There’s a lot to love about fall hiking: brilliant foliage, crisp air, empty trails, and no bugs. Here are four hikes near Vancouver worth getting out of the house for — rain or shine — in autumn.
Reminders: Check current conditions, bring the 10 essentials, leave a trip plan with a responsible person, and leave no trace. Where permitted, dogs should be leashed on these trails.
Stephen HuiHelm Lake
Round trip: 26 km
Elevation gain: 940 m
Location: Garibaldi Provincial Park (Whistler)
The hanging valley of Helm Creek is a delight from forested bottom to subalpine top, as well as a less-popular gateway to the Garibaldi Lake area. Start at the Cheakamus Lake parking lot, enter centuries-old conifer groves, ascend to heather meadows, and traverse a volcanic moonscape on the way to Helm Lake in the Squamish Nation’s Kwáyatsut Wild Spirit Place. A particularly dramatic vantage of The Black Tusk, a volcanic plug, awaits. For an elevated perspective, keep going to Helm Pass. (Dogs are prohibited in Garibaldi Provincial Park.)
Round trip: 10 km
Elevation gain: 415 m
Location: Cypress Provincial Park (West Vancouver)
Atop Hollyburn Mountain, you’re likely to be visited by whisky jacks and ravens. (Don’t feed the wildlife.) Start at the Nordic ski area, take the Burfield Trail to First Lake. Then follow the Baden-Powell Trail up Hollyburn Ridge and onto the Hollyburn Mountain Trail. Enjoy the sight of the Twin Sisters (aka The Lions) — or fog — from the summit knob. Plunge northwest down a rough, steep path to the col between Mount Strachan and Hollyburn. Descend the Old Strachan Trail amid old-growth yellow cedars and western hemlocks. Turn left on the B-P Trail and retrace your steps to First Lake and the trailhead.
Chadsey Lake, Sumas Mountain
Round trip: 10 km
Elevation gain: 510 m
Location: Sumas Mountain Interregional Park (Abbotsford)
A prominent landmark in the Fraser Valley, Sumas Mountain is traversed by the fading Centennial Trail. The hike up to Chadsey Lake from Sumas Mountain Road (start here) is particularly pleasant when the fall foliage is at its polychromatic peak. Along the way, there are vistas of farmland and a waterfall on the south fork of Chadsey Creek. Continue upstream under Douglas-firs and descend to the shore of the pretty lake. Enjoy the sight of a little island and water lilies, before heading back the way you came.
Round trip: 17 km
Elevation gain: 920 m
Location: Sxótsaqel/Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park (east of Chilliwack)
The Radium Lake Trail ascends from the Chilliwack River to the subalpine bowl beneath Mount Webb and Macdonald Peak, encountering plenty of old-growth conifers along the way. Despite the easy access (via the Trans Canada Trail, start is here), the route is relatively quiet. The tree cover makes it ideal for rainy days. At one point, you cross Radium Creek on a nifty suspension bridge. Enter a disturbed area with a lonely tall tree in the middle. Finally, near the remains of an old log cabin, find tent pads and the shore of Radium Lake. Retrace your steps to the trailhead.
Stephen Hui is the author of Destination Hikes In and Around Southwestern British Columbia, a new guide to 55 hiking trips. His first book, 105 Hikes In and Around Southwestern British Columbia, was a #1 B.C. bestseller.
For more info check out 105hikes.com