Even in the age of the internet and social media, books are still one of my favourite ways to get info about hiking trails. I’m a bit of a hiking guidebook conoisseur. I own over 100 hiking guide books, most of them for British Columbia. In this post, I’ll give you my recommendations for the best Vancouver hiking books.
Guidebooks provide a curated hiking experience: the author went out and hiked tons of trails, then chose only some of them to include in his or her book. And unlike some online sources, you can be sure that book authors have knowledge and credibility about their subject.
Read on for my list of the best Vancouver hiking books including:
- Vancouver hiking guidebooks
- hiking maps for the Vancouver area
- natural history books about Vancouver and British Columbia
- outdoor skills books for hikers
Hey there: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission with no extra cost to you. Thanks -Taryn
Best Vancouver Hiking Books
105 Hikes In and Around Southwestern British Columbia
Stephen Hui, Greystone Books, 2018
This book provides a selection of day hikes within a few hours’ drive of Vancouver, plus a few on Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and Washington state. 105 Hikes is actually an update to the 103 Hikes series, which dates back to the 1970s. It has a great mix of hikes with a bunch of shorter and less difficult trails thrown in for those days when you have less time or energy.
Destination Hikes In and Around Southwestern British Columbia
Stephen Hui, Greystone Books, 2021
Also by Stephen Hui, Destination Hikes is a companion book to 105 Hikes. It contains 55 new hikes to spectacular destinations including swimming holes, waterfalls, mountain peaks, and more. Each hike also includes a stop of interest nearby, such as viewpoints, historical sites, and nature reserves so that you can make a day of it. Like 105 Hikes, it’s a beautiful book with gorgeous photos and detailed maps.
Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia: The Essential Guide to Overnight Hiking Trips
Taryn Eyton, Greystone Books, 2021
Of course, I’m going to include my own book on a list of the best Vancouver hiking books! I wrote Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia to be the guidebook I wanted when I first started backpacking. It has details for 40 backpacking trips within a few hours of Vancouver including where to camp, how to Leave No Trace, and day hikes you can do from your backcountry campsite.
109 Walks in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland
John Halliday, Alice Purdey, Mary & David Macaree, Greystone Books, 2019
The 109 Walks series has been running since the 1970s as a complement to the 103/105 Hikes series. This latest edition has lots of short and easy hikes and nature-oriented neighbourhood walks from Squamish to Chilliwack. The hikes in this book are great for rainy days, shoulder season, and days when you don’t have time for a long hike.
Marc Bourdon, Quickdraw Publications, 2017
Squamish Hiking is the definitive guide to hiking the Sea to Sky corridor between Horseshoe Bay and Whistler. It includes 82 hikes along with stunning photos and easy-to-read maps. As a Squamish resident, this is the book that I pick up first if I want to try out a new local hike that might be a bit off-the-beaten-path.
The Glorious Mountains of Vancouver’s North Shore: A Peak Bagger’s Guide
David Crerar, Harry Crerar, Bill Maurer, Rocky Mountain Books, 2018
Not exactly a hiking guidebook, The Glorious Mountains of Vancouver’s North Shore provides directions for summitting 67 popular and obscure peaks, some on well-worn trails, others on flagged scrambling routes, and a few via off-trail bushwhacks. It also provides everything you would ever want to know about the history, culture, and geography of the North Shore Mountains since it’s a whopping 503 pages long!
Best Vancouver Hiking Maps
Backroad Mapbooks Vancouver, Coast & Mountains BC
Backroad Mapbooks, 2019
Many Vancouver area hikes require challenging drives on logging roads to reach the trailhead. The Backroad Mapbooks series are great for finding your way through the maze of road branches. I also like using the books to discover new areas since the maps highlight trailheads, waterfalls, parks, and other areas of interest for hikers.
Clark Geomatics Maps
Jeff Clark makes beautiful and detailed trail maps through his company, Clark Geomatics. They are topographic maps with clear overlays for trails, campsites, ski routes, and logging roads. On the back, they have detailed trail descriptions and info about natural history and culture. Vancouver hikers should pick up the Callaghan Valley Area, Garibaldi Provincial Park, and Manning Park maps.
