Hiking in winter is a delightful way to enjoy the great outdoors. Metro Vancouver, Whistler area and the Lower Mainland have no shortage of incredible trails to discover. While cold weather keeps bugs at bay and large predators asleep in their dens, the importance of safety and respecting nature and the elements remain critical; particularly with the limited daylight hours and cold temperatures of the winter season.

Hiking in winter can be snow-free at these urban hiking destinations, but always be ready for weather to change. Bring essential hiking gear, including boots with good tread and micro spikes. Have a trip plan, carry avalanche/emergency winter gear and ensure you have the proper training before venturing into the backcountry.

Note: Follow all Covid-19 restrictions. Don't travel to Whistler from Metro Vancouver. Stay local, stay safe and don't gather with people outside your bubble.


Dog Mountain, Mount Seymour

sdfeswfdesfewfewfewfewfewStephane Laroye

Distance: 5.6 km
Time: 1-3 hours
Elevation Gain: 165 m

A personal favorite, the hike to Dog Mountain is very popular, particularly with families, as it’s fairly easy and short. It can get quite busy which can compact the snow on the trail. Dogs are allowed on-leash. Pack in a picnic to enjoy while admiring the city views from the summit, and don’t forget to pack out your garbage.

Where can I find this trail? Park in the Mount Seymour parking lot. The trail starts at the bottom of Mystery Peak, at the BC Parks sign.

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Dinkey Peak, Mount Seymour

Distance: 2.4 km
Time: 30 min-1 hour
Elevation Gain: 96 m

This short loop trail shares its start with the Dog Mountain trail, but heads north, in the opposite direction, connecting at First Lake before looping back. Snow can remain on the trail well into early summer. Dinkey Peak offers great southwest views including Suicide Bluffs and the Search and Rescue Cabin. The First Lake Overlook is also accessible along this trail.

Where can I find this trail? Park in the Mount Seymour parking lot. The trail starts at the bottom of Mystery Peak, at the BC Parks sign.

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Grouse Mountain Light Walk, North Vancouver

Grouse MountainGrouse Mountain

Distance: 1.5 km
Time: 30 - 45 minutes
Elevation gain: 20 m

A fun walk to do with the littles in the family. This short winter walk through an illuminated trail on Grouse Mountain loops around the Blue Grouse Lake through a forest of snow-covered pines light up with bright fairy lights. Good shoe treads and micro spikes may be needed if there’s been recent snowfall or conditions are icy.

Where can I find this trail? Ride the Skyride gondola up to Grouse Mountain summit and follow the signs.

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Bowen Lookout, West Vancouver

Bowen Island Lookout/St. Mark’s by Kyle Pearce via FlickrBowen Island Lookout/St. Mark’s by Kyle Pearce via Flickr

Distance: 4.3 km
Time: 1.5 - 2 hours
Elevation Gain: 110 m

This is a moderate winter hiking trail with a steep climb that offers the lure of scenic views across Howe Sound to Bowen Island. The relatively short Lookout Trail is popular with families. Be sure to pack a headlamp for the return journey, should you wish to catch the stunning winter sunset.

Where can I find this trail? Park in Cypress Mountain parking lot and look for the Howe Sound Crest Trail sign.

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St. Mark’s Summit, Cypress Provincial Park

Distance: 11 km round trip
Time: 4 - 6 hours
Elevation Gain: 460 m

This intermediate-level hike offers stunning views of Howe Sound and Vancouver Island. Part of the Howe Sounds Crest Trail, St. Mark’s Summit is a popular all-season hiking trail that can be hiked in winter with micro spikes, conditions permitting. There are steep sections that invite care and caution. Dogs are welcome on-leash.

Where can I find this trail? Park in Cypress Mountain parking lot and look for the Howe Sound Crest Trail sign.

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Hollyburn Peak via Winter Access Trail, West Vancouver

asdffdsfjdskfjksdfjdsRichard Erikkson via Flickr

Distance: 7 km roundtrip
Time: 3 hours
Elevation Gain: 415 m

This is a busy trail with a decent elevation gain, making for a great outdoor workout. The wide trail permits social distancing and features a waterfall attraction, as well as 360-degree views at the summit. Dogs permitted on leash.

Where can I find this trail? Park in Cypress Provincial Park lot (towards Nordic ski area) and look for the BC Parks sign board.

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Lightning Lake Loop, Manning Park

sfdsfdsfdsfdsClaudia Laroye

Distance: 8.5 km
Time:  2.5 hours
Elevation Gain: Minimal

This is a stunning winter loop trail through snow-covered pine forests around Lightning Lake in E.C. Manning Provincial Park. Hikers can do a shortened loop by crossing the Rainbow Bridge at its narrowest point. The peaceful forested trail offers views of the lake and the adjacent hills, including Frosty Mountain. Dogs permitted on-leash.

Where can I find this trail? From Vancouver, take Highway 1 eastbound towards Hope. Take the Highway 3 (Crowsnest) exit to Manning Park and drive towards Lightning Lake day use area.

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Brandywine Falls Provincial Park, Squamish

asdasdasdasdpfly via Flickr

Distance: 2 km roundtrip
Time: 1 hour

This is a picturesque and easy winter hike approximately 25-minutes north of Squamish. The well-defined trail leads over a wooden bridge to Brandywine Falls. It’s dog and family friendly, and a great spot to stretch the legs on route to or from Whistler.

Where can I find this trail? Trail begins at the parking lot of Brandywine Falls Provincial Park, off of Highway 99.

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Velodrome Trail, Burnaby

sdasdadasdasdMike via Flickr

Distance: 5 km round trip
Time: 1.5 - 2 hours
Elevation Gain: 240 m

A competitor to the North Shore’s Grouse Grind, this thigh-burning hike up the north side to the top of Burnaby Mountain is a great workout. The challenging climb includes 500 steps, but the payoff is the great view of Vancouver and Burrard Inlet, plus the chance to enjoy the Kamui Mintara totems, also known as the Playground of the Gods.

Where can I find this trail? The trailhead is located at the northeast corner of the Velodrome.

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Pacific Spirit Regional Park, Vancouver

photodsgergresgregWreck Beach in the Distance by Kyle Pearce via Flickr

Distance and Time: Varies by trail

The large greenspace between Vancouver and UBC is filled with over 55 kilometers of trails to explore. The Camosun Bog trail is a favorite with families, as its interpretive signage and boardwalks are fun and educational. Walk down the steps from SW Marine Drive to Wreak Breach and along the Fraser River on the Foreshore Trail or discover the Canyon Trails and access Spanish Banks beaches on the north side of the park.

Where can I find this trail? Depending on your trail choice, bike to on park on Camosun, SW Marine or Chancellor Boulevard.

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