As the weather starts to warm up in spring, it’s time to put away your skis and lace up your hiking boots. But unfortunately there’s still snow hanging around in the mountains so savvy hikers stick to lower elevation trails. Here are three great North Vancouver hikes for spring that meet the Goldilocks test: not too easy, not too hard. These moderate trails are just right! Plus, there are options for taking a shorter route or extending your trip.
Reminder - be prepared for your hike. Read our blog How to Get Started Hiking and review the 10 essentials to take with you on a hike.
Cedar Mills and Headwaters Loop (pictured above)
This hike heads through beautiful second growth forest before heading back downstream alongside the rushing waters of Lynn Creek. On the upper portion of the loop there are numous wooden bridges over fern-strewn gullies. Once you are beside the creek on the lower portion, watch for side trails heading towards hidden rocky beaches. Throughout the hike be sure to watch for artifacts left over from decades-past logging.
Directions: From the Lynn Headwaters Regional Park parking lot at the end of Lynn Valley road, take the Lynn Loop trail, then the Headwaters and Cedar Mills Trails to make a loop.
Trail Stats: 8km loop, 150m elevation gain, 4 hours
Shorter Option: Skip the Headwaters Trail and turn left to stay on Lynn Loop for a 5km hike that will take about 2 hours.
Extend Your Trip: Continue on the Headwaters Trail to Norvan Falls. This will add an extra 6km and 2 hours to your hike.
Capilano Pacific Trail
Follow the Capilano River from its mouth all the way up to the Cleveland Dam in Capilano River Regional Park on the Capilano Pacific Trail. The trail starts at the ocean, then climbs steadily (but never too steeply) into the forest. Soon the walls of the river canyon start to close around you and you can hear the roar of the water. Eventually the trail reaches the top of the Cleveland Dam. Peer down at the spillway, turn around to admire of the view of the Lions, then retrace your steps back to the start.
Directions: Start at Ambleside Park in West Vancouver. Head east along the beach and then follow the path under the train bridge towards Park Royal Mall. Follow the trail signs for the Capilano Pacific Trail under highway 1, then all the way up the canyon to the dam.
Trail Stats: 15km round trip, 250m elevation gain, 4.5 hours
Shorter Option: Skip the bottom portion of the trail and park at the salmon hatchery in Capilano River Regional Park. Explore the trails just above and below the dam for a round trip of just a few kilometers.
Extend Your Trip: Instead of turning around at the dam, walk over it then descend on the other side via the Palisades trail to the hatchery. Take the Coho Loop and the Pipeline trail back to the Capilano Pacific Trail. This will add 2km to your hike.
The Big Cedar
This hike takes you through lush rainforest to visit a giant cedar tree. This is a rugged route with some steep, slippery sections and a few unbridged creek crossings, so be sure to wear good hiking boots. Follow the trail markers carefully, as there are a few confusing sections. The destination for this hike is a giant old growth cedar. It’s over 600 years old and has a diameter of nearly 4 meters. Spend some time admiring this ancient beauty, then retrace your steps.
Directions: Start at the top of Mountain Highway. Walk through the gate and up the gravel road, passing mountain bike trails branching off on both sides. When the road switchbacks to the left, look for the Cedar trail going off the road to the right. Follow this trail for a few minutes, staying right when the Kirkford Mountain bike trail comes in from the left. Soon you will be on the main Cedar trail and there won’t be any more junctions.
Trail stats: 8km round trip, 100m elevation gain, 3 hours
Extend Your Trip: For the adventurous, you can carry on past the Big Cedar on an increasingly rough trail to visit Kennedy Falls. This adds another 2km and 2 hours to your hike.
Taryn Eyton is a Vancouver-based hiker, adventure traveller and blogger. You can find her on the trails of Vancouver’s North Shore on weeknights and camping in the backcountry of Southwestern B.C. on weekends. Follow Taryn’s adventures at HappiestOutdoors.ca.