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After reading my ranking on which 103 hikes to do in 2021, a few of you asked about which scrambles to do in southwest (SW) BC, and I’ve decided to do this in two parts. The first, contained in this post is a ranking of the 60 or so scrambles from Gunn’s book that I’ve done over the years, and the second, to come later, will be descriptions of my favourite scrambles NOT found in the popular guidebooks.

As the back of the book says, scrambling is the bridge between hiking & mountaineering, and carries significant risk. Always bring your helmet, ice axe, sometimes a short rope to help with descents, and always be prepared in case a route takes significantly longer than you expect.

So, without further ado…

The Top 10

If you live in southwestern BC, if you haven’t done one of these scrambles, now is the time.

  1. Tricouni Peak
    The standard scramble up Tricouni peak encapsulates the best of BC scrambling. You start high, quickly work your way into the meadows, hike past some of the most beautiful azure lakes in BC, work you way up a bit more meadow, and then have some really fun easy / moderate scrambling on good rock right now up to the summit where there are fantastic views all around. And it’s close enough to town that you can still be home for dinner. All killer, no filler.

  2. Black Tusk
    The most iconic peak in SW BC, only true yahoos go to the true summit of the Black Tusk, which requires ropes and either a downclimb or rappel off of a rubble bollard, but for the rest of us, the false summit is still a coastal must-do and only something like 2m lower. The ascent gully requires 3rd class scrambling on somewhat crumbly rock, so I strongly recommend going up really early or late to avoid the crowds.

  3. Golden Ears
    Right at the easiest end of scrambling, Golden Ears is a must-do regardless due to its prominence from most of Vancouver, variety on the route up, and quality of the summit. Depending on time of year an ice axe can be very helpful. For a great photo, take a few minutes from the main summit to head over to the other “ear”.

  4. Tomyhoi Peak (USA)
    Similar to many of my other favourites, the route to Tomyhoi starts high. After ascending up the hiking trail to the shoulder of Yellow Aster Butte, you spend the next couple hours trekking across beautiful open terrain towards the subsummit of Tomyhoi. From the subsummit, the true summit looks like a serious climb, but as you reach the notch between the two, the (difficult) scrambling route becomes clear and you end up being able to climb the summit spire on good quality rock.

  5. Sky Pilot
    Along with North Twin Sister the most difficult of my top scrambles, Sky Pilot is now easily accessed via the Sea to Sky Gondola. Hike a few km up the old Shannon Creek FSR, ascend up the basin to the Stadium Glacier, carefully cross it to ascend rocks on the far side (ice axe often needed, I once witnessed a bad slide on ice here), and up the ridge to the base of the pink slab. Here the scrambling gets more serious, with some challenging moves on the pink slab, and a fair bit of exposure higher up as you ascend the final gully to the summit. Two or three people have died here since the Gondola opened. Someone has installed rap rings above these two most difficult sections and I once used them and a short rope in my pack to lower two Latvians who were stranded due to being too scared to downclimb. Nonetheless, for those capable, Sky Pilot boasts incredible views and great scrambling on high quality rock.

  6. Lady Peak
    Going back to easier routes, Lady Peak is the even-more-fun cousin of Cheam Peak. 2/3 of the route is the same, but break off the Cheam trail to leave the crowds behind and follow nice terrain and an unexposed ledge system right up to the summit block where you have fantastic views of the rest of the Cheam range. Once the crowds below have thinned a bit, drop back down to bag Cheam before you head home for the day.

  7. Frosty Mountain (East Summit)
    Really just a hike, and also in my 103 hikes top 10 list, Frosty mountain’s east (tourist) summit is recommended nonetheless for the eager scrambler due to the quality of trail, beauty of area, and overall situation. Go in early October to catch the golden larches! It might be possible to do a scrambling ascent the true summit of Frosty from the hiker’s summit via the connecting ridge, but I’ve only ever ascended the true summit of Frosty via the opposing ridge and on skis.

  8. Needle Peak
    Another short and sweet trip, Needle Peak is a great introduction to BC scrambling. It only takes an hour or so to reach wide open terrain, and the route up to the summit has number of variations possible, ranging from easy to challenging, but all on great rock.

