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April 17, 2022
TOP 5 SNOWSHOE TRAILS NEAR VANCOUVER B.C
British Columbia is a mecca for a large variety of outdoor activities. With unlimited mountain ranges to explore and breathtaking scenery, it is easy to see why it’s a world class destination for the outdoor enthusiast. I am fortunate enough to be able to call this province home and on average I am able to spend 3-4 months of the year exploring British Columbia’s backcountry. From finding new fishing lakes, to exploring new hiking trails in the summer and winter seasons, its truly what our family lives for. For the adventurer that wants to snowshoe off the well used trails, there is endless terrain to tour. Just be sure (for your safety) you pack the appropriate gear and let someone know where you are going. As well, it is important to understand and check the avalanche risks in the area.
With 60% of B.C.’s population living in the Lower Mainland area, I thought it would be helpful to make a list of the top 5 snowshoe trails that are easily accomplished as a day trip within this area. I will be following up in another blog on the top 5 snowshoe trails in B.C’s interior. But for now, here is a list of the top 5 marked snowshoe trails near Vancouver in no particular order.
Mt Seymour Discovery Trails
Distance: 2.3-4.5 km depending on route taken
Time: 45min to 2.5hr depending on route taken
Living only an hour from these trails makes it very convenient for a family outing. These trails would be classed as easy as the terrain is very mild with very little elevation gain. The trails are forested and depending on the route chosen will take you around some small lakes. These trails require a trail pass which costs $15 per person. Be aware that with these trails, as with all trails close to the North Shore, they can tend to get a lot busier on weekends and holidays.
Dog Mountain Trail
Distance: 5 km return, 150 meters elevation change
Time: 2-3 hours return
This is another trail on Mt. Seymour and is the most popular trail on the North Shore. With the stunning view from the top its easy to see why.
Weather permitting this trail offers a spectacular view of the city and ocean at the top and is well worth the hike. This trail is not looped like the discovery trails so you will be taking the same trail back. With the amount of traffic this trail gets it would be best to avoid weekends and holidays if possible. Dogs are allowed on leash and there is no trail pass required.
Cypress Mountain Hollyburn Ridge
Distance: multiple routes offering 11km trail system
This 11km trail system is located in the North Shore mountains within half an hour drive from Vancouver. These trails run through the subalpine meadows of Hollyburn Ridge.
There are routes for everyone from beginner to intermediate. A trail pass is required which costs $18 for adults and $12 for youth. Be sure to stop at the Hollyburn Lodge located on the trail and warm up with a coffee or hot chocolate!
Distance: 300 km network of snowshoe trails
For those that want to get away from the crowds and looking for solitude, Manning Park offers a massive network of trails with varying skill level. Be sure to stop in at the Nordic Centre to pick up your $10 trail pass as well as get a trail map. Dogs are allowed on leash. There is everything from easy flat terrain such as the Lightning Lakes loop, offering a scenic lake trail, to more challenging mountain climbs, with spectacular mountain top views. Overall, there is more light fluffy snow than what you would experience on the North Shore mountains. It’s about a 3 hour drive from Vancouver making it a much longer drive than the North Shore mountains. Unlike the North Shore mountains, Manning Park offers cabin rentals with access to the Loon Lagoon indoor facility offering an indoor pool, sauna, steam rooms and a hot tub. This is the perfect way to relax after a full day snowshoeing. Making it an overnighter would be a great way of exploring this amazing trail network in the heart of the Cascade Mountains.
It’s hard to mention winter activities near the Lower Mainland and not mention Whistler. Whistler is one of the top vacation destinations in Canada and when it comes to some of the best snowshoeing trails in Canada it does not disappoint. You can either do fully guided tours with knowledgeable guides or venture out on your own self guided tours. There is everything from easy 30 minute snowshoe trips to 8 hour heart pumping hill climbs.
The signage and maintenance of these trails will be minimal in comparison to the previously mentioned trails routes. I highly recommend stopping at the Whistler Visitor Centre for information and trail maps. Depending on the route you choose to explore, a day pass may be required.