As someone who loves to go hiking, I’ve always thought that trails take on a whole new allure as the leaves change from vivid fall hues to peaceful winter whites. Many people in the Pacific Northwest may put away their hiking boots when the weather turns cold, even though the region’s hiking season usually begins in the spring and continues through the golden colors of fall. The first snowfall marks the beginning of a new season for individuals among us who look forward to the fresh air and peaceful seclusion that winter trails provide, which is why I love the winter hikes in Vancouver that are waiting to be explored.
For the past few years, I’ve made it a point to visit Whistler and Vancouver multiple times each year. Every trip is a welcome diversion from Seattle’s hectic urban environment, and after a hard day on the road, there’s nothing like getting some fresh air and exercise on a winter trail in Vancouver. It’s so relaxing, as you won’t find too many people on the trail.
I’ve compiled a list of fifteen top winter walks in and around Vancouver based on my ongoing quest to discover and explore more routes. These paths provide a wide variety of experiences, from easy strolls through forested areas covered in snow to more strenuous hikes with spectacular winter scenery.
Here are 15 of the best winter hikes in Vancouver to check whether you live in the area or plan to visit in the future. Make sure to check out my winter hiking packing list as well as read reviews about the hikes on the AllTrails app first so you’ll be fully prepared for your hike!
This post was last updated in December 2023.
1. Lighthouse Park
Location: Beacon Lane, West Vancouver
Length: 2 kilometers
Elevation Gain: Low (374 ft)
Lighthouse Park is nestled into West Vancouver at the entrance of the Burrard Inlet, making it convenient for winter hiking in Vancouver, BC. The park provides hikers with fantastic views of the Salish Sea, downtown Vancouver, and Stanley Park and is an ideal place to go during January in Vancouver.
Explore this extensive network of winter hiking trails in Vancouver, BC, and enjoy the escape down to the historic lighthouse on the water. Most of the trails are groomed and don’t have excessive elevation change.
This makes Lighthouse Park an excellent destination for those with children or those looking for easy winter hikes in Vancouver or Vancouver hikes in November before it snows. You’ll also love coming here during the spring in Vancouver.
When you’re done with your hike, you can head into the city to see all the things to do in Vancouver in the winter.
2. Rice Lake
Location: Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve in North Vancouver
Length: 2.2 kilometers
Elevation Gain: None
This easy Vancouver, BC, hike in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve is perfect for families and beginners since it’s completely flat. Rice Lake is part of a breathtaking natural region that includes the photogenic Lynn Canyon Park (with its suspension bridge) and Lynn Headwaters Regional Park.
The quiet and peaceful loop around the lake takes about one hour at a leisurely pace when you’re looking for Vancouver winter hiking. The trail wraps around Rice Lake, giving you peaceful serenity as you take in your surroundings.
3. High Knoll Hike
Location: Minnekhada Regional Park
Length: 4 kilometers
Elevation Gain: Low (866 ft)
With over 200 hectares in Minnekhada Regional Park, it has a great network of low-elevation trails through the forest and around a marshy area. The main trails are the Quarry Trail, Mid-Marsh Trail, Lodge Trail, and Fern Trail.
You can also climb up to the High Knoll viewpoint to gaze at the Pitt River and nearby farms. This is an easy hike to do while spending 2 days in Vancouver during the winter.
Coming from Seattle? Here are some Seattle to Vancouver road trip stops you’ll want to make.
4. Dinkey Peak
Location: Mount Seymour
Length: 2.4 kilometers
Elevation Gain: Low (314 ft)
Located near North Vancouver, British Columbia, Dinkey Peak offers the chance to see wildlife and is suitable for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, and nature trips.
This short loop trail is one of the best easy winter hikes near Vancouver, and it shares its start with the Dog Mountain trail. It then heads north in the opposite direction, connecting at First Lake before looping back.
This relatively large, flat rock bluff offers nice southeast views, including Suicide Bluffs and the Search and Rescue Cabin. The First Lake Overlook is also accessible along this trail and is a beautiful one to do in Vancouver in the fall.
I love using AllTrails to download maps and stay on the trail during all my hikes.
