We spent two weeks in the Lynn Valley area, hitting a lot of the top photo spots in Vancouver and exploring many of the amazing and easy North Vancouver trails, one of the most natural sections of one of Canada’s nicest cities. The main reason we chose that particular neighbourhood was its close proximity to all the excellent Lynn Valley trails and we certainly weren’t disappointed. We had plenty of easy Vancouver hikes within walking distance, plus quite a few more just a short drive away.
It is worth mentioning that we were there in February, so many of the trails were quite muddy and a few even had snow. However, all the hikes listed here were very manageable (even after a surprising snowstorm) and would only be easier and more scenic if you happen to visit in summer.
And if you don’t mind driving a little farther out of the city or are heading east anyway, be sure to stop off near Chilliwack to check out the unique Teapot Hill hike.
Or, for our choice for the best hike in the area (though definitely not “easy”), you should head up to Squamish to tackle the three peaks of the Chief hike, or for another excellent view on a much easier hike, try Tunnel Bluffs from Lions Bay, both of which can be found on our extensive list of 22 Best Squamish Hikes.
While this list is far from definitive, it should provide a pretty good selection of easy hikes in North Vancouver if you are looking for pleasant, scenic hikes in the 1-3-hour range with low to moderate elevation changes.
The figures listed under each hike are the total distance (there and back if it isn’t a loop hike), a conservative amount of time it should take to complete, and the total elevation gain. The link will take you to the AllTrails app, a useful site that provides details, maps, reviews and GPS tracks.
North Vancouver Hiking Map
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This is a beautiful area, full of giant, looming trees, an endlessly photogenic canyon/creek that alternates between narrow rapids and calm swimming pools.
It is a popular hiking area for the forest atmosphere, several outstanding bridges, a few nice waterfalls, plus 30-foot, 60-foot and 90-foot ponds. These crystal clear sections are popular with swimmers in summer but are pretty impressive to look at any time of year.
Unfortunately, the spectacular Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge was closed when we visited but there were other bridges open to both the north and south so it was no problem completing a loop. You’ll want to check on the latest status before you go to determine the exact route you want to do.
All of the Lynn Valley trails are well-maintained but have occasional sections of roots and mud. One of the best parts of Lynn Valley was the ability to mix and match different trails to find the perfect fit of distance, difficulty and scenery.
1. Lynn Canyon Loop
2.7 km / 1 hr / 150m
This is the bare bones loop, hitting the most popular bridges and a few of the most interesting ponds. Considering how short it is, there are a surprising number of hills. It is almost constantly going up and down, although never overly steeply. Some spots could get a bit slippery in the rain, though.
2. Lower Lynn Loop Trail
5.5 km / 2 hrs / 190m
This one is a bit longer and flatter. Even though there is slightly more total elevation gain than the Lynn Canyon Loop it is spread out over a much longer distance. A good chunk of the trail is a nice, smooth gravel path along the river.
3. Rice Lake Loop
2.7 km / 1 hr / 20m
A very easy stroll around scenic Rice Lake, after getting some nice views from the bridge over Rice Creek. It is very popular on weekends but you can avoid the crowds by venturing off onto any of the spur trails leading off to other hikes on this list.
4. Twin Falls Bridge and Fisherman’s via Homestead Loop Trail
4.7 km / 1.5 hrs / 115m
The shortest option if you just want to come in and see the best waterfalls and pools without spending a bunch of time wandering through the woods. There are plenty of excellent viewpoints right from the little bridges and in some spots you can clamber down to the rocks. Just be careful and don’t attempt any of the steep spots after a rain.
5. Baden Powell, Twin Falls Bridge and Fisherman’s Trail Loop
6 km / 2 hrs / 200m
This impressively varied trail takes you farther over away from Lynn Creek to the equally scenic Seymour River. The banks aren’t as steep and the trail is flatter but the deep forest scenery getting to and from the area is outstanding. And you get to see the Twin Bridges.
6. Quarry Rock Lookout
4.5 km / 1.5 hrs / 200m
This hike is all downhill through some huge trees until you reach the impressive Quarry Rock Lookout. But even though the views get all the attention, we actually really enjoyed the early part of the trail, just below the road.
Filled with monster trees, small waterfalls and classic wooden bridges. And on a cold morning many of the waterfalls were decorated with shiny icicles. There are also a couple other ways to get to this viewpoint (including from the town of Deep Cove) but you would miss out on this underrated portion of the trail.
One of the most famous parks in the Vancouver area, Capilano Canyon features looming dams, rushing streams and cascading waterfalls. All along the canyon there are exceptional viewpoints and spots where you can scramble down for a closer look at the rapids, falls and gorges.
The hiking trails are free but if you also want to experience the world-famous Capilano Suspension Bridge tickets are $55/$50/$30/$19/free per adult/senior/youth (13-16)/child (6-13)/ kiddie (under 6). Family passes go for $115 (up to 4 people age 6 and up).
Along with entrance to the suspension bridge, your ticket also gets you onto the 7 spectacular treetop bridges and the exhilarating cliffwalk, plus plenty of historical displays and Capilano stories.
