If you live in Vancouver, you’re acutely attuned to the changing of the seasons. The cold, wet winters let up slowly: sunny days that stretch upwards of 10 degrees start cropping up, the bike lanes begin filling with winter’s hibernating cyclists and English Bay Beach starts getting a little more, um, lit.
There’s a reason why summer is so hotly anticipated in Van. Long, bright days, just the right amount of heat and a virtually endless wealth of natural playgrounds keep the city and surrounding area close to the hearts of residents and visitors alike. The area is projected to enjoy a milder and drier summer than usual this year, which bodes well for those looking to pound trails across the Pacific Coast.
Of Vancouver’s many naturally occurring advantages, the lush, magnificent mountains that hem in the city top the list for many folks. They’re not just eye-candy: they contain some of the country’s best and most accessible hiking trails for folks of all skill levels. With that said, here’s a crash course in conquering British Columbia’s most wondrous summer trails!
Just like every trail is different, so is every hiker. But there are a few old standbys to check off your list. Trail snacks and refreshments are sacred things; they’ll provide the sustenance and energy required to commune with nature on an all-day walkabout in the woods. Additionally, be conscious of your wardrobe. Even if it’s a sunny day out, a good rule to follow is ‘dress for the best and pack for the worst’ — especially on the “Wet Coast.”
The must-haves of hiking will depend on which trail you’re tackling, who you’re with and what kind of experience you’re chasing, but these general suggestions will help you keep the bases covered for a solid, well-rounded day outside of the city:
• Protein and carb-rich snacks
• A half litre of water for every hour of hiking
• A cooler packed with feel-good snacks (and a victory bevvy like SoCIAL Lite Vodka’s Grapefruit Pomelo or Peach Spiked Iced Tea!)
• Sunscreen and a hat
• Rain jacket or poncho
• Map and compass
• First aid kit
Now, where to go…
You might not find the Grinch on Mount Crumpit, but you will find stunning views of the Squamish area. The Crumpit Woods trail begins from a side street not far from the famed Stawamus Chief; but while the Chief boasts crowds all summer, Crumpit is a hidden gem — which means you’ll enjoy a bit more solitude on the trail. The entire loop takes about seven hours to complete, but if you start at the Raven’s Plateau subdivision and hike the Deep Ends trail, it’ll only take you one hour and 45 minutes to reach the summit.
Conflict Lake is an excellent summertime jaunt that will take you through the beautiful Callaghan Valley just west of Whistler. This is a there-and-back trail with little incline that runs 12-kilometres through valleys and forest with fantastic views of nearby Powder Mountain.
St. Mark’s Summit
St. Mark’s Summit is a Vancouver classic for good reason. The 11km trek takes about five hours and offers spectacular views of Howe Sound and Gulf Islands like Bowen. The reward-to-effort ratio is quite favourable for this intermediate hike.
Garibaldi Lake is another fan favourite, wedged in the wonderland between Whistler and Squamish. The hike to the lake is arduous, spanning 18km for a round-trip, but the turquoise glacier waters of Garibaldi are worth the sweat. The lake allows campers and makes a stellar home base from which to tackle countless other hikes in the region.
You’ve probably heard of the Grouse Grind — a literal grind of sheer incline on a stairway up Grouse Mountain — but nearby Crown Mountain, a challenging summit itself, offers the same but better: views of the city along with a panorama of North Shore mountains after a true hiking experience. You’ll access Crown Mountain via the Grouse Mountain Skyride — unless you dare attempt the Grind as a warm-up for Crown. This is a difficult, nearly 10km trail, so perhaps plan to make your attempt after bagging some intermediate hikes.
Photo: Social Lite
When you finish that hike and are taking in the view, there’s nothing quite like cracking open a victory bevvy to celebrate. Our drink of choice these days? SoCIAL LITE Vodka. Their new soda flavours, field strawberry and blood orange, are a must-try —and the best part is, there’s zero sugar. If you’re more of a spiked iced tea person, their new line of iced teas (which come in unsweetened Lemon and Peach) will hit the spot just as well.