Snowshoe Guide to the North Shore

Over the past few months I’ve been posting about all my favourite snowshoe trails on the North Shore. I was invited to write a guest post for Modo as one of their ambassadors, so I decided to share the compilation post here as well! Depending on the weather conditions, snowshoeing is possible all over the lower mainland; in Golden Ears, Pinecone Burke, and Eagle Mountain. However, the most reliable place to find snow is on the North Shore. Other parks are located at lower elevations, so the bottom half of the trails will often be bare, but the North Shore will almost always have snow into March.

Before You Go

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If you’re new to snowshoeing, you can rent equipment either on the mountain at Cypress, Grouse, or Seymour, or from a number of local rental shops in the lower mainland. Snowshoes are great for fresh snowfalls and for cutting through powder, but microspikes can also be used on heavily trafficked trails where the snow has been compacted. If in doubt, just use snowshoes, which will keep you from slipping on any snowy surface.

Before you go, make sure to research the trail and the weather and avalanche conditions for that day to ensure you’ll be safe. Take the 10 essentials with you and leave a trip plan with a friend or family member so that they know when to expect you back. If you’re going into avalanche terrain, consider taking an avalanche safety course. While all of these trails are located in “simple” terrain, you should always check the conditions before going out and be prepared.

Getting There

Winter tires or mud + snow tires are required on the roads to Seymour and Cypress. The good news is the majority of Modo’s fleet is equipped with M+S tires and a portion of the fleet have full winter tires. The North Shore sees a lot of traffic during the winter from both skiers and snowshoers, so if you’re planning to drive up to Cypress or Seymour, leave early. Seymour currently runs a shuttle from the base of the mountain to the top to help accommodate traffic. If you’re going up Grouse Mountain, make sure to reserve the gondola in advance as it is running at lower capacity during the pandemic.

I have driven Modo vehicles to the top of both Cypress and Seymour and on days when I prefer to have a later start time, I use Modo to commute to North Van and take the Seymour shuttle. When I go snowshoeing off the Sea to Sky or in Manning Park, I usually prefer to take a vehicle with full winter tires. My favourite vehicle for everyday use is the Toyota Corolla on Charland & Blue Mountain and my favourite vehicle with snow tires is the Toyota RAV4 on Elliot & Dickenson!

Seymour Mountain

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Dog Mountain and Dinky Peak (6km, 260m elevation gain) – The trail to Dog Mountain and back is 5km and has a great view of the city from the end of the trail. Extend your trip by 1km and snowshoe the Dinky Peak loop on your way back, which has a beautiful view of the backcountry.

Brockton Point AKA First Peak (4km, 200m elevation gain) – The First Peak trail takes you up the edge of the ski resort to the top of the chair lift. It’s a steady, steep trail, so come prepared for a climb, but the view from the top is super rewarding!

Discovery Trails (customize your trail from 2-5km!) – For $15, you can purchase a trail pass to explore Seymour’s Discovery Trail network. This network has 4 different trail loops that are flagged and managed by the resort and are a great place to try snowshoeing for the first time!

Grouse Mountain

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Dam Mountain AKA the Snowshoe Grind (5km, 400m elevation gain) – Reserve the gondola to the top of the mountain and get a great workout on the Snowshoe Grind up to Dam Mountain loop trail! From here you can see down to the city and out to the snowy backcountry!

Thunderbird Ridge (6.5km, 450m elevation gain) – Extend your day and continue an extra 1.5km and back from Dam Mountain along Thunderbird Ridge. This trail is usually less crowded with lots of powder to play in – plus an epic view of Crown Mountain!

Grouse Loop (1.5km, minimal elevation) – If the snowshoe grind isn’t your thing, check out Grouse Loop and explore the little winter wonderland hidden in the trees!

Cypress Mountain

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Hollyburn Mountain (7km, 400m elevation gain) – Hollyburn trail leaves from the nordic area and is one of the more challenging trails on the list, but boasts a beautiful view from the top. While a lot of these trails can be done with microspikes, I recommend taking snowshoes for the top section of this trail, which is wide and generally not as compact.

Bowen Island Lookout (3km, 120m elevation gain) – Bowen Island Lookout is a short trail that leaves from the downhill ski area and has a great view looking over Howe Sound. The trail cuts through the meadows and then climbs up to the lookout. Stop into the backcountry hut in the first parking lot (not the ski lodge) to get a free trail pass before you start.

Hollyburn Trails (customize your trail up to 10km!) – For $16, you can purchase a trail pass at the nordic area to explore 10km+ of flagged snowshoe trails. You can connect with the Hollyburn Mountain trail if you want to go all the way to the top.

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