This post was first published in February 2017. I’ve run the numbers fresh for 2019… (drumroll please)… and we have one new hike on the list! Let’s give a warm welcome to Panorama Ridge, entering the list at #9! (That means Mount Seymour drops to #11 and doesn’t make the cut this year.) The rest of the hikes on the list are the same, but they’ve changed order a little bit. I’ve updated the post to reflect the new stats. Can you guess which hikes are getting even more popular? (Hint. It rhymes with Moffrey Jakes.)
Recently I was trying to make a list of the most popular hikes in Vancouver. I asked friends for their opinion and did some googling, but then I had a better idea: Instagram! Tons of people location tag their photos when they go hiking and post them to Instagram. (I know I do!) So it’s a great way to figure out what hikes are most popular. I scrolled through a lot of hashtags before coming up with this list of the most Instagrammed Hikes in Vancouver. If you’re looking to up your ‘gram game this is the list you need. And if you like solitude, here are the top 10 hikes you should avoid!
I had guessed the Garibaldi Lake would be the most popular, but I was wrong! Before you scroll down and read the list, can you guess which hikes made the top 10?
Stawamus Chief (10th most Instagrammed Hike near Vancouver)
Trail Info: Between #StawamusChief and #SquamishChief, the Chief (as it is sometimes known) has 27.9k hashtagged photos on Instagram (up from 18.5k as of early 2018). Located next door to the Sea to Sky Gondola, it is Squamish’s steepest hike. It’s even steeper than the Grouse Grind and is the steepest hike on my list of Grouse Grind Alternatives. You’ll climb up stairs, ladders and even use chains to reach the top of this granite monolith. At the top you can look down the front of the sheer cliff face to see rock climbers below you and all of Howe Sound spread out at your feet. Get directions and more info on the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park website, VancouverTrails.com and OutdoorVancouver.ca.
Stats: This steep hike has three peaks to choose from: First Peak 3km round trip with 540m elevation gain; Second Peak 3.4km round trip with 590m elevation gain; Third Peak 1.8km 3.6km round trip with 630m elevation gain. It takes about 3.5 hours to do the first peak, and 5 or 6 hours if you want to do all three.
Where to Get the Shot: You’ll find great locations for photos at the tops of each of the peaks. For the most dramatic shots head to third peak where you can get shots of the other two peaks (and all the tiny hikers on them).
Panorama Ridge (9th Most Instagrammed Hike in Vancouver)
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Trail Info: At 29.8k hashtagged photos, the success of #PanoramaRidge on Instagram can probably be explained by its particularly epic view. In one direction, you can see all of Garibaldi Lake spread out below you. In other, Black Tusk and the meadows below it. It’s a pretty and hike to get there (especially if you go all the way to the top and back in one day) but I think everyone who’s been would agree it’s worth the slog. The first few kilometres of the trail are not that interesting as you switchback uphill through the trees. Once you reach Taylor Meadows campground, you emerge into beautiful alpine meadows. Try to time your visit for late July or early August when they are in bloom. From the meadows, the trail climbs steeply up to the top of the ridge to the viewpoint. If the trail is too much for you to tackle in one day, stay overnight at Taylor Meadows or Garibaldi Lake campgrounds. Get directions and more info: Vancouver Trails.
Stats: The 30km round trip to the viewpoint gains about 1520m. Most people hike it in 11-12 hours.
Where to Get the Shot: For views of the lake, head to the very top. If you take the trail to the left along the ridge, you’ll have fewer people trying to get the same shot. For pics of Black Tusk, take them on the way up or at the top.
Black Tusk (8th Most Instagrammed Hike in Vancouver)
Trail Info: Black Tusk is another iconic Sea to Sky landmark. There are 29.9k photos hashtagged #BlackTusk on Instagram (up from 25.1k in early 2018). The first part of the hike to the Tusk shares the same trail up the switchbacks as the Garibaldi Lake Trail. But instead of going right to the lake, you go left through Taylor Meadows campground and then ascend on loose volcanic rocks above treeline to the Tusk. Climbing the Tusk itself is technically a scramble or a rock climb, not a hike and you should be experienced with climbing and bring a helmet if you intend to go up. Most people are content to stop at the base. Get directions and more info on VancouverTrails.com or OutdoorVancouver.ca.
Stats: Black Tusk is a long, hard hike. It is 29km round trip with 1750m of elevation gain. It takes most people 11 or 12 hours (or you can camp overnight at the Taylor Meadows or Garibaldi Lake campgrounds.)
