March 2023 Vancouver Hike of the Month: Murrin Park Loop

A woman sits on a bench at Quercus Viewpoint at Murrin Provincial Park

Quercus Viewpoint. Photo: Taryn Eyton/HappiestOutdoors.ca

While the trails at Murrin Park near Squamish are short, they offer great views of Howe Sound. Challenge yourself on this loop route that includes scrambling over steep granite bluffs.

 

Trail Info: Moderate/challenging; 4 km loop; 130 m elevation gain; 2.5-3 hours; Dogs allowed on-leash but not recommended due to steep and technical terrain.

Safety First: AdventureSmart recommends bringing a backpack with essential safety and first aid gear on every hike. Check the forecast and pack extra clothing for the weather. Leave a trip plan so someone knows where you are going and when you will be back. Check out our tips for safe winter hiking in Vancouver for more advice.

Getting There: From Vancouver, take Highway 1 west, then Highway 99 north. Just after you pass Britannia Beach, look for the signed entrance to the park on the left-hand side. The parking lot is small and fills quickly, so go early to get a spot. There is no overflow parking. There are toilets at the parking lot.

The Trail: The stats for this hike are deceptively easy. But don’t be fooled – this is a tough hike. It scrambles across steep rock bluffs that sometimes require you to use your hands for balance. This hike isn’t suitable for small children, dogs, or people who are afraid of heights. As well, save this one for a sunny day when the rocks are dry.

The route described here is a loop that incorporates the Murrin Loop and Jurassic Ridge Trails. To start the hike, head towards Browning Lake from the parking lot. Turn right to follow the trail along the shoreline past the picnic area and beach. Before you reach the end of the lake, turn right and head uphill over roots and rocks on the Loop Trail.

Reach a junction a few minutes later. Turn left and follow the trail through the forest. The uphill route to the right is your return route. Pass a toilet and arrive at another junction. Go left onto the Cedar Trail. The route heads slightly downhill as it parallels a huge sheer rock face, known as Petrifying Wall. This is a great place to watch rock climbers in action.

Rock climbers on Petrifying Wall in Murrin Provincial Park

Rock climbers on Petrifying Wall. Photo: Taryn Eyton/HappiestOutdoors.ca

After the rock wall, look for a signed junction with the Jurassic Ridge Trail. Turn right and follow it uphill. It quickly emerges onto a smooth granite ridge, studded with trees. Look for orange markers to stay on track as you work your way up the steep ridge.

As you near the top of the ridge, look for a path branching off to the right. It ends at a wooden bench known as Brian’s Lookout. Look down over the ridge you just climbed up to Howe Sound below you.

The view from Brian's Lookout at Murrin Provincial Park

The view from Brian’s Lookout. Photo: Taryn Eyton/HappiestOutdoors.ca

Retrace your steps back to the main trail and continue onwards. Reach a junction almost immediately. Go straight ahead to continue on the Jurassic Ridge Trail. (The trail to the right is a shorter and less technical way back via the Loop Trail.)

Watch your step as you carefully ascend rebar ladder rungs, fixed ropes, and slippery granite slabs. Do not attempt this route unless the rocks are dry. Be sure to look behind you to enjoy the views. The trail tops out on a polished granite dome with great views of Howe Sound.

From here, follow the trail as it heads downhill along the ridge through a smattering of trees. Watch carefully for markers as the trail makes a few sharp bends that are easy to miss. Two steep drops have ropes to assist you. Use caution.

Reach a junction with the Murrin Loop Trail. Turn left and follow the flat trail for a few minutes to another junction. Go right along an open granite bluff to Quercus Viewpoint, which has another bench.

A woman stands at Quercus Viewpoint in Murrin Provincial Park

Quercus Viewpoint. Photo: Taryn Eyton/HappiestOutdoors.ca

After you’ve soaked up the views, retrace your steps back to the Loop Trail and turn right. Follow it back downhill on a series of staircases made of wood and rock. Arrive back at the Loop Trail junction and turn left to follow the rocky trail back to Browning Lake and your car at the parking lot.

 

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