North Vancouver has some incredible trails for every level of hiker. The main mountains in this area are Seymour and Grouse Mountain, and Lynn Headwaters is also prominent in this list.
If you are looking for the best West Vancouver (Cypress Mountain) trails find them here.
North Vancouver Hikes Ranked by Difficulty
Table of Contents
1. Lynn Canyon
Distance: 3km | Elevation Gain: 150m | Difficulty: Easy
This is a must-visit park for people in the Vancouver area. The canyon has a gorgeous blue river that flows through the middle of it which has some small waterfalls and a 30-foot pool where people can take a chilly dip in the summer.
Over the river you will find several bridges and one suspension bridge that is very popular for taking photos.
The regular loop around the canyon is about 3km and travels over several sets of stairs and hills so there is a light workout but nothing too challenging. It is easy to extend this hike by taking detours, I would recommend checking out Rice Lake.
This area is accessible year-round and in any weather. This is a great place to go on a rainy day when there are far fewer people on the trail. This trail is also accessible by bus!
2. Capilano Canyon
Distance: Up to 8km | Elevation Gain: Up to 300m | Difficulty: Easy
This is one of my favorite rainy day jaunts in the woods. The canyon has a stunning dam, gorgeous curved walls, beautiful green foliage, and a blue river flowing through the middle.
You can find many different trails here, the longest loop being about 8km long. There are plenty of stairs to get a bit of a sweat going but they are mostly easy trails. I love to just go here and explore but you can find a guide to my usual loop here.
This is a great place to go year round and in any weather. There are two large parking areas and it is accessible by bus.
3. Mystery Lake
Distance: 2.5km | Elevation Gain: 150m | Difficulty: Easy
This is the sweetest little lake at Mount Seymour that is accessible in the summer. A short walk will lead you to a secluded swimming hole. The water here is warm enough to swim in July and August and it will be far less busy than other lakes around Vancouver that you can drive to. Bring a picnic and a floatie and spend the day relaxing on the rocks and in the water.
If you are keen to add on some extra distance before going for a refreshing swim you can add on DePencier Bluffs, Mount Seymour, Suicide Bluffs, or Mystery Peak.
This lake is only accessible in the summer.
4. Quarry Rock
Distance: 3.7km | Elevation Gain: 200m | Difficulty: Easy
A Vancouver classic. This short hike will take you from the adorable town of Deep Cove to a beautiful viewpoint overlooking the town, the water, and the city in the distance.
This hike can be done year round and in all weather, though the view may not be as good on a rainy day.
You can do several alternate routes or extensions to this hike, you get there by bus, and I would highly recommend exploring the town of Deep Cove while you are there, all of which you can read about here.
Be aware that this hike is very popular so be extra conscious to follow Leave No Trace principles.
5. Dog Mountain
Distance: 5.5km | Elevation Gain: 200m | Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
This is a fairly easy walk at Mount Seymour to a viewpoint with a big view of the city skyline and the surrounding ocean. The hike is largely flat but there are lots of roots and rocks to maneuver so it can be more challenging for some.
This hike can be done year-round but is very popular as a snowshoe trail in the winter, though due to its popularity, microspikes are usually more appropriate than snowshoes. It’s definitely a beautiful winter wonderland for those who want to explore during the cold months (or the warm ones).
If you want to extend the trip I would recommend adding on Suicide Bluffs and turning it into a loop (not recommended in the winter).
6. NorVan Falls
Distance: 14km | Elevation Gain: 350m | Difficulty: Moderate
This is a well-known hike at Lynn Headwaters Park. The trail is largely flat but still is a good workout. At the end of the trail, you are rewarded with a tall waterfall which you can take in for a while before turning back.
The trail is one of my favorite rainy day options as it is densely forested, just be sure to wear good shoes for mud and puddles.
This trail can be done all summer and deep into the shoulder seasons. Snow can accumulate here in the winter months so be sure to bring microspikes if you choose to do this hike shortly after sea-level snowfall.
Please note that as of March 2021 there is paid parking at Lynn Headwaters ($2/hour).
7. Kennedy Falls
Distance: 12km | Elevation Gain: 500m | Difficulty: Moderate
This hike starts at the Mount Fromme parking lot and takes you to a beautiful fanning waterfall. The trail is full of different terrain to make it interesting, including several stream crossings, stairs, rope-assisted cliff climbs, and much more. The trail is great to do year-round but be aware that the streams can become too high to cross after a lot of rainfall.
The trail only has a few steep parts but it is still a good workout and takes about 4 hours to complete. Be sure to stop and marvel at the giant cedar tree, then stay to the left to stay on the correct trail.