  9. North Twin Sister (USA)
    Along with Sky Pilot, the most challenging of my top recommendations, North Twin Sister is a full day outing and and a proper 3rd class alpine climb. Bike up the road and trail as far as you can go, scramble up the challenging west ridge to the summit, then if conditions permit, descend the north face on snow (ice axe and good boots required!), bushwhack back to your bikes, and roll back down to your vehicle. Recommended for anyone wanting to see the upper end of “scrambling” and to get a taste of the “I’m way out there” feeling that comes with alpine climbing.

  10. Cypress Peak
    Immediately north of Tricouni, Cypress peak is a great short scramble in the sea to sky corridor. Recommended in early July when the long boulder field leading all the way from the parking area up to the base of the summit ridge is still filled in with snow, rending both ascent and descent quick and easy. Above this, Cypress Peak has a great little summit ridge of moderate scrambling on nice rock.

The Excellent

Not top-10 quality, but should be on everyone’s tick list

  1. Mt. Price
    A great easy hike / scramble above Garibaldi lake, its views are fantastic and its proximity to Vancouver means it can be done in the late season when other destinations are out of reach.

  2. Crown Mountain
    Directly behind Grouse mountain, Crown is many people’s first scramble, and for good reason. It’s very easy to get to, has a couple short scrambling bits on good rock, and a fun summit that feels properly “out there” despite its closeness to town. If you’re up for a stiffer challenge, ascend the 4th class crater slabs route from Hanes valley and descend the regular route.

  3. Chipmunk Peak
    Chipmunk peak and Tenquille north ridge can be done in an easy weekend, camping at beautiful little Opal lake. Mostly a heather walk with a little bit of scrambling near the top, Chipmunk peak is a low-stress wander into a fantastic wilderness.

  4. Mt. Barbour
    My favourite of the trips around Tenquille lake, this is a fantastic half day trip through great meadows and a fun easy ridge on your way in or out of the area.

  5. Saxifrage Mountain
    Valentine lake is one of my favourite camping destinations, and Saxifrage is the main peak above it, featuring about 300m vertical scrambling up the SE ridge. Note that the ridge is a fair bit more challenging than most of Gunn’s other “moderate” scrambles. The moves aren’t particularly hard, but I consider this to be a proper 3rd class alpine climb.

  6. Brandywine Mountain
    While not quite as nice as Tricouni and Cypress, Brandywine is substantially easier. Drive as high as you can, walk through beautiful Brandywine meadows, and wander along the easy alpine ridge up to an iconic summit where you can gaze upon the Cayley massif as well as into Garibaldi park on the opposite side of the valley.

  7. Mt. McGuire
    A short, sweet scramble close to town. The access described in the Scrambles book washed away long ago, so take the newish NE ridge trail up to alpine, then swing across the open bowl to the trail described in the book. Best done in late June or early July when the bowl is snow filled to avoid having too much talus to cross.

  8. Statimcets Peak (Downtown Creek Peak 8700)
    Statimcets itself isn’t a very interesting destination, but the bowl below features some of the best alpine camping in BC. Add on some camping and a scrambling ascent of Linus peak and you’ve got yourself one of the most pleasant weekend trips possible.

  9. Yak Peak
    Yak peak is the unmissable slab on the north side of the Coquihalla highway. Might as well climb it! The short, steep trail ascends climber’s right of the slab, up to a pleasant summit with great views of Alpaca, Vicuna, Guanaco, and the rest of the Anderson river area. Add on a trek over to Nak for a more complete day.

  10. Blackcomb Peak
    After a summer of too many 1500+ metre descents, I’m really into recommending scrambles with easy access, and what’s easier than a scramble with a gondola to within an hour of its base? You won’t find many scrambles with quicker access than Blackcomb (same goes for Blackcomb buttress, its easiest alpine climbing route)

  11. Mt. Sedgwick
    Back to the land of epics, Mt. Sedgwick is a true adventure, beginning with the need to arrange permission to dock with whoever currently owns Woodfibre and arranging a boat to take you there and pick you up. Once this is resolved though, this trip has a bit of everything. Logging road, forest walking, a nice lake, a great camping area near the summit of Mt. Roderick, and a really fine moderate scramble up the long summit ridge. When we were up there the summit register went all the way back to the early 1900s!

