With the recent coastal snow storms dumping heaps of fresh powder at higher elevations, there’s never been a better time to head out for a snowshoe with your pup in toe.
It’s a great way to explore the great outdoors while giving you both a great workout. This low-impact sport is growing in popularity and luckily for Vancouverites, there are great trails just a short drive away that are perfect for bringing Fido along.
These are five of our favourites. They vary in difficulty, length and terrain, but have one thing in common: You and your dog will love them.
With a name like Dog Mountain, you just know it’s dog-friendly! This easy trail is perfect for the snowshoe beginner, and families with children. It’s an easy 4 km journey round trip with minimal elevation. Starting from the parking lot in Mount Seymour Provincial Park, you’ll wind your way through the trees until you get to the snow-covered First Lake. It’s a great place to stop and take photos and catch your breath. Head up the final ascent to reach the stunning viewpoint where, on a clear day, you’ll take in sweeping vistas of Mount Baker, Vancouver and nearby North Shore mountains.
How to get there: Take Hwy. 1 to exit 22 – Mount Seymour Parkway. Follow the road for 10 minutes before turning left and following signs for Mount Seymour Provincial Park. Turn left at Mt. Seymour Road and keep driving all the way up to the parking lot – trailhead is at northern-most point of the lot, near the bottom of the Mystery Express Chair.
Technically part of Cypress Mountain, expect about three to four hours of snowshoeing and sweeping views of the Burrard Inlet, Vancouver and the Lions. The first part of this journey is straight uphill – about 15 minutes – but levels out for a while as you pass Fourth Lake. To get to Hollyburn Mountain, watch for a sign to turn left and stay on the trailhead. After about 20 minutes, a rocky outcrop welcomes you to Hollyburn Mountain where you’re rewarded with amazing views of BC’s Gulf Islands and the Georgia Strait. Dogs must technically be leashed, though you’ll seldom see it. Arrive early to get good parking – this trail gets busy.
How to get there: Take Hwy. 1 and exit at Cypress Provincial Park (Exit #8). Follow the road to the junction and turn right. Parking is just before the map board, before the ski rental building. The trailhead starts near the map, and will follow under the power lines for the first little while.
Just north of Squamish, the 4 Lakes trail in Alice Lake Provincial Park is perfect for exploring the forest with your pup in tow. The 6.5 km journey meanders through creeks and four distinct mountain lakes: Stump Lake, Cheekeye Creek and then onto Fawn and Edith Lakes. You can even get a peekaboo view of Mount Garibaldi from Stump Lake. The trail is well-marked at each junction and eventually winds its way back to Alice Lake.
How to get there: Take Highway 99 north, watch for turnoff 5 km north of Squamish on the east side of the highway. Follow signs for the park. Trail is accessed through Alice Lake itself.
One of my favourite summer hikes with my dogs, this trail is transformed into a winter wonderland after a good snowfall. This 5 km loop traverses through groves of cedar and fir trees and wanders uphill until you reach a small bridge where you cross the creek and head back down. If you’re still feeling energetic you can take a short detail up the trail to Lost Lake and Blue Gentian Lake. The highlight of this hike is the Candelabra Fir: a 60 m tall behemoth old growth tree towering over the woods.
How to get there: Access Brothers Creek from the trailhead at the top of Millstream Road – by taking Taylor Way and Eyremont Drive. There’s a wooden sign that announces the creek. You can also take bus #254 to British Properties and get off at the top of Chartwell.
With 18 km of dedicated dog-friendly trails for snowshoeing, it’s easy to spend a full day exploring this stunning park, which weaves through Whistler’s oldest cedar forests, alpine meadows and even meanders to a 150 m waterfall! There’s something for every fitness level: you can start on the easy green trails and move your way up to the more advanced black diamond trails. The trails are well spaced out, and are rarely busy.
Cost: An adult day pass costs $15.50 and you must purchase a pooch pass for $5. The park is open until 9 pm on Wednesday nights, with $5 passes. Save 10% if you order tickets online in advance.
How to get there: The park is 10 km north off Highway 99 on the Callaghan Valley Road. It also offers a shuttle service from Whistler Village for $10 round trip.
Tips for snowshoeing with your dog
Want to hit the snowshoe trails with your pooch but still have a few questions? Here are some general guidelines for taking your pooch snowshoeing:
- Before you head out on any trail, make sure your canine is properly equipped for the cold. Some smaller dogs and short-haired breeds, like pit bulls, may benefit from wearing a jacket for an extra layer of warmth, and make sure the trail you pick is appropriate for their stamina and fitness level.
- Keep dogs on leash and under control in parking areas
- Scoop that poop! And pack it out with you
- Pack an extra towel and cozy blanket for apres-shoeing. Once the snowballs on their fur melts it can get chilly.
- Consider packing a small waterproof mat for you and your pup to sit on for a break
- Bring extra water