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24 Easy Backpacking Trips In BC For Beginners

24 Easy Backpacking Trips In BC For Beginners

British Columbia’s backcountry is gorgeous, making day hikers wish they didn’t have to leave. The next logical step is a backpacking trip, but it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why I put together this list of easy backpacking trips in BC.

I’ve been backpacking in BC for 20 years (and I even wrote a book about it), but I still remember what it was like to be a beginner backpacker. I’ve also taken countless friends backpacking for the first time, so I know what kinds of BC backpacking trips are best for beginners.

In this guide, I recommend 24 easy backpacking trips spread across BC with trips near Vancouver, on the Sunshine Coast, on Vancouver, and in Eastern British Columbia including the Rocky Mountains.

The easy backpacking trips in this guide are completely beginner-friendly. Each trip:

  • Involves hiking no more than 7 km to a campsite (although some trips have options for more)
  • Has less than 400 m elevation gain
  • Includes a stay at one or more designated campsites or huts that has a toilet and bear-proof food storage

This is a sensitive wilderness area. Learn how to Leave No Trace to keep the wilderness wild. Make sure you are prepared by bringing the 10 Essentials. Get ready for adventure with this checklist of things to do before every hike.

Map of Easy Backpacking Trips in BC

I made a custom Google Map that shows the location of these easy BC backpacking trips. Click to zoom in.

Google maps showing the locations of 24 easy backpacking trips in BC
Click to open in Google Maps so you can zoom in.

Beginner Backpacking in BC Basics

Is this your first backpacking trip? Read my guide to Backpacking for Beginners. It includes a run-down on gear, trip planning, fitness, and key skills like navigation and bear safety.

Are you backpacking with kids? This guide to Backpacking With Kids was written by a tween and his mom with nearly a decade of backpacking experience.

Not sure what to pack? I’ve also got a super-detailed Backpacking Gear Checklist that explains it all.

Considering a trip that requires reservations? Read my guide to BC Backpacking Reservation Dates. It includes an annual calendar of booking dates.

Don’t want to make reservations? I got you! Read my guide to Going Backpacking in BC Without Reservations.

Worried about bears? If you are prepared and responsible, you don’t have to worry. Read my guide to Bear Safety for Backpackers.

Afraid of being cold? Read my Tips for Staying Warm in a Tent.

Nervous about rain or snow? Get my list of the Best Weather Apps for Hiking

Do you find hiking jargon confusing? Do you know what alpenglow means? What about cairn or false summit or post-holing? Get the answers in my Hiking Terms Glossary – it has over 300 entries.

Want to keep the wilderness wild? Learn about How to Leave No Trace (And Why It’s Important).

Join the Backpacking in BC Facebook Group

Beginner Backpacking Trips Near Vancouver

Cheakamus Lake, Garibaldi Provincial Park

Cheakamus Lake and the surrounding mountains - a great beginner backpacking trip near Vancouver
Cheakamus Lake

Duration: 2 days

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation Gain: 50 m

Distance: 7 to 14 km round trip

Best months: May to November

Fees and Reservations: Reservations are required and cost $6/night/tent pad. Camping fees are $10/person/night.

This is the only easy backpacking trip in Garibaldi Provincial Park and my number one pick for the best easy backpacking trip near Vancouver. The trail is flat and easy as it heads through the old-growth forest and then along the shore of the lake.

There are two campgrounds to choose from: Cheakamus Lake at the lake outlet at the 3.5 km mark and Singing Creek further down the lake at the 7 km mark.

More Info: Find details on this hike in my book, Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia. For info on camping fees and reservations, see Garibaldi Provincial Park.

Joffre Lakes

The view from Upper Joffre Lake near Whistler - a great easy backpacking trip in BC
The view from Upper Joffre Lake

Duration: 2 days

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 10 km round trip

Elevation Gain: 320 m

Best Months: Late June to October

Fees and Reservations: Reservations are required and cost $6/night/tent pad. Camping fees are $5/person/night.

This is one of the Vancouver area’s most popular hikes thanks to the three gorgeous turquoise glacial lakes along the trail. The campground at Upper Joffre Lake does require hiking up some steep hills, but it’s only 320 m of elevation gain, so it is suitable for beginners.

More Info: Find details on this hike in my book, Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia. For info on reservations, see Joffre Lakes Provincial Park.

