Winter in Vancouver might be grey and drizzly, but just outside the city is a world of mountains and fresh powder to explore. These ten trails offer some of the best views, terrain and snow from November to June in the Lower Mainland.

Be Prepared

Although several of these trails see regular traffic, they’re located in backcountry wilderness. Plan ahead, dress warmly, bring avalanche gear, carry extra food, research weather and trail conditions, don’t go alone and always leave ample time to get back before dark.

 

1. Snowshoe Grind

Grouse Mountain

GrouseJennifer C | Flickr cc by 2.0

Distance: 4.3 km

Time: 1-2 hours

Elevation: 200 m (approx.)

Difficulty: Moderate

Winters take on the notorious Grouse Grind, the Snowshoe Grind takes a slightly different route. Starting from the chalet, this steep trail leads up Dam Mountain. You’ll have to fork over about $45 for a roundtrip gondola ticket before you start snowshoeing.

Where can I find this trail? The trail begins just outside of the chalet, behind the skating rink.

Read more: outdoorvancouver.ca

 

2. Bowen Lookout

Cypress Mountain

Bowenkcxd | Flickr cc by 2.0

Distance: 3.5 km

Time: 1.5-2 hours

Elevation: 100 m (approx.)

Difficulty: Moderate

Short, steep and sweet: you’ll work up a sweat on this snowshoe trail, but the resulting views of Howe Sound and Bowen Island laden in snow are so, so worth it. Make sure you pick up your free BAC-access tag at the Black Mountain Lodge first.

Where can I find this trail? At the end of the Backcountry Access Corridor (BAC), just west of the Eagle Express Quad Chairlift.

Read more: env.gov.bc.ca/cypress

 

3. Black Mountain

Cypress Provincial Park

black mountainTim Gage | Flickr cc by sa 2.0

Distance: 7 km roundtrip

Time: 2-3 hours

Elevation: 270 m

Difficulty: Moderate

This steep trail travels alongside ski runs to the top of Black Mountain. At the summit, follow a loop path around some frozen lakes. Again, don’t forget to pick up your free BAC-access tag at the Black Mountain Lodge before hitting the trail.

Where can I find this trail? At the end of the Backcountry Access Corridor (BAC), just west of the Eagle Express Quad Chairlift.

Read more: env.gov.bc.ca/cypress

 

4. Hollyburn Mountain

Cypress Provincial Park

hollyburnHeather Harvey | Flickr cc by sa 2.0

Distance: 7 km

Time: 4-5 hours

Elevation: 450 m

Difficulty: Difficult

Snowshoe next to the cross-country ski trails, climbing steep hills to the summit of Hollyburn Mountain. This popular trail offers a stunning view of snow-drenched trees, the Cypress Bowl and Vancouver city below.

Where can I find this trail? Park in the cross-country ski lot. The trail starts at the BC Parks map sign.

Read more: outdoorvancouver.ca

 

5. Discovery Snowshoe Trails

Mount Seymour

discoveryMatt Boulton | Flickr cc by sa 2.0

Distance: 5.5 km

Time: 1-3 hours

Elevation: 50 m

Difficulty: Easy

This network of 12 trails is located just below the parking lot and bunny hill. These loops are relatively easy for snowshoers to complete. You’ll have to purchase a trail pass for $9.50 if you have your own snowshoes.

Where can I find this trail? Park at the downhill ski lot at Mount Seymour.

Read more: mtseymour.ca

 

6. Dog Mountain

Mount Seymour

dog mountainGoToVan | Flickr cc by 2.0

Distance: 5 km

Time: 2-3 hours

Elevation: 150 m

Difficulty: Easy

Bring your dog (on leash) to experience one of the most popular snowshoeing trails near Vancouver. From the open summit of Mount Seymour, you’ll be treated to a panoramic city view on clear days. This trail is outside of Mount Seymour’s ski area, and therefore not patrolled.

Where can I find this trail? Park in Mount Seymour parking lot and walk towards the BC Parks sign, where you’ll find the trailhead.

Read more: vancouvertrails.com

 

7. First Peak

Mount Seymour

first peakSu-Laine Yeo Brodsky | Flickr cc by sa 2.0

Distance: 10 km roundtrip

Time: 4-5 hours

Difficulty: Difficult

Snowshoe beside the ski trails, traverse the south face and climb to the steep summit of Mount Seymour. It’s dangerous to continue beyond the end of this out-and-back trail. There are multiple rescues here every year.

Where can I find this trail? Park in lot 1 or 5.

Read more: env.gov.bc.ca/mt_seymour

 

8. Elfin Lakes

Garibaldi Provincial Park

elfin lakeskcxd | Flickr cc by 2.0

Distance: 22 km roundtrip

Time: 6-8 hours

Elevation: 600 m

Difficulty: Difficult

Deep snow stays along this trail well into June most years. Snow-capped mountains, dense forest and stunning views accompany this long trail, rated as difficult mainly due to the distance. The Red Heather Hut, located 5 km in, is a warming hut/shelter equipped with a wood stove to be used in emergencies. Overnighters can stay in the Elfin Lakes Hut, which sleeps 33.

Where can I find this trail? This trail begins at the Diamond Head area in Squamish. Vehicles will need proper snow tires for the road.

Read more: squamishhiatus.com

 

9. Brandywine Falls

Brandywine Falls Provincial Park

Brandywine fallspfly | Flickr cc by sa 2.0

Distance: 2 km roundtrip

Time: 1 hour

Elevation: 630 m

Difficulty: Easy

The well-defined snowshoe trail leading to Brandywine Falls is clearly marked and dog-friendly. It’s do-able in winter hiking boots as well, but after a snowfall, snowshoes are definitely recommended.

Where can I find this trail? The trailhead can be found approximately 25 minutes north of Squamish. Look for a sign that says “Brandywine Falls Provincial Park.”

Read more: squamishhiatus.com

 

10. Zoa Peak

Fraser Valley (Coquihalla Highway)

zoa peakTim Gage | Flickr cc by sa 2.0

Distance: 11 km roundtrip

Time: 5-6 hours

Elevation: 630 m

Difficulty: Difficult

Despite being far from Vancouver, we’re confident the two-hour drive is worth it (as long as road conditions are clear!). The steep climb ends in panoramic views that you get to enjoy while descending back to the parking lot. Only experts should attempt this challenging trail.

Where can I find this trail? This trail is located near exit 221 (Falls Lake) off the Coquihalla Highway.

Read more: vancouvertrails.com

 

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