As west-coasters, we experience significant precipitation during the winter months, but that is no excuse to hibernate your healthy habits! Feeling the effects of SAD? Trying to shake off the red wine from last night? Get some rain gear, grab a friend and get outside. Bottom line: We live in a temperate rainforest – deal with it.
Here are my top 10 picks for outdoor activities in and around Vancouver:
Easy = relatively flat and family friendly
Moderate = light hills and/or rugged terrain
Challenging = steep hills, steps and/or rugged terrain
- Pacific Spirit Park: Nestled on the UBC peninsula, Pacific Spirit Park or the Endowmentlands as I refer to it, is an expansive mecca of trails with something for
everyone. Many paths are easy and great for the whole family while others are challenging with steps and long hills for those of you looking for a run that doubles as a workout. Dog friendly.
- Baden Powell Trail: North Vancouver’s premiere trail system, the Baden Powell has easy, moderate and challenging terrain. Enjoy a short walk with the kids or take on the 12km Deep Cove to Lynn Canyon path for an amazing, but difficult run. Dog friendly.
- British Columbia Mountain Club Trail (BCMC): The link will take you to information on the Grind because the BCMC is a secret gem among outdoor enthusiasts. The trail runs parallel to the Grind and provides a rugged, challenging hike for those who are in relatively good shape. Take your time, avoid the crowds and stairs and do the BCMC instead of the Grind. I have one request: Don’t tell too many people about it, we want to keep it a secret!
- Everett Crowley Park: Perfect for those looking for a light, outdoor walk. The trails are easy, but the Park still provides that West Coast “rainforest” feel. Ideal if you’re just starting a fitness routine, pushing a stroller or bringing mum and grandma along. Dog friendly.
- The Chief (Squamish): Not as hard as the Grind and the hike gives you the
biggest bang for your buck (view-wise). The first peak of the Chief is a moderate hike with challenging parts, but you can do it – trust me! The view of Howe Sound is breathtaking and well worth the physical challenge you may experience. A couple of words of advice; bring a snack because you’ll want to hang out at the top and be prepared to descend. There is no gondola, so give your joints and quads a fair warning.
- Hollyburn Trail: This is a moderate hiking trail at Cypress Mountain which is great in the summer, but even better in the winter. Bundle up, strap on some snowshoes and enjoy the fresh mountain air while trying something new. There is a tasty bonus at the end; hot chocolate. Yum! Dog friendly.
- Golden Ears Hiking Trail: Another great trail system just outside the city. Golden Ears is good for all levels of outdoor enthusiasts. I have taken on a challenging hike to a secluded camp ground and also brought my dog and pregnant belly for an easy, but still enjoyable walk. Dog friendly.
- Urban Beach Walk/Run: More of a water person? Take this easy walk by starting at
Kits Beach, where you can pause to people watch the pretty folk. Then, keep heading west and after about 1 km of road walking, you’re back on the beach at Jericho. Jericho Beach seems to go on forever, but actually merges with Locarno Beach and eventually ends at the Spanish Banks. Spanish Banks is where the long, steep hill up to UBC begins. At this point, unless you are keen on a challenge, turn back. Dog friendly.
- Dog Mountain: Moderate trail on Seymour Mountain. I love this one when I’m looking for a fun outdoor activity that will get my heart rate up, but still allow me to carry on a nice conversation with my fitness companion. The view at the top is amazing and bring some nuts to get a whiskey jack feeding out of the palm of your hand. Truly be one with nature! Dog friendly.
- Alta Lake Trail (Whistler): I will admit that I have retired from skiing. I was once an enthusiast, but last year I decided to focus more on my other winter loves; running and snowshoeing. For those of you who enjoy Whistler, but don’t ski/snowboard, sorry, you still must get outside and rosy those cheeks! The Alta Lake Trail is perfect for an easy walk, moderate hike or challenging snowshoe. Walking distance from the Village, I highly recommend you experience this beautiful trail at any time of year. Dog friendly.
Let’s grow the list! What is your favourite outdoor spot to get fit?