Snowshoeing Vancouver Area

Where to Go Snowshoeing in Vancouver

Savvy Vancouver hikers know they don’t have to stop hitting the trails in winter… they just have to get some snowshoes. In this guide to Vancouver snowshoeing, you’ll get info and directions for 10 different trails ranging from super-flat beginner trails to epic treks to mountain summits. They are easy to follow with winter markings and most are accessible by bus. You can bring your dog on lots of them too!

This guide covers 10 snowshoe trails on Vancouver’s North Shore. That’s every single North Shore trail that is high enough for consistent snow AND is also safe to snowshoe. If you’re looking for even more places to go snowshoeing in in the Vancouver area, don’t worry – I got you! Check out these other guides to snowshoeing trails near Vancouver:

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

But First… Be Prepared

  • Make a trip plan: While these trails may be steps from busy ski areas, they access serious wilderness. Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. Use the great trip planning tools from Adventure Smart.
  • Check the weather, trail conditions, and avalanche forecast: If the weather and trail conditions don’t look good, don’t go. Check the avalanche forecast for the South Coast zone. Unless you have taken an avalanche safety course, you probably shouldn’t go out unless the forecast is rated “Low” or “Moderate”. 
  • Wear winter clothing and pack the essentials: Prepare for emergencies by packing the 10 essentials. Read my recommendations for what to wear snowshoeing and tips for winter hiking and snowshoeing.
  • Use safe snowshoeing techniques: Snowshoes keep you from sinking into deep snow, but they aren’t great for walking sideways or downhill – it’s easy to slip and injure yourself. Read up on snowshoeing safety and check out my guide to choosing snowshoes.) They also have crampons and other traction aids underfoot to help grip icy snow.
  • Take an avalanche safety course: If you plan to stray from flat terrain, you need avalanche safety training. great FREE online beginner tutorial on Avalanche.ca. You should also take a 2.5 day AST1 course with avalanche Canada.

READ NEXT: Snowshoeing Safety: 14 Ways to Get into Trouble and How to Prevent Them

Where to Rent Snowshoes in Vancouver

If you want to buy snowshoes, check out my snowshoe buying guide for you. I like to wear MSR snowshoes which are better for steep and icy trails.

If you want to try snowshoeing before you buy, lots of places in Vancouver rent snowshoes. It’s cheaper to rent them in town and then bring them up to the mountain. You can rent them at the ski resorts, but they have higher prices and often place restrictions on where you can use them. Sunny weekends and holidays can be really busy for rentals, so try to reserve a pair ahead of time if possible.

Vancouver Snowshoeing Quick Reference Guide

There are three main places to go snowshoeing in Vancouver: Grouse Mountain, Mount Seymour and Cypress Provincial Park (which is where Cypress Mountain ski hill is.) These three locations are the only places in Vancouver at a high enough elevation to have consistent snow. 

TrailRatingTime NeededCostDogs
Blue Grouse Loop (Grouse)Super Easy30-45 min$61No
Snowshoe Grind (Grouse)Moderate1-1.5 hours$61No
Thunderbird Ridge (Grouse)Moderate2.5-3 hours$61No
Discovery Snowshoe Trails (Seymour)Easy1-3 hours$15Yes, on leash
Dog Mountain (Seymour)Easy2-2.5 hoursFREEYes, on leash
Mount Seymour 1st Peak (Seymour)Challenging4-5 hoursFREEYes, on leash
Hollyburn Nordic Area Trails (Cypress)Easy/Moderate1-5 hours$18No
Bowen Lookout (Cypress)Moderate1.5-2 hoursFREEYes, on leash
Black Mountain (Cypress)Moderate/ Challenging2.5-3 hoursFREEYes, on leash
Hollyburn Mountain (Cypress)Challenging4-5 hoursFREEYes, on leash

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Snowshoeing at Grouse Mountain

Permits/Fees: You need a Mountain Admission ticket and proof of vaccination to take the gondola to the top of Grouse Mountain. It’s $61 for a round trip. Once you get to the top, there are no extra charges for snowshoeing. You can also access the top of Grouse Mountain for free if you hike up the very steep Grouse Grind or BCMC trails. However, these trails can close in the winter if conditions are bad. And even if they are open, you will need an ice axe and crampons.

Dogs: Not permitted on any trails.

