British Columbia's Mountain Hikes: Beyond the Ordinary

You can take a hike. Or… you can take an adventure. It’s simply a matter of choosing where to go. 

Now that summer is here, why not take a few days off and celebrate your inner adventurer among the soaring peaks, ancient forests and remote meadows and glacial lakes of British Columbia in Western Canada. 

You’ll find an abundance of muscle-challenging trails throughout the region, from the easily accessible North Shore Mountains 30 minutes from Vancouver, to the area around Golden, BC, where you can explore the pristine wilderness and lakes of the Canadian Rockies in Yoho and Glacier national parks. Or feel the rush of taking on Mother Nature in the raw – on a heli-hiking expedition to ancient glaciers, untouched wildflower meadows and remote mountain vistas. 

Here are some mountain hiking highlights: 

Step Up to the North Shore Mountains 

Just 30 minutes from Vancouver, the interconnected trails throughout the North Shore Mountains offer some very challenging hikes. The Grouse Grind is a personal-best favorite that climbs 2,800 feet in less than two miles. Wooden stairs built into the dirt give it the nickname the “outdoor Stairmaster.” The Hike to Crown Mountain is another challenge. But the sweeping views from atop the peak -- of the Capilano Watershed, the Lions twin peaks, the city of Vancouver and the backcountry coastal mountains -- are worth every step of the steep trail up the mountainside. Stepping over fallen trees and slippery creeks, past an enormous old-growth cedar to spectacular Kennedy Falls provides a rugged workout through the backcountry forests on the Big Cedar and Kennedy Falls trail. 

Brave the Wilds in Yoho and Glacier National Parks 

From Golden, BC, you can test your prowess on a multitude of gorgeous hikes within the pristine wilderness of the Canadian Rockies. The Glacier Crest Hike is considered one of Glacier National Park’s best. It’s relatively short, about a 7-mile return, but the elevation gain of 3,143 feet from forest to above the tree-line – and the wow factor with stunning views of glaciers in all directions – makes it a workout wonder. For a long steady climb, the Balu Pass Hike (derived from the Aboriginal word “baloo” meaning bear) is a beauty, with alpine meadows filled with wild flowers, panoramic mountain views at the top and, yes, an occasional bear. 

Turquoise-colored lakes, sublime scenery and challenging trails make the Lake O’Hara Alpine Circuit in Yoho National Park a bucket-list must. The Wiwaxy Gap/Huber Ledges route is the circuit’s toughest challenge, nearly straight up – with a 1,500-foot elevation gain in just over a mile. Yoho’s signature Iceline Trail promises a day or two (with an overnight camp along the way) of ups and downs and thrilling close-up views of glaciers and Takakkaw Falls, one of Canada’s highest waterfalls. 

High Flying Hiking Adventure 

To truly get off the beaten path, touch down in the remote wilderness by heli-copter. Canadian Mountain Holidays offers three- and six-day heli-hiking trips beginning from Banff into the Canadian Rockies. The rush begins with an exhilarating heli flight to CMH’s remote lodges, and then daily heli flights to guided mountaineering treks in the untamed wilds. The adrenaline-pumping challenges include trekking the close to 9,000 foot Grizzly Ridge, traversing the gullies and crevasses on the Conrad Glacier, ascending the steep Mt. Nimbus Via Ferrata, the world’s highest and longest via ferrata (which is essentially a steel cable for hikers to cling to on steep paths), and crossing a cable bridge suspended nearly 2,000 feet above the valley floor on the Bugaboo Spires Glacial Trek. 

Barbara Beckley, Content Solutions Writer

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