So you've conquered the beginner walks and made your way through some of our intermediate adventures, and are perhaps (with safety and security in mind) now hoping to tackle some of Vancouver's more challenging hikes. Here are a few suggestions for you to check off your hiking bucket list — just be sure you are well prepared with the proper gear before you go.
Black Tusk/Panorama Ridge
Distance (round trip): 30 kilometres.
Estimated time: 11 hours.
Elevation gain: 1,740 metres.
Season: July to October.
If you’ve done the hike to Garibaldi Lake and always looked forlornly at the towering mountains above, let me tell you it’s worth the extra effort — this is a doable day hike if you give yourself plenty of time. You can also reduce the hiking time by jogging on the way down. The main trail below the Lake is well maintained, so if you have a light backpack on there’s almost no risk of turning an ankle.
If you go while there is still snow on Panorama Ridge, bring a garbage bag or something else to slide down the mountain afterwards. Trust me, it’s fun.
There is also the option of doing this in two or three days by camping by Garibaldi Lake or Taylor Meadows and doing the hike up the following day. Just take into account that getting up to the park will take longer with a heavy backpack.
Location: North Vancouver.
Distance (one way): 2.9 kilometres.
Estimated time: 1 to 2 hours.
Elevation gain: 853 metres.
Season: June to September.
A staple of the Vancouver hiking scene and a challenge for the best of hikers.
While this is much shorter than the other trails on the list, it’s considered difficult because it is nothing more than stairs going up the Grouse Mountain slope. It can be done at your own pace, but this trail is often used by folks trying to keep fit. If you’re up for the challenge, be sure to time yourself down to the second so you can compare with other people — maybe even with those people who do this hike every day during the season.
But be warned, this trail is not for the faint of heart. Make sure you have enough water and the proper clothing because it is difficult. It is highly frowned upon to walk down the Grind because it causes the steps to degrade quickly (plus, it will kill your knees) — so turning back isn't an option. You start this climb and you have to finish it.
Once completed, there is a restaurant at the top if you want to grab a snack. The gondola back down the mountain costs $10.
If you are planning to do this hike more often, there is even a pass you can get to save money.
Hanes Valley Trail
Location: Lynn Valley, North Vancouver.
Distance (one way): 16 kilometres.
Estimated time: 8.5 hours.
Elevation gain: 1,320 metres.
Season: July to September.
Deep into the backcountry of North Van, this hike is meant for those ready to commit to a hard day of scrambling up rock fields.
Prepare in advance to make sure that you have everything required to get through the difficult trail. This includes proper footwear, enough clothes, plenty of food and telling enough people where you’re going so if you’re stuck there is someone who will know to look for you.
Otherwise, this is a beautiful trail that takes you from Lynn Headwaters in North Vancouver all the way to the top of Grouse Mountain. Make sure to bring $10 to get down the gondola.
The trail starts off exactly as you would to hike to Norvan Falls, but once you reach the falls you cross a metal suspension bridge and are officially in the backcountry! The trail itself can be difficult to follow at times, so make sure to always keep a look out for markers in the trees that will show you the way. There is a junction where you can go right to Lynn Lake, but keep left and go down the steep slope until you hit Upper Lynn Creek. Eventually you will reach a beautiful lookout to Hanes Valley. Enjoy it, because once you keep going you are climbing for 1.5 kilometres.
When you get to the junction to Crown Mountain, follow the trail to Goat Mountain which will eventually lead you to Grouse Mountain. The trail is only difficult for a little while longer. There will be chains bolted into the exposed rock to help you climb up the slipperier sections. Eventually, when the signs start showing Grouse Mountain, the trail levels off and you will reach the chalet.
The Lions Binkert Trail
Location: Howe Sound.
Distance (round trip): 16 kilometres.
Estimated time: 8 hours.
Elevation gain: 1,280 metres.
Season: July to October.
This trail is steep and difficult, but it offers a great panoramic view of Howe Sound and Vancouver. A quick note: if the entire hike is too much for you, this trail can be reduced dramatically if you start from Cypress Mountain.
The trailhead for the full hike begins by a yellow gate in Lions Bay and the incline is set from the beginning. There will be a bit of a respite after about half an hour where the path levels off, but the hardest sections are still to come.
Certain sections become so steep that climbing with your hands is necessary, but that’s all part of the fun. Make sure to bring water, food and a camera to catch all the amazing views from the top. Pay close attention to the orange markers near the top on your way up and down to stay on path, and watch your step on the descent so you don’t slip!