Driving Directions: Drive 20 min from Vancouver to the base of the Grouse Mountain Skyride gondola. Click here for directions.

Parking: It costs $10/day to park in the lots at the base of Grouse.

Transit Access: Translink bus 236 will get you to the bottom of the gondola.

Blue Grouse Loop Snowshoe Trail, Grouse Mountain

The light walk at Grouse Mountain in Vancouver is a great place to go snowshoeing
The Light Walk at Grouse Mountain. Photo credit: Tourism Vancouver / Rishad Daroowala

Distance: 1.5km loop

Time Needed: 30-45 min

Elevation Gain: 20m

Rating: Super easy

The Trail: This short loop trail meanders through the forest near the lodge and crosses a bridge over a small pond. Part of the route is lit up with Christmas lights as part of Grouse Mountain’s Lightwalk attraction.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: None.

Trail Map/Guide: Trail descriptions and a map are available on the Grouse Mountain website.

Snowshoe Grind, Grouse Mountain

Snowshoe grind at Grouse Mountain near Vancouver, BC. The Ultimate Guide to Snowshoeing in Vancouver.
Climbing up above the clouds on the Snowshoe Grind.

Distance: 4.3km round trip

Time Needed: 1-1.5 hours

Elevation Gain: 240m

Rating: Moderate

The Trail: A winter alternative to the Grouse Grind, the Snowshoe Grind isn’t nearly as steep as the regular grind, but it does go pretty steadily uphill. It finishes near the summit of Dam Mountain.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: The first section of the trail is on the side of a very steep hill that can produce small avalanches. In general, stay on the trail: there is a lot steep and dangerous terrain if you leave the marked route. The final 50m to the summit is very steep and can be slippery. Do not go past the summit as the area is closed in winter since it is very dangerous terrain. Check the South Coast avalanche forecast before you go.

Trail Map/Guide: Outdoor Vancouver has a great trail overview. There’s also more information and a map on the Grouse Mountain website.

Thunderbird Ridge Snowshoe Route, Grouse Mountain

Snowshoeing at Grouse Mountain near Vancouver, BC. The Ultimate Guide to Snowshoeing in Vancouver.
Last light on the way back from Thunderbird Ridge.

Distance: 6km round trip

Time Needed: 2.5-3 hours

Elevation Gain: 200m

Rating: Moderate

The Trail: The first part of the trail to Thunderbird Ridge is shared with the Snowshoe Grind. After the Snowshoe Grind tops out, the Thunderbird Ridge trail meanders downhill on a mellow ridgeline with good views of the surrounding mountains. (Psst: In the summer, the Thunderbird Ridge trail is one of my picks for the best easy hikes near Vancouver.)

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: The first section of the trail after you leave the ski resort is on an old road cut into the side of a very steep hill. The slopes above this hill can produce small avalanches. Use caution in this area and spread out your group. Stay on the trail: there is a lot of steep and dangerous terrain if you leave the marked route. Check the South Coast avalanche forecast before you go. 

Trail Map/Guide: There’s a map on the Grouse Mountain website.

Snowshoeing at Mount Seymour

Permits/Fees: This Vancouver snowshoeing area is in Mount Seymour Provincial Park. It’s free to snowshoe in the park EXCEPT in the area the Mount Seymour Ski Resort controls, where passes cost $15 day.

Dogs: Permitted on leash on all trails.

Driving Directions: Drive 35 min from Vancouver to the downhill ski parking lot at Mount Seymour. Click here for directions.

Parking: Free, but snowshoers may be asked to park in lots P1 and P5 which are farther down the mountain.

Transit Access: The Mount Seymour Shuttle is $10-15.

Discovery Snowshoe Trails, Mount Seymour

Snowshoeing on the Discovery trails at Mount Seymour near Vancouver
Snowshoeing on the Discovery Trails at Mount Seymour. Photo credit: Destination BC/Insight Photography

Distance: Up to 5.5km of trails with various loops possible

Time Needed: 1-3 hours depending on how far you want to go

Elevation Gain: 50m

Rating: Easy

The Trails: A network of short trails loops around several lakes just downhill from the bunny hill. Most of the trails are very easy. Keep in mind that you’ll always have to head uphill to get back to the parking lot. These trails are operated by the ski resort so you will need to buy a trail pass to snowshoe here.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: None.

