As you know, we’ve got a firm and very deep love of all things Canadian! Beyond the delicious Poutine in beautiful Quebec and the best places spots to see in Vancouver, there’s one thing that keeps drawing us back; the great outdoors! This is especially true when it comes to British Columbia, with its vast and unspoilt natural beauty. Even better, there’s a heap of the best hikes in British Columbia that’ll take you right to them.
After visiting the best places British Columbia, driving from Vancouver to Calgary and hopping over from Alaska (via the White Pass and Yukon Railroad); we’ve come to see BC as our Canadian home. This is exactly why I wanted to share some of the best hikes in British Columbia to experience on your trip.
To make things easier, I’ve listed relatively (easy-to-visit) hiking trails and nothing too far north (which can be totally hard to visit). Most of these should be within easy-ish reach of bigger and popular spots in British Columbia; meaning you should find a fair few that’ll work on your trip.
Take a look, below, at the best hikes in British Columbia to experience. Have the best time exploring this totally epic province.
1.) Sunshine Coast Trail, Sunshine Coast
We loved the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia and had the most incredible time exploring as part of our trip to Vancouver.
Plus, the Sunshine Coast Trail is one of British Columbia’s two most popular multi-day hikes to experience.
Beginning in Sarah Point and ending in Saltery Bay, this 180-km hike is not as ridiculously difficult as its competition (even if very long). You see, the North Coast Trail, but it is over three times as long and does have areas that can be extremely strenuous.
As you’d expect in this unspoilt area the province, the sunrises and sunsets are nothing short of spectacular, and the opportunity to experience backcountry life means that you will see many animals along the way, ranging from seabirds to black bears and even the occasional timber wolf.
There are a number of huts located along the way, which means you will have at least some semblance of shelter, but still, be sure to take all necessary precautions in regards to storing food to avoid attracting nighttime wildlife gatecrashers.
2.) Al’s Habrich Ridge Trail, Squamish
Take the Sea to Sky gondola (see their website for when it will reopen) to the town of Squamish to the starting point of this moderately difficult hike. Not necessarily for the novices, this hike can get steep at certain points.
Along the way, you will walk through old forests and cross thriving streams before arriving at a large rock that must be conquered via a rope ladder. Trust me, though, it’s not as scary as it sounds.
From here, you will experience a heart-pounding stroll through glacial fields before you are rewarded with an absolutely unforgettable view of Howe Sound at the summit. This alone makes it one of the best hikes in British Columbia.
Taking around 5-6 hours to hike, one of the highlights of Al’s Habrich Ridge Trail comes at the very end, as the walk leads you out near the majestic Neverland Lake. You want to be sure to take the time to stop here and explore, as it is worth a day trip for itself alone!
3.) Black Tusk, Garibaldi Provincial Park
The most spectacular mountain in Garibaldi Provincial Park, this is a fairly difficult, 29-km hike that’s tough!
Taking the trail on the left leads you Taylor Meadows, which is a particularly gorgeous sight in the late summer, when the alpine wildflowers are at their absolute peak, while the right path leads you to the breathtaking Garibaldi Lake, a pristinely scenic body of water famous for its untouched beauty.
Both paths converge onto the main trail, which takes you to the base of Black Tusk itself. Here, there are unparalleled views of Garibaldi Lake below, along with sweeping panoramas of Garibaldi Park itself!
Be sure to pay close attention to where you are climbing or walking, as the rocks up at the summit can be quite loose, causing serious injury or even death if you happen to misplace your step.
Also, if you do decide to camp, you will need to apply for a paid-for permit (which can be obtained, here).
We did this one one of our trips (including a stop in Whistler) and totally loved it.
4.) Brandywine Falls, Brandywine Falls Provincial Park
One of the most famous landmarks located on British Columbia’s spectacular Sea to Sky Highway, it is nicely located between Squamish and Whistler.
An absolute must-see for explorers of all ages, the trek to the falls is short (approximately 1-km) and relatively easy.
Though, don’t let the flat terrain fool you! Once you arrive at the viewpoint, you will find yourself gazing at the majestic falls, which are over 70-m tall!
Come early to avoid the crowds and be sure to spend some time taking photos and simply soaking in the majesty that is one of the most beautiful waterfalls and best hikes in British Columbia that’s relatively easy.
5.) Elfin Lakes, Garibaldi Provincial Park
Located in Garibaldi Provincial Park (Can you tell we love it?), this is a very popular hike that can be quite long.
Approximately 23-km round trip, the moderately paced Elfin Lakes Trail takes you through the remarkable red heather meadows along a scenic alpine pathway that provides gorgeous views of the mountains and even some pretty little waterfalls as well.
The crown jewel is the Elfin Lakes themselves, which are clear and sparkling with primitive beauty.
While you cannot camp on the shores of the lakes themselves, there is plenty of approved campsites available about a mile or so away. Be sure to book your spot early, as these sites can fill up quickly, particularly in the summertime!
