4 Hikes Perfect For Rainy Vancouver Days

Into each life some rain must fall...but that doesn't mean we're putting away the hiking boots.

With the rainy season upon us, it might be tempting to hang up your hiking boots.

Doing so, however, means missing out on colourful foliage, copious mushrooms, lush forest, and seasonal waterfalls. Here are four low-elevation hikes near Vancouver worth saving for a rainy day.

Reminders: Check current conditions, bring the 10 essentials, leave a trip plan with a responsible person, and leave no trace.

Crater Rim Trail

Photo: Stephen Hui

Round trip: 10.5 km

Elevation gain: 360 m

Location: Whistler Interpretive Forest (Whistler)

Although it’s one of the lesser-known hikes in Whistler, the Crater Rim Trail is highly enjoyable and just the ticket for shoulder season. A loop allows you to survey Loggers Lake, which sits in a 10,000-year-old crater, from all sides. From the parking lot, set off on the Riverside Trail. Once on the Crater Rim Trail (via the Ridge Trail), ascend to the crest and bask in marvellous forest and — weather-permitting — scenic viewpoints. Rejoin the Riverside Trail (downstream) en route to MacLaurin’s Crossing suspension bridge. Cross the Cheakamus River and follow the Farside Trail (upstream) to the Highline Trail. Stay left and head downhill when the Highline spits you onto a 4×4 road and return to the parking lot.

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Norvan Falls

Photo: Stephen Hui

Round trip: 14 km

Elevation gain: 210 m

Location: Lynn Headwaters Regional Park (North Vancouver)

Rusty logging relics are one highlight of this dependable outing. From the park entrance (site of the historic B.C. Mills House), cross Lynn Creek using a bridge built near the remains of a water intake dam. Go north on the wide Lynn Loop Trail and continue onto the pretty Cedars Mill Trail, leaving most of the dog walkers and joggers behind. Reach the Third Debris Chute. Join the northern portion of the Headwaters Trail, an old logging road that leads you deeper into the forest. Ignore the turnoff for Coliseum Mountain. At the next junction, head upstream to Norvan Falls, where signs warn hikers to keep back from the steep cliff. Retrace your steps to the park entrance.

East Canyon Trail

Photo: Stephen Hui

Round trip: 19.5 km

Elevation gain: 170 m

Location: Golden Ears Provincial Park (Maple Ridge)

A lush temperate rainforest beckons in the valley of Gold Creek. Start at the Gold Creek parking lot and follow the East Canyon Trail upstream. Detour left to take in the pure forest and freshwater views from the Gold Creek bridge. Head 10 minutes upstream to Viewpoint Beach, a gravel point bar on a lovely zigzag in Gold Creek. Leaving its bustling lower section behind, the East Canyon Trail weaves upstream — crossing bridges, negotiating channels, skirting oxbows, climbing cutbanks, and ducking blowdowns on the floodplain. Hug one of the giant western red cedars along the trail. Go left at the Half Moon Beach turnoff and explore the secluded rocky bar and sandy bank. Retrace your steps to the parking lot.

Petgill Lake

Photo: Stephen Hui

Round trip: 10 km

Elevation gain: 625 m

Location: Murrin Provincial Park (Squamish)

The Petgill Lake Trail boasts swimming holes at both ends and furnishes grand views (if not obscured by clouds) of the head of Howe Sound — the centrepiece of the newly UNESCO-designated Átl’ḵa7tsem/Howe Sound Biosphere Region. Accessing the trailhead, just north of the Murrin Provincial Park entrance, requires safely crossing the Sea to Sky Highway. Right away, the trail demands you scramble up two rocky bits with a chain for assistance on the second. From a dynamite viewpoint, gaze upon the Squamish River and Stawamus Chief Mountain. Less than an hour from the highway, turn right on a deactivated logging road. After a half-hour of road walking, hang a left at a boulder blockade to begin the upper trail. Stay left at the junction with the route to Goat Ridge. Reach a viewpoint on a ridge overlooking Petgill Lake. Keep left and make a beeline for the final bluff-top viewpoint. Retrace your steps to Murrin.

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. Learn more: 105hikes.com