Trail Map/Guide: Trail descriptions and a map are available on the Mount Seymour website.

Dog Mountain Winter Snowshoe Route, Mount Seymour

Dog Mountain snowshoeing trail on Mount Seymour near Vancouver, BC. The Ultimate Guide to Snowshoeing in Vancouver.
The view from Dog Mountain. Photo Credit GoToVan on Flickr. Used under CC BY 2.0.

Distance: 4.5km round trip

Time Needed: 2-2.5 hours.

Elevation Gain: 30m

Rating: Easy/moderate

The Trail: This rolling trail travels past a small lake on the way to the open summit of Dog Mountain. From there you can get a great view of the city. This trail is probably the most popular place to go snowshoeing in Vancouver. No permits or fees are required.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: No avalanche danger. Be careful to use bridges around stream channels as the water may not be completely frozen over.

Trail Map/Guide: There’s a great trail description on Outdoor Vancouver. For a map, see the Metro Vancouver Parks website.

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Mount Seymour First Peak Winter Backcountry Access Trail

A pair of snowshoes at Mount Seymour near Vancouver, BC
The view of Mount Seymour from Brockton Point.

Distance: 7km round trip

Time Needed: 4-5 hours

Elevation Gain: 400m

Rating: Challenging

The Trail: This steep route climbs to the first peak of Mount Seymour on a trail that starts out parallelling the ski runs. After passing over Brockton Point it traverses below the south face of Mount Seymour before climbing sharply up a ridge to the summit. The last kilometer of the route is very steep and can be slippery. Use caution. No permits or fees are required.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: Avalanche.ca rates this as simple terrain which can be travelled with the normal amount of caution in most conditions. The trail crosses an avalanche path where it traverses below the south summit of Mount Seymour. The climb up the ridge to the peak is very steep and can be treacherous in icy conditions. Do not attempt the final climb from the junction with the Elsay Lake trail to the summit without crampons and an ice axe (and the skills to use them) if the trail is icy.

The summer routes to the 2nd and 3rd peaks and the trail to Elsay Lake are rated as complex by Avalanche.ca. They traverse steep slopes and narrow gullies with high avalanche risk. Do not continue past the summit of 1st peak without avalanche training and safety gear. Check the South Coast avalanche forecast before you go. 

Trail Map/Guide: You can find information about the winter route to Mount Seymour on the BC Parks website and Outdoor Vancouver.

Snowshoeing at Cypress Mountain

Permits/Fees: This snowshoeing area is in Cypress Provincial Park. Within the park, the Cypress Mountain Resort has a contract to operate a ski area. There are two main areas: the downhill ski area and the nordic ski area. The only trails that require fees are the nordic area ones. Trail passes cost $18 a day. You need to get a free permit for some trails (details below).

Dogs: Not permitted on the Hollyburn Nordic Area trails. Dogs are permitted on-leash on all other trails.

Driving Directions: Drive 30 min from Vancouver to Cypress Mountain. Click here for directions.

Parking: Free.

Transit Access: The Cypress Coachlines shuttle is $25.

Hollyburn Nordic Area Self-Guided Snowshoe Trails, Cypress Mountain

Whisky jack. The Ultimate Guide to Snowshoeing in Vancouver.
Whisky jacks (a.k.a) gray jays are a common sight on snowshoe trails. Please don’t feed them (even if they beg) since it’s not good for their health.

Distance: Up to 11km of trails with various loops possible

Time Needed: 1-5 hours depending on how far you want to go

Elevation Gain: Up to 150m

Rating: Easy/Moderate

The Trails: Cypress Mountain’s cross country ski area is also home to a maze of snowshoe trails that crisscross the ski trails. There are a few flat trails but most have hills. Two warming huts give you a place to take a break. These trails are inside the ski area so you need trail passes for $18 a day.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: None.

Trail Map/Guide: Trail descriptions and a map are available on the Cypress Mountain website.

Bowen Lookout Winter Snowshoe Route, Cypress Mountain

Bowen Lookout snowshoe trail at Cypress Mountain near Vancouver, BC. The Ultimate Guide to Snowshoeing in Vancouver.
Bowen Lookout is great at sunset.

