Hiking Near Vancouver City
Vancouver is a city made for outdoor lovers. From the front doors of the office blocks, you can reach remote beaches, dense evergreen forests, and backcountry peaks in a matter of hours. Exploring these trails on the weekends is a popular pastime for all the locals. However, spending your days finding different hikes near Vancouver city is also recommended for travellers wishing to see the wild side of British Columbia.
Within the city limits, there are plenty of trails to keep you occupied. Bucolic parks mingle with Pacific coast beaches right in the heart of Vancouver! If you spread the net a little wider, you can even find yourself in the depths of the Rockies, trekking through isolated valleys and exploring the temperate rainforests that line the mountains. To ensure you don’t miss out, here are some of the best hikes near Vancouver city.
Length: 1.8 km
Elevation Gain: 777 metres
Where better to start our list of hikes near Vancouver city than the Grouse Grind? This trail is a rite of passage for anyone who calls Vancouver their home. Although short in length, this trail covers a brutal elevation. The steep incline will have your legs burning from start to finish but the vista that greets you from the summit is worth every drop of sweat.
After reaching the peak, you can pop into a bar for a celebratory drink alongside your fellow Vancouverites. Then you have a decision to make: the easy way back on the Grouse Mountain Gondola or you can grit your teeth and retrace your steps down “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster”. Bear in mind that this trail is closed in winter, and it gets very busy on weekends in summer.
Stanley Park Seawall Path
Length: 9.3 km
Elevation Gain: 69 metres
Stanley Park is Vancouver’s answer to Central Park. In some ways, it is an improvement! With magnificent views across Vancouver Harbour and Burrard Inlet, it’s a trail not to be missed. Pretty much all year round, this is one of the most popular hikes near Vancouver city as it is well paved and signposted for multi-season use. On this trail, you will wind through pine forests and meadows accompanied by the smell of the ocean and magnificent views across the harbour.
Stanley Park is also the site of an aquarium, pleasure lake, lagoon, amphitheatre, and numerous other attractions. However, for many hikers, walking around the seawall is the main highlight. Throughout your journey, you will see container ships drifting beneath Lion’s Gate Bridge, totem poles, lofty mountains, the Vancouver city skyline, beaches loaded with driftwood, and maybe even a coyote or two!
Queen Elizabeth Park
Length: 2.3 km
Elevation Gain: 51 metres
In the suburbs of southern Vancouver, you’ll find another of the best hikes near Vancouver city. Although this trail isn’t physically demanding, it allows you to immerse yourself in a serene nature area with some city viewpoints to boot. It’s also located in a trendy part of the city which has a great range of accommodation options.
If you are interested in birds or botany, check out the Quarry Gardens. Alternatively, pop into the Bloedel Conservatory to experience a fully-functioning greenhouse and avian sanctuary. Queen Elizabeth Park is a great place for family walks and picnics on a sunny day. It’s also a good place for a short hike before heading over to Main St for a craft beer or cup of coffee.
Acadia and Wreck Beach
Length: 8.9 km
Elevation Gain: 103 metres
For beach hikes near Vancouver city, head out to UBC and West Point Grey. Jericho Beach is a fantastic spot for watersports activities, and you can take a walk along Spanish Banks for some brilliant views across the Burrard Inlet. However, for a more remote trail, continue west to Acadia Beach.
Here you’ll find massive lumps of driftwood washed onto the shore with distant views over to Bowen Island and Cypress Provincial Park. After crossing rivers and ambling through patches of marshland and shingle, you’ll reach Wreck Beach. If you’ve been searching for a place to swim, this is it! Although, don’t be shocked if you spot naked swimmers around here as it’s a common hangout for nudists and counter-culture types.
After your swim, if you still have time on your hands, visit the Museum of Anthropology to learn about the astonishing First Nations history in Canada. Alternatively, go bird watching in Pacific Spirit Regional Park before walking through the old-growth forest on your way back to the city.
Lighthouse Park Viewpoint Loop
Length: 5.8 km
Elevation Gain: 267 metres
During the winter, thousands of drivers depart from Vancouver and make their way towards the winter sports wonderland of Whistler. They follow the Sea to Sky Highway, a spectacular road that curls around the Vancouver coastline before cutting up to the mountains. However, in the summer, there is just as much reason to explore this route for some wonderful hikes near Vancouver city.
