Tag Archives: day hike

Greater Vancouver Hike – Sea to Summit

Upper Shannon Falls Viewpoint
Date: July 1, 2014

Location: Squamish, BC (map)

Description: When a private company decided to build a gondola next to my favourite day hike, I was worried that a great recreational area would be turned into a tourist trap. Luckily, other than greater difficulty finding parking now, the changes have been overwhelmingly positive. The Sea to Sky Gondola opens up a lot of new recreational opportunities, including a great new one-way hike under the gondola from the base to the summit (the Sea to Summit Trail), plus it provides access to a number of hikes from the top.

The Sea to Summit Trail will inevitably be compared to the Grouse Grind, but they are nothing alike. The Grind is an gruelling workout, the Sea to Summit is a real day hike, with fabulous viewpoints, varied terrain, and spots to take enjoyable breaks. The only similarities with the Grind are the licensed patio at the top and the gondola waiting to bring you back to the bottom.

Sea to Summit Trailhead Crowded Chief Trail Passing under the Gondola Hiking Chain
The Sea to Summit trail follows a number of existing trails. The first trail marker is at the gondola base, but most hikers will start at the Chief or Shannon Falls. The trail follows the Lower Shannon Falls trail, climbs the staircases at the beginning of The Chief trail, and ascends the Upper Shannon Falls trail (trail map). The Chief trail is the steepest part of the hike and can get quite congested. Once the trail branches off to Upper Shannon Falls, it becomes less busy. The second half of the hike is virgin trail with more exposure to the sun. There are two options for getting to the summit, you can stay on the Sea to Summit trail or take Wrinkle Rock. We took Wrinkle Rock, which seemed like the more popular route. It is shorter but involves some steep, rocky sections with chains to help pull yourself up.
Old Logging Road Exposed to the Sun Sea to Summit Rope Climbing Finished the Hike

There are two great places to take a break near the midpoint of the hike. At the top of Shannon Falls there’s a spot where you can relax near the creek. 15 minutes further, there’s an excellent viewpoint of Howe Sound.
Upper Shannon Falls Rest Howe Sound View

Sea to Summit Elevation MapThe Sea to Summit is a moderately difficult hike. There are some long, steep sections that will get the heart pumping and a few areas where chains are needed to pull yourself up some rocky areas. The trail covers 6.6 km with nearly 1000 meters of elevation gain. We completed it in just under 4 hours, moving at a leisurely pace with lots of breaks. This isn’t the Grind, so you don’t have to feel like you’re racing up, although a few trail runners did pass us.

There’s a number of things to do once you get to the summit. Most hikers will want to head straight to the Summit Lodge, where there are washrooms, refreshments, and food. There’s also an amazing view from the patio, a suspension bridge, and a number of viewing platforms. Don’t expect to find lumberjack or birds of prey shows – it isn’t nearly as commercialized as Grouse Mountain (at least not yet).
Sea to Summit Patio Sea to Summit Suspension Bridge Suspension Bridge Posing

The summit provides access to several other hiking trails – ranging from some short and family friendly strolls to backcountry access to hardcore trails like Al’s Habrich Ridge Trail. The only one we did was the quick Panorama Trail. It’s more of a walk than a hike, but worth exploring for the epic Chief Viewing Platform, which gives you a sweeping view of Howe Sound and all three peaks of The Chief. It costs $10 to take the gondola down.
The Chief Viewing Platform

More trail descriptions on the Sea to Sky website and on Trailpeak.

Time: 5 hours if you want to enjoy yourself
Hiking the Sea to Summit Trail (including Wrinkle Rock): 3 hours
Lunch Break at Upper Shannon Falls: 30 minutes
Relaxing at the Summit: 30 minutes
Panorama Trail: 15 minutes (plus 15 minutes for pictures at The Chief Viewing Platform)
Gondola Descent: 15 minutes
Hike to the Parking Lot: 15 minutes

Transportation: It is only a 60 minute drive from Vancouver to the trail head. You can park at either Shannon Falls or The Chief parking lots. Avoid the Sea to Summit Gondola parking lot, as it has a 3 hour time limit. Directions.

