Often described as a premier playground destination for the outdoor enthusiast, the picturesque backdrop of the city of Vancouver, British Columbia lies less than a half-hour drive from the North Shore Mountains and the tony neighborhoods of West Vancouver. Known for its mild temperatures across Canada, Vancouver is a year-round haven for golfers and runners and, from November to April, is also ideal for those who enjoy winter sports such as snowshoeing.
At sea level, it’s easy to forget how close we are to a winter wonderland of snowcapped mountains which beckon to make it a day outing. Snowshoeing is an exhilarating experience enjoyed solo or with family and friends.
Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned athlete, here are four top places to go snowshoeing near the Vancouver area:
Grouse Mountain, North Vancouver
About a half-hour drive from downtown Vancouver, spend a day at Grouse Mountain. Participate in one of their many activities such as their Snowshoe Fondue, and Snowshoe and S’ mores tour. There are also drop-in nights on Mondays and Wednesdays. If you have never tried snowshoeing, there are trails for beginners and a beginner clinic.
Snowshoe Tours At Grouse Mountain
The Snowshoe fondue is a one hour guided tour, and one can experience snowshoeing with headlamps. Après snowshoe, enjoy some cheese, broth, and chocolate fondues. Tour includes snowshoe and headlamp rentals.
There is also the Snowshoe S’mores tour. Enjoy the one km snowshoe tour and then continue onto the lookout of Vancouver, and then return to a campfire where you will enjoy S’mores and hot apple cider.
Alternatively, if you would like to watch the night sky, watch it on the mountain and see the cityscape by participating in the Full Moon and New Moon guided snowshoe hike tours.
Snowshoe Trails At Grouse Mountain
For those looking for a self-guided adventure, Grouse Mountain also offers 5 different snowshoe-specific trails. You may choose to snowshoe the easier 1.5 km Blue Grouse Loop or the more difficult 1.5 km (0.9 mi) Dam Mountain Loop, sitting at 4,500 feet (1372 m) on the mountain.
Then, for those interested in snowshoe races and athletes, try the Snowshoe Grind. Located on the mountain in Munday Alpine Snowshoe Park, this 4.3 km (2.7 mi) trail with 240 m (787 ft) of gain will provide all racers the opportunity to boost their athletic performance. As part of the Grind, you can track your times around the course to continue to challenge yourself. On average though, the track takes about one hour to complete for those who are reasonably fit.
Please keep in mind that all trails are included with a Mountain Admission Ticket. Visit Grouse Mountain
Cypress Mountain, West Vancouver
About a half-hour drive from downtown, Cypress Mountain offers varied terrain for both intermediate and beginner snowshoers.
Cypress Provincial Park
At Cypress Provincial Park, enjoy some spectacular views of the city of Vancouver and the surrounding area. Please remember to follow park trail guidelines, including any preparedness for winter conditions. Three backcountry trails are maintained by BC Parks in the winter.
Hollyburn Peak is a 6km trail with marked areas to Hollyburn Peak. Or, you can take the Black Mountain Plateau or Bowen Lookout, both of which pass through the downhill skiing area and require a Backcountry Access Corridor tag.
Cypress Mountain Nordic Area
Choose from about 11 km (6.8 mi) self-guided trails at Cypress Mountain Nordic Area. This nordic area is located in Cypress Provincial Park and snowshoe rentals are available.
If you’re interested in a beginner apres experience, you can take their easy 1 km Lights to the Lodge trek. As you travel through the Old Growth Forest to the Hollyburn Lodge, the way is lit with LED lights. So, you can venture throughout the day or night.
Mt Seymour, North Vancouver
About a half-hour drive from downtown, make it a day getaway that offers both guided and self-guided tours. Explore the variety offered as part of the 12 Mt. Seymour Discovery trails on your own or with a guide. Snowshoe rentals are available.
Guided Snowshoe Tours At Mt. Seymour Ski
For those wanting a guide, choose from tours for all experience levels offered by Mt. Seymour. If you’re a newbie to snowshoeing, Mt. Seymour offers their 2-hour Intro to Snowshoeing Tour, which introduces the basic techniques, safety measures, and prime spots on the mountain.
