Wondering where to hike when it’s raining? Or if you can even bring yourself to do it? I get it. It’s that time of year again in Vancouver. It seems like every day you look out the window it’s rain, rain, rain. The clouds are so thick it’s pretty much always dark out. You may even wonder why you continue to stay in this place that requires many people to use a SAD lamp to wake up happy. Seasoned Vancouverites know that you just need to embrace the rain and that some of the best experiences happen thanks to this great weather so I’m going to share some great tips with you, as well as a list of awesome snow-free hikes to do that are the best when it’s raining out.
You don’t have to become a couch potato just because the sun has stopped shining. You have two great options right now! Head up into the mountains where all this city rain is probably beautiful winter wonderland snow, or enjoy snow-free trails under the shelter of nature’s big umbrella called the forest.
Grab yourself some snowshoes or microspikes, and head up into the mountains. Never snowshoed before or not sure where to go? Read my blog posts “Snowshoeing for Beginners” or “Snowshoe Trails Near Vancouver.”
Snow not your thang?
Worry not as we have tons of stellar snow-free winter hiking trails near Vancouver. Personally, I prefer to save the vista hikes for clear days and use the rainy days to explore the many low elevation hikes I wouldn’t normally make time for on sunny days. There are so many simple forest hikes but even in socked-in weather there are lots of great trails with a special feature destination draw like a waterfall, cave, bridge or abandoned wreckage.
So without further ado, below are 8 destination hikes perfect for rainy weather.
This hike in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park in North Vancouver is an easy but a long one. The trail is 14 km round trip gaining about 400 metres of elevation taking you out to a gorgeous 30 ft waterfall. The trail is accessible by public transit and is dog-friendly.
This is a super easy trail in Coquitlam leading you to a gorgeous waterfall. The hike is 6.5 km gaining 100 metres of elevation including exploring the little canyon to the right up above the falls. The hike is dog-friendly and public transit-accessible. Make sure to have waterproof footwear right now as the trail is very muddy and crosses numerous rushing streams!
Big Cedar and Kennedy Falls
This is another great rainy day hike in North Van, but don’t listen to other trail reports about this hike. It does not, I repeat it does NOT, have “minimal elevation gain.” A lot of trail sites stupidly (pardon my rudeness but it’s so stupid and they should know better!) use the term “elevation gain” incorrectly and instead tell you the change in elevation. As a hiker, what you care about is cumulative elevation gain – the sum of every gain in elevation throughout the trail. This trail not crazy hard but is most definitely not easy as other trail reporters will have you believe with their incorrect wording. This trail has a whopping 750 metres of cumulative elevation gain throughout the 10 km round trip. Also note this trails markers are crazy hard to follow making it easy to get lost in the surrounding mountain bike trails. I would highly recommend using a navigational aid. See my blog post “Awesome Hiking Apps” for some help.
This is a short and easy West Vancouver hike to a pretty waterfall. It’s only 2.6 km round trip gaining 110 metres.
This is a super short trail but if you’re driving out from Vancouver, you can pair it with one of the other zillion awesome hikes in Mission. The hike (if you can even call it that) is less than 1 km round trip that actually has minimal elevation gain (40 m).
Kanaka Creek Cliff Falls
These falls are so unique, rushing through a sandstone cave. This is a pretty little hike in Maple Ridge, only 4 km round trip with minimal elevation gain.
Ladner Creek Trestle
This is a very short but steep hike along the historic Kettle Valley Railway to a collapsed tunnel and abandoned trestle bridge.
Horne Lake Caves
Up for a trip out to the island? Check out the Horne Lake Caves between Port Alberni and Qualicum Bay. There is an easy 1.2 km trail from the parking lot to the caves, or you can hike the 15.2 km Horne Lake Trail gaining 300 metres. Learn more on the Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park BC Parks website. There are great cave tours you can join. Learn more here.
For more details about all of these and other hiking trails, visit hikesnearvancouver.ca/hiking-trails/all-hikes/
More Tips For Enjoyable Wet Weather Hiking
Make your wet weather hiking more enjoyable by getting the right gear. Most of us are on a budget but I highly recommend investing in good quality equipment. It will cost more upfront but it will save you boatloads in the long term. Good stores and quality brands typically have satisfaction guaranteed policies. Also, this is your safety we’re talking about. There is nothing worse than being prepared with all the necessary gear only to have it fail due to poor quality like a cheap headlamp or a not-actually-waterproof (aka not Gore-tex) jacket.
Equipment I would highly recommend for wet weather hiking:
Waterproof boots or socks
There is nothing worse than soggy feet when you’re out on a hike. Do yourself a favour and invest in a good pair of waterproof boots. I’m currently loving my Moab FST Mid Waterproof boots which are currently on sale for $133 down from $190! Atmosphere has a great range of waterproof hiking boots you can see linked here, including the top brands like Merrell, Salomon, Keen, Lowa, Vasque and Scarpa.
Not into boots? Wearing gore-tex socks is a great alternative keeping you dry in any footwear.
Gore-tex jacket with hood
Having a fully waterproof jacket is one of the most important pieces of equipment a hiker needs for all seasons. Rain can hit at any time of the year and a wet body means a cold body. Not only is that uncomfortable, it can also get dangerous if you’re out in the wilderness, freezing cold, and you still have many hours til you’re back at the car or camp. Invest in Gore-tex. It is the only material guaranteed to keep you 100% dry. I am loving my Arc’teryx Zeta LT jacket. See all of the Gore-tex jackets at Atmosphere linked here by awesome brands like Arc’teryx, The North Face, and Marmot.
Merino wool socks
Keeping your feet dry, cushioned and blister-free is so important to enjoy a day out hiking – and this all starts with the right socks. My favourite hiking socks are merino wool from Icebreaker and micro crew by Darn Tough (which were recently rated “the best hiking socks” by The Wirecutter).
Waterproof backpack or waterproof cover for backpack
Most backpacks are only water-resistant, which is usually not sufficient for the amount of rain we get. No one wants to eat soggy trail mix, or put on their soaked down jacket when they get cold. Make sure you have a waterproof cover for your backpack or invest in a waterproof daypack like the Sea To Sky Pack.
If you’re like me, not so into wearing waterproof pants, gaiters are a great option. They’re awesome for snowshoeing, but also really helpful on wet, muddy trails. They’re like waterproof legwarmers, protecting your feet and shins from the elements. I’m currently loving my Rab gaiters but lots of great companies make them. Linked here are a ton of great ones by companies like Outdoor Research, McKinley, Black Diamond and Hillsound.
Many people don’t know that a lot of headlamps aren’t waterproof. If you’re doing a lot of night hiking it’s especially important to use a waterproof headlamp so the water doesn’t seep in, corroding the batteries and leaving you lost in the darkness. One of the best waterproof headlamps is the Fenix Flashlights HL60R currently selling for $98.99 on Amazon.ca. This baby has a whopping 950 lumen output from one rechargeable battery as well as a Limited Lifetime Guarantee. Check out this article by REI for some advice on how to choose the right headlamp.
When it’s wet out, we tend to get a lot colder than normal and our extremities are the first to feel it. Protect those fingers by bringing a pair waterproof gloves. Even if you don’t end up wearing them, they’re small and light to easily carry in your backpack.
No matter where you venture out, be sure to always carry The 10 Essentials with you.
Looking for people to hike with? Join our Facebook group “Group Hikes Near Vancouver”
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