Pictures: Sea to Summit Hike 2014
The Chief
Sea to Summit Hike Busy Chief on Canada Day Sea to Summit 1/4 Mark Sea to Summit Gondola With the Soft Rocks Rhea Hiking Upper Shannon Falls Jig Upper Shannon Falls Tight Squeeze Upper Shannon Falls Viewpoint At Upper Shannon Falls Lightning Strike Survivor View of the Gondola Narrow Trail False Summit Virgin Trail Hiking with Dogs Sea to Summit Gondola Sea to Summit Gondola Please Leash Your Dog End of Wrinkle Rock Sea to Summit Gondola Terminal Finished the Hike Sea to Summit Peak Area Beautiful Terminal Building Suspension Bridge Sea to Summit Hiking Board Chief Viewpoint Howe Sound Sea to Summit Gondola Sea to Summit Gondola Gondola Descent Wayward Hikers The Chief Sea to Summit Gondola View Sea to Summit Gondola

Greater Vancouver Hike – Brohm Lake

Green Carpet
Date: April 20, 2014

Location: Squamish, BC (map)

Description: Over the Easter long weekend we were looking for a good mountain hike that would be snow free. We found a great one in the Brohm Lake Interpretative Forest, just north of Squamish. It was unbelievable how green and vibrant the forest is, with layers of moss below towering cedar and fir trees. The area was logged until the 1970s and the stumps of giants can be found along the trails.

There’s no mountain to ascend, but there is still quite a bit of ups and downs and some great mountain views (assuming it isn’t cloudy). Be prepared to work your leg muscles. We stopped at one of the viewpoints along the Cheekamus Trail for lunch. It had an open view of the mountains and river below. 10 minutes further along the trail there were two spots with picnic benches, but the view wasn’t as good. Here’s a GPS map and elevation profile of our hike, and a good trail description from Vancouvertrails.com (check out the comments for reports on recent conditions).

Total Time: We spent 4 1/2 hours doing a large loop clockwise loop that covered several trails (Bridge, Cheekamus Loop, High Trail, Tantalus View, and Brohm Lake). You can make your hike longer or shorter by picking different trails.

Transportation: Drive just past Squamish and Alice Lake Provincial Park, 75 minutes from Vancouver.

Pictures: Brohm Lake 2014
Brohm Lake Interpretative Forest Map Brohm Lake Bracken Fern Brohm Lake Forest Windy Path Viewpoint Hiking Lunch Spooky Trunk Picnic Table River Valley Helping Nature Green Beast Observing the Beast Busted Stairs Strawberry Head 1960s Viewpoint

Greater Vancouver Snowshoe – Return to Black Mountain

No View
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.

Trail Descent SplitAfter 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.

Backcountry PassesCypress 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.
Black Mountain Plateau Trail Map

Cypress Backcountry Black Mountain Plateau Trail Emily on Black Mountain Backcountry Skiing on Black Mountain Skiing and Snowshoeing Backcountry Balancing Act Crazy Carpet In a Tree Well

El Salvador Resort Vacation

Beach Chairs at Sunset
El Salvador is a slice of paradise. The weather is perfect, the water is warm, the food is good, and the locals are friendly. The tourism industry is still developing but it gives the country an authentic flavour.

Every winter my Dad escapes the cold clutches of Winnipeg and organizes a group trip somewhere warm. This year it was El Salvador and Emily and I decided to join them. All-inclusive resorts are not our preferred way to travel, but we thought it would be good to spend some time with my parents and El Salvador seemed more adventurous than the normal Mexico, Cuba, Dominican destinations.

