular hike, this 6.5 km trail climbs 140 metres. Offering beautiful views our over the regional, it’s a must-do when out in the Coquitlam region.
Located in Cultus Lake Provincial Park, this is a locals favourite, perfect for the whole fam. It’s just under 5km and climbs 250 metres and features hidden teapots along the way to find. Take in the view when it opens up at about 2km in as the view at the very end just a little bit further is nothing to write home about.
Located on beautiful Bowen Island, this is a real escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Be careful because you’ll never want to leave. Drive or take the 250/257 bus to Horseshoe Bay, walk on to the ferry for a scenic 20 minute boat ride and start the 9 km loop trail. Travelling through Crippen Regional Park, this trail is a beaut! Check out the lagoon by the trailhead near the library, the salmon ladders about 10 minutes in, and the wetland as you cross into the final section before reaching Killarney Lake. Into trail running? This is an excellent trail run route, popular with the locals. Be sure to save some time to stop by my favourite food places: The Snug for breakfast; Artisan Eats for lunch; Tuscany for dinner. The ferry runs late but if you wanted to stay even later you could also take the late night water taxi back.
And no, it’s not often snowy like this, I just love this photo I took in December 🙂
Looking for a quick post-work sweat sesh? This trail is for you! Located in Burnaby accessed from Barnett Hwy just after it merges off from Hastings, this spring hike travels 3 km (round trip) and 240 metres up Burnaby Mountain like a super mini Grouse Grind. At the top you’re rewarded with great views of the Burrard Inlet.
The gem of Deep Cove, this trail is super popular with the locals and visitors alike. I personally love hiking it in the spring and fall because the trail isn’t as busy as it is in the summer months. It’s a beautiful 3.8 km trip gaining about 100 metres as you travel up and down through the forest out to a large rock overlooking Indian Arm.
This trail is in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park in North Vancouver. Note as of April 2017 the access road is closed but you can still hike in. The Lynn Loop is an easy 5 km trail with minimal elevation gain that you can access by public transit and bring your pup along to!
Located between Squamish and Whistler, this place is more of a stroll than a spring hike, but it’s worth noting because it is very pretty. It’s just a 1km flat loop from the parking lot offering views of the waterfall as well as the valley down below.
BONUS: if you are up for some snow, these are some of my favourite snow trail hikes nearby:
For full trail stats visit http://hikesnearvancouver.ca/hiking-trails/all-hikes/
Make sure that like with any hike, you always carry The 10 Essentials!
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