While the winter weather that much of southern BC has been dealing (and continues to deal) with as of late has resulted in highway closures, weather warnings, and snowy forecasts, it isn’t all bleak for those looking for a positive way to get out and actually enjoy what this season offers.
Yes, there are the usual activities such as skiing and snowboarding, but these types of winter sports can sometimes be impeded by the time and/or cost commitments associated with pursuing them.
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Snowshoeing, on the other hand, is a relatively easy way to still get out and enjoy a breath of crisp, cold, fresh air, without breaking the bank.
And luckily, Vancouver is blessed with a multitude of options for getting out and trying the sport for yourself.
So whether you’re a seasoned snowshoe pro, or just getting into the sport for the first time, here’s our pick of the best snowshoe destinations around Metro Vancouver.
Mt. Seymour has a number of small but connected snowshoe trails available on the mountain. Individually, none of them exceeds a kilometre, but they can be combined for a longer snowshoe expedition if wanted. All the trails combined are just over 5 km long.
Cost: $11 with own gear, $29 if renting (price includes cost of trail ticket)
There are a number of snowshoeing trails located up on Grouse Mountain, each with varying difficulties. They are all located within the Munday Alpine Snowshoe Park, and the four main trails are anywhere from 1-1.6 km long.
For those wanting more of a challenge, there’s the Snowshoe Grind, a winter variation of the Grouse Grind. It features 240 meters of elevation throughout the 4.3 km trail.
Cost: Access to trails is included in cost of day ticket
There’s over 11 km worth of various self-guided snowshoe trails up on Cypress Mountain. The high number of connecting trails is great for those who aren’t sure how long of a trek they’re wishing for, as you’re never too far away from a main trail if you decide to pack it in early.
Cost: $14 with own gear, $34 with rental (price includes cost of trail ticket)
Dog Mountain is a moderately difficult snowshoe trail that starts by the Mt. Seymour Resort parking lot. The roundtrip of 4.4 km takes between one and two hours to complete, and features a breathtaking view of the summit halfway through.
It’s one of the more popular unregulated snowshoe trails in the area, and as its name suggests, dogs are allowed on the trip too!
Whistler – Train Wreck
While there are a number of snowshoe trails on the mountains for your enjoyment, the Train Wreck trail is arguably the best of them all – and it’s free!
Located roughly 8 km south of Whistler Village in Function Junction. It isn’t the easiest of trailheads to find, though detailed directions are laid out here.
Train Wreck gets its name from the seven train cars scattered along the trail due to a train derailing many years back. The derailed train cars have since been transformed into extraordinary works of art, making for some good scenery along the way.
The trail is about a 4 km venture, which extends to 6 km if you want to visit all seven of the train cars.
An alternative snowshoe trail in the area is Hollyburn Mountain, located in Cypress Provincial Park. This trail is a lot longer than any of the ones prior – roughly 7 km to the Hollyburn peak and back down. The long trek isn’t too challenging though, and the views from the mountain make it well worth the trip.
Cost: Free (snowshoe rental available at trailhead)
Elfin Lakes (Squamish)
This trail is far more advanced than any other on this list and is not meant for inexperienced snowshoers. The Elfin Lakes trail is a 22 km roundtrip, accessible on the southern end of Garibaldi Park in Squamish.
The trail takes so long to complete there is actually an Elfin Lakes Hut that hikers can stay in overnight if needed, 11 km into the hike.
It’s a consistently challenging, uphill trail best suited for experienced hikers looking for a challenge. For your efforts, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the beautiful hills, valleys, forests, and lakes Squamish has to offer.
Cost: Free ($15 to stay overnight in Elfin Lakes Hut)
For your own safety, please make sure you are prepared before heading out on your next adventure. Information on how to prepare for your trip and stay safe while on your excursion is available from North Shore Rescue and AdventureSmart.