The perfect pre-season activity while you’re waiting for the snowpacks to melt
By Jacey Gibb, Distribution Manager
Great Inclinations is your go-to source for diving into the world of casual hiking in and around the Lower Mainland. Because hiking’s not just for assholes anymore.
After the winter we just had, this recent burst of high single-digit temperatures might have you thinking that summer’s just around the corner. The unfortunate reality is that we still have a few months of mildness before it’s full-on beach season—or true hiking season, for that matter.
Our local mountains were pounded with snow this winter, which is great for our water reservoirs, but it also means that some mountains will have snow until late April or May. In the interim, might I suggest giving snowshoeing a try?
Purists of either activity will disagree, but hiking and snowshoeing are basically the same thing, but occur during different seasons. They’re both done in the mountains or wilderness, both are a moderate-to-low impact workout, and both are incredibly accessible to everyone. One of my favourite lines is when someone says, “I don’t know how to snowshoe.” Can you walk? If so, then you can snowshoe.
Snowshoeing is also a relatively cheap endeavour. Most mountains have snowshoe rentals for around $15 to $18, but off-mountain business like MEC have day rentals for less. You should also keep in mind that unless you have a vehicle with snow tires, you’ll have to take a mountain shuttle to reach most of these trails.
Here are a few places you can try snowshoeing at whilst you wait for hiking season to start.
Always make sure you are prepared before heading out into the wilderness. Important information about hiking (and snowshoeing) safety can be found at northshorerescue.com and adventuresmart.ca.
Mount Seymour Ski Resort
If you’re a snowshoeing virgin, Mount Seymour Ski Resort is the ideal introduction. Their trails are mostly flat and fairly wide, so they can accommodate more groups of snowshoers traveling in either direction. You can also cover the majority of their trails in under a few hours, depending on what paths are closed.
Cypress Mountain Resort
Similar to Mount Seymour Ski Resort, the paths at Cypress Mountain Resort are well-maintained and plentiful, but there are more intermediate and advanced trails you can challenge yourself on. My biggest gripe with Cypress Mountain Resort is their cross-country ski trails and snowshoeing trails often intersect, so you regularly have to stop and give the right of way to skiers and any maintenance machinery going past.
Located adjacent to Mount Seymour Ski Resort, Dog Mountain is a free snowshoeing trail perfect for those wanting more of a challenge. You have the same inclinations of a regular hike—since that’s exactly what Dog Mountain is during the summer—complete with several outlooks along the way. Dog Mountain is quite popular though, and the trails are narrow, so be prepared to stop and let people who are descending the mountain go by.
Another free snowshoe trail, this one is accessible from the Cypress Mountain Resort parking lot. Hollyburn Peak is definitely the most challenging trail on this list, but also the most rewarding. There are three “summits” along the way, each one preceded by a steep incline. Really, any of these three are the perfect spot to plop down and eat some snacks, but the top offers the only 360-degree view—and it really is quite the view. If you’re going all the way to the top, allot about four hours round-trip.
This one’s more of a day trip, but Manning Park’s Lightning Lake offers a beautiful, expansive set of trails perfect for the casual snowshoe enthusiast. The terrain is mostly flat and there are several shortcuts throughout, so you can tailor travel time to however long you want. The full loop is about nine kilometres, or three hours. This trail’s also free, whereas the trails located inside Manning Park Resort require a snowshoeing pass.