Putting one foot in front of the other…
Hiking is the core activity of Wanderung. As an activity it is accessible to all, requires no special training, and asks the least up-front expense to get started.
If you are new to hiking, though user uploaded trail guides can be helpful, a guidebook is usually more reliable, and tested, so we feel it is the best place to start to give yourself a sense of the hiking options available in the Lower Mainland. A good guidebook and some of the links below should be a great starting point.
Lists of Trails
Club Tread trail database
Recommended Hiking Books
There are a myriad of guidebooks for the local mountains. As you become familiar with different books, you will find that each author has a unique style of writing and of describing trails. We have listed some of the more popular guidebooks (they are all about the same price in the region of $20), and anticipate that you will find one or two that suit your preferences.
103 Hikes in Southwestern BC by Jack Bryceland
First written in 1973 by Mary and David Macaree, this guidebook is one of the old standards. Each trail description has basic hike statistics, photographs, and points of interest. The latest edition is out now with updated maps and trail information as well as an index that sorts hikes according to season, estimated hiking time, and level of fitness.
Best Hikes and Walks of Southwestern British Columbia by Dawn Hanna
This guidebook contains lengthy trail descriptions, as well as information about the local history, flora, and fauna. Each trail description has an elevation profile, as well as basic hike statistics. An index at the back of the book sorts hikes by duration, difficulty, and recommended months. It is possible to do every hike in this book.
Don’t Waste Your Time in the BC Coast Mountains by Kathy and Craig Copeland
This guidebook is highly opinionated, with hikes sorted into four categories: Premier, Outstanding, Worthwhile, and Don’t Do. Day hikes, backpacking trips, and shoulder season hikes are listed in three separate chapters. Each trail description has basic hike statistics, a lengthy opinion of the trail, and a succinct route description. Note this book is currently out of print but you can buy the PDF for only $8 online which is great for printing before you venture out!
Scrambles in Southwest British Columbia by Matt Gunn
This guidebook describes scrambles in the local mountains. Each route description has basic statistics, vehicle requirements, and detailed driving, approach, and route descriptions. As well, each scramble route is shown with a line superimposed onto a photograph.
109 Walks in BC’s Lower Mainland by Mary & David Macaree
This guidebook describes trails and walkways for those who enjoy being outdoors but don’t necessarily crave a lot of elevation gain. Like 103 Hikes, this book contains an index that sorts trails according to season, estimated walking time, and fitness level.
BC Car-free by Brian Glover
This guidebook aims to fill the gap for those without a vehicle of their own, but has a reputation as being one of the best resources regardless of that. Also including kayak and cycle trips, Glover’s book is must have and, best of all, is freely available online. The budget hiker need only print the maps and guide pages.
Hiking the Gulf Islands: An Outdoor Guide to BC’s Enchanted Isles by Charles Kahn
“If you enjoy visiting (or living on) the largest of BC’s southern Gulf Islands, you’ll like this entertaining mix of history, anecdotes and tidbits. Kahn. . . has obviously done his research and generously illustrates the book with interesting old photographs.” – Vancouver Sun
“A detailed, thorough history of the island . . .” – BC Studies
Eight Wanderung “Classic” Hikes
Overwhelmed by the options? Allow us to suggest 8 “classics” done by Wanderung groups repeatedly since 2002. Reason? They offer a great variety of logistically simple places to go, a true hit list for anyone with none under their belt (we recommend this order due to snow line and increasing difficulty):
- Buntzen Lake – minimal elevation gain, near Port Moody
- Baden Powell (Deep Cove end) – a one-way hike with views and a suspension bridge, considered moderate
- Mt. Gardner – moderate hike on Bowen Island with some some steep parts, unique views
- Diez Vistas – moderate day hike with 10 viewpoints overlooking Indian Arm (see if you can find them all!)
- The Stawamus Chief – steep but rewarding and not too long, with great views over Squamish
- Mt. Seymour – North Shore-based hike with stunning views, considered moderate
- Elfin Lakes – longish but not steep, takes you into some stunning areas and doubles as a winter trip – please note that chains and snow tires are mandatory for this road in winter
- The Lions – considered quite difficult but very rewarding, leaves from Lions Bay. Please note, Wanderung does NOT recommend climbing to the summit of the West Lion!