5. Buntzen Lake
Length: 10.4 kilometers
Elevation Gain: Low (65 ft)
This Vancouver hiking trail is a fun 10-kilometer circuit that loops right around Buntzen Lake. While there are some moderate elevation changes along the loop, it is a relatively easy trail. This is an excellent choice if you want to escape the city but don’t want to tackle too much elevation gain.
The winter hike near Vancouver follows along the edge of the water for almost the entire trail, and there are several beaches and viewing platforms where you can stop to experience unobstructed views.
The highlight of this trail is at the northern end of the lake, where there is a picnic area. There is also a small dock where you can sit and enjoy some winter sun. If you are lucky enough to visit on one of the few sunny winter days, this spot is a slice of heaven and one of the best winter hikes in Vancouver.
6. Lightning Lake Loop
Location: Manning Park
Length: 8.5 kilometers
Elevation Gain: None
This is a stunning winter loop trail in Vancouver. The pine forests surrounding Lightning Lake in Manning Provincial Park are charming and ethereal. Lightning Lake is a beauty that is a popular destination for people visiting the park.
While it appears as though there are two lakes, Lightning Lake is just one lake with a narrow stretch of water connecting the different sections. Hikers can do a shortened loop during the winter season 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 are more than welcome to join you on your hike, provided they are on a leash. This is a perfect trip to add to a Vancouver 3 day itinerary.
7. Brandywine Falls Provincial Park
Length: 1.2 kilometers
Elevation Gain: High (1463 ft)
This hike near Vancouver is less busy than comparable nearby winter hikes around Vancouver because of the difficult drive to the trailhead. Getting to the trailhead to Brandywine Falls means a lengthy drive which can be especially tough during the winter season. The service road at the Whistler Bungee Bridge to the falls also has plenty of potholes, so be mindful on the drive.
There are two routes for this hike. One is a shorter, easier trail. This is a picturesque winter hiking location approximately 25 minutes north of Squamish. The well-defined trail leads over a wooden bridge to Brandywine Falls. It is both dog- and family-friendly and a great spot to stretch the legs en route to or from sightseeing in Whistler.
The other route you could take is the Sea to Sky Trail, which continues to Whistler and beyond. The hike along the Sea to Sky Trail is about 30 minutes to the Whistler Bungee Bridge. The bridge sits high above Cheakamus River and gives you breathtaking views of the huge gorge below. This is also one of the best things to do in Whistler during the winter.
8. Norvan Falls
Location: Lynn Headwaters Regional Park
Length: 14 kilometers
Elevation Gain: High (984 feet)
The hike to Norvan Falls is a long but relatively flat walking trail in Vancouver. This trail is excellent if you are looking for something leisurely and not too strenuous. You will find the trailhead to Norvan Falls in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park on the North Shore of Vancouver.
At the end of the trail, the fantastic waterfall is the highlight of the route—the water cascades into a beautiful green pool at the base of the falls. The waterfall flows year-round, although it can almost completely freeze for a few of the coldest days each winter, which is wonderful to witness. Similar to the many Seattle waterfall hikes, you’ll love doing this one.
Headed south? Check out these rainy day hikes in Seattle.
9. Whyte Lake
Location: West Vancouver
Length: 4.9 kilometers
Elevation Gain: Low (780 ft)
Some of my favorite Washington winter hikes include lakes, so it’s no surprise this one made my list of winter hikes in Vancouver. The trail to Whyte Lake is a popular and moderately easy Vancouver hike that leads to the North Shore Mountains. The trail is low enough to remain out of the snow, thanks to the wooden dock and 300m boardwalk.
Find Westport Road just south of the Upper Levels Highway at Nelson Canyon to access the trail. Alternatively, you can also access the trailhead closer to Horseshoe Bay at Exit No. 1.
Follow the path up alongside Nelson and Whyte Creeks to enjoy views of the tranquil lake. If you and your family are outdoorsy people, Whyte Lake is a terrific option for a family outing.
Looking for another activity? Take a day trip to Victoria, BC.
10. Tunnel Bluffs
Length: 7.4 kilometers
Elevation Gain: High (1706 ft)
The hike to Tunnel Bluffs begins from the Sea To Sky Highway, just north of Lions Bay. Some of the most amazing views that you can experience during the winter are from the viewpoint of Tunnel Bluffs in Lions Bay.
This hike sometimes has some snow on it, so check weather conditions before heading out on your adventure. For the most part, it is snow-free in the winter.
