When it comes to hiking areas, residents of and visitors to British Columbia are spoiled for choice. Strewn with picturesque mountain ranges, undisturbed waterways like rivers and lakes, and beautifully surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, it’s not surprising that people in British Columbia tend to list hiking and camping as two of their favourite pastimes. (You can find all kinds of outdoor adventure ideas in our Backroad Mapbooks for BC)
Whether you’re a beginner hiker looking to build up your strength and stamina, an experienced outdoors-person eager for your next visual thrill, or you’re ready to introduce your children to the wonders of the BC natural landscape, there is a British Columbia hiking area to suit your needs.
Read on to find out more about six of the best hiking areas in BC. If you’re looking to involve your family pet in the outdoor fun, check out this guide to off-leash dog parks in Vancouver, Richmond and the lower mainland.
Garibaldi Provincial Park
Garibaldi Provincial Park hosts so many natural wonders that you could devote a season of hiking to this area alone. Garibaldi Lake is a firm favourite for day-trippers, campers, and hikers alike, with many commenting that the way the water in the lake changes colour as the seasons progress is something that must be seen to be believed.
For experienced hikers, Black Tusk is a formerly active volcano and the most outstanding peak within Garibaldi Provincial Park. The seven-kilometre hike from Garibaldi Lake to the base of Black Tusk is not for the faint of heart but will provide unparalleled views and an unmissable experience for those able to complete the trek.
No visit to Garibaldi Provincial Park would be complete without checking out the views from Panorama Ridge. For those that have already had the experience, the view from Panorama Ridge is often described as simply breathtaking, and one that changes with the seasons.
Rainbow Range Trail
A 16-kilometre round trip, the Rainbow Range Trail covers a sizeable area of the central interior of British Columbia. Experienced hikers could comfortably complete the entire trail in a day, while those wishing to go at a slower pace should consider bringing their camping gear and making the most of the opportunity. Except for the deep backcountry areas, most areas of Rainbow Range Trail are dog-friendly. Your dog will have a blast discovering the variety of scents on offer and soaking up the fresh air.
What makes Rainbow Range Trail unique is its interior location, offering a level of isolation that is often not experienced in other coastal and more popular hiking areas. Hikers who tackle the Rainbow Range Trail are treated to seemingly never-ending mountain views, with colours spanning the spectrum from yellow to red. Most picturesque from June to September, the Rainbow Range Trail can be lengthened by including one or more of the connected trails off the main route.
Stone Mountain Provincial Park
If you’re looking to venture further away from Vancouver into the picturesque northern Rocky Mountains, Stone Mountain Provincial Park is a must-see. Boasting more than 25,000 hectares of lakes, alpine meadows, valleys, and other unmissable sights, Stone Mountain Provincial Park offers a variety of hiking trails for adventurers of all experience levels.
Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times and are not permitted within park buildings or on beach areas, nor are they permitted in the backcountry areas for their own safety. That being said, Stone Mountain Provincial Park offers plenty of dog-friendly hiking options from a 1-kilometre round trip hike to a 70 kilometres loop trail that takes up to seven days to complete.
Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park
Four and a half hours east from Vancouver will bring you to Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park, home to some of BC’s most protected species of wildlife. From the Western screech own to the Pacific chorus frog, the tiny canyon wren to the impressive bighorn sheep, Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park provides a natural sanctuary for some of these at-risk species.
While dogs are permitted within the park, it will come as no surprise that they are required to be kept on-leash at all times – both for their own safety and to protect the delicate habitats of the variety of species that call the Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park home.
Brandywine Falls is a popular hiking hotspot with something for everyone. Beginners and families can enjoy an easy walk to a platform that offers spectacular waterfall views, while thrill-seekers and experienced hikers will enjoying the sometimes-difficult hike down to the canyon and pool below the falls.
For those with the right camera equipment, the challenging bush climbs down into the canyon will provide unbeatable photographic opportunities. Just don’t forget your waterproof camera housing and the right lens!
Extend your experience by including Brandywine Mountain and Brandywine Meadows in your hiking itinerary. While it is possible to experience all three Brandywine destinations in a full day, you could choose to tackle each location separately and make the most of the photographic and scenic opportunities at each.
Located in Stawamus Chief Provincial Park, Stawamus Chief (or simply the “Chief”) is a granite dome that rises more than 700 meters over the nearby township. One of the largest granite monoliths in North America, the Chief is accessible via an intermediate level hike that can take up to 6 hours to complete. You’ll need to conquer three separate peaks on your way, each of which provides an opportunity to stop and take in the views before continuing.
If you’re just getting started, aim to complete just the first summit – South Peak – on your first hike. The views from South Peak will be enough to pique your interest, keep you training, and have you coming back for more.
Photo Credit: adventuresinflannel.com
No matter how many hiking trips you’ve taken within British Columbia, there is always something new to see. Hailed by many as one of the most picturesque in America – and even the world – British Columbia hosts an unparalleled range of hikes to excite your senses and reinvigorate your soul. Whether you’re an experienced hiker searching for your next heart-stopping adventure, or a beginner looking for a family-friendly wholesome way to spend an afternoon, consider one of the above BC hiking areas for your next adventure.
If you’re able to, consider turning a day trip into a weekend away with the right camping gear. It’s only by spending the night in one of these stunning locations that you’ll truly be able to unwind and appreciate the beauty of your surroundings. You’ll be glad you did.
About The Author
James Woller is a long-time dog and outdoors enthusiast, as well as the owner of Release the Hounds and Jet Pet Resort, professional dog walking and boarding companies in Vancouver, Canada. On his days off from running his companies and hiking popular BC trails, he enjoys learning and writing about topics that are of interest to nature lovers and dog owners.
You can find your way to these and many more Backroad Maps with the help of our Backroad Mapbooks and Backroad GPS Maps. No other map product gives you the breadth of road coverage that ours do, helping you find that secluded, unobstructed viewing area with ease.