You can obtain paper gearlists for different activities from Coast Mountain Sports (pick-up in store). MEC also has great gearlists online.
And as always, never leave home without the 10 essentials.
One of the most widely used map books for backcountry access is the Backroad Mapbooks: Vancouver, Coast and Mountains (Mussio Ventures). This book is available at MEC, book stores and many gas stations. A wealth of information on logging roads, camping, trails, fishing, etc. However it tends to be most useful in helping to navigate to the trailhead.
An excellent store for topo maps and charts is International Travel Maps and Books (ITMB) at 530 W. Broadway, Vancouver. The most popular BC 1:50,000 scale topo maps are also available at MEC.
Trail Ventures BC strives to produce accurate and detailed recreational trail maps for Chilliwack, South Chilcotin and the North Shore.
One of the best electronic topographic map products is E-Topo CD-ROM Topographic Maps of BC – E70003 Southwest British Columbia ($99.95), available at MEC and ITMB.
The Canadian Government now offers the “CanMatrix – Digital Topographic Maps of Canada” (NTS topo maps) free of charge. However, note that many of these are quite old (contours are frequently marked in feet) and may not be a reliable source for logging roads.
A helpful directory guide is as follows for the 1:50,000 scale series:
- 092 g Sunshine Coast, North Shore, Squamish, Garibaldi Park, Buntzen Lake, Golden Ears
- 092 h Chilliwack, Hope, Manning Park, Cathedral Provincial Park
- 092 j Whistler, Pemberton, D’Arcy, Duffey Lake
- 092 f Tofino, Strathcona Park
Another (somewhat unofficial) less comprehensive, but more helpful source of topo maps is Andreas Hamann’s images of Topographical Maps of SW BC.
The BC government has its own online mapping service called iMapBC and can display pretty much anything you want to know about land and water in BC. Since it is the official map of BC, it is the definitive source for names of creeks, mountains etc.
An alternative (and simplified) front-end to this service has been developed by Bas Rijniersce and is available at http://trail.brijn.nu/showmap.php.
Finally give Google Earth a try! High-resolution imagery is available for much of the Lower Mainland and is a great way to visualize the terrain defined by a topo map. If you have a Google account, you can create and save your own Google maps. There is also a topographical overlay option available, and the “terrain view” gives a nice alternative to Google Earth.
No Trace Hiking
“Take nothing but photographs. Leave nothing but footprints.” And try to minimize even these! It is important that ALL Wanderung members practice “No Trace” Hiking and Camping. At times it can be hard to determine what might be the right thing to do, but try and adhere to the 7 principles of the “Leave No Trace” philosophy:
- Plan ahead and prepare;
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces;
- Dispose of waste properly;
- Leave what you find;
- Minimize campfire impacts;
- Respect wildlife;
- Be considerate of other visitors.
If you observe others not adhering to these, please consider educating them (politely!).
Some trail tips from Adventuresmart.ca (note the third one, a much debated topic on Wanderung hikes!)
- Keep to the trail. Shortcuts contribute to erosion and can destroy sensitive growth.
- Slow your pace and announce your presence/intentions when approaching other users.
- Share the trail. Downhill yields to uphill. Hikers yield to horseback riders.
Specific Hike Area Information
Some links are the link for a given area. BC Parks has comprehensive information and should be forever in your bookmarks, other areas have their own pages. Expect this list to expand and feel free to pas on a link you think would be a good addition.
- BC Hydro Areas – includes Buntzen and Hayward Lakes along with the Stave, Jones, and the Ruskin Dam areas
- Garibaldi Park – information about Garibaldi Provincial Park, from Wedgemount Lake to Elfin Lakes and everything in between
- Manning Park – camping and hiking information for the entire Manning Park area
- West Coast Trail – in Pacific Rim National Park, includes links to other nearby areas
The above only covers a fraction of the pages dedicated to specific location. Check the general BC Parks page for a huge selection of additional options.
Disclaimer: The information provided in these pages should not be taken as accurate, complete or up-to-date. You should check this information yourself. The reader is warned that it is unreasonable to rely solely upon the information contained in these pages. By providing this information, Wanderung does not assume any liability for the use of this information by our readers. Terms & Conditions