10 Tips for Safe Spring Hiking in Vancouver

The bridge over Nelson Creek on the way to Whyte Lake in West Vancouver

Hiking to Whyte Lake in West Vancouver. Photo: Taryn Eyton/HappiestOutdoors.ca

Spring is a beautiful time to hike in Vancouver. The rain and snow melt makes the forest green and the waterfalls gush. But wet conditions and lingering snow in the mountains mean you need to take some precautions. Follow these tips for safe spring hiking in Vancouver.


Pack the Essentials

AdventureSmart recommends bringing a backpack with essential safety and first aid gear on every hike. Read through the full list of equipment on their site for a great run-down on the things you need to bring to have a safe and fun hike.


Leave a Trip Plan

If you get lost or hurt, will anyone know to look for you? Leave a trip plan so someone knows where you are going and when you will be back. Using the AdventureSmart Trip Plan App makes it easy.


Check the Weather Forecast

Near sea level, spring in Vancouver is mild with temperatures usually between 4 and 17°C (40-63°F). Spring is fairly rainy, but we also have plenty of cloudy days and lots of beautiful sunshine.

However, spring in the mountains is a lot different. The temperature is often near freezing and it can still snow. Use the weather forecast for a nearby ski resort to get a better idea of how cold and wet it will be at higher elevations.


Dress for the Weather

Cold and wet conditions are a reality in the spring, even in good weather. Dress in layers with a warm base layer next to your skin, insulating layers in the middle, and waterproof layers on the outside. Add or remove layers to adjust to changing temperatures.

Choose clothing made of polyester, nylon, fleece, and wool. Avoid cotton. It absorbs water which will make you cold.

Spring hiking can be soggy and no one likes wet feet. Choose waterproof hiking boots that will keep out the rain and snow.


Prepare for Snow and Ice

While it may be sunny and warm down at sea level, Vancouver’s mountain trails are still covered in snow and ice until June or July. Check trail conditions on park websites, trail apps, or social media before you go to find out what to expect.

For packed snow and ice bring a traction aid such as microspikes. They fit over your shoes to keep from you slipping. In deep snow, bring snowshoes to help you float over the snow rather than sinking in.

If you aren’t ready to hike in ice and snow, you don’t have to – just pick a destination near sea level instead! Most of Vancouver’s low-elevation trails stay snow-free year-round.


Expect Muddy and Rough Trails

With wet weather and melting snow, Vancouver’s trails are often wet and muddy in spring. Come prepared with waterproof shoes so you can tramp through the mud.

As well, winter storms can knock down trees or wash out bridges. In the spring, park rangers and volunteers may not have come through to do trail maintenance yet. Allow yourself extra time to hike damaged trails and turn back if conditions are unsafe.


Check If Day Passes are Needed

A few popular trails near Vancouver require free day passes starting in late May. BC Parks day pass reservations are required at Joffre Lake Provincial Park, Golden Ears Provincial Park, and some trailheads at Garibaldi Provincial Park. See park websites for details.


Be Bear Aware

Bears are more active in the spring as they wake up hungry from their winter hibernation. Hike in a group and talk or sing to warn bears of your presence. Keep your dog on a leash. Carry bear spray and know how to use it. BC Parks has lots more tips on staying safe in bear country.


Learn How to Leave No Trace

Vancouver’s wilderness areas are special places. Learn the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace to keep the wilderness wild. These simple tips can help you learn to respect wildlife, prevent trail erosion, go to the bathroom without contaminating water sources, and lots more.


Vancouver Spring Hiking Ideas

Choose a hike from our list of Vancouver-area spring hikes – they all avoid snow. If the weather forecast looks wet, try one of these fun rainy day hikes around Vancouver. Or dig into our Vancouver hike of the month archives to find even more hike recommendations.

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