Winter Hiking on Vancouver’s Mt. Seymour

Vancouver tends to get much more rain than snow during the winter.  But, as any outdoor lover can tell you, you don’t need to travel far from the city to experience a real blast of winter.

The North Shore mountains, as close as 20 minutes by car from downtown, are often meters-deep in snow throughout the winter months.  With plenty of icy lakes, frosted pines and firs and mounds of deep, fluffy snow, they offer a winter wonderland right at the city’s doorstep.

Over the weekend, I made the trip up to Mt. Seymour, which is about a 40-minute drive from downtown, for a taste of some winter hiking.  It’s amazing the transformation that you see as you drive along Mt. Seymour Road, climbing higher and higher up the mountain.  First, you begin to notice a dusting of snow along the side of the highway and then, before you know it, there are big drifts flanking the road and evergreen trees bent under the weight of so much snow.

The road leads to the parking lot of the Mt. Seymour ski resort, which was packed on Saturday with the cars of skiers and snowboarders eager to take advantage of the fresh powder.  I skipped the ski hills and instead headed for a BC Parks trail that starts right next to the chairlifts.  It’s free to use and very popular with snowshoers (Snowshoes can be rented right at the Mt. Seymour resort.  If you’ve got a good set of boots and the snow is tightly packed, you can also just hike in, like I did).

The trail starts out by climbing parallel to the ski slope.  Hardy hikers can opt to push all the way to First Peak, a tough, 4-hour round-trip hike that leads nearly to the stunning peak of Mt. Seymour.  I opted for the much easier trek to First Lake and Dog Mountain.  A sign in the snow marks the turn-off to First Lake very near the start of the trail.  For a more detailed description of the route, check out this great post on Vancouver Trails.

The path winds through the winter forest.  There’s so much snow that smaller evergreen trees are almost completely buried, with just their tops showing through.  Dense stands of larger trees covered with snow nearly form a canopy overhead, with the sunlight shooting through here and there.

I quickly reached First Lake, frozen and snow-covered at this time of year, and then continued on for another hour to the scenic overlook at Dog Mountain.  The view is stunning – All of downtown Vancouver stretches below, as well as the Burrard Inlet and, far in the distance, the hazy profiles of Vancouver Island and Mt. Baker in the U.S.  Here’s a great YouTube clip that shows the hike:

I sat admiring the view with two giant ravens who were circling overhead, before turning around and looping back to the parking lot.  In total, the hike to Dog Mountain takes about three hours.  It’s moderately challenging, but I saw people of all ages navigating the trail without any problem.  All in all, it makes for a nice day hike through some exceptional scenery.

Has anyone else hiked or snowshoed on Mt. Seymour recently?  Did you enjoy the experience?  Please comment below.

Tagged: , , , , ,

Comments are closed for this post

Comments are closed.