Viewpoint Beach, Golden Ears Provincial Park

Viewpoint Beach in Golden Ears Provincial Park - a beginner backpacking destination near Vancouver
Viewpoint Beach

Duration: 2 days

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 9.6 km loop

Elevation Gain: 170 m

Best months: April to November

Fees and Reservations: Camping fees are $5/person/night. All campsites are first-come, first-served.

This easy loop hike follows the banks of Gold Creek to a campground on a sand bar. It has a great view of the surrounding mountains. On hot days, cool down in the icy creek. The East Canyon trail is an old road so it is slightly easier hiking than the West Canyon Trail.

More Info: Find details on this hike in my book, Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia. For info on camping fees, see Golden Ears Provincial Park.

Get My Book…

Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia

A one-stop resource for backpackers in beautiful British Columbia.

  • 40 backpacking trips within a few hours of Vancouver
  • Info about permits, reservations, and campsite facilities
  • Detailed maps and photos
  • Advice for extending your trip
  • Points of cultural and natural history
Book cover for Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia

Lindeman Lake, S⨱ótsaqel / Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park

Lindeman Lake in Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park. You can backcountry camp here.
Lindeman Lake

Duration: 2 days

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 3.4 km round trip

Elevation Gain: 200 m

Best Months: April to early November

Fees and Reservations: Camping fees are $5/person/night. All campsites are first-come, first-served.

The hike to Lindeman Lake is short but fairly steep, so take your time. The small campground is very popular since it sits next to a gorgeous blue lake surrounded by mountains. More experienced hikers can carry on across tougher terrain to Greendrop Lake, 6.5 km from the trailhead.

More Info: Find details on this hike in my book, Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia. For info on camping fees, see S⨱ótsaqel / Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park.

Skagit River Trail, Skagit Valley Provincial Park

Delacy Camp on the Skagit River Trail
Delacey Camp

Note: Access to this trail was disrupted by the November 2021 storms. The river has changed course at the Sumallo Grove trailhead and the bridge is not accessible. The Silver-Skagit Road in Skagit Valley Provincial Park also suffered extensive damage and is not driveable to the trailhead. Hopefully, access will be restored soon.

Duration: 2 days

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 8 km round trip or 14 km traverse

Elevation gain: 75 m

Best months: April to November

Fees and Reservations: None. All campsites are first-come, first-served.

The historic Skagit River Trail dates back to the fur trade and follows the banks of the river. Delacey Camp is an easy 4 km hike from the Sumallo Grove trailhead. If you have two cars, you can make a 14 km traverse of the trail, ending at Silver-Skagit Road.

More Info: Find details on this hike in my book, Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia and Skagit Valley Provincial Park.

Buckhorn Camp (Heather Trail), Manning Provincial Park

Wildflower meadows along the Heather Trail in Manning Provincial Park. The Buckhorn Camp is a perfect easy backpacking trip in BC
Wildflower meadows along the Heather Trail

Duration: 2 days

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 10 km round trip

Elevation gain: 160 m

Best months: July to mid-September

Fees and reservations: Camping fees are $5/person/night. All campsites are first-come, first-served.

The Heather Trail in Manning Park is one the most picturesque backpacking trips in BC as it meanders through wildflower meadows along a ridge top. Beginners can tackle the first section of trail to Buckhorn Camp. Keep in mind that it is downhill from the parking lot to camp, so you’ll have a climb on the return trip.

More info: Find details on this hike in my book, Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia. For info on camping fees, see Manning Provincial Park.

Strike Lake (Lightning Lakes), Manning Provincial Park

Hiking the Lightning Lakes trail in Manning Park
Hiking along Lightning Lake

Duration: 2 days

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 13 km round trip

Elevation gain: none

Best months: June to October

Fees and reservations: Camping fees are $5/person/night. All campsites are first-come, first-served.

The flat trail along the Lightning Lakes chain in Manning Park is one of the best easy backpacking trips in BC. The trail passes Lightning, Flash and Strike Lakes before arriving at the backcountry campsites. Its low elevation location also means it is snow-free earlier than other trails in the park.

More info: Find details on this hike in my book, Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia. For info on camping fees, see Manning Provincial Park.

Palmer’s Pond, HBC Heritage Trail

Palmers Pond on the HBC Heritage Trail - this section of trail is a great beginner backpacking trip in BC
Palmer’s Pond

Note: Access to this trail was disrupted by the November 2021 storms. The Tulameen Forest Service Road, which accesses the trailhead, has numerous washouts and is currently closed. It may reopen in summer 2023.

