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It's a winter wonderland up there, folks.
As snow blankets B.C.’s Coast Mountains, hikers across the Lower Mainland look forward to strapping on snowshoes to enjoy the trails.
Here are four free and easy trails in Metro Vancouver’s North Shore mountains that are perfect for snowshoeing newbies as well as for experienced snowshoers kicking off the season.
When the snowpack is light and patchy, hikers can tackle these trails with traction aids known as ice cleats.
Make sure to get an early start to score parking, which fills up quickly. (The ski resorts also reserve the choicest parking spots for paying customers, so expect to do some extra walking.) Please keep dogs on leash and carry out pet poop.
Reminders: Consult the avalanche forecast (and consider avalanche skills training), check B.C. Parks trail reports, bring the essentials, leave a trip plan with a responsible person, and leave no trace.
Photo: Stephen Hui
Take a loop on the Black Mountain Plateau and visit its frozen lakes. Bask in the view or the clouds from an easily gained summit.
Find parking at the downhill ski area. Pick up a free backcountry access tag at the Black Mountain Lodge before taking the marked corridor (open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.) through Cypress Mountain Resort to the trailhead. Fork left for the winter trail ascending to the Black Mountain Plateau.
On the mountaintop, opt for a counterclockwise loop to visit the south summit before Sam and Theagill lakes. (Accessed via the far end of the loop, Eagle Bluff, with its big view, is a worthy extension to this trip.) Return to the ski area base.
Photo: Christopher Porter
It only requires a short outing to survey the fjord at the centre of the newly designated AÌtlka7tsem/Howe Sound Biosphere Region from above. As the destination viewpoint’s name suggests, Bowen Island is the focal point.
Find parking at the downhill ski area. Pick up a free backcountry access tag at the Black Mountain Lodge before taking the marked corridor (open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.) through Cypress Mountain Resort to the trailhead. Fork right for the winter trail to Bowen Lookout.
From the viewpoint, look out at Gambier Island, Mount Elphinstone on the Sunshine Coast, and the Salish Sea. Head back the way you came.
READ MORE: The Perfect Southern Alberta Getaway (If You’re Obsessed with Yellowstone)
When embarking on the first snowshoe of the year, this is my go-to trail. You’ll likely share the summit with space-invading ravens and persuasive whiskey jacks, but please don’t feed the wildlife.
Start at the cross-country ski area, but don’t enter the ticketed zone. The marked trail skirts the ski area boundary before rising above the ski runs to the peak.
On a clear day, the summit affords grand views of the Twin Sisters, Cathedral Mountain, and peaks beyond. Make tracks back to the parking lot.
Want a grand vantage of Metro Vancouver with only minor uphill? The bluff viewpoint on Dog Mountain is just the (free) ticket in all seasons.
Set off from the trailhead near the base of the Mystery Peak Express chairlift. Keep left the whole way to Dog Mountain. Enter the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve, and cross a bridge over the outlet of First Lake.
From the destination bluff, scan the Burrard Peninsula for SFU-topped Burnaby Mountain and Downtown Vancouver’s skyscrapers. Retrace your steps to the trailhead. Optionally, tack on a little bit more exertion by surmounting the aptly named Dinkey Peak (take a left at First Lake) on the way back.
Stephen Hui is the author of Destination Hikes In and Around Southwestern British Columbia, a new guide to 55 hiking trips. His first book, 105 Hikes In and Around Southwestern British Columbia, was a #1 B.C. bestseller. Learn more: 105hikes.com
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