Great trails for hikers of all levels run through Vancouver’s dramatic environs. You can pick up a local trail guide at any bookstore. Good trail maps are also available from International Travel Maps and Books (12300 Bridgeport Rd., Richmond; tel. 604/273-1400; www.itmb.com), which also stocks guidebooks and topographical maps. The retail store is open Monday to Saturday 9:30am to 5pm, or you can order maps online.
If you’re looking for a challenge without a longtime commitment, hike the aptly named Grouse Grind from the bottom of Grouse Mountain to the top. Often called “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster” by locals, the popular 2.9 km (1.8 mile) trail generally opens late spring or early summer. Over 100,000 hikers per year take on the challenge of the rugged terrain and steep climb. Indeed, some people do it every day before heading off to work. By the time you reach the plateau, your ascent will have gained 853m (2,799 ft.). Average completion time is usually 1 1/2 hours, with the fastest official completion time sitting at just over 25 minutes (the unofficial record dips under 24 min.). Once you reach the top, you can take the tram back down for just C$5 per person. For a look at the terrain, visit www.vancouvertrails.com/trails/grouse-grind.
Lynn Canyon Park, Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, Capilano River Regional Park, Mount Seymour Provincial Park, Pacific Spirit Park, and Cypress Provincial Park have good, easy-to-strenuous trails that wind through stands of Douglas fir and cedar, and contain a few serious switchbacks. Pay attention to the trail warnings posted at the parks (some have bear habitats) and always remember to sign in with the park service at the start of your chosen trail.
A little farther outside the city, the 9- to 12-hour hike to Black Tusk is one of the finest hikes in North America and is often completed over 2 days, overnighting at the primitive campground on Garibaldi Lake. Located in Garibaldi Provincial Park (tel. 604/898-3678), the trailhead is 34km (21 miles) north of Squamish, which is 65km (40 miles) north of downtown Vancouver along Highway 99 on the road to Whistler. The park has five access points; Black Tusk/Garibaldi Lake is the second marked turnoff (it takes about an hour to get there). The trail switchbacks up nearly 1,000m (3,300 ft.) in about 9km (5.5 miles), then levels onto a rolling alpine plateau with fabulous views before another 850m (2,800 ft.) climb over 7km (4 miles) to Black Tusk. The best time to make this climb is for the wildflowers in late July and August, although the trail is usually clear through October.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.