Enjoying the great outdoors in British Columbia is easy with close to 400 provincial parks and a total of 850 parks and protected areas along with year-round resorts. The land diversity of the province is awe-inspiring with more than fifty mountain ranges, and many plateaus and plains with green valleys separating all the different areas. The weather is just as diverse and varies dramatically from area to area, as does the wildlife and vegetation. What an opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts!
Hiking is the perfect activity in BC, with a moderate climate and heavily treed areas. Read on for a list of 10 great BC hikes!
10. Strathcona Park
Strathcona Provincial Park, founded in 1911 is the oldest provincial park in Canada. It is located almost in the centre of Vancouver Island, approximately 9 km east of Gold River. One can expect rugged mountain wilderness with the highest peaks on Vancouver Island, totally almost more than 250,000 hectares. There are hikes to appeal to all hiking skill levels.
There are two popular areas to visitors: Buttle Lake and Forbidden Plateau. The park does not have any commercial facilities, which appeals to wilderness seeking visitors.However there are many spots to camp and Buttle Lake provides some great swimming and kayaking. Mount Washington, located close to the park, offers cross-country and downhill skiing as well as hiking and mountain climbing in the summer. To truly enjoy the best scenery one must hike or backpack into the alpine regions.
9. Kokanee Glacier Park
Situated just north of Nelson, in the Selkirk Mountains the ruggedly beautiful Kokanee Glacier Park offers backcountry adventures for the entire family. Most of the park sits above 1,800 metres in elevation, and the parks 3 glaciers: Kokanee, Caribou and Woodbury, feed over 30 lakes and are the headwaters of many creeks.
Kokanee Lake is 400 metres wide and 1,200 metres in length, surrounded by steep cliffs and rock slides, its an exquisite alpine jewel. Other breathtaking lakes in the park include the popular Gibson, Kaslo and Tanal Lakes the gem-coloured Sapphire Lakes, and the milky Joker Lakes.
There are over 85 km of well-marked hiking trails within the park. Hikers and climbers of all levels will be mesmerized by the trails, glaciers, waterfalls and pristine lake that Kokanee Glacier Park has to offer. Be sure to remember that the glaciers can be dangerous and one should stay off them at all times.
8. Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is located 45 km east of Revelstoke and 57 km west of Golden, and is a part of the Columbia Mountains Natural Region. These mountains are steep and the valleys narrow, where there are only a few easy hikes and a fair number of challenging ones. The park has over 400 glaciers and the third longest cave system in Canada, the Nakimu Cave system.
Most day hikes in the Illecillewaet-area day have an elevation gain of about 1,000 meters between the start and finish of the trail. All trails are very well constructed with well-marked signs. The change in elevation is well worth it as you are rewarded with amazing viewpoints.
7. Stawamus Chief
Stawamus Chief Provincial Park protects the 700 metre massive granite cliffs near Squamish, located on the Sea to Sky Highway from Vancouver to Whistler. Established in 1997, the park is a mecca for hiking and internationally known for rock climbing. The hiking trails lead to three peaks with striking views of Howe Sound, surrounding Coastal mountains and the city of Squamish.
The Chief is the second largest granite monolith in the world and is the ideal nesting habitat for the Peregrine Falcon, making for great bird watching. Nesting season is from March to July and visitors must obey posted closures of climbing routes.
6. Mount Assiniboine Park
Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park offers visitors shimmering lakes, glistening glaciers, towering mountain peaks and alpine meadows. The park is a wilderness area where there are no supplies or equipment available. This untouched part of the Canadian Rockies does not have any roads and trails provide the only land access. Hiking, camping and mountain climbing are all popular activities, as are fishing, horseback riding and ski touring. Mount Assiniboine Park is located along the continental divide near the south east corner of British Columbia. The park covers over 39,000 hectares and is part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain UNESCO World Heritage Site.
5. Valley of a Thousand Falls
Where can you find the most waterfalls in one place in Canada? That’s right: The Valley of a Thousand Falls, in Mount Robson Provincial Park. The valley is located west of Mount Robson is great backpacking country with a few campsites. The must see falls are Emperor Falls, White Falls and Falls of the Pool, which are all found on the Robson River. The best place to start your hikes is at the Mount Robson Information Centre.
4. Grouse Grind
The Grouse Grind is Vancouver’s most popular hike with over 100,00 people hiking it each year. It’s a challenging hike requiring endurance and physical strength to make it to the top. It’s a short 2.9 kilometers, with steep terrain covering an overall elevation gain of 2,800 feet. Most hikers use the trail as a natural version of a stair master, where regulars know exactly how long it takes them to get to the top. Since the trail is used so much, maintenance workers have had to build wooden stairs on much of the path in order to prevent further erosion from overuse.
3. Blackwater Canyon
Blackwater Canyon trail is a scenic and dangerous hike, wrapping around the canyon with gorgeous views. It’s a well marked 3 km rounnd trip hike along the Blackwater Canyon. You can expect to hike through pines and flowers to the canyon rim and there are plenty of viewpoints and picnic sites. Backcountry hiking heads to the Fraser River. To reach the trailhead, go 60 kilometers west of Quesnel on Blackwater Road. Blackwater River is a great for fly fishing and has nearby campsites.
2. Black Tusk
The Black Tusk is one of those unmistakable landmarks that one seems to see from just about anywhere on the Squamish to Whistler corridor. The jagged, dark edges of Black Tusk is one of the most scenic and one-of-a-kind hikes in southwestern British Columbia. Located in Garibaldi Black Tusk is the most spectacular mountain in the area and is located in Garibaldi Provincial Park.
Although it is possible to finish this hike in one day, the elevation gain and distance make for an extremely long day. Because of this, some prefer to hike Taylor Meadows or Garibaldi Lake and camp overnight, and then hike to Black Tusk the next day. If you do decide to hike the Tusk in one day, be sure to allow for time to return to the parking lot while it is still daylight.
1. West Coast Trail
One of the most world famous hiking and back-packing trail. It is known to be one of the most satisfying ways to experience the west coast temperate rain forest climate. It is a 77 kilometre hike along the west coast of Vancouver Island and lies within the southern boundaries of the Pacific Rim National Park. The 7 to 10-day adventure trek attracts hikers world-wide. The trail is open for trekkers from May 1 to September 30 and is not recommended to travel during other times, as it is very hazardous. If one isn’t up for a week-long trek, ther are several legs of the trail that are fantastic hikes.