By: Kim Regala, Staff Writer
As an avid hiker, the hardest part about transitioning to the colder seasons is saying goodbye to those beautiful summer trails that I’d venture off to on a weekly basis. While there are plenty of winter trails around, I never found them to be as enjoyable as I would have in the summer. However, my perspective on winter hikes took a 180 degree turn after experiencing the Hollyburn Peak trail.
This three-hour hike is located at the Cypress Provincial Park, to the left of the Nordic Cafe and ski and snowshoe rentals. Starting off with fairly level terrain, the gradual inclination of the hike commences a couple of minutes after passing by the power lines. From here is where the real uphill climb begins, as the trail only gets significantly steeper the further in you go. There’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that, for the most part, you will probably find yourself catching your breath and taking more breaks than you would have thought —— I know I sure did. With an elevation gain of 415 m in a span just of 3.5 km, there’s no doubt that this trail is a real cardio workout. However, the hard work definitely pays off as soon as you overcome the final trek up to the peak.
Though it was mostly foggy for the duration of my hike, the clouds eventually cleared up once I reached the top of the mountain, revealing an incredible panoramic perspective of Vancouver’s landscape. High altitudes are known for having thin air, but it was definitely the view from the peak that took my breath away. From the viewpoint, you can see the vast, snow-covered mountain ranges that surround Hollyburn Mountain, with Grouse Mountain off to the right and the Lions far into the distance. There were no benches to sit on, and the sub-zero temperatures had me shaking, but it was certainly worth it to spend a few extra moments taking in the awe-inspiring view.
Based on my experience, I’m not surprised that the Hollyburn Peak trail is recognized as one of the most popular trails in Vancouver. But before you decide to venture off into this winter wonderland, make sure to bring the proper gear and equipment. As always, water and food are essential to every hike. Proper hiking shoes are an absolute must, as well as spikes or snowshoes, which can be rented at the Cypress Bowl. While walking sticks are optional, they were very helpful in overcoming the steepest uphill climbs. Most importantly, bring a buddy to keep you company and to share the view with on this beautiful three-hour trek.