It’s March already and this is the first snowshoeing trip we’ve done in Vancouver this season. The weather is partly to blame. We were looking to do more snowshoeing around Christmas but the mountains were nearly bare.
After a few recent dumps, the local mountains are ready for snowy fun. Emily and I snowshoed, while Dan and Steve put skins on their skis. It was a lot like our previous trip up to Black Mountain – the snow was falling heavily, the views from the peak were nonexistent, and the trail was gloriously uncrowded so we could crazy carpet down. The only difference snowshoeing with skiiers is they’re faster on the flat and downhill sections. On the way down, the skiers use the Cypress Mountain ski runs, while the snowshoers use the trail.
Cypress Mountain has changed where you pick up the free backcountry passes needed to use trails. Instead of picking them up from staff at the main chalet, they are available from a self-serve station in a room in the old chalet (a few hundred meters away). It’s a bit confusing but it is well signed.
I tracked our trip with GPS on Strava. The map shows how the trail parallels the ski runs and then circles the plateau before descending.
Description: Black Mountain is the fourth snowshoeing trip we’ve done this winter on the North Shore of Vancouver. Much like Hollyburn Mountain and Mount Seymour, Black Mountain is easy to access, free to hike, and offers lots of snow to play in. The biggest difference is Black Mountain is a lot less crowded than Vancouver’s other snowshoeing trails.
From the top of Black Mountain there are great views of Vancouver to the south and Howe Sound to the north-west. When we were there, the snow was falling so heavily you couldn’t see more then 20 feet in front of you and we were almost breaking fresh trail. I’d love to go back on a clear day. The hike was a workout, but slightly easier then the Hollyburn trail. With all the fresh snow, we didn’t get a view but had a blast crazy carpeting on the way down. Usually most snowshoeing trails are too crowded to slide down without taking out a few people, but here we pretty much had the mountain to ourselves. The avalanche risk was considerable, but the trail goes through fairly safe terrain.
The hike starts at the Cypress Mountain main, alpine parking lot (ignore the signs for the snowshoe area). Near the chalet, head into the ski area and follow the orange-tipped poles. The Cypress staff checking passes will give you a Backcountry ticket for free.Backcountry passes are available at a self-serve station in the old chalet. Past the Eagle Express chair lift, there is a sign announcing the start of the Backcountry access area and the Black Mountain Plateau Trail. The first part of the trail parallels the Fork ski run and is steep (which makes it lots of fun to crazy carpet on the way down). After the climb, there is a mostly flat Black Mountain Loop Trail which takes about an hour to complete.
I haven’t found any good maps of the Black Mountain trail. This is the GPS map my phone tracked – unfortunately we didn’t finish the loop, got lost once, and my battery died before we made it down, but it should give you an idea of the route. On our second trip up Black Mountain in 2014, I got a better GPS Map.
I highly recommend the Black Mountain trail, mainly because it isn’t as crowded as the other snowshoeing trails in the region.
Transportation: There is no Translink bus service to Cypress Mountain, but there is a private Cypress Coach that will take you up from Vancouver for $23 round trip. As long as you are not going alone, it probably makes more sense to drive. The drive will only take 45 minutes and parking at the top is free, just head to the alpine/downhill area to start the hike. Directions from Google Maps.