Duration: 2 days

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 6-12 km round trip

Elevation gain: 190 to 385 m

Best months: July to September

Fees and reservations: None. All campsites are first-come, first-served.

The challenging HBC Heritage Trail traces a historical route from Hope to Tulameen. Beginner backpackers can hike the picturesque central section. There are two campgrounds to choose from: Conglomerate Flats is 3 km and 190 m of elevation from the trailhead. Campement du Chevreuil is 6 km and 385 m along and passes gorgeous Palmer’s Pond along the way. (Camping is not allowed at the pond.)

More info: Find details on this hike in my book, Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia and on the HBC Heritage Trail website.

Falls Lake, Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area

View from Falls Lake campground near the Coquihalla Highway
View from Falls Lake campground

Note: Access to this trail was disrupted by the November 2021 storms. There is a small washout at the parking lot, but reportedly, the trail is still accessible.

Duration: 2 days

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 2 km round trip

Elevation gain: 50 m

Best months: July to September

Fees and reservations: None. All campsites are first-come, first-served.

This short trail is one of the easiest backpacking trips in BC. It’s a slightly uphill walk through a beautiful mountain forest to a small campsite on the shores of the lake. There are dramatic views across the water to the steep granite peaks.

More info: Find details on this hike in my book, Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia and on the Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area website.

Join the Backpacking in BC Facebook Group

Little Douglas Lake Recreation Site

Little Douglas Lake near the Coquihalla Highway, one of the best easy backpacking trips in BC
Little Douglas Lake

Duration: 2 days

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 3.5 km round trip

Elevation gain: 100 m

Best months: Late June to October

Fees and reservations: None. All campsites are first-come, first-served.

Little Douglas Lake is a bit of a hidden gem, tucked away just off the Coquihalla Highway. The short trail to the lake passes through forest and marsh, and also includes wading a creek. Once you arrive at the lake, you’ll enjoy great views of the mountains.

More info: Find details on this hike in my book, Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia and on the Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area website.

Lower Stein Valley, Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park

Lower Stein Valley - one of the best beginner backpacking trips in BC
Looking upriver in the Lower Stein Valley

Duration: 2-4 days

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 4-26 km round trip

Elevation gain: 30-350 m

Best months: April to October

Fees and reservations: None. All campsites are first-come, first-served.

The lower section of the Stein Valley is a great beginner backpacking trip in BC with gorgeous river valley scenery. This is an important spiritual place for the Nlaka’pamux Nation so be respectful. Watch for culturally modified trees and petroglyphs along the trail.

Choose from five different campgrounds (Loop, Devil’s Staircase, Teepee, Earl’s, and Suspension Bridge) to create an itinerary that works for your group. The terrain is fairly flat except for a big hill between Devil’s Staircase and Teepee Camps.

More info: Find details on this hike in my book, Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia and on the Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park website.

Beginner Backpacking Trips on the Sunshine Coast

Batchelor Lake and Edwards Lake, Tetrahedron Provincial Park

Edwards Lake Cabin in Tetrahedron Provincial Park
Backpackers at Edwards Lake Cabin

Duration: 2 days

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 7-12 km round trip

Elevation gain: 100-280 m

Best months: Mid-June to October

Fees and reservations: Cabin fees are $15/person/night. All cabins are first-come, first-served.

The Tetrahedron plateau is speckled with lots of pretty little lakes. Camping is not allowed but the local outdoor club maintains several cabins that anyone can use. A cabin trip is a great option for beginners since you don’t have to carry as much gear.

Batchelor Lake Cabin is down a spur trail 3.5 km from the trailhead with 100 m of elevation gain. Edwards Lake Cabin is 6 km from the trailhead with 280 m of elevation gain.

More info: Find details on this hike in my book, Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia and on the Tetrahedron Provincial Park website. For info on cabins and fees, see the Tetrahedron Outdoor Club.

Get My Book…

Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia

A one-stop resource for backpackers in beautiful British Columbia.

  • 40 backpacking trips within a few hours of Vancouver
  • Info about permits, reservations, and campsite facilities
  • Detailed maps and photos
  • Advice for extending your trip
  • Points of cultural and natural history
Book cover for Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia

Fairview Bay Hut, Sunshine Coast Trail

Fairview Bay Hut on the Sunshine Coast Trail - one of the best easy backpacking trips in BC
Fairview Bay Hut

Duration: 2 days

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 12 km round trip

Elevation gain: 145 m

Best months: Year-round.

Fees and reservations: None but donations are welcome. The hut and campsites are first-come, first-served.

