As the spring rains make way for sunny summer skies, there’s never been a better time to hit the local trails and stretch your legs.
Thankfully for dog owners, there are plenty of fantastic hikes where you can bring your pooch along with you. Some have partial on-leash restrictions, but all of these routes are perennial favourites where locals and visitors alike hit the trails with their pup in tow.
These are some of the best dog-friendly hikes in the Howe Sound region. If you’re hiking in the Squamish area, be sure to fuel up at Brackendale’s Fergie’s Cafe. The lawn and picnic tables are 100% dog-friendly, and its breakfasts and pastries are absolutely to die for. And Sunwolf Lodge welcomes four-legged guests, and has stunning riverside cabins, if you’re making your adventure an overnighter.
If you have a favourite hike in this area please leave a comment or tweet me.
And – this should always go without saying – always clean up after your dog!
About an hour’s drive up the scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway, the Chief is one of the most iconic and stunning hikes in the region. Starting with well-worn wooden steps reminiscent of the Grouse Grind, you are rewarded with stunning vistas of Howe Sound when you reach the top. The summit is the perfect spot to sit and soak up the sun. The climb itself is around two or three hours return depending on your fitness level and which of the three peaks you want to reach. It is technically on-leash, but there are tons of well-behaved dogs doing the climb without a harness. There are a few portions with ladders and ropes, so be prepared to push — or carry — your dog through them. I don’t find this a problem with my two small terriers, but I’ve seen some people struggle to push a Labrador up a ladder! Hint: If your pup goes crazy for chipmunks, leash them up on the summit – there are often a few at the top of the rock.
Time and distance: 2 or 3 hours return. Go early to get a good parking spot – this hiking route can get quite busy
Hiking with the doggy up Sea to Summit Trail to the top of the gondola. Good for any type of weather! Photo: @yarrowsparrow #AdventureByNature #instagood #photooftheday #travel #instago #vancouver #explorebc #canada #squamish #whistler #beautiful #nature #hiking #instamood #dog A photo posted by Sea To Sky Gondola (@seatoskygondola) on
An offshoot of the very popular Stawamus Chief hiking trail, this steep and scenic route is a steep climb that takes you to the top of the Sea to Sky gondola. It’s really a dog’s dream and one of my absolute favourites.
About halfway up you’ll cross Upper Shannon Falls, where your pup can take a dip and get a drink. It’s challenging for sure — there are a few steep rope portions — but once you reach the top you are rewarded with absolutely stunning views of Howe Sound. You must have Fido on-leash on the final ascent to the summit. Dogs aren’t allowed on the decks or inside the lodge, but there are great shaded areas where you can tie up Fido so you can go get a drink or a snack.
The best part about this hike is you don’t need to make the round-trip back to the base. For $10, you can buy a “Buster the Dog” pass to bring your pup on the gondola ride down, with a portion of the ticket cost donated to the Squamish BC SPCA.
Hint: Make sure you reach the summit ahead of the last gondola ride down
Time and distance: 3 to 5 hours, 900 metre gain, 7.5km to the top
While pups must be leashed around Alice Lake and aren’t allowed on playgrounds or the beach – there are always plenty of canines on this well-traveled Squamish route. An easy meander through groves of cedar, Douglas fir and hemlock trees, Alice Lake has a fantastic network of scenic trails. The Four Lakes trail gets you away from the crowds at the popular beach and winds around lakes and creeks. This is a relatively easy two-hour hike, with lots of places to take in the scenery or have a picnic.
Time and distance: An easy 2 hours, about 6km round-trip.
Set within the 400 hectare interpretive forest just north of Squamish, Brohm Lake has more than 10 kilometres of scenic trails with varying degrees of difficulty that circle and criss-cross near the water. As the folks at nearby dog-friendly Sunwolf Lodge say, it’s also a great place for your puppy to swim too. Hike up to the Tantalus viewpoint to get the best vistas of the lake, Cheakamus River, and the Paradise Valley.
Hint: Arrive early on sunny days to get a parking spot close to the trailhead.
Time and distance: 5 hours, about 7.5km round-trip
We hiked half an hour through woods and a meadow and more woods to get to this dreamy lake. There was not another soul around. This one took it like a champ. But a baby can only take so much = Sleepy Potato. #bowenisland #killarneylake #corgisofinstagram #corgi #corgination #dogsofinstagram #pnw #vancouver #bc #canadiana #summeradventures #weekdayadventures #getoutside #liveauthentic #thatsdarling
If you’ve never made the journey to Bowen Island, this is the perfect excuse to take a day trip with your dog in tow. The ferry journey is just 20 minutes from Horseshoe Bay, and the trail head is an easy walk from the Snug Cove terminal. Afterwards, head to the main drag and check out one of the great restaurants and coffee shops where you can tie your dog up on the exterior fence.
There are several boardwalks and bridges along the lakefront trail, and you can also relax along the shores and have a sunny picnic, if weather permits.
If you’re feeling ambitious you can keep heading up the trail and take on the more challenging route of Mount Gardiner. With switchbacks winding through the wilderness and a 700-metre gain, you are rewarded at the summit by views of the Sunshine Coast, West Vancouver and Burrard Inlet.
Time and distance: Killarney Lake, 2 hours, 9km round trip. For Mount Gardiner, 7 hours return, 17km round trip