Trail Ventures BC Maps
Burnaby-based Trail Ventures BC makes the best maps for most Vancouver-area trails. Their easy to read maps are made from tearproof and waterproof paper that even I haven’t been able to wreck (despite folding and refolding their North Shore Trail map on dozens of off-the-beaten-path hikes). They also have maps for Chilliwack, Port Moody/Port Coquitlam, and the Stein/Joffre area.
Best Vancouver Natural History Books
Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia & Alaska
Jim Pojar and Andy Mackinnon, Lone Pine Publishing, 2016
This book has become my bible for plant identification. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast has detailed photos and descriptions of hundreds of species of trees, shrubs, mosses, flowers, and more. I got really into learning about plants during the pandemic – it was cool to discover what grows in different microclimates on our local trails depending upon elevation, sun exposure, soil conditions, etc.
Popular Wildflowers of Coastal British Columbia and Vancouver Island
Neil L. Jennings, Rocky Mountain Books, 2020
This thin book is my go-to resource for wildflower IDs. Popular Wildflowers is also light and small enough to carry on a hike. It sorts the flowers by colour and has great photos, which makes it easy and fast to find what I’m looking for.
All That the Rain Promises and More… A Hip Guide to Western Mushrooms
David Arora, Ten Speed Press, 1991
If you are interested in mushroom hunting, this is the best book for the Vancouver area. All that the Rain Promises and More… has great photos and descriptions of the mushrooms as well as notes on edibility. But the feature I like best is the flowcharts on the inside covers that help you narrow down what type of mushroom you are looking at.
British Columbia: A Natural History of Its Origins, Ecology, and Diversity
Richard Cannings and Sydney Cannings, Greystone Books, 2015
This beautiful book starts with a section on geology and then the remainder is divided into sections representing the different ecosystems of BC. British Columbia: A Natural History is illustrated with gorgeous photos, cute drawings, detailed maps, and informative charts. It’s the only book you need to learn about nature in BC.
Best Outdoor Skills Books for Hikers
Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills
The Mountaineers Books, 2017
Even if you never plan to get into climbing, Freedom of the Hills is a must-read for any hiker. It’s a how-to guide for pretty much everything in the outdoors. In addition to tips for rock climbing and mountaineering it includes info on wilderness navigation, emergency preparedness, Leave No Trace, first aid, snow science, and mountain weather.
The Avalanche Handbook
Peter Schaerer & David McClung, The Mountaineers Books, 2006
If you snowshoe in winter or hike on steep slopes with lingering snow in the spring and summer, you need avalanche training. While this book doesn’t replace a formal avalanche course, it’s a great reference since it’s used as a textbook in most courses. The Avalanche Handbook includes tons of info on avalanche formation, terrain, prediction, and self-rescue.
Wilderness Navigation: Finding Your Way Using Map, Compass, Altimeter & GPS
Bob Burns and Mike Burns, The Mountaineers Books, 2015
In the age of smartphone apps, map and compass navigation is a dying skill. And that’s a shame since it’s so important! Phones die or lose reception and apps aren’t always correct. Every hiker should understand how to read a topographic map and use a compass. Wilderness Navigation is a great book for teaching these skills in an accessible way.
Wilderness Medicine: Beyond First Aid
William W. Forgey M.D., Falcon Guides, 2017
A wilderness first aid course is a great investment for any hikers. You’ll learn how to treat common hiking injuries with a basic first aid kit and the gear you are already carrying. But it can be tough to remember everything you learn in a course. That’s where a book like Wilderness Medicine comes in. It’s great as a refresher for the course, or for general knowledge.
So there you have it – my picks for the best Vancouver hiking books. There are lots of other hiking books for Vancouver and British Columbia, but these are the only ones I truly recommend. What is your favourite Vancouver hiking book? Tell me in the comments.