The southern section of the Sunshine Coast Trail from the Earl’s Cove Trailhead to Fairview Bay Hut makes a great beginner backpacking trip. The trail has great views of the ocean. Stay at the rustic hut or pitch a tent nearby.

More Info: Find details on this hike in my book, Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia and on the Sunshine Coast Trail website.

Manzanita Bluff Hut, Sunshine Coast Trail

View from Manzanita Bluff on the Sunshine Coast Trail
View from Manzanita Bluff Hut

Duration: 2 days

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 7 km round trip

Elevation gain: 295 m

Best months: March to November.

Fees and reservations: None but donations are welcome. The hut and campsites are first-come, first-served.

This hut along the Sunshine Coast Trail has incredible views of the Strait of Georgia. You can stay in the rustic hut or camp nearby. It’s a short hike to get here, but it is entirely uphill and often steep, so take your time.

More Info: Find details on this hike in my book, Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia and on the Sunshine Coast Trail website.

Beginner Backpacking Trips on Vancouver Island

Narvaez Bay, Gulf Islands National Park

The campground at Narvaez Bay on Saturna Island in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve
The campground at Narvaez Bay

Duration: 2 days

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 2 km round trip

Elevation gain: 80 m

Best months: Year-round.

Fees and reservations: Reservations are required between May and September and cost $11.50/night/tent pad. Camping fees are $10.50/person/night. Camping is first-come, first-served the rest of the year and fees can be paid on-site in cash.

It’s a very easy downhill hike to this coastal campground on Saturna Island. If you want to avoid driving, you can walk onto the ferry, then hike the 8 km road to the trailhead in about 2 hours. Biking from the ferry to the campground is also an option as the trail is open to bikes.

More Info: See Gulf Islands National Park Reserve for more info and camping reservations.

Mystic Beach, Juan de Fuca Trail

A hiker near the waterfall at Mystic Beach on the Juan de Fuca Trail on Vancouver Island
The waterfall at Mystic Beach

Duration: 2 days

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 4 km round trip

Elevation gain: 105 m

Best months: Year-round.

Fees and reservations: Camping costs $10/person/night. All campsites are first-come, first-served.

This easy hike is a Vancouver Island favourite for beginners and families. Unfortunately, on weekends partiers like it too. The trail runs downhill through the rugged rainforest to remote Mystic Beach. Camp on the sand and cool off under the waterfall that runs down the cliff.

More Info: Read my Juan de Fuca Trail guide for full details. For info on camping fees, see Juan de Fuca Provincial Park.

Wild Side Trail, Flores Island

Hikers on the Wild Side Trail near Tofino
Hikers on the Wild Side Trail near Tofino

Duration: 2-4 days

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 22 km round trip

Elevation gain: 30 m

Best months: May to October

Fees and reservations: Trail fees are $15/person. Camping fees are $10/person/night. All campsites are first-come, first-served.

This trail on a water taxi-accessed island near Tofino has one of the best effort-to-reward ratios around. It’s an easy walk almost entirely on sandy beaches. There are three campsites along the way to break up your trip. The trail is in Ahousaht Nation territory and includes signs explaining Indigenous culture and history.

More Info: Get details on this hike in my Wild Side Trail guide. For info on trail fees and camping fees, see the Wild Side Trail website.

Lake Helen Mackenzie and Kwai Lake, Strathcona Provincial Park

Backpackers in Paradise Meaows on the way to Lake Helen Mackenzie in Strathcona Provincial Park - a great family backpacking trip
Hiking through Paradise Meadows on the way to Lake Helen Mackenzie. Photo: Reid Holmes

Duration: 2-4 days

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 8-15 km loop

Elevation gain: 190 m

Best months: July to September

Fees and reservations: Camping fees are $10/person/night. All campsites are first-come, first-served.

This loop provides the easiest access to Vancouver Island’s alpine terrain and is my pick for the best easy backpacking trip on Vancouver Island. It starts at the Mount Washington ski area, then heads past lots of beautiful subalpine lakes and flower-filled meadows. Camp at Lake Helen Mackenzie (4 km along ) or Kwai Lake (7.5 km).

More Info: See Strathcona Provincial Park for trail info and camping fees.

Raft Cove

Logs on the beach at Raft Cove Provincial Park on Northern Vancouver Island
Raft Cove

Duration: 2 days

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 4 km round-trip

Elevation gain: 70 m

Best months: Year-round

Fees and reservations: Camping costs $5/person/night between May and September. (Otherwise, it is free.) All campsites are first-come, first-served.