Note that the Mount Fromme parking lot has a 3 hours time limit. You can try to park in the nearby neighborhood and add a few meters onto your hike if you are more comfortable with that.
8. DePencier Bluffs via Upper Perimeter
Distance: 7km | Elevation Gain: 450m | Difficulty: Moderate
There are a few different ways to get to DePencier Bluffs at Mount Seymour, but via Upper Perimeter is the better option. This trail is best done in the height of summer to avoid snow. Note that this trail is not super well-traveled or maintained so be sure to download a map before you go and be prepared to tackle fallen trees and brush when necessary.
If you brave this trail you will be rewarded with a giant rock outcropping to explore and to soak in the beautiful mountain and city views.
9. Mount Seymour
Distance: 7 to 8.2km | Elevation Gain: 500 to 600m | Difficulty: Moderate/Challenging
There are three peaks to this classic Mount Seymour hike so you can decide if you want to keep it on the more moderate side by just completing the first peak, or make it a bit more challenging by doing all three peaks. The first peak has sweeping views of the city, the ocean, and some mountains. The second and third peaks have mountain views for days.
This hike is fun with varied terrain, some flat, some steep sections, lots of beautiful round stones, small pools, and sweet patches of wildflowers. All of this keeps you interested as you climb.
Another great thing about this hike is that it is also a snowshoe trail. You may only need microspikes to do this trail in the winter if there hasn’t been any fresh powder overnight, check recent weather and trail reports before heading out. I would only recommend going to the first peak in the winter.
10. Goat Mountain
Distance: 7 or 12km | Elevation Gain: 400 or 1200m | Difficulty: Moderate or Challenging
Goat Mountain is a great hike with stunning mountain views at Grouse Mountain. The odd thing about this hike is that technically it starts at Grouse Mountain Resort which is accessible via a paid gondola. From the resort, the hike is moderate with some steep sections, some flat parts, and a very steep rope-assisted section right before the summit.
If you do not want to pay for the gondola you have to hike the BCMC trail from the parking lot to Grouse Mountain Resort. Adding on this path makes the trail challenging as the BCMC is very steep and is purely just a workout in the woods.
You can also hike up the BCMC and purchase a discounted downloading-only ticket for the gondola on your way back. It’s also fun to explore the activities at the Grouse Mountain Resort if you aren’t too exhausted.
The trail is only accessible in the summer and I would recommend downloading a map before you go as there are many intersecting trails.
11. Grouse Grind
Distance: 3km | Elevation Gain: 800m | Difficulty: Moderate/Challenging
I do not consider the Grouse Grind to be a hike, more of a fitness challenge, but it is so famous that I have to put it on this list. You should do it at least once, just so you can say that you have done it (and have rights to both bragging and complaining about it).
The trail takes you straight up the side of Grouse Mountain in the summer along many sets of stairs. There are frequent competitions here to see how fast or how many times someone can do the trail in a day.
You cannot go down this trail so you can either purchase a downloading-only ticket for the gondola ride back to the parking lot or you can hike down the parallel BCMC trail. They do not let you hike down the Grind because it is too busy and dangerous.
This hike may be challenging for some and moderate for others, you will frequently see tourists hiking up it in flip flops so it is definitely doable for any hiker. It usually takes about an hour.
At the top check out some of the attractions at Grouse Mountain Resort such as the lumberjack show, the birds show, and several dining and shopping options.
12. Mount Fromme
Distance: 10.5km | Elevation Gain: 900m | Difficulty: Challenging
The Mount Fromme hike provides a decent workout and some views of the city. It is common to start this hike from St Georges Ave, which is a cul de sac in a neighborhood so be sure to be respectful if you start from here.
You can also start from Prospect Ave and go via the Dreamweaver Trail, or you can start at the Mount Fromme Parking lot off of Mountain Highway (the Mount Fromme lot has a 3-hour time limit for parking so it’s might be a risky choice).
This trail is best done in the summer, though some people will do it in the winter with microspikes.
13. Mount Elsay
Distance: 12km | Elevation Gain: 1200m | Difficulty: Challenging
This trail starts by following the ever-popular Mount Seymour Trail and then continues on to the less known and less maintained area of Mount Elsay which overlooks the mountains and Elsay Lake (which you can take a detour to if you like).
Since this trail is off the beaten path it can be hard to follow and there may be brush on the trail, be sure to download a map and be prepared for a long and challenging day.
Go on a dry sunny day in the height of summer as you will cross boulder fields that will be slick in the rain or fog. If you choose to take this trail you will definitely be rewarded.
