Where to Hike with Spikes in Vancouver

A hiker wearing spikes enjoys the view at Eagle Bluff

Enjoying the view at Eagle Bluff. Photo: Taryn Eyton/HappiestOutdoors.ca

There might be less snow this winter, but that just means you can explore the mountains with spikes instead of snowshoes. Here’s where to hike with spikes in Vancouver.


What are Hiking Spikes?

Often called “microspikes” or “mini-crampons”, you can strap hiking spikes onto your boots to get a better grip on ice or packed snow. They have metal teeth on the bottom, connected by a stainless steel chain. A flexible stretchy plastic harness keeps them attached to your hiking boots. Since they are easy to take on and off, spikes are great for hikes with a mix of ice, snow and bare ground.

You can buy these inexpensive gadgets at outdoor stores around Vancouver. Pro tip: Skip the ones with studs or metal coils and get the ones with spikes. The coils and studs are great for icy sidewalks but won’t stand up to mountain terrain.

A hiker wearing microspikes in the snow

You can wear microspikes for grip in shallow snow. Photo: Taryn Eyton/HappiestOutdoors.ca


What to Bring

Temperatures might be mild in the city, but it’s much colder in the mountains. Dress in layers for warmth and be sure to bring a waterproof jacket and pants. Don’t forget a warm hat and gloves too. Winter boots or waterproof hiking boots plus warm socks are your recipe for happy feet. Avoid wearing jeans and cotton clothing as they won’t keep you warm if you get wet.

AdventureSmart has a great list of essential safety and first-aid gear to bring. Make sure you 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 on staying safe.


Be Prepared for Changing Conditions

Spikes are great if there is ice or packed snow on the trails. But if there is deep snow you will sink in without snowshoes. Check trail conditions in advance on AllTrails to get an idea of what to expect. But the weather can change quickly in the mountains. If you encounter conditions you aren’t prepared for, turn around and save the hike for another day.

Most of the trails on this list usually require snowshoes between December and March. However, in spring, fall, and low snow years (like we are having right now), you can hike them with spikes.


Where to Hike With Spikes

Dog Mountain

This short and easy trail is one of the most popular routes in Mount Seymour Provincial Park and the adjacent Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve. It starts at the Mount Seymour ski area and then heads out to a gorgeous lookout. It’s a 5-km-long return trip that takes about 2 hours. This map of the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve shows the route.

A snowshoer at the start of the trail to Dog Mountain in Mount Seymour Provincial Park

The beginning of the Dog Mountain Trail. Photo: Yann Allegre/Unsplash


Lynn Peak

The hike to Lynn Peak is steep and challenging, but there are great views of the Seymour River Valley from a lookout near the top. The hike gains 780 m, is 8.8 km round-trip, and takes about 4 hours. Start your trip at Lynn Headwaters Regional Park in North Vancouver. Use the Lynn Headwaters Regional Park map to find your way.


Eagle Bluffs

This moderate hike leads to a spectacular viewpoint overlooking Vancouver and Howe Sound. Plan to spend about 4 hours on the 9 km round-trip trail. The trail starts steep but levels out for the second half as you ramble across a forested plateau dotted with lakes. The trip starts at the downhill parking area at Cypress ski area. You’ll need to pick up a free backcountry access ticket at Black Mountain Lodge to cross the ski area. Cypress Provincial Park has a map that shows the backcountry access ticket location as well as a map that shows the route to the bluffs. Our Eagle Bluff hiking guide has step-by-step directions.


Bowen Lookout

This short and easy hike leads to a spectacular viewpoint of Bowen Island and Howe Sound. It’s especially beautiful at sunset – just be sure to bring a headlamp for the return hike. The 4.5 km round-trip hike has 110 metres of elevation gain and takes about 1.5 hours. Like Eagle Bluffs (above), this trip starts at the Cypress Mountain ski area parking lot and requires a backcountry access pass, so you can use the same maps to help you find your way. Our Bowen Lookout hiking guide has more info.

Bowen Lookout near Vancouver

The view from Bowen Lookout at sunset. Photo: Taryn Eyton/ HappiestOutdoors.ca


Hollyburn Mountain

In most years, Hollyburn Mountain in Cypress Provincial Park is one of the best places to snowshoe near Vancouver. But it still makes a great hike with spikes when there isn’t much snow. It’s a 7 km return hike from the Cypress Mountain cross-country ski area. It’s a moderate hike with 450 m of elevation gain. Allow about 3.5 hours. The Cypress Provincial Park map shows the route.


Sea to Sky Gondola

The Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish has several short trails that are perfect for hiking with spikes. They even rent spikes if you don’t have your own. The Panorama Trail is the Sea to Sky Gondola’s signature trail. The easy 1.3 km loop leads to a spectacular viewing platform high above Howe Sound. Allow 30-60 minutes for the hike. The Sea to Sky Gondola Summit Trails map shows the way.

Snowshoers at the Sea to Sky Gondola

Photo: Sea to Sky Gondola

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