  12. Elliot Peak (Twin Lakes SE Peak)
    The area around the Twin Lakes is one of my favourite places in the Pemberton area and I’ve done 3 trips here in the last 7 years. The ascent follows an old road up into the wide open Barkley valley, past a small hut maintained by the local ATV club, and up past the twin lakes. Above here, 90% of the way up Elliot peak is on easy open slopes, with the crux being just a few minutes below the true summit where a fairly loose gully and slope must be crossed to reach the final summit ridge. There’s no shame in stopping at the subsummit, which is what the rest of my party did the day that I went all the way up.


    Highly recommended to bring a bike to save your knees on the descent. Amazingly back in the 60s a group of people decided to move their families up into this valley and survived a few years.

  13. Panorama Ridge
    Lower on this scrambles list only because of its proximity to Black Tusk and Mt. Price, Panorama ridge is my number one hike in SW BC. Really just a hike rather than a scramble, it is one of the nicest trips in our part of the world.

  14. Tenquille North Ridge
    Along with Chipmunk peak, the other trip above Opal lake. Tenquille’s north ridge is a great moderate scramble. A few sections on the ridge are a little looser, but it has really nice position, easy access, and can be easily extended to add on an ascent of Goat mountain.

  15. Grimface Mountain
    This route can be reached both from a camp or cabin at Quinscoe lake, or from the other side via Wall creek. In either case, Grimface is the dominant peak in Cathedral park and a great alpine scramble. Similar to Saxifrage mountain, this is a more adventurous / alpine feeling route than the other “moderate” scrambles with interesting routefinding decisions required.

  16. Sockeye Horn (Mystery Peak)
    For whatever reason, Gunn calls Sockeye Horn “Mystery Peak”. I blame Outward Bound. The scrambling on Sockeye horn is top notch, some of the best I’ve done from the routes in this book. The only reason I don’t put this higher is that reaching the peak requires hours of side hilling in each direction as you traverse around one of the ridges of Beaujolais.

  17. Mt. MacDonald
    Like most routes in the Chilliwack valley, Mt. MacDonald is a long day. You have to take the long trail in to Radium lake, ascent to the MacDonald / Webb col, and then find your way up to MacDonald. Luckily the alpine part of this route is a ton of fun. Make the most of your day by adding on a quick ascent of Webb while you’re up there.

  18. Cheam Peak
    This low on the list only due its proximity to Lady peak, my recommendation for scramblers is to do this only as a two-fer along with Lady. That’s the fun scramble, this is the one everyone sees and knows from the highway.

The Very Good

  1. Sun God Mountain
    The road up Tenas creek is pretty awful, with 90+ waterbars needing to be crossed, but once you’ve made it up the road, a flagged route in fairly good condition leads quickly up to treeline, and from here it’s pleasant boulder walking all the way up to Sun God’s little pointy summit that has great views all around.

  2. Mt. Pelops
    The easiest peak above Lake Lovely Water (well, other than Iota, which you go over on your way to Mt. Pelops), Pelops is a great half day trip. Most people cross the small glacier unroped, but I’ve had enough close calls with crevasses in my mountaineering career that I think it’s worth lugging up your harness and rope for the crossing.

  3. Brunswick Mountain
    Vancouver’s best training hike? By itself Brunswick is just a long training hike, but make the trip more interesting by first going up and over Mt. Harvey to turn it into a fun full day of north shore exploration.

  4. Long Peak
    Honestly it’s hard for me to rank the various peaks on the Stein Lizzie divide, having once spent 7 days in the area climbing the ones in Gunn’s book as well as a few (Mt. Skook Jim, Mt. Cline, Diversion peak) not in there. Nonetheless, Long peak is the one that stands out as the most memorable from our second camp at Arrowhead lake. Long peak features many tarns, a long moderate scramble, and can be extended for an even longer day by continuing on to Diversion peak.