One such trail is around Lighthouse Park. This path will take you through famous British Columbia lodgepole pine forests and along a coastal trail which offers a different perspective of Vancouver City from afar. It is an excellent spot for wildlife watching as it has a lower footfall than the parks in the city proper. As a bonus, you can also visit the Point Atkinson Lighthouse, along with many other secluded beaches and coves.
Other Hikes Near Vancouver City
If you’re looking for something a little more ambitious, head one hour north of Vancouver to the rock climbing town of Squamish. Amidst the craft breweries and timber mills, you’ll find some fantastic hiking trails. Try venturing up the granite monolith known as the Stawamus Chief to complete the Three Peaks trail.
A little further south you’ll find the Cypress Provincial Park. Saint Marks Summit and Black Mountain offer a range of top-tier hikes near Vancouver city. Last but certainly not least, you have Mount Seymour Provincial Park which is an excellent area for trekking and backcountry camping in the summer.
I’m so glad I came upon your post. I’m actually heading to Vancouver in July, and I should have a little extra time to explore. Not sure I would take on the Grouse Grind if there’s an option to just ride to the top! (But I guess it would be good exercise!) I’ll definitely check out the Stanley Park Seawall Path and hope for some sunshine for some awesome photos. I could go for some wildlife viewing on the Lighthouse Park, too. Can you explore the lighthouse as well?
This is a great selection of hiking close to Vancouver! Every outdoor enthusiast will enjoy being here. My dream hiking location would have both a forest and an ocean, like the Stanley Park Seawall Path. The Lighthouse Park Viewpoint Loop is also beautiful, in my opinion.
This is a great post for out-of-town (out of country) visitors like me, who like to hike during vacation. You sorted the trails that can’t be missed during a visit to Vancouver. I like the Stanley Park Seawall Path with its diverse points of interest along the trail. But I also like the challenge of Grouse Grind. I surely won’t miss this one. Probably taking a gondola down. Haha.
Your post has me ready to lace up my hiking boots and hit the trails! From the challenging Grouse Grind to the serene and easier Lighthouse Park Viewpoint Loop, it seems like Vancouver has something for every hiker. And the fact that many of these hikes are easily accessible from the city is a huge bonus. I appreciate your detailed trail recommendations. I honestly didn’t realize there was so much natural beauty that surrounds Vancouver. Can’t wait to tackle these hikes and soak up the stunning scenery when I visit the city one day.
I am yet to visit Canada, but as someone who loves hiking and the great outdoors, these trails all look great to me. Having never seen a totem pole in real life, I would love the Stanley Park trail and also to sail high above the hills on the Grouse Grind gondola ride looks like fun. With scenery in Vancouver as cool as this you can’t go wrong whichever hike you choose.
I love that there are so many hikes near Vancouver City, making it so easy to escape in the nature when you need some “me” time. The Grouse Grind sounds like a great hike. I would do it the other way around, take the gondola up, and walk it down. It sounds easier this way. I would definitely like to explore Acadia and Wreck Beach, especially that you can both walk and swim here. It’s perfect combination for a relaxing day out. Stanley Park Seawall Path sounds pretty cool, if you love ships. I’ve never walked on a path that followed a harbour, with a view towards the container ships coming in and out.
I love Vancouver city and Stanley Park! The Stanley Park Seawall Path is one of the best hikes. There are other attractions to check out at Stanley Park as well. Grouse Grind sounds tough meant for more seasoned and fitter hikers. The trail around Lighthouse Park looks interesting plus wildlife watching adds to the attraction. Must visit Vancouver once again and check out all the hikes. 🙂
Liivng in theplains with a semi-arid geography, anything with trees and trails is exciting. If I get a chance, I would go for the seawall trail, Queen Elizabeth Park and the lighthouse viewpoint loop. I have developed a deep inetrest in birds, so seeing the avian sanctuary would be such a pleasure. I would also enjoy the sound of water and the vistas of land on the shore. It all sounds so dreamlike.
Linda (LD Holland)
We visit Vancouver regularly and have kids who love to hike with us. So it was good to check out your list of hikes near Vancouver for some new options for return visits. Despite having it on our list for each visit, we have yet to go up on Grouse. And I am not sure we could even manage the Grouse Grind if we got there. We have not yet done the Acadia and Wreck Beach walk yet. But did finally do the Lighthouse Park – even if we did not do all the hiking paths. Good suggestions for a return trip.