Where to Get the Shot: As you get close to the base of the Tusk there is a BC Parks sign indicating that you have reached the end of the marked trail. It is not crazy steep in that area so its a popular place to sit down for a snack and take some photos of the incredible view.
Garibaldi Lake (7th Most Instagrammed Hike in Vancouver)
Trail Info: The glacial blue waters of #GaribaldiLake have been a draw for Vancouver hikers for years, so it’s no surprise it has 33k hashtagged photos on Instagram (was 25.6k in 2018). The first half of the trail switchback steadily uphill through the forest. After the junction with the Taylor Meadows trail, the route passes by the Barrier and two smaller lakes before finally emerging from the trees on the shores of the massive Garibaldi Lake. Get directions and more info on the Garibaldi Provincial Park website, Vancouver Trails.com, or OutdoorVancouver.ca.
Stats: It’s an 18km round trip hike with about 900m of elevation gain so allow 6 or 7 hours for the trip.
Where to Get the Shot: Many people take shots on the beach where the trail first enters the campground. However, you can get some more spectacular photos by continuing along the shore past the campground to the ranger’s boat dock.
Golden Ears (6th Most Instagrammed Hike in Vancouver)
Checking out the view along Gold Creek valley towards Mt Judge Howay in Golden Ears Park. The photo is from late summer on Panorama Ridge along the Golden Ears Trail. . #goldenears #goldenearspark #goldenearsprovincialpark #bcparks #beautifulbc #ilovebc #explorebc #outdoorvancouver #pnw #discovervancouver #vancouverisawesome #explorecanada #wildernessculture #nature #thatpnwlife #explorecanada #stayandwander #greatnorthcollective #liveoutdoors #panoramaridge #mtjudgehoway
Trail Info: There are tons of hikes in Golden Ears Provincial Park and the 38.7k photos on the #GoldenEars hashtag reflects that. (Up from 30.8k in 2018.) If you want a shorter hike, the Lower Falls trail to Gold Creek Falls is really popular. But if you want the real deal, you need to summit Golden Ears. It’s a long hike through the trees and past the Alder Flats backcountry campground before you start the really steep climb towards the peak. You’ll pass the emergency shelter on Panorama Ridge before crossing a snowfield to the true summit. Get directions and more info on the Golden Ears Provincial Park website or VancouverTrails.com.
Stats: It’s a 24km round trip with 1700m of elevation gain. Allow 12 hours (or consider staying overnight at the Alder Flats campground).
Where to Get the Shot: On a clear day the summit and the area around the emergency shelter have great views.
Lighthouse Park (5th Most Instagrammed Hike in Vancouver)
Trail Info: There are lots of trails at Lighthouse park, from a simple 10 minute walk on an old road to the lighthouse to longer routes. It’s a popular place on sunny days, with 39.3k photos hashtagged #LighthousePark. (It was 32.6k in 2018.) My favourite route involves a loop around the perimeter of the park that visits lots of bluffs with ocean views. You start on the Juniper Loop trail and then make every right turn you see until you get back to the parking lot. You can find a map and directions for this route on my Coastal Hiking in Vancouver post. You’ll also want to bring a copy of the park map to keep track of trail junctions. For other route options, see VancouverTrails.com or OutdoorVancouver.ca.
Stats: The loop around the park is only 6km but there are plenty of side trails to viewpoints to distract you. And even though there is no real elevation gain, there are many short, steep hills. Allow 3 hours for this hike.
Where to Get the Shot: It depends what you want shots of, as you are spoiled for choice here. For iconic shots of the Lighthouse take the West Beach Trail. For beautiful city shots, go to East Beach. And for views of Howe Sound and Bowen Island go to Juniper Point or Shorepine Point.
Quarry Rock (4th Most Instagrammed Hike in Vancouver)
Trail Info: The hike to Quarry Rock is relatively short but has a huge payoff, so it’s no surprise that is fairly popular on Instagram with 51.5k photos hashtagged #QuarryRock. (It had 42k hashtagged photos in 2018.) The trail traverses the side of a hill through the forest and crosses several bridges over fern festooned streams. At the end it emerges on to a big granite bluff with great views of Deep Cove and Belcarra. Get directions and more info on VancouverTrails.com and OutdoorVancouver.ca.