The Surprise
Turtle Family
My mother didn’t know we were coming. I didn’t know my sisters were coming. My dad had a web of secrets he managed to keep until we all arrived in Toronto the night before our flight to El Salvador. I was shocked when I bumped into Kelsey and Matt in the hotel lobby a few hours before my parents arrived. We schemed and joked about how to surprise Mom.

We managed to sneak into her hotel room and hide in the bed and behind the window curtains. When Mom came in, she dropped her bags and left before we could get out of our hiding places. I was still under the bed covers when I heard Matt whisper, “I think she left”. I was about to chase her down in the hallway when I heard the door opening again. This time Mom entered, heard us giggling, and called out: “Hello? Is there someone in my room?”.

Mom might hate surprises, but we enjoyed the look on her face when she realized that we were having a big family vacation.

The Resort
Poolside Lounging
We stayed at the Royal Decameron Salinitas, one of the few all-inclusive resorts in El Salvador. It sprawls along the Pacific Ocean with several pools and restaurants. It takes about 20 minutes to walk from one end to the other. The rooms were all beautiful with ocean views.

In the morning, I would get up early and go running. The security guards at the front gate had no problem letting me in and out, and I never worried about my safety. Even at 7 am, it was hot and humid and I was soaked in sweat by the end of my runs.

The spa at the resort was surprisingly good and well-priced. We had massages and also tried the Temazcal, a free 30 minute spiritual ritual inside a Mayan sweat lodge.

One interesting thing about this resort is that the majority of the guests were from other Central American countries (especially on the weekend). There were a sizable group of Canadians, but we were definitely outnumbered by families from Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and even El Salvador. As a result, most of the entertainment was in Spanish and a lot of the staff only spoke Spanish. The tours were geared at Canadians with English/French speaking guides, but on the resort there was no forgetting you were in a Latin American country. I liked that.

The Food
El Salvador BreakfastThe food on the resort was good, but it was difficult keeping to a vegan diet. Luckily I’m willing to be flexible when I’m on vacation, so I ate vegetarian instead. I just couldn’t resist the fresh papusas, stuffed with a refried beans and cheese. Every meal had fresh fruit and vegetables, salsa, corn tortillas, and some kind of bean dish (although you had to watch out for random bits of meat). The one thing I couldn’t find was fresh mango or coconut.

Beach Day and Boogieboarding
Waves Collage
The beach in front of the resort is protected by a large breakwater, so there aren’t any large waves. The resort has another property 30 minutes away (accessible by a bus shuttle) with a long sandy beach. We spent one day there catching waves in the ocean, boogieboarding, playing ping-pong, and relaxing. If I wasn’t worried about burning in the sun, I could have spent all day in the ocean.

Volcano Hike
Cerro Verde Panorama
The best excursion we did was a day long hike of the Santa Ana volcano in Cerro Verde National Park. The hike started in a forested jungle and ended along the crater of Santa Ana with a view down to the pool at the bottom. The 8 km hike with 420 meters of elevation gain took us 4 1/2 hours including a 30 minute break at the top for lunch (map and elevation profile). For Emily and I it was a nice, light hike. For my parents it pushed their physical limits a bit, although they never struggled.

Zipline RockstarWe went ziplining at the nearby Apaneca Canopy tours. I was impressed with how well run it was. They had 14 lines, starting with small ones (around 20 meters) to get used to the harnesses, and ending with long runs (280 meters) that went over a valley with a coffee plantation. The staff was good at keeping everyone moving and ensuring we were safe and having fun.

Cultural Tour
Amongst the Beans Ahuachapán Tour
We took a bus trip and cultural tour down the Ruta de las Flores to check out some of the towns. We stopped at a market, a coffee mill, furniture factory, chocolate store, and a geothermal power plant. It was good to see some of the smaller villages, but I would have liked more unstructured time in town and less guided elements. The geothermal plant was interesting, but I didn’t need a 2 hour tour.