Other offerings include the Chocolate Fondue Tour for the apres lover or the 2-hour Twilight Tour for the adventurous night explorer! All tours come with knowledgeable guides and rental equipment. Find all tours available (even tours for you and your baby) on Mt. Seymour Snowshoe Tours.
Mt. Seymour Provincial Park
Mt. Seymour Ski area is located on 81 acres of Mount Seymour Provincial Park. The park itself is 3500 hectares of impressive views of the Lower Mainland, Mt. Baker, and Vancouver. The Provincial Park has 14 different trails of varying lengths and difficulty levels. For example, easy 750 m (0.46 mi) trails, such as Dinky Peak, will offer a view of the Lower Mainland.
Other popular trails part of Mount Seymour Provincial Park and on the Mt. Seymour Ski area include the Dog Mountain trail, which takes about two to three hours to complete. The marked trail is moderate but is good for beginners, and is free to use and is also, of course, if dog-friendly. One can see the city from the summit and one can use Mt Seymour snowshoe rentals on the trail.
As an alternative to Dog Mountain, hike the Mt. Seymour Trail (accessible from the last parking lot in Mt. Seymour Ski area) to First Pump Peak. This trail will take about three and a half hours to complete and is a moderate to difficult trail. It is an out and back course and the trail isn’t marked. Strong backcountry and avalanche preparedness and knowledge are required. Dogs are allowed. If needed, Mt. Seymour offers snowshoe rentals on site.
About a two-hour drive from Vancouver, you’ll find Whistler, British Columbia. Here, the snowshoe enthusiast can enjoy a day trip or stay overnight and make it a mini-vacation.
Ski Callaghan provides access to Whistler Olympic Park and Callaghan Country Wilderness Adventures, two adjacent snowshoeing areas in Whistler. Purchase a daily pass for access to the combined trail network of over 120 km (75 mi) of trails in Whistler Olympic Park and Callaghan Country.
At Whistler Olympic Park, explore over 30 km (18.6 mi) of trails on your own or book a two-hour tour via phone or email. Take in breathtaking viewpoints while you snowshoe and enjoy the photo opportunities of gorgeous Olympic monuments. An optional shuttle or biathlon experience can also be added to the tour.
Alternatively, snowshoe the wild backcountry at Callaghan Country Wilderness Adventures or explore over 35 km of marked trails, ranging from easy to advanced, at Ski Callaghan. You can snowshoe a variety of landscapes, from a waterfall base to an Olympic ski jump to forests full of cedar trees.
For our furry friends, Whistler Olympic Park, Callaghan Country Wilderness Adventures, and Ski Callaghan all offer dog-friendly trails as well.
Lost Lake Cross Country Ski & Snowshoe Trails
Joanne Clark, a coordinator with travel media in Whistler shares her recommendations. She says, “There is The Lost Lake Cross Country Ski and Snowshoe Trails, which have more than 30km (18.6 mi) of ski trails and more than 10km (6.2 mi) of dedicated snowshoe trails. Beautiful, marked snowshoe trails wind through the forest of Lost Lake Park, accessing scenic viewpoints along the way. Visit the cozy log warming hut perched on the shores of Lost Lake.” These snowshoe trails are located near Lost Lake PassivHaus, which is a short walk from Whistler Village and the trails are suitable for all levels of abilities.
Guided Tours Near Whistler
For those interested in seeing the landscape with a guide, there are snowshoeing tours and self-guided walks that can be arranged, and all levels are welcomed. Clark notes that, “…Both the Adventure Group and Canadian Wilderness Adventures offer guided snowshoe tours which can be booked online.”
For more information on snowshoeing near Whistler, visit Tourism Whistler.
Read More: BC Luxury Snowshoe Getaways
Go Snowshoeing Near Vancouver!
No matter what your fitness level, each venue has something for everyone. If you have never snowshoed before it can be a magical time to see some wildlife, perhaps a snow rabbit.
Updated Jan 21, 2020, to include additional information about Ski Callaghan