Distance: 3.5km return

Time Needed: 1.5-2 hours

Elevation Gain: 100m

Rating: Moderate

The Trail: This short but steep trail climbs the first section of the Howe Sound Crest Trail to a lookout with great views of Bowen Island. Bowen Lookout is my favourite place to go for a sunset snowshoe near Vancouver. A free backcountry access pass is required to cross the ski hill to get to the start of the trail. You can pick one up at the old Black Mountain Lodge in the main downhill ski area parking lot.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: No avalanche danger. The steep switchbacks on the trail can get really icy. Use caution when descending. This trail extends along the Howe Sound Crest Trail to St. Mark’s Summit. In the winter travelling any further than Bowen Lookout will take you into serious avalanche terrain with many dangerous gullies and sharp drop-offs. Two snowshoers died in the area in December 2016. If you snowshoe this trail, please don’t go any further than Bowen Lookout without avalanche training and safety equipment.

Trail Map/Guide: A trail description and trail map are available on the BC Parks website.

Black Mountain Winter Snowshoe Route, Cypress Mountain

Snowshoeing at Black Mountain on Cypress Mountain near Vancouver, BC. The Ultimate Guide to Snowshoeing in Vancouver.
An early morning on the Black Mountain trail.

Distance: 7km return including the loop at the top

Time Needed: 2.5-3 hours

Elevation Gain: 270m

Rating: Moderate/Challenging

The Trail: This steep trail climbs up beside the ski runs to the top of Black Mountain. Once at the top a loop trail travels past a few lakes. A free backcountry access pass is required to cross the ski hill to get to the start of the trail. You can pick one up at the old Black Mountain Lodge in the main downhill ski area parking lot.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: Avalanche.ca rates this as simple terrain which can be travelled with the normal amount of caution in most conditions. There is a very steep section of trail next to the ski run. Use caution and consider taking off your snowshoes when descending to avoid slipping. Check the South Coast avalanche forecast before you go. 

Trail Map/Guide: A trail description and trail map are available on the BC Parks website.

Hollyburn Mountain Winter Trail, Cypress Mountain

Snowshoeing at Hollyburn Mountain near Vancouver, BC. The Ultimate Guide to Snowshoeing in Vancouver.
Snowshoeing in near white-out conditions on Hollyburn Mountain.

Distance: 7.5km return

Time Needed: 4-5 hours

Elevation Gain: 440m

Rating: Challenging

The Trail: The trail to the peak of Hollyburn Mountain climbs a few short hills and meanders beside the cross-country ski trails. In the last kilometer, it climbs steeply straight up to the summit. No permits or fees are required.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: Avalanche.ca rates this as simple terrain which can be travelled with the normal amount of caution in most conditions. The final slope up to the summit is very steep and can be treacherous in icy conditions. There is no significant avalanche danger if you stay on the trail, but the steep cliffs and gullies around the summit are prime avalanche territory. Check the South Coast avalanche forecast before you go. 

Trail Map/Guide: There is a good trail guide on Outdoor Vancouver. A trail description and trail map are also available on the BC Parks website.

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How many of these snowshoe trails have you done? Which is your favourite? Have questions about snowshoeing in Vancouver? Hit me up in the comments.

READ NEXT:

More Snowshoeing Guides:

Snowshoeing and Winter Hiking Advice

6 Comments

  • Reply
    Katalin
    December 16, 2017 at 3:52 am

    Love seeing all these familiar places on your list! I hope someday we go back to Van and explore the mountains in proper winter conditions too!

  • Reply
    Andrea Mayfield
    December 16, 2017 at 6:36 am

    What a great guide! I would love to go snowshoeing one day! Nice photos!

  • Reply
    Ioanna
    December 16, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    Can you believe that I’ve never even held snowshoes in my hand? 😀 I actually did a snowshoeing trail in Quebec… in July 😉 Don’t recommend it.
    This post makes it pretty obvious I have to go back to Canada in winter! 🙂
    Happy snowshoeing!
    Ioanna

  • Reply
    Kate Korte
    December 16, 2017 at 10:37 pm

    This guide is awesome, you’ve really covered it well – can’t wait to visit Van some day!

  • Reply
    Josy A
    December 20, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    This is really helpful thank you! I can’t wait to try some of these trails! 🙂

  • Reply
    Natasha
    December 20, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    This is a really helpful list of the trails locally!

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