Photo Highlights
Full photo set on Flickr
Ready to Jet Canadian Eye Mask Hotel Room First Run Water Aerobics Sunset Kiss Coffee Beans Bean Roaster Village People Floppy Hard Hat Transit Bus Ready To Zip Apaneca Ziplining Zipline Disembark Coffee Cherries Porters in Paradise Izalco Horsey Walking Stick Mom Mom and Dad Hike Me and Izalco At the Santa Ana Peak Santa Ana Jump Forced March Agave Parents Tight Squeeze Ping Pong Showdown Shuffleboard Ladies Iguana Sweaty Runner Temazcal Playing in the Pool Beach Sunset El Salvador 2014 Sunset Tree Sad to Leave, Happy to Return

Greater Vancouver Hike – Cypress Falls

Dates: July 6, 2008 and October 14, 2013

Location: West Vancouver (map)

Description: Cypress Falls is a great spot to get lost in the woods. Towering cedar and fir trees reach for the sky and Cypress Creek rumbles along the ground in a series of small waterfalls. The hike up from the parking lot to the upper falls is quick, but there are a number of side trails to explore. We covered most of them in 90 minutes and less than 5 km of hiking. Here’s a GPS map and elevation profile of our hike.

It’s not a strenuous workout and there are no epic views, but Cypress Falls is a great spot for a light, relaxing hike. I noticed the the trail is popular with young families, dog walkers, and trail runners. It’s also a good hike in the spring and fall, as it’s snow-free almost all year.

More trail descriptions here and here.

Total Time: 90 minutes if you take your time and explore all the side trails.

Transportation: The trail starts at a parking lot on Woodgreen Place, just off of Woodgreen Drive one block past Woodcrest Road but before you get to Woodgreen Crescent (not kidding). Make sure you look at the map before you go. The 253 Caulfield bus will take you right to the trail head.

Pictures: Cypress Falls 2008 and Cypress Falls 2013
Growth Rings Warning - Danger! Cypress Falls Hikers Tree Tops Christina Cypress Falls Hiking Cypress Falls Cypress Creek Still Creek Trees Cypress Falls Bridge Living in a Log

Hiking in Gros Morne

Hiking in Gros Morne National Park was the highlight of our vacation in Newfoundland. We spent 5 days exploring the unique geology of the area, climbing to amazing viewpoints, and stumbling upon wild animals. Here are our favourite trails.

Green Gardens
Green Gardens Leap
Green Gardens was the most diverse and stunning hike we did in Gros Mourne. You start by hiking though the barren, red rocks of the Tablelands, descend through a small forest, and emerge at a spectacular cliff along the coast. There’s a staircase that will take you down to the water where you can take a dip in the ocean, explore ocean caves, and walk to a small waterfall.

If you’re looking for a longer hike, you can continue along the coast and complete a large loop of the area, but this involves fording two rivers and doubles the distance and time for the hike. There are 3 back country camping areas along the coast that looked comfortable. We only did the short hike, but if I went back I’d camp overnight, spend more time in the area, and do the full loop.

Rocky Green Gardens Waypoint Ocean Staircase Smoochy Falls

Distance: 9 km round trip + another 2.5 km if you go to the waterfall
Elevation Gain: 431 m elevation (mostly on the return)
Total Time: 4 hours (2 hours of hiking and lots of time to explore and relax).
GPS Map with Elevation: Strava
Trail Description: Parks Canada

Red Chair Lookout
A quick, rapid ascent up a trail behind the Discovery Centre brings you to a spectacular lookout with 360° views of Gros Morne, including Bonne Bay and the Tablelands. At the top you can relax on the park’s signature big, red chairs and watch the clouds drift by. The Lookout Trail offers the best bang for your hiking buck, with some of the best views in the park and less than 2 hours of hiking.

