This post was first published in February 2017. I’ve run the numbers fresh for 2018… (drumroll please)… and the hikes didn’t change, but their order did (a bit). I’ve updated the post to reflect the new stats. Can you guess which hikes are getting even more popular?
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?
A Bit of Advice: The hikes on this list are popular and will be really busy. If you visit, be sure to follow Leave No Trace principles to preserve the environment and ensure everyone gets a chance to experience these beautiful places. If you aren’t into busy trails, check out my tips for avoiding crowded hiking trails.
Stawamus Chief (10th most Instagrammed Hike near Vancouver)
Trail Info: Between #StawamusChief and #SquamishChief, the Chief (as it is sometimes known) has 18.5k hashtagged photos on Instagram (up from 13.1k as of early 2017). 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).
Mount Seymour (9th Most Instagrammed Hike in Vancouver)
Trail Info: At 22.5k hashtagged photos, the success of #MountSeymour on Instagram can probably be explained by its popularity as both a summer and winter destination. (That’s a pretty big increase: there were 16.8k photos hashtagged #MountSeymour in early 2017.) There are lots of shorter hikes (including the popular Dog Mountain trail) and of course skiing and snowshoeing, but the signature attraction is Mount Seymour itself. The hike climbs next to the ski runs at first and then heads into the forest away from the ski area. There are several shorter summits along the way that make great snack spots (or a destination by themselves): Brockton Point, Pump Peak (a.k.a. 1st Peak), and Tim Jones Peak (a.k.a. 2nd Peak). However, you can’t really say you’ve hiked Mount Seymour until you reach the final, 3rd Peak. Get directions and more info on the Mount Seymour Provincial Park website, VancouverTrails.com or OutdoorVancouver.ca.
Stats: The 8km round trip to the third peak gains about 450m. Most people hike it in 5 hours.
Where to Get the Shot: The granite bluffs of Pump Peak are a popular place for photos since they have the best city views. The first peak is also the best spot to watch the sunrise. The second and third peaks are great for photos of the mountains north of Vancouver.
Black Tusk (8th Most Instagrammed Hike in Vancouver)
Trail Info: Black Tusk is another iconic Sea to Sky landmark. In 2017 it was up in 7th place, but in 2018 it’s slipped down a bit to 8th, switching places with Garibaldi Lake. There are 25.1k photos hashtagged #BlackTusk on Instagram (up from 20k in early 2017). 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 25.6k hashtagged photos on Instagram (was 17.9k in 2017). 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 30.8k photos on the #GoldenEars hashtag reflects that. (Up from 21.8k in 2017.) 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 32.6k photos hashtagged #LighthousePark. (It was 23.8k in 2017.) 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 42k photos hashtagged #QuarryRock. (It was up in 3rd in 2017 with 29.7k, but has slipped down the rankings for 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.
Joffre Lakes (3rd Most Instagrammed Hike in Vancouver)
Trail Info: It’s no surprise that Joffre Lakes has moved up in the rankings for 2018 as it seems like most of Vancouver is up there on long weekends (with the parking chaos that goes with it). There are now 43.7k photos hashtagged #JoffreLakes. In 2017 there were 25.6k photos – that’s a huge jump.) 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).
Lynn Canyon (2nd 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 52k photos with the hashtag #LynnCanyon are of the bridge (up from 38.3k 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.
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, with 59.4k hashtagged photos (compared to 48.8k in 2017). 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 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 2018. 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
- 100+ Snow-Free Hikes in Vancouver: Trails You Can Hike Year Round
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