The hike to Raft Cove is short, but rough and very muddy, so it will seem longer. The remote beach is located on northern Vancouver Island, accessed via a maze of logging roads from Port Hardy. The sandy beach is popular with surfers.

More Info: See Raft Cove Provincial Park for info and camping fees.

Join the Backpacking in BC Facebook Group

San Josef Bay, Cape Scott Provincial Park

Sea stacks at San Josef Bay in Cape Scott Provincial Park - one of my favourite easy backpacking trips in BC
Sea stacks at San Josef Bay

Duration: 2 days

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 5 km round-trip

Elevation gain: 45 m

Best months: Year-round

Fees and reservations: Camping costs $5/person/night between May and September. (Otherwise, it is free.) All campsites are first-come, first-served.

The trail to San Josef Bay is the easiest trail in Cape Scott Provincial Park. It is flat enough to pull a wagon or wheelbarrow. Camp on the sand at one of two beaches and explore the sea stacks in between the two at low tide.

More info: For more info, see my Cape Scott guide. For camping fees, see Cape Scott Provincial Park.

Beginner Backpacking Trips in Eastern BC and the Rocky Mountains

Spectrum Lake, Monashee Provincial Park

Spectrum Lake in Monashee Provincial Park
Spectrum Lake. Photo: Gemma Taylor

Duration: 2 days

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 12 km round-trip

Elevation gain: 209 m

Best months: June to October

Fees and reservations: Camping fees are $5/person/night. All campsites are first-come, first-served.

Okanagan locals love Spectrum Lake near Cherryville. The short and easy hike is beginner-friendly, making it easy to include on this list of the best easy backpacking trips in BC. The trail leads to a lake nestled between mountains. There is even a dock to swim from.

More Info: Get the details from my friend Gemma’s Spectrum Lake trail guide. For info on camping fees, see Monashee Provincial Park.

Eva Lake, Mount Revelstoke National Park

Eva Lake in Mount Revelstoke National Park - a great beginner-friendly backpacking trip in BC
Eva Lake

Duration: 2 days

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 12 km round-trip

Elevation gain: 180 m

Best months: Mid-July to September

Fees and reservations: Reservations required. Camping fees are $10/person/night. You will also need to pay National Park entry fees of $10/person/day.

Eva Lake is my pick for the best hike in Mount Revelstoke National Park. You walk through alpine meadows and along a ridgeline with great mountain views. The backcountry campground has a historic hut to cook in.

More Info: Get the details in my Mount Revelstoke National Park guide. See Mount Revelstoke National Park for reservations.

Laughing Falls, Yoho National Park

Takkakaw Falls in Yoho National Park on the way to Laughing Falls - one of the best easy backpacking trips in BC
Takkakaw Falls on the way to Laughing Falls

Duration: 2 days

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 8.8 km round-trip

Elevation gain: 125 m

Best months: July to September

Fees and reservations: Reservations are required and cost $11.50/per reservation. Camping fees are $10/person/night. You will also need to pay National Park entry fees of $10/person/day.

The flat hike to Laughing Falls is a beginner-friendly backpacking trip in Yoho National Park and one fo the best easy backpacking trips in BC. It follows the Yoho River upstream, with great views of other waterfalls along the way.

More Info: See Yoho National Park for trail info and reservations.

Kinney Lake (Berg Lake Trail), Mount Robson Provincial Park

Kinney Lake in Mount Robson Provincial Park - one of the best easy backpacking trips in BC
Kinney Lake

Duration: 2 days

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 14 km round-trip

Elevation gain: 130 m

Best months: July to September

Fees and reservations: Reservations are required and cost $6/night/tent pad. Camping fees are $10/person/night

The epic hike to Berg Lake in Mount Robson Provincial Park is challenging, but beginners can hike the first section as far as Kinney Lake. The trail climbs gently on an old road beside the Robson River. Kinney Lake is a gorgeous blue colour and the campsites have incredible views.

More Info: Get details on this hike in my Berg Lake Trail guide. For reservation info, see Mount Robson Provincial Park.

That’s my big list of easy backpacking trips in BC for beginners. I’m sure you’ll find a trip that is perfect for you. Have fun out there – that’s why we go backpacking!

READ NEXT: BEGINNER BACKPACKING RESOURCES

READ NEXT: TRIP GUIDES

Taryn Eyton