7. Capilano Canyon and Cleveland Dam Loop
2.9 km / 1 hr / 130m
As you can see, we hiked this trail on a beautiful, snowy day in February. While it made the trail marginally more slippery, it never felt treacherous anywhere and it certainly added a fascinating look to the whole area. No matter when you go, though, this is a truly stunning canyon with amazing views around the dam and farther down among the rocks and small rapids and waterfalls.
8. Capilano Pacific Trail
8.4 km / 3 hrs / 315m
This is the big version for those who want to hit all the Capilano highlights. Covering most of the same ground as the canyon loop but adding on a lot more old growth scenery and taking you all the way down to – and past – the Capilano Suspension Bridge, the Pacific Trail is one of the best trails in Vancouver, period.
Easy Trails Near North Vancouver
9. Stanley Park Seawall Trail Loop
9.3 km / 2.5 hrs / 70m
This paved multi-use path is one of the most scenic walks in Vancouver. If you are doing the entire loop you can start at any of the parking areas, or if you only want to do part of it the best views are on the west side between Prospect Point and Ferguson Point. We biked the full circuit but walking would have probably been more enjoyable (considering it was -4C plus bike wind).
10. Maple, Valley and Shore Pine Trail Loop
3.9 km / 1.5 hrs / 185m
This varied, scenic trail has a good mix of deep forest, big trees, ocean views and a very nice lighthouse (Atkinson Point). There are quite a few variations on this little peninsula to let you customize your hike to spend more time along the ocean, more time in the trees, or just make it longer or shorter.
11. Ambleside Centennial Seawalk and Park Royal Loop
9 km / 2.5 hrs / 60m
These two easy walks can be done separately or combined for one longer walk (the statistics above include both). This beautiful area is popular with weekend walkers and the dog park can get busy any day of the week. But the path is easy and varied, with several points of interest along the way and terrific views of Stanley Park, Lion’s Gate Bridge and the ocean the entire time.
12. Eagle Bluffs via Black Mountain Trail
8.2 km / 3 hrs / 435m
This one is only borderline “easy”, considering there is over 400 metres of elevation gain, but we wanted to include it because it was the most impressive hike we did while in North Vancouver (although it is actually located in West Vancouver).
Interchangeably called Eagle Bluffs and Eagleridge Bluffs, you start out from the Cypress Mountain ski resort (you need to get a free backcountry tag to be allowed past the ski lifts in winter), climb up and over Black Mountain an eventually reach a spectacular viewpoint looking out over Horseshoe Bay and Bowen Island.
We hiked it after a large snowfall and the massive drifts and snow-covered firs were simply incredible. Despite the new snow, the trail is regularly groomed so we wore small crampons and found them to be perfect for the conditions.
Most people we saw were using snowshoes but they weren’t really necessary as long as you stayed on the trail. In summer, obviously, the trail would be much different (and less strenuous) but the viewpoint is worth the hike regardless of what you have to do to get there.
Not technically in North Vancouver, pretty little Bowen Island is still just a 20-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay and it boasts an impressive collection of different hikes. From strenuous summit hikes to easy lake strolls, here you can read up on the 10 best hikes on Bowen Island.
What to Take
There are so many outstanding places to eat in Vancouver that most of these hikes are never far from a great snack shop or appealing sit-down restaurant but for the longer hikes you should still pack some snacks (trail mix, fruit, etc.) just in case it ends up taking longer than expected (if you take a lot more photo breaks, for example).
It is always important to be prepared when venturing out hiking, especially in the mountains. Obviously, long, challenging hikes require more advance planning and safety gear but even for short hikes you still need to be properly equipped.
Dressing properly will make the experience much more enjoyable and carrying useful safety supplies can ensure you are prepared in case mishaps take place (as they tend to). Here is a quick checklist of items we alway carry, wear or use while hiking:
A good day pack is essential. We have recently become big fans of Gregory packs and would recommend the Gregory Miwok 18 for short hikes or when your gear is split between two people. And the Gregory Optic 48 for longer hikes. I know 48L sounds big but it is a super-light and comfortable pack that cinches down smaller when it isn’t full.
Water is obviously important and we go back and forth between using a Camelbak bladder and just a couple of water bottles. We also keep a few Aquatabs with us at all times just in case we ever run low and want to treat some river or lake water.
They are tiny and every now and then come in quite handy. It is always a good idea to carry some snacks as well. It never hurts and sometimes hikes end up taking longer than planned.
Laynni always hikes in compression leggings that she swears by for the extra knee, hip and muscle support.
Layers, baby! You never know what kind of weather nature will throw at you so it pays to be ready for anything. Obviously, the forecast might change what you carry but if there is any doubt (and there almost always is in the mountains), bring extra.
And just in case we are so impressed by the scenery that we decide it’s worth a photo with both of us in it we always carry the tiny, extremely handy octopus tripod.
Of course, a comprehensive first-aid kit is key to make sure those “mishaps” are simply inconvenient and don’t ruin your whole day.
Other useful items that we sometimes carry and sometimes don’t, depending on the hike:
Well, that probably covers most of it, although somehow we have even more to say on the matter in our Day Hike Packing List post. Check it out if you’re looking for even more detailed info.
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