  5. Mt. Outram
    Another long hike rather than a true scramble, Mt. Outram is a surprisingly short trip considering it’s massive elevation gain because it’s just up, up ,and more up. Nonetheless, it has a well developed trail and great meadows at the right time of year.

  6. Tynemouth Peak
    See my comment for Long peak. Tynemouth and Arrowhead can both be traversed for an easy day from a camp at Arrowhead lake.

  7. Arrowhead Mountain
    Indistinguishable in my memory from Tynemouth peak. Do both to be sure you do the best one of the two!

  8. Mt. Webb
    Very pleasant short and easy scramble up from the MacDonald-Webb col. MacDonald is by far the more interesting of the two, but from the footbeds it looks like most people who go past Radium lake just head to Webb. South facing, its route is snow free when MacDonald is still deep in snow.

  9. Cloudburst Mountain
    As a scramble, Cloudburst is pretty mediocre, especially when Tricouni is right next to it. On the other hand, it’s straightforward, short (only 4 hours return to car when there’s still some snow on the route), and as a result I’ve been up there three times in the last 10 years as a place to take friends on their first true off-trail hikes.

  10. Mt. MacFarlane
    Another Chilliwack valley route with a heck of a lot of elevation. The trek up and down from Pierce lake is a real trudge, but the route above is very pleasant, through boulder fields, meadows, and eventually a very nice easy ridge ascent to the summit.

  11. Gott Peak
    Gott peak has some of the best meadows I’ve ever encountered in BC, but it is lower on this list because it’s really just an easy ridge hike rather than a scramble.

  12. Mt. Hanover
    Another route with a lot of elevation gain for what you actually get, Mt. Hanover is significantly more challenging than its neighbour, Mt. Brunswick. The gullies are quite steep, but the boulders were stable enough. Recommended to do it in the early season when they’re largely snow filled as a good place to practice your step kicking and ice axe self belay skills.

  13. Caltha Peak
    On our week long trip to the Stein-Lizzie divide, our first camp was at Figure Eight lake, and Caltha peak was the most pleasant of the easy scrambles near that lake.

  14. Pyramid Mountain
    The nearest scramble to a camp or cabin at Quinscoe lake in Cathedral park, Pyramid mountain is by no means a must-do, but is a very fun and enjoyable half day scramble nonetheless. Excellent choice for a route to do on the day you arrive.

  15. Mt. Rohr
    One of the easiest scrambles in the Duffey area, both in terms of access and difficulty, Rohr has great views to the Marriot basin area on one side, and Joffre group on the other.

The Rest

  1. Rainbow Mountain
    Rainbow mountain is a nice ascent across from Whistler. It’s objectively a good trip, but with so many nicer trips in the same area, it gets knocked down the ranking. Recommended to do it as a crossover from Madeley lake to Whistler.

  2. Lakeview Mountain
    A nice hike through pleasant meadows and worth doing on a trip into Cathedral park, but pales in comparison to the hikes and scrambles on the other side of the vallley.

  3. Birkenhead Mountain
    The upper part of the route up Birkenhead mountain is excellent. Unfortunately the first part involves following a goat trail across a long, steep dirt slope where a slip could be disastrous.

  4. Mt. Burwell
    Another training hike. Do it as a bike & hike via the Seymour valley in early season to get in some exercise and prepare for doing something else.

  5. Harris Ridge
    Just a walk in the south Chilcotins. Beautiful, beautiful terrain, but if you’re going to check out the Chilcotins do yourself a favour and explore on a bike, perhaps doing a drop from a float plane.

  6. Anemone Peak
    A nice peak in the Arrowhead lake area. Nothing wrong with this, just there are better peaks in the area.

  7. Tabletop Mountain
    Ditto

  8. Copper Mound
    A very pleasant half day trip from Tenquille lake

  9. Seven O’Clock Mountain
    Same approach as for Sun God, and easily done in the same day, mostly a long walk across a plateau with a short thumb at its end.

  10. West Lion
    Despite its prominence from Vancouver, I am not a fan of the West Lion. The traverse sketches me out, and the people crossing it even more so. I’m surprised more serious injuries don’t happen here. Harvey & Brunswick are better trips in the same area.