Last Staircase Newfie Superhero Field of Pitcher Plants Boardwalk

Distance: 5.6 km round trip
Elevation Gain: 324 m elevation
Total Time: 2 hours (1.5 hours of hiking and 30 minutes of enjoying the view).
GPS Map with Elevation: Strava
Trail Description: TrailPeak.com

Gros Morne Mountain
Gros Morne Peak
The James Callaghan Trail takes you to the summit of Gros Morne Mountain, the highest point in the park at 806 meters above sea level. It’s one of the longest and most challenging hikes in the park, but also one of the most popular. It was the only hike we did where there was a steady stream of people in front of and behind us.

The first part of the hike is a steady climb through the trees until you reach the decision point at the bottom of an avalanche chute. A big warning sign tells you not to proceed if you can’t see the top of the mountain. From there, it’s a steep scramble over large rocks that rises 500 meters in less than 2 kilometers, along a one-way trail. The temperature drops steadily and the wind picks up. We were happy to have packed lots of layers. The hike back down the backside of the mountain is more gradual.

We delayed our hike by a day in the hopes of getting better weather. It was sunny when we left the parking lot, but before we reached the summit clouds had moved in. So we didn’t get any amazing views but we did see a moose on the way down.

Gros Morne Warning Gros Morne Staircase Moose! Misty Descent

Distance: 16.9 km round trip
Elevation Gain: 836 m elevation
Total Time: 7 hours (5 hours of hiking and 2 hours catching your breath, eating, and enjoying the view).

GPS Map with Elevation: Strava
Trail Description: Parks Canada

Tablelands & Wallace Brook Creek
Wallace Brook
The Tablelands dominates the the southern part of the park and is a fascinating area to explore, but it doesn’t offer much in terms of hiking. We took the guided walk that is offered by Parks Canada everyday at 10:00 AM. It was interesting to learn about the unique geology of the area – an ancient ocean floor pushed up by plate tectonics where few plants grow because of the poisonous soil. We also explored the area on our own by turning off the trail at Wallace Brook Creek and walking up to the waterfall.

Tablelands Tour Serpentinite Tableland Boardwalk Wallace Brook Falls

Distance: 5 km round trip on the trail + 1 km detour up Wallace Brook
Elevation Gain: < 100 m elevation
Total Time: 1 hour for the guided walk. 2 hours if you want to explore Wallace Brook Falls.
GPS Map of Guided Walk: Strava
GPS Map of Wallace Brook: Strava

Baker’s Brook Falls
Baker's Brook Falls
This was probably the least interesting hike we did, with long stretches of board walk over boggy terrain. Luckily the bugs weren’t too bad. We were hoping to see a moose, but we had no such luck. The waterfalls at the end were nice, but not worth the long walk.

Baker's Brook Boardwalk Moose

Distance: 10 km round trip
Elevation Gain: relatively flat
Total Time: 2.5 hours
Trail Description: TrailPeak.com

Greater Vancouver Snowshoe – Bowen Lookout Winter Trail

Snowshoeing with a View
Date: February 10, 2013, January 2, 2016, and January 31, 2016

Location: Cypress Provincial Park (map)

Description: The Bowen Lookout Trail is another great snowshoe route on Vancouver’s North Shore. Instead of views of the city, this one gives spectacular views of Howe Sound and Bowen Island. It’s a good route for beginners looking for a trail harder than Dog Mountain with some vertical climbing, but a short route that’s not too strenuous.

Bowen Lookout Panorama
The hike starts at the Cypress Mountain chalet in the alpine area (not at the nordic area where the other snowshoe trails are). Backcountry passes are available in the Brown Bag Room in the old chalet (not from the ticket booths in the new chalet). Then hike goes through the ski area past the Eagle Express chair lift to the start of the snowshoe trail, following the orange-tipped poles. After 20 meters, the trail branches with the left fork heading up Black Mountain along the ski run. The right fork is the Bowen Lookout trail. The first kilometre is flat, as you hike along Yew Lake.

