6 Places to Try Trail Running in Vancouver

A runner at the Run Ridge Run trail running race at Buntzen Lake. Photo via Coast Mountain Trail Series/Brian McCurdy Photography

Vancouverites are pretty active, and we live in a city surrounded by nature. So it shouldn’t be surprising that many combine the two by trail running. If you’ve never tried it, trail running can seem a little intimidating. Unlike smooth sidewalks, uneven trails have lots of obstacles. And in Vancouver’s mountains, the trails are often really hilly! However, your first ever trail run doesn’t have to be straight up a mountain. Here are six mellow places to try trail running in Vancouver. 

Safety First 

Trail running isn’t the same as running in the city. When you trail run, you are heading out into the wilderness. The weather can move in quickly and it can take a long time for help to come if you need it. North Shore Rescue recommends bringing essential safety and first aid gear every time you hit the trails. Check the forecast and pack extra clothing for the weather. And leave a trip plan with a friend so someone knows where you are going and when you will be back.

Pacific Spirit Regional Park

Head over to Pacific Spirit Regional Park near UBC to explore over 55 kilometers of trails. A maze of paths winds through the forest. You can climb steeply next to streams or descend all the way to the beach. With so many trails, you can choose your own adventure. Bring a copy of the park map so you don’t get lost.

Stanley Park

Every day, Stanley Park’s seawall sees hundreds (or thousands) of runners. But few venture into the park’s forested interior to run the trails. If you want a challenge, run up the steep Bridle Path trail all the way to Prospect Point. For a more mellow run, stick to the short and flat trails near Beaver Lake. Use the Stanley Park trail map to plan your route. 

A forested trail in Stanley Park

A forested trail in Stanley Park. Photo Credit: Colin Knowles on the Inside Vancouver Flickr pool

Burnaby Lake

Did you know you can trail run in the heart of Vancouver’s suburbs? The 10km loop around Burnaby Lake makes a great trail run. Keep an eye out for birds and other wildlife along the way. Don’t skip the spur trail to Piper Spit. It leads to a tower you can climb for great views. Keep on track by packing a copy of the park map.

Buntzen Lake

If you’re already a strong runner, try trail running at Buntzen Lake. The loop around the lake is 8km long, but it has a few stiff hills. On a hot day, take a break at North Beach to go for a quick swim. Once you’ve mastered the Buntzen Lake trail, you can graduate to running harder trails in the area. Try the Lakeview Trail or the challenging Diez Vistas Trail. Bring BC Hydro’s Buntzen Lake trail map to help pick your route.

Lynn Headwaters Regional Park

The river valley trails of North Vancouver’s Lynn Headwaters Regional Park are great for beginner trail runners. For your first outing, do an out-and-back on the flat Cedar Mills Trail. It follows an old road so it’s not too rugged. Once you’re ready for more elevation, you can tackle the more rugged Lynn Loop trail or even the long trip out to Norvan Falls and back. The park map will help you stay oriented.

Trail sign in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park in North Vancouver, BC

The lush rainforest trails in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park. Photo credit: James Wheeler on the Inside Vancouver Flickr pool

Sign Up for a Trail Running Race

Vancouver has a strong trail running community and races are held throughout the year. Some of the races have flatter courses on easier terrain, perfect for beginners. Check out the Coast Mountain Trail Series, MEC’s Trail Race Series, and the 5 Peaks Trail Races to find upcoming trail race dates. 

Tagged: , , , , , ,

Comments are closed for this post

One Response to 6 Places to Try Trail Running in Vancouver

  1. Don’t forget the Foretrails races on the North Shore. https://foretrails.com/home-2/races/ There are also trail racing clinics which are a great way to meet other trail runners and learn the trails https://foretrails.com/home-2/clinics-2/