  11. Crystal Peak (Twin Lakes NW Peak)
    A long boulder field hike above the upper twin lake. Nice enough, but if you’re going to just do one peak, go to Elliot peak.

  12. Capilano Mountain
    Long bike & hike from Furry Creek. The trail is pretty overgrown up to Beth lake, and the route above is pleasant but nothing out of the ordinary.

  13. Goat Mountain (Tenquille Area)
    A fun little jaunt over from the summit of Tenquiille mountain that lets you extend your day a little bit.

  14. Grouty Mountain
    A decent early season trip that can be done as soon as the Hurley FSR opens. It’s a very bland, easy route, but has amazing views across the valley to the semaphore lakes range (Locomotive, Face, etc)

  15. Decker Mountain
    A nice extended hike from the Blackcomb gondola

  16. Tundra Peak
    A short easy hike on the Stein-Lizzie divide in the figure eight lake area. Worth doing if you’re doing a camp in the area and not otherwise.

  17. Mt. McLeod
    Dash over here on your way down from Copper Mound. Only takes 30 minutes from the col between the two.

  18. The Boxcar
    Thoroughly non-essential. Do it after an ascent of Lakeview mountain.

  19. The Spearhead
    Like a couple others down here, other than bagging a peak there’s no point in actually heading here after ascending Blackcomb. Best done in winter as a quick diversion while en route to ski something in the backcountry.

Tags:

Yeah, I’m a lister. My copies of Jack Bryceland’s 103 Hikes, Matt Gunn’s Scrambles, Stephen Hui’s 105 Hikes (& Destination Hikes), Bruce Fairley’s Guide to Hiking & Climbing, Kevin McLean’s Alpine Select, John Baldwin’s Exploring the Coast Mountain on Skis, plus many more are marked up and annotated with which routes I’ve climbed, which peaks I’ve summited, and which regions I’ve completed 100% of trips described.

My adventuring days per year have declined in recent years due to kids & work, but there are a few of these books where I’m nearing the 100% mark, and so on this rainy spring BC afternoon, I’ve decided to put together my opinionated ranking of (almost) all 103 hikes described in the 2007 edition of 103 Hikes in Southwestern BC.

If this post proves popular, perhaps I’ll be convinced to put together a ranking of Scrambles, 105 Hikes, Ski Tours, or maybe even a list of my favourite trips not covered in any guidebook to date!

The Top 10

If you live in southwestern BC, if you haven’t done one of these hikes, now is the time.

  1. Panorama Ridge
    Approach via Helm Lake to avoid the crowds and the boring trudge up the barrier. The landscape from the campground onwards is stunning, the meadows below the ridge stunning, the ridge ascent enjoyable, and the view that appears as you crest the ridge to get a glimpse of Garibaldi Lake and the glaciers beyond is simply stunning.

  2. Needle Peak
    This half day hike is bite-sized perfection. A short trek through the forest, great views as you ascend the ridge, and a fun short scramble to top it off. Great for a summer day, but can be a great trip in winter too when the summit block isn’t too icy. I’ve done it multiple times in both sets of conditions.

  3. Joffre Lakes
    One of the shortest hikes in the book, there’s a reason hundreds of cars line the highway to visit the lakes on a nice summer day, and it isn’t just that Instagram log at the middle lake. Visit mid week and take your friends to the upper lake to knock their socks off with the easy access to the beautiful lake with the impressive views of the Matier & Stonecrop glaciers above. Please stay away from the snowfields and glaciers though as they are prone to avalanche and icefall.

  4. Frosty Mountain
    Best done at the beginning of October to catch the golden larches, Frosty is a fantastic interior hike with a great trail, great views, and a classic BC parks summit post to top it off. Sure, it doesn’t go to the true summit, which is best done on skis in the spring, but when the trip is this good, that doesn’t matter.