The steady ascent to the lookout is real workout, but it only takes 20-30 minutes. When we reached the top, clouds were obstructing the view but they periodically parted to reveal stunning vistas. It was awesome to see mountains materialize from behind the clouds and then disappear again. The lookout makes for a great spot to sit and have lunch.
Howe Sound Lookout

Like Black Mountain, the trail is a lot quieter than Hollyburn or Mount Seymour. If you bring a crazy carpet (or just wear slippery pants) there are good opportunities to slide on the way down without having to worry about taking anyone out. The switch back section of the ascent has several chutes people have made that make for great sliding runs (trail erosion is less of a concern in the winter).
Attention Dog Owners
Dogs are allowed along the trail in the winter (in the summer they’re not due to sensitive marsh terrain), but must be on a leash and dog owners have to clean up after them. The few dogs we ran into weren’t on a leash, but as long as they’re well behaved I don’t personally mind (although a park ranger might react differently).

Here is the GPS map my phone tracked (also on Strava/Strava). More info on the trail and current conditions can be found on the BC Parks website. Also, remember to check the avalanche risk before heading up. BowenLookoutElevationThis trail heads through safe terrain but it’s good to be prepared.

Total Time: 2 hours
Ascent: 45 minutes
Break for Lunch: 30 minutes
Descent: 45 minutes

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.

Pictures: Bowen Lookout Snowshoeing 2013 Bowen Lookout Snowshoeing 2016 Bowen Lookout Snowshoeing 2016 #2
Bowen Lookout Snowshoe
Bowen Lookout Winter Trail (Howe Sound Crest Trail) Walking Through the Cypress Ski Area Snowshoeing Beams Making Snowmen Buried Sign Yew Lake Snowshoe Buried Bridge Steep Snowshoe Ascent Raging Granny Snowshoes Frosty BC Forestry Hiking Up Majestic British Columbia Winter Bowen Lookout Beams at the Peak Snowshoeing Lunch Emily at the Peak Admiring the View Between the Clouds The Lookout View Bowen Lookout Leap End of the Trail - Danger Winter Snowshoeing Sun Through the Trees Mairy's Slide Emily's Slide Descent Bowen Lookout Winter Trail Map


Greater Vancouver Hike – Capilano Canyon

Capilano River
Date: July 17, 2011

Location: Capilano River Regional Park, North Vancouver (map)

Description: The Capilano River Regional Park is great place to take the family for an easy hike. It’s quick and convenient to get to by public transit, the Cleveland Dam is an impressive sight, and the hatchery provides an educational and interesting diversion.

There are numerous trails crisscrossing the park, but we followed the trail description outlined on the vancouvertrails.com website. It starts at the Cleveland Dam, follows the Upper Shinglebolt trail, and then around the Coho Loop to the hatchery, and back along the Pallisades trail to where you started (map of the park – PDF).

The highlights of the hike were seeing the Cleveland Dam, which creates the Capilano Reservoir – the source of much of Vancouver’s awesome drinking water; wandering through the hatchery (it’s a free attraction) which had good viewing areas for salmon of various species and ages; and walking along the serene trails through towering forests. The area around the dam and the hatchery were quite crowded with tourists, but the hiking trails were quiet. The area is all second growth forest, with the stumps of old giants visible in several places, but the trees still tower above you.

Total Time: 2 hours
Hiking: 1 hour loop
Lunch Break: 30 minutes
Exploring Hatchery: 30 minutes

Transportation: The #236 bus provides service every 15 minutes from Londsale Quay to the trailhead at the Cleveland Dam (Google Maps directions).

Pictures: Capilano Canyon Hike 2011
Cleveland Dam Shinglebolt Hike Tree Stump Fungus Hikers Stairs Out Hiker Feet Hiking in the Capilano River Regional Park Salmon Berry Capilano River Salmon

Greater Vancouver Snowshoe – Black Mountain Plateau Winter Trail

Black Mountain Plateau Winter Trail
Date: February 27, 2011 and March 2, 2014

Location: Cypress Provincial Park (map)

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.

Black Mountain Plateau Trail MapI 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.

Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Ascent: 1 hour
Loop Trail: 1 hour
Break for Lunch: 30 minutes
Descent: 1 hour

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.

