By: Jenna Beetstra

Hiking appears to be on the rise, particularly due to the Instagram-worthy shots people climb to the top for. There is a reason our license plates all say “Beautiful British Columbia”; this province truly is a natural beauty with so many extraordinary places to explore.

Before going into the different hikes that I recommend, I’m going to start with the most important part of hiking: be prepared!

You may think you’ll be fine out there on the shorter hikes, but accidents happen and I have had friends who, even though they hike often, slip, fall, and hurt themselves. Luckily, they brought the necessary supplies to get out safely.

There are some things that no matter what hike you go on you should always carry in your backpack. Water is number one! Even if you aren’t someone who drinks a lot of water, you should if you are hiking. If your muscles get tired and you’re dehydrated, you may not be able to make it back down. This happened to a guy who went hiking in North Van and had to spend the night on the mountain with the search and rescue crew. Not only is it embarrassing to have to be rescued on what you thought was a simple day hike, but it also costs our city money and resources that could be better used elsewhere.

When packing for a hike, here are some important items that could end up saving your life.

Must haves:

  1. Water
    Can’t stress this one enough. Seriously.
  2. Proper shoes
    For the rougher hikes, proper hiking boots are highly recommended. Break them in.
  3. Map and compass
    You may have never used an old-school map before, but if your phone dies, it could save your life.
  4. Protection from the elements
    Sunscreen, sunglasses, a jacket, and extra layers.
  5. Flashlight or headlamp
    Even if you don’t plan to be out past dark, it’s not a heavy extra and is always good to have.
  6. First aid supplies
    You don’t have to bring a full kit, but make sure to have some of the basics such as gauze pads, antiseptic wipes, bandages, blister treatment, pain relief such as ibuprofen, tensor bandages, and tape.
  7. Knife or a swiss army knife
    It’ll be really helpful in an emergency, trust me.
  8. Food
    Enough to keep you going for at least a day.
  9. Fire starter
    There are tons of homemade fire starters you can make, just don’t forget to bring something to light it, i.e. waterproof matches.

You may be thinking that you don’t want to have to carry a backpack with all these extra things, but most of them can be found in small travel sizes and don’t actually weigh very much. If you run into danger or there is an accident, I guarantee you will be wanting these things with you. Plus, if you’re going with a friend, you can split up the supplies between you so it weighs less!

It is important to do your research before you go, and to make sure you know the hazards of your hike. For example, if it’s a popular area for bears, bring bear spray! I don’t know about you all, but I wouldn’t enjoy an encounter with a bear and especially not without some deterrent to keep it away from me.

Speaking of bears and wildlife, please DO NOT feed them. Bears who get habituated to humans and human food often end up getting shot because they can become a danger to people. Even if they have not harmed a human yet, if they display any aggressive tendencies they may be killed as a precaution. Do not feed the wildlife. Also, be considerate and keep nature clean by picking up after yourself and not littering.

There are hotsprings near Pemberton that had to be closed for possibly the next two years due to increased aggressive bear activity caused by people being irresponsible with their food and leaving behind garbage. These are events that are easily avoidable, so everyone please be responsible, respectful hikers and make sure you encourage your friends to do the same!

Now onto the actual hikes!

  1. Buntzen Lake
    Approximately two-and-a-half hours
    This one is relatively easy with some uphill parts that will get your heart pumping! One half of the lake is less hilly which is best saved for the end. Check out the maps around the beach.
  2. Quarry Rock
    Deep Cove, North Vancouver
    One-and-a-half hours
    Most Vancouverites have done this hike, but if you haven’t then head on over and get a nice view of the Indian Arm.
  3. Lighthouse Park
    West Vancouver
    Two hours
    Quite easy with some small hills, although there are many trails in this area if you’re looking for something longer.
  4. Deer Lake
    One hour
    This is more of a walk, but it is still nice nonetheless! You may get lucky and see some of the baby ducks or geese this time of year.
  5. Sasamat Lake
    Belcarra, Port Moody
    Approximately one hour around the lake
    Easy, but fun. On a hot day you can jump off the dock that cuts across the lake.
  6. The Lynn Loop
    North Vancouver
    One-and-a-half hours  
    This is one of the shorter and easier trails in Lynn Valley Headwaters, but the area is filled with hikes of different distances and levels!
  7. Coquitlam Crunch Trail
    One-and-a-half hours
    Think of this as a mini Grouse Grind.
  8. Cascade Falls
    30 minutes
    I know TLC said “Don’t go chasing waterfalls,” but they sure are lovely.
  9. Stawamus Chief
    Six hours
    Hiking boots are needed for this one! It’s a toughie, but the view at the top is spectacular and great for photos
  10. Norvan Falls
    North Vancouver
    Five hours
    This one is not for first-time hikers, but if you’re ready to tackle something a little more difficult, the scenery is beautiful!
  11. Panorama Ridge
    11 hours
    This is no joke! This hike gives you a breathtaking view of the turquoise waters of Garibaldi Lake. Many people turn this hike into an overnighter with camping, so if you’re wanting a fun adventure after working up with some other hikes definitely look into this!

Now that you’ve got some ideas for hikes of all levels, get out there and explore. Marvel at the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Like the saying goes, “West coast, best coast,” so put on some shoes and get adventuring!