4 popular hikes in the Vancouver area to avoid if you hate crowds

Jul 24 2019, 2:49 pm

Get ready for OK Times with the Okanagan Spring Summer Pack.

The beautiful West Coast is known for its stunning mountains, ocean and nature, so it’s no surprise that hitting the trails for a hike is a very popular way for Vancouverites to get some exercise.

Unfortunately, with popularity comes crowds — and lots of them — which can make for a less than pleasant experience if you’re looking to get into nature and away from it all.

To help you plan your adventures this season, we’ve compiled a list of very popular trails that you may want to avoid if you want to enjoy the true serenity of nature and skip the crowds.

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For your own safety, please make sure you are well prepared before you head out on your next adventure. Information on how to prepare for your trip and to stay safe while you’re hiking is available from North Shore Rescue and Adventure Smart.

Parks Canada advises you to stay on marked trails, abide by trail closure signs, and hike with a friend. It also recommends that you keep a safe distance back from slopes, river edges and bluffs.

Quarry Rock

Deep Cove

shayvancitylife/ Instagram

You’re probably not surprised to read Quarry Rock. I mean, what’s not to love? You have a beautiful light trail about four kilometres long where you can walk your dog and that’s well maintained, plus a serene view of Deep Cove that you can enjoy at the end. But because this beauty has become such a favourite, it’s PACKED most of the time, which can take away the intent of hiking, escaping the busy areas.

It gets so overcrowded at Quarry Rock, the District of North Vancouver had to put restrictions in place with only allowing 70 (is that it) people on the rock at. a. time.
Of course, that’s if you find parking anywhere near the trailhead.

Often, the best times to go to Quarry Rock are bright and early in the morning, specifically weekdays — perhaps after treat yo’self to breakfast at Honey’s Doughnuts, where even Kate Winslet loves to stop for a piece of glazed goodness when she’s in town.

Grouse Grind

grouse grind


That picture hurts to look at, doesn’t it?

The Grouse Grind — there’s a reason why it’s nicknamed Mother Nature’s Stairmaster, because this trail is an intense workout and calling it a ‘hike’ is putting it lightly.

A popular tourist hotspot and local favourite, the Grouse Grind is often very busy, and so when you’re trying to power through it to get the best time you can — it can be challenging to breathe, hydrate, and dodge people all at once (while looking for those quarter mark signs after every two steps).

So to sum it up: the Grind is a great option when you’re looking for an intense workout outside — especially first thing in the morning when it’s not as crowded and not as hot.

One hike that can sometimes get overlooked is literally right beside the Grouse Grind — the BCMC trail, just take the separate entrance to the right.  The BCMC is a little bit longer than the Grind, however, it’s not as intense uphill and you still get a great sweat with the gorgeous view at the top of Grouse Mountain (plus, we love taking that fun gondola ride down overlooking all of Vancouver)!

The Stawamus Chief

View over the Howe Sound from the Stawamus Chief in Squamish (Rowan Sims Photography/Shutterstock)

View over the Howe Sound from the Stawamus Chief in Squamish (Rowan Sims Photography/Shutterstock)

The Stawamus Chief, with three gorgeous peaks to hike and views overlooking Howe Sound, has become so popular that during prime hiking times — is now packed, which is distracting from the scenery and quiet many hikers like to enjoy.  And frankly, we can’t blame people for wanting to go because it makes for a fun day after a relaxing one hour (depending on traffic) cruise on the Sea-to-Sky Highway from Vancouver.

So the best time to conquer this hike is first thing in the morning to get ahead of the crowds and soak up the peaceful quiet while you can.

Joffre Lakes

Joffre Lakes

yourbcparks/ Instagram

East of Pemberton, Joffre Lakes Provincial Park has become one of the busiest hotspots in the province — so busy that BC Parks announced that it had to increase enforcement and parking to keep up with the volume of people.

Putting it in perspective, part of BC Parks’ plan: increase vehicle capacity by an additional 200 parking spots to a total of 450 to accommodate approximately 1,350 vehicles PER DAY.

Heading to Joffre Lakes for a hike now seems to defeat the purpose of hiking because how can you really have an opportunity to soak in the scenery of that beautiful blue water and escape the city buzz when you’re hanging out in an area filled with more than a thousand people?

Of course, you can always try the rule of thumb — head out in the early hours to beat the rush of people.

The early bird gets the serenity!