Great Hikes in British Columbia

From the Pacific Ocean in the west to the Rocky Mountains in the east, British Columbia is a place of endless diversity: lush rainforests and dry canyons, barren alpines and gentle farmlands, soaring ranges and sea-swept beaches. There’s no better way to see it all than by setting out on foot, and experienced hikers know that autumn is the best time for day hikes: crisp and clear, the high country is still free from the deep snows of winter.

So strap on your boots, grab your camera, and get out there – but always remember that it’s important to be fully equipped and prepared. Here follows a sampling of fabulous fall hikes in British Columbia, where you’ll find plenty of views to inspire the soul.

Vancouver, Coast & Mountains

The Grouse Grind
Length: 2.9 kilometers
Vertical: 853 meters (2,798 feet)
Estimated time to complete: 1.5 hours

A winding trail that scrambles up Grouse Mountain’s southern slope in North Vancouver, the Grind has become British Columbia’s best-known hike. It’s certainly well named – with an average grade of 30 degrees, it’s a steep, thigh-burning trail boasting an elevation gain of 853 meters (2,798 feet) as it climbs through the forest from the Valley Station to the peak plateau. (In all, there are 2,800 steps built into the trail.) The Grind was completed in the early 1980s, and it’s a must for locals and travelers alike. And though you probably won’t match the trail record of 24 minutes—for the average adult, it’s about an hour and a half—a trip up the Grind will give you a first-hand view of Vancouver’s unique urban and outdoor cultures. The best way down? Hop aboard the scenic Grouse Mountain Skyride, where a $5 one-way ride offers stunning views of the city.

The Trails of Garibaldi
Length: varies, depending on the trail or trails chosen
Vertical: challenging; between 600 meters (1,968 feet) to over 900 meters (2,952 feet)
Estimated time to complete: depending on trail, can range from two to four hours (one way)

As you drive north from Vancouver, you pass into Sea to Sky country. Just outside the town of Squamish, Garibaldi Provincial Park holds some of the province’s most dramatic scenery; there are dozens of great trails in the Garibaldi area, but serious hikers will want to head for the Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lakes campgrounds. Departing from there, you’ll be able to access Black Tusk, the jagged remnants of an ancient volcano (note: taking on the Tusk can add, at minimum, four hours to your trek). There are also high trails like Panorama Ridge, where glaciers and striated ranges lead off to the far horizon. Garibaldi may prove a challenging place to hike – but it is one rife with rewards.