6.) Joffrey Lakes, Joffrey Lakes Provincial Park
This is a very popular hiking spot, particularly in the summertime, when you can spend time relaxing on the shores of some of the most beautiful lakes in all of British Columbia.
Now, the Joffrey Lakes Trail is fairly easy and family-friendly, as the drive to the trailhead takes up the majority of any elevation gain.
Your trek will lead you past three lakes, all of which are absolutely spectacular, with their crystalline-blue waters framed by the alpine forest and a backdrop of looming mountains.
The entire hike takes about three to four hours (more if you stroll), but you will want to allow extra time for soaking in those vistas of the lakes.
7.) Juan de Fuca Trail, Vancouver Island
Located in the Vancouver Islands, the Juan de Fuca Trail is a long and difficult, 47-km hike that typically takes around four days to complete. This is the kind of hike that’s suited for those wanting a challenge.
Though, fear not, you can do small section and not complete all of the trail in one go. This way, you’ll get a taster of the route and hike at your own pace. Don’t feel obliged to finish it all!
If you do, begin can begin your journey at the southern trailhead, which is located at the spectacularly beautiful China Beach. Alternatively, you can begin in the north at Botanical Beach, which is equally scenic and famous for its teeming tidepools. Both are great and it doesn’t really matter which you choose.
Along the route, there is plenty of opportunities for viewing marine wildlife along the path as well, including orcas and right whales (if you’re lucky). It is important to keep in mind that you are in very isolated terrain here, and there are plenty of land animals to consider, including bears and even the occasional cat. Therefore, be sure to hike in groups, carry bear spray and store all food properly.
Finally, I don’t want to sound like a nag but the weather here can change quickly on the island. This means it is absolutely essential to pack gear for cooler and/or very wet conditions. Waterproof layers are always a win!
8.) The Lions Trail, Lions Bay
One of the most spectacular hikes you will ever undertake anywhere in the world, it is also not for the fainthearted. This 15-km trek located near Vancouver is difficult, particularly at the end of the trail.
If you are up to the challenge, the walk through the pristine forest gives way to an absolutely breathtaking view of Howe Sound and Lion’s Bay. This is the point in the hike in which you are well-advised to stop and enjoy the well-deserved panoramic view before heading back the way you came.
While the most experienced hikers may elect to undertake the dangerous scramble that leads you the very top of the summit, the view is beautiful enough where you are without taking unnecessary risks. No one likes a reckless hiker!
9.) Mount Cheam (peak) Trail, Bridal Feil Falls Park
While getting to the initial trailhead can tough (requiring a four-wheel drive), once you begin the Mount Cheam Trail, you will think you have been transported to another world!
While the initial summit may look intimidating, the elevation gain is fairly moderate. Though, this is still a tough and considerably hard hike that’s really only for experienced hikers.
Here, you will catch spectacular views of Mount Baker in Washington as you climb up to the top, yet nothing can prepare you for the sweeping, panoramic sights waiting for you at the top.
From gazing down upon the Fraser Valley, perhaps even catching a glimpse of Harrison Lake on the clearest days. This is an epic trek to take your time on.
10.) North Coast Trail, Cape Scott Provincial Park
Located in Cape Scott Provincial Park, this 43-km hiking trail is difficult in pace, yet absolutely legendary in regards to scenery, diversity and opportunity for wildlife viewing.
Not only can the pathways be steep in sections, but there are also many points that become very narrow and muddy, particularly during the rainy season. To be prepared, be sure to come prepared with good footwear, and watch where you are stepping.
The walk along the shoreline of the North Coast is absolutely jaw-dropping in its ruggedness and is easily one of the best hikes in British Columbia to experience.
Along the way, you will have the opportunity to explore tide pools and even keep an eye out for orcas and seals in the ocean waters. Bears are also very common in this area, so be sure to give them plenty of space and store food accordingly.
11.) Three Brothers Mountain Trail, Manning Park
This is one of the most popular day trails and best hikes in British Columbia to try.
The moderately difficult trail spans approximately 20-km, so it is a solid day hike, yet the beauty of the area is a major reason why this trek is so near and dear to the hiker’s heart.
The majority of the trek occurs on the aptly named Heather Trail, and as you might expect, the meadows of wildflowers you will experience are absolutely out of this world. Also, the summit of the First Brother is nothing short of spectacular for views. It is post-card perfect, with the flowering meadows below nicely framing the gorgeous Cascade Range in the distance.
12.) Stawamus Chief, Stawamus Chief Park
Known amongst locals simply as “The Chief” this is one of the most popular hikes in the gorgeous Sea to Sky Corridor.
The Chief itself is one of the largest granite monoliths in all of North America to see! While the 7-km hike is fairly short, it is quite steep (and hard) for the majority of the way up. This makes it one of the best hikes in British Columbia for more experienced hikers to conquer!
Once you reach the top, you are finely rewarded for all of your hard work, as you will have a panoramic view of the Squamish Valley and Howe Sound.
The summit is an awesome spot to spend an hour or two relaxing, taking in refreshment and soaking up the glorious scenery all around you.