The trail to the top is a bit of a slog, especially for the first half, as you climb up a moderately steep incline before it levels out. However, the rest of the trail is relatively easy. Once you reach the main viewpoint, you’ll get incredible views over Howe Sound and all of the islands below.
This has to be one of the best hikes near Vancouver, BC, and you can enjoy it throughout the year. You can also make a vacation out of it by booking a weekend getaway from Vancouver here.
11. Velodrome Trail, Burnaby Mountain
Length: 2.7 kilometers
Elevation Gain: Low (860 ft )
Sometimes called Burnaby’s Grouse Grind, this short hike is a workout. You’ll climb over 500 stairs to the top of Burnaby Mountain, where you’ll get a great view of Vancouver and can enjoy the Kamui Mintara (Playground of the Gods) sculpture.
The Velodrome Trail in Burnaby is a shorter alternative to the Grouse Grind you can safely do in the winter. This hike in Vancouver is popular amongst hikers and mountain bikers due to the large network of trails. There are lots of other trails in the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area surrounding Simon Fraser University too.
A hike at Burnaby Mountain can be adapted for any age group or fitness level. For this reason, it’s a family favorite. Burnaby Mountain is also home to wildlife, including deer, owls, coyotes, eagles, and even the occasional black bear. The trail is also transit-accessible and dog-friendly.
12. Jug Island Beach
Location: Belcarra Regional Park
Length: 5.2 kilometers
Elevation Gain: Low (935 ft)
Jug Island is a gorgeous, tiny island located just off the northern tip of Belcarra Regional Park. However, the island itself is not accessible, but you can hike to the beach that faces the island and offers great views of the Indian Arm.
This is one of the best hikes in BC for intermediate hikers. The trail begins to climb quite quickly as you work your way up a snow-free path. The trail eventually levels out, allowing you to catch your breath before continuing through the snowy forest. The route will begin to widen as you quickly cover quite a bit of distance on the slight downward slope.
This hike heads through a lush forest which ends at a rocky wilderness beach with clear window views of a statue still Indian Arm. There is minimal elevation change along the Jug Island Trail, so it’s a great hike for dogs and is transit-accessible.
13. Hunter Trail
Length: 12-20 kilometers
Elevation Gain: Low (754 ft)
The view from the top of Hunter Trail in Mission is spectacular, making it perfect for your list of winter hikes in Vancouver. You’ll walk along a forest service road for the duration of the hike, and at the very end of the trail, you get an incredible view of Stave Lake.
The drive out to Mission is scenic, and you’ll feel like you are a million miles from Vancouver as you drive through the countryside.
14. Diez Vistas
Location: Buntzen Lake
Length: 12.9 kilometers
Elevation Gain: High (2870 ft)
The Diez Vistas Trail at Buntzen Lake is another great choice for a winter excursion. Depending on the weather conditions, you may find snow along the trail, but for the most part, it will be snow-free. The first part of the hike takes you along the eastern side of Buntzen Lake, a pleasant walk along the edge of the water.
As you round the far end of the lake and cross the bridge, you will split off the Buntzen Lake loop and begin your climb up towards Diez Vistas. There are several incredible viewpoints along the way.
The trees open up, and you get to look right along Indian Arm and over to Deep Cove. If you have done the Quarry Rock hike, it is the perfect place to see the same view from the other side of the water.
This is truly a fantastic winter hike, especially if you are looking for something a little bit more challenging to do throughout the season.
15. Saint Mark’s Summit
Location: Cypress Provincial Park
Length: 10.4 kilometers
Elevation Gain: High (1509 ft)
As part of the Howe Sounds Crest Trail, Saint Mark’s Summit is a popular all-season hiking trail (especially during summer in Vancouver) that can be hiked in winter, depending on the conditions. This intermediate-level hike offers stunning views of Howe Sound and Vancouver Island. There are steep sections that invite care and caution, so dogs are required to be on a leash.
Overall, the winter trail in Vancouver isn’t too strenuous despite the 460 m of elevation gain. This makes St. Mark’s Summit one of the best hikes in Vancouver, BC, on the North Shore. If you love a trek uphill with a majestic view from the bottom to the top, this is the perfect Vancouver winter hike for you.
Leave a comment and let me know which winter hike in Vancouver you plan on doing!