14. South Needle
Distance: 14km | Elevation Gain: 1350m| Difficulty: Challenging
South Needle is one of a series of peaks along a ridge at Lynn Headwaters Park. The peaks include South Lynn Peak all the way to North Needle but I believe South Needle has the best reward for effort ratio. Most people stop at Lynn Peak but I would encourage you to go a bit further.
The trail after Lynn Peak becomes more overgrown and the terrain becomes hilly so it will be a bit more strenuous but that is also when the views begin.
Be sure you actually make it to the peak and not just to the viewpoint. You can continue on all the way to North Needle for more views of the valley, the city, and mountains, though this area will be more overgrown and more challenging terrain.
Another route option is to go via Seymour Trailway which is largely flat in the beginning then will turn steeply upwards on a trail that is not very well maintained so it will be strenuous. No matter which way you go this will be a hard trail that you will need all day to complete.
This trail is snow-free by June and I would recommend hiking it on a dry clear day so that you don’t slip on the exposed roots and of course, so that you will have the opportunity to see the views!
Please note that as of March 2021 parking at Lynn Headwater is $2/hour, though you can find free parking outside the park if you are willing to walk further.
15. Crown Mountain
Distance: 9 or 14km | Elevation Gain: 900 or 1800m | Difficulty: Challenging
Like Goat Mountain above, this hike officially starts at Grouse Mountain Resort, which is normally accessed by gondola. If you choose not to take the gondola you will have to add on the BCMC trail on either end which will make this challenging hike even more exhausting.
The hardest part about this hike is that you will hike uphill until you get near the summit of Goat Mountain and then you have to descend deeply into a valley before then climbing Crown Mountain as well, making this an almost two-peak day.
When you reach the summit you will be rewarded with incredible 360 views of the mountain and ocean. On your way to the summit, you will be able to see Crown Mountain in the distance as motivation as it is easily distinguishable by the rock formation on top that looks like a crown.
If you are willing to pay for the gondola to the resort and skip the BCMC I would recommend doing so for this trail. Either way, be prepared for a tough long day of hiking. This hike is only accessible in the summer.
16. Hanes Valley Trail
Distance: 17km | Elevation Gain: 1300m | Difficulty: Challenging
This is the only point to point trail on this list, which makes it unique and exciting in my opinion.
To access this trail with only one car (or with no car) I would recommend parking at Grouse Mountain Resort ($10/day) then taking the bus (the 236 is your best option but there are a few choices) to Lynn Canyon where the hike begins. If you are not taking a car at all you can take the bus directly to Lynn Canyon.
You can also shave off the part of the hike that goes through Lynn Canyon and take the bus directly to Lynn Headwaters. The bus (the 210) at Lynn Headwaters drops you off almost a kilometer away from the trailhead so be prepared to walk a little bit if you make this choice.
The beginning of the trail is fairly flat and takes you through some well-trodden trails such as the Lynn Canyon suspension bridge and past NorVan Falls. After that, the crowds thin out and you will pass through incredible boulder fields and over creeks.
The trail will lead you towards Grouse Mountain where you will find a helicopter pad with some great views and from here you can choose to do the detours to Crown or Goat Mountain if you are up for it (both are strenuous options so be sure to assess your energy levels, as well as food and water levels before taking these side trips).
From the helipad, you will head mostly downhill to the Grouse Mountain Resort where the trail officially ends. From the Grouse Mountain Resort, you will have to take the gondola down (paid) to your car or to the bus or you can add on another 3km and take the steep (but free) BCMC trail to the base of the mountain.
This is a challenging hike that should only be done in late July and August to avoid impassible creeks. Plan to be gone all day and bring plenty of food and water. The views of the valley and the varied terrain are well worth it and you will feel very accomplished at the end of the trip.
17. Coliseum Mountain
Distance: 24km | Elevation Gain: 1350m | Difficulty: Challenging
This hike starts at Lynn Headwaters Park and follows the NorVan Falls trail before turning upwards and getting difficult. It is steep and slippery so be sure to go after a dry spell in the summer months (June to September). Be sure to give yourself all day to do this hike and bring plenty of food and water.
At the top, you will find incredible views of the valley and mountains as well as a few small lakes which you can take a refreshing dip in if you are up for it. Though this hike is a grind it is well worth it in the end.
Note that parking at Lynn Headwaters is $2/hour as of March 2021.
North Vancouver has some incredible trails to explore, let me know if I forgot any in the comments. Again, if you are looking for the neighboring West Vancouver, find those hikes here. Happy hiking!
Welcome to Alpine Feeling! My name is Talon, and I am a Vancouver local who loves hiking and all things outdoors. I am here to do my best to provide you with outdoor guides to the Vancouver area and beyond.