Get the popular hikes out of the way, then seek out the ones less travelled
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.
Even if you’ve never stepped foot on a hiking trail, you’re probably familiar with at least one of the trails on this list.
For me, hiking is an opportunity to spent time outside, see some cool nature shit, and get away from densely-populated urban life (if only for a few hours). As such, crowds are a major deal-breaker for me when it comes to hiking trails, and they’re also what each of these hikes have in common. These are some of the most popular hikes around the Lower Mainland, and are great for their own reasons, but their popularity takes away from the overall enjoyment. My advice: Avoid peak hiking times (evenings and weekends), make your way down the list, and then never look back as you move onto less crowded, more enjoyable hikes.
Everything about the North Vancouver neighbourhood of Deep Cove is picturesque, including the popular Quarry Rock. This hike is also accessible, in almost every sense—the manageable terrain, the two-hour round-trip completion time—you can even get to it via public transit! There’s also a fantastic outlook of the Burrard Inlet once you make it to the top, but the volume of foot traffic is incredibly off-putting. If it’s a beautiful day and you feel like visiting Quarry Rock, just remember that hundreds of people are thinking of the exact same thing.
Less of a hike, and more of a leisurely stroll through varied elevations. From the parking lot, you walk for about 30 minutes over rolling hills before reaching the main lighthouse area, which then diverges into multiple paths. One leads down to the water, where you can hobble over wet boulders, but for the full experience, I’d suggest heading towards higher ground. There are multiple lookouts with beautiful views of the ocean and as some of the neighbouring islands. Parking is quite limited at Lighthouse Park though, so make sure you arrive early or later in the afternoon to avoid the midday rush.
The Grouse Grind
I hate the Grouse Grind. I don’t hate the actual trail itself, which is actually quite beautiful. I hate the uncontrollable masses who crowd the trail from start to finish; I hate that it’s a one-way hike, and you have to pay $10 to ride a gondola back down; I hate that there are people who think this is what every hike is like and let their Grind experience sour them on hiking in general. It’s convenient to get to, and the view is pretty spectacular for how long you’re actually hiking for, but for every other reason I try to avoid the Grind. Do it once, bring your wallet so you can enjoy a beer at the top and pay for a gondola ticket back down, and never look back.
Located between Vancouver and Squamish, you probably know this hike better by its nickname “The Chief.” The Chief starts with a steep incline on wooden steps and remains on a similar incline once you’re on the path. From basically start to finish, you can expect swathes of humans to populate the trail, so try to start early (like, 7 or 8 a.m.). Parking is also incredibly limited at both of the parking lots; if you arrive later, you’ll likely find yourself waiting in your vehicle for a parking spot to open up. Unlike the other hikes on our list, The Chief boasts three peaks, and the majority of people choose to visit the first—and closest. If you’re thinking about visiting the farther peaks, check online to see what weather conditions are like. (The higher peaks have snow well into the spring, which can make for slippery hiking conditions.) Thankfully, the view from any of the three peaks is worth the price of admission—which is free!