18 Scenic and Easy Hikes in Southwestern BC


I’ve featured a lot of hikes on this blog and while I try to write about all kinds of hikes, I have a tendency to focus on my big, backcountry trips. But I believe hiking is for everyone and I’ve done lots of great, short, easy hikes that I want to feature in this post. Just keep in mind that no matter where you’re hiking or how short the hike is – always be prepared. Check out my post on personal safety to learn more about trip planning and the 10 essentials.

Without further ado, here are all my favourite short hikes by region:

Sea to Sky

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Brandywine Falls (1km, 0m gain) – Located right on the Sea to Sky highway before you get to Whistler. Walk out to this amazing waterfall viewpoint! You can extend the hike down to the bottom of the falls, but wayfinding skills are required as it’s not well marked.
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Brohm Lake (4km, 100m gain) – Located just past Squamish on the Sea to Sky highway. Do the circuit around the lake, or extend the hike up to Tantalus Lookout or Brohm Interpretive Forest. A great place for swimming in the summer.
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Alice Lake (1.5km, 0m gain) – Located in Alice Lake Provincial Park, just past Squamish. Hang out at the day use area and go for a stroll around the lake. Great for swimming in the summer.

North Shore

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Lighthouse Park (6km, 0m gain) – Located down by the water in West Van, make your own adventure in this park! Hike to the lighthouse and hang out on the rocks or explore the many forested nature trails.
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Bowen Island Lookout (4km, 110m gain) – Located in Cypress Provincial Park, you can do this trail all year, just use snowshoes in the winter. The trail is a little steep, but has amazing views of Howe Sound and Bowen Island.
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Dog Mountain (5km, 0m gain) – Located in Seymour Provincial Park, this is another hike that can be done in summer or winter. The trail has great views of the city – add a kilometre and hike to Dinkey Peak on the way down for mountain views.

Tri-City Area

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Belcarra Regional Park (5km, 0m gain) – There are two hike options in Belcarra: Jug Island and Burns Point, which leave in opposite directions from the parking lot. Both are 5km, but Burns Point is the easier hike. Jug Island hikes up and down while Burns Point follows the coast.
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Crystal Falls (7km, 0m gain) – Located in Coquitlam, this is one of the longer hikes on the list, but it’s totally flat and has rewarding views of the falls at the end! Wear appropriate shoes – this one can be muddy!
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Minnekhada Park (4km, 100m gain) – Located near Pitt River in Coquitlam, there are two lake loops that are ~4km each, or if you’d like more of a challenge, hike 7km up to High Knoll for a view of the valley. Great for birdwatching.

Heading East

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Gold Creek East: Lower Falls (5.5km, 0m gain) – Located in Golden Ears Park, it’s a beautiful, flat hike along the river to Lower Falls. Extend the hike by continuing on to Viewpoint Beach.
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Bridal Veil Falls (1km, 50m gain) – Located just off Highway 1 past Chilliwack, a short hike to a huge waterfall cascading down over the rocks!
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Paintbrush Trail (3km, 0m gain) – Located in Manning Park, it’s a bit of a drive, but Paintbrush Trail has the most amazing views of the surrounding mountains and at the right time of year, is bursting with beautiful alpine wildflowers.

Coastal and Islands

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Bowen Island Sea Walk Trail (2km, 0m gain) – Located at the Southwest end of Bowen Island, this short there-and-back hike to Cape Roger Curtis Lighthouse has beautiful ocean views.
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Smugglers Cove (3km, 0m gain) – Located on the Sunshine Coast, Smuggler’s Cove is a beautiful coastal trail that winds through wetland and rocky coast outside Halfmoon Bay.
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Mount Norman (2.5km, 200m gain) – Located on South Pender Island, Mount Norman is the steepest hike on the list, but has beautiful views of the Gulf Islands. Extend the hike to Beaumont Campsite (6km) to make this a truly coastal hike.

Vancouver Island

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Mystic Beach (4km, 65m gain) – Located past Sooke on the far south of the Island, this is a great way to sample one of the highlights of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. Hike through the woods to a beautiful sandy beach.
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Little Qualicum Falls (3km, 65m gain) – Located just off the Alberni Highway in Little Qualicum Falls Park, this short loop takes you along the river to several beautiful waterfalls!
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Tonquin Beach Trail (3km, 65m gain) – Located in Tofino, Tonquin Beach is a great place to watch the sun set, hang out on the golden sands, fish, or have a campfire. Just bring your headlamp for the hike back.

Snowshoeing Bowen Island Lookout

The last snowshoe trail I’ve done on the North Shore to date is the Bowen Island lookout trail at Cypress Mountain. We got a ton of snow in the city in 2019, right at the moment my friend Sean was visiting from Newfoundland. I’m not sure he was entirely thrilled about it given that he had just left a lot of snow behind, but either way we had the perfect conditions to go snowshoeing up to the lookout.

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We’d had a late night out the evening before, so we didn’t have the earliest start to the day and as a result had to battle the traffic to get up to Cypress. I don’t think I’ve ever parked so far away from the base (seriously, we had to park on the side of the road just past the turn-off for the nordic area), but despite the 2km walk to the trailhead, I had the best time! I’m inclined to thank the company since Sean is one of the most appreciative and enthusiastic guests.

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I’ve been up to the lookout several times in the summer, but this was my first time going up in the winter. Like I said, we had excellent conditions – it was a beautiful day and there was lots of fresh powder on the ground. The winter trail takes a different route up than the summer trail, which involves winding through the meadows at the base and then switchbacking up towards the branch to the lookout.

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There was obviously a lot of people on the mountain, but the trail never felt too busy, so I assume a lot of the cars were skiers. I brought both snowshoes and spikes for the trip – I used my snowshoes at the bottom to frolic around in the meadows and climb up the switchbacks, but I switched to my spikes for the switchbacks on the way down because I found it easier to navigate. Overall though it was definitely a snowshoe day!

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We had our lunch at the lookout and took our time enjoying the view. Looking back at the pictures apparently Sean had the experience of feeding a stellar’s jay, which is rare indeed! Whiskey Jacks will take anything you offer them, but rarely will a stellar’s jay (we only fed them nuts that are good for birds to eat (jays love peanuts), never feed them human food like bread or crackers!). It had been a bit of a mixed week for weather and this was our last activity before Sean went home, so we both thought ourselves super lucky to have such a gorgeous day! Now I just have to work on getting Sean back for summer adventures! He had planned to visit April 2020, but of course, Covid messed up those plans. One day though!

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