Pictures: Black Mountain Snowshoeing 2011
Backcountry Pass  Backcountry Access Corridor  Snowshoeing Through the Ski Area  Black Mountain Plateau Winter Trail  Trail Map  Black Mountain Plateau Winter Trail Map  Considerable Avalanche Danger  Snowy Snowshoe  Ghost Tree  Frosted Tree  Peeking into the Ski Runs  Say Ahh  Snowy Lunch  Sandwich in the Snow  Start of the Black Mountain Loop  Sliding into a Tree Well  Face Wash  Crazy Carpet Time  Sliding Down Black Mountain

Black Mountain Snowshoeing and Skiing 2014
Backcountry Passes Cypress Backcountry Black Mountain Plateau Trail Emily on Black Mountain Backcountry Skiing on Black Mountain Skiing and Snowshoeing Backcountry Balancing Act Crazy Carpet In a Tree Well Trail Descent Split Black Mountain Plateau Trail Map

Greater Vancouver Snowshoe – Mount Seymour (First Pump Peak)

Lunch at 1st Pump Peak

Date: January 22, 2011

Location: Mount Seymour Provincial Park (map)

Description: There are two free, marked snowshoe trails starting at the Mount Seymour parking lot. Dog Mountain is a short, easy, and mostly flat hike. The The Mount Seymour Trail is a longer, steeper, and more strenuous hike that ascends 400 meters up the mountain to First Pump Peak (and beyond if you’re feeling adventurous). On clear days, the views from the top of Mount Seymour are breath-taking. But even on cloudy days (like we had) the hike is a great workout, lots of fun, and a fabulous opportunity to play in the snow.

The snowshoe up to First Pump Peak is a lot like snowshoeing up Hollyburn Mountain at Cypress. Both trails are free, start at a ski resort, have significant elevation gain, offer great views of the city, and have opportunities to crazy carpet on the way down. The only difference is the Hollyburn Trail takes 4 hours, while the Mount Seymour Trail takes 3 hours to the First Pump Peak, and can be extended longer if you want to go to the second and third peaks.

The Mount Seymour Trail does go through potential avalanche terrain, so you should check South Coast avalanche conditions before heading up. If the conditions are low or moderate the trail should be safe.

More trail descriptions can be found here and here. You can also check out the map and elevation profile from the GPS on my phone.

Total Time: 3 hours
Ascent to First Pump Peak: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Lunch Break at First Pump Peak: 30 minutes
Descent to Parking Lot: 1 hour

Transportation: There is a $10 Seymour Shuttle that will take you to the top of Mount Seymour from Lonsdale Quay or Parkgate Village. If you drive, make sure you check the road conditions (sometimes winter tires or chains are required). Directions from Google Maps.

Parking Update: In the winter, parking is free but controlled by the ski resort, which has recently limited access to backcountry users. Backountry users are asked to park along the road (P5) or at the group campground (P1), which is 1500 meters down the road from the trail head. The extra hike isn’t a big deal, as along as you budget the time. A bigger problem is the parking lots often fill up on nice weekend mornings. Check the Mt_Seymour Twitter feed for road and parking lot updates. On Saturday morning at 10:45 AM they tweeted “Backcountry Parking Lots 1 & 5 are full. Backcountry users can use our shuttle bus from Parkgate Community Centre.” But by 1:00 PM people had started to leave and there was lots of room in the parking lots.

Snowshoe Start
Snowshoeing with the Holdings
Busy Snowshoe Trail
Brockton Point
Snowshoe Hike
Blue Sky Snowshoe
Steep Ascent
First Pump Peak
Unmarked Trail to 2nd and 3rd Peaks
1st Pump Peak Jump
Emily at 1st Pump  Peak
Crazy Carpet Descent
Lost Carpet
Snow Wedgie
Snowy Slide
Ice Inukshuk

Pictures: Mount Seymour Snowshoeing 2011