Stats: It’s a short 4km round trip hike with just 100m of elevation gain (although it feels like more). It only takes about 1.5 hours to do the hike.
Where to Get the Shot: The money shot is of course on the granite bluffs of Quarry Rock at the end of the hike. However, there are lots of beautiful forest scenes on the mossy wooden bridges throughout the hike.
Lynn Canyon (3rd Most Instagrammed Hike in Vancouver)
Trail Info: If you just want to see the famous Lynn Canyon suspension bridge, it’s only about 100m from the parking lot. Most of the 62.5k photos with the hashtag #LynnCanyon are of the bridge (up from 52k last year). But there is lots to see in the area so it’s worth heading out on a short hike. A popular route crosses the suspension bridge then heads downstream to the bridge at Twin Falls. Along the way you get great views of the canyon and the Twin Falls waterfall. Get more info and directions on VancouverTrails.com. You can also add on to that route by heading north to the crystal clear waters of the 30 foot pool, a popular swimming hole in the summer. There are lots of trail options: bring a copy of the trail map and choose your own adventure.
Stats: The short Twin Falls loop is just 1.5km long with less than 100m of elevation gain. It takes about an hour to hike.
Where to Get the Shot: The classic shot is of the suspension bridge, of course. But you can also get great shots at Twin Falls and 30 Foot Pool.
Joffre Lakes (2nd Most Instagrammed Hike in Vancouver)
Trail Info: It’s no surprise that Joffre Lakes has moved up in the rankings for 2019 as it seems like most of Vancouver is up there on long weekends (with the parking chaos that goes with it). There are now 63.3k photos hashtagged #JoffreLakes. (In 2018 there were 43.7k photos and in 2017 there were 25.6k photos – those are some huge jumps.) The Joffre Lakes are actually just outside of Pemberton, a good 2.5 hour drive from Vancouver. But the incredible turquoise lakes and glacier views have been extremely popular with Vancouver hikers over the last few years. TThe first lake is just 10 minutes from the parking lot. From there you hike steeply uphill to the second lake where many stop for a break. Next you continue uphill past a stair-stepped waterfall to the Upper Lake where there is a campground and great views of the glaciers. Get more directions and more information on the Joffre Lakes Provincial Park website, VancouverTrails.com, or OutdoorVancouver.ca.
Stats: It’s a moderate 11km round trip hike to the Upper Lake with about 400m of elevation gain. Allow 4 hours for the hike (but lots more for photos).
Where to Get the Shot: The best views of the glaciers are a short spur trail across the rocks where the main trail first reaches Upper Joffre Lake. Another popular location for photos is the floating log along the shore of the Middle Lake. On sunny weekends there is often a line up of people waiting to walk out on to the log to take photos. (Many people up the difficulty factor by striking a yoga pose).
Grouse Grind (#1 Most Instagrammed Hike in Vancouver)
Trail Info: It’s probably no surprise that the #GrouseGrind is the most Instagrammed hike in Vancouver again this year. It has, 66.7k hashtagged photos (compared to 59.4k in 2018). It’s a rite of passage for most active Vancouverites and many people hike it weekly to stay in shape. It climbs steeply up through the forest on stairs and rocks. (In fact it is often called Mother Nature’s Stairmaster.) There are no views until you emerge from the trees just below the Grouse Mountain Lodge. You are not permitted to hike down the Grind. Instead you can pay $10 to take the gondola down (and save your knees!) You can find more information on the Grouse Mountain Regional Park website or VancouverTrails.com.
Stats: It’s a brutally steep 2.9km hike with over 800m of elevation gain. It takes most people 1.5 to 2 hours to hike. The fittest people run it in under an hour and the all-time record is just 25 minutes!
Where to Get the Shot: The viewpoint just below the lodge is a popular place for sweaty and triumphant selfies. There are also some cheeky motivational signs along the way that make cute photos. (The one that says “Legs, you got this!” is my fave.)
So there’s the list of the Top 10 Most Instagrammed Hikes in Vancouver as of early 2019. Were there any surprises on the list for you? Which ones did you guess right? Personally I’m surprised St. Mark’s Summit (still!) didn’t make the top 10.
More Awesome Hikes Near Vancouver:
- Coastal Hiking in Vancouver
- Alternatives to the Grouse Grind
- Waterfall Hikes in the Fraser Valley
- Hike to Crooked Falls in Squamish
- The 10 Best Hikes in Vancouver: A Local’s Guide
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