  5. Elfin Lakes
    I’ll be the first to admit that hiking to Elfin Lakes is a slog and not much fun all, but that’s why we invented skis and bikes and once you get to the lakes, the journey will be all but forgotten. Jump on your bike and grind up the road to the top of Paul Ridge and onwards to Elfin Lakes. At the lakes, have a bite, gawk at the views of the Mamquam massif, then either roll back down to your car or stash your bike and head up the saddle trail for a better look at Garibaldi itself.

  6. Mount Seymour
    You might be surprised I rank Mount Seymour so high, but in my book it is another piece of SW BC perfection. You get to start high, the views are great, and there are endless possibilities for variation. Want something more interesting than the regular trail? Take a scrambling line up the face of pump peak or to the right of the main trail between pump peak and second peak, find your way down a gully on the way back, detour via DePencier bluffs or Mystery lake on the way down, or even duck around the summit to add on a tag of Runner Peak. This is the only summit on earth that I’ve ascended more times than I’ve orbited the sun.

  7. Golden Ears
    The initial trek up the west canyon rail to Alder Flats is boring, but the new bridge over Gold Creek can make this a bit better if you instead bike up to the bridge on the east canyon trail. Beyond Alder Flats, the trip is one of the best there is, but give yourself plenty of time because it’s a pretty long day. Nice forest walking, a snowfield to cross, and great easy ridge scrambling. Once you make the summit, be a true completionist and make a quick jaunt over to the other ear.

  8. Cheam Peak
    This is probably the only hike in SW BC where you can be walking through flowering meadows pretty much 100% of the time from car to summit. Amazing views from start to finish but easy enough to bring your extended family and carry your kids up on your back (I have!). The road isn’t in the best shape, so make sure you have a good 4×4 to make it to the trailhead. Highly recommended to take an extra hour or two to tag on an ascent of Lady Peak while you’re up there!

  9. Emma Lake
    A bit quieter than the other trips in my top 10, Emma Lake is both charming and amazing. If you’re lucky to find it free, use the canoe to explore the lake and wander some of the granite slabs surrounding it. The Powell River Knuckleheads just finished a new “Emma direct” trail up to the lake.

  10. Seed Peak
    Formerly a real pain to get to due to road conditions (waterbars & alder), logging in 2019 at the trailhead has rendered access easy. I went up in June 2020 and re-flagged a scarcely defined footbed, loved it, and then went back in September to find that popularity had exploded and the footbed now in good condition and easy to follow. This trip is top 10 for how quickly you access the alpine (20-30 minutes), and how easy it is to get somewhere that feels so remote while being so close.

The Excellent

The next 25-30 hikes, ones that I personally love, and any of them would blow the mind of any guest of yours visiting from out of town

  1. Leading Peak (Anvil Island)
    Find a beautiful spring day, and head to Anvil Island while other hikes are still snowed in. Far and away the best of the Howe Sound island hikes, Leading Peak has great variety, and a nice platform on top to lounge about on to enjoy 360 degree views.

  2. Garibaldi Lake
    I struggled a bit with ranking this so high when I already have Panorama Ridge, but the fact is that Panorama Ridge is a pretty intense day trip for most people, and the shores Garibaldi Lake are already one of the most stunning places in Canada. Take your friends, take your family, take your kids!

  3. Mount Harvey & Brunswick Mountain
    I’m cheating here and combining two hikes as one, and that’s because while each of Harvey and Brunswick are good exercise in their own rights, crossing over the top of Mt. Harvey to take the Howe Sound Crest Trail across Magnesia Meadows to Mt. Brunswick elevates this trip to near the top of my list of best trips to in our corner of BC.

  4. Tenquille Lake
    Don’t do the route described in 103 hikes, but save yourself time by approaching from the east (from roads rising near Birkenhead Lake) to quickly reach one of the most beautiful lakes in SW BC. Use the time saved to wander up to Mt. Barbour and Copper Mound above the lake!

  5. Mamquam Lake
    Want to feel like you’re way the f*** out there? Go to Mamquam Lake. Better yet, combine it with biking up to Elfin Lakes and a side-trip up to the summit of Opal Cone on the way back. The landscape between Opal Cone and Rampart Ponds is out of this world, one of the most incredible trips that you can do in our part of the world. The only downside? The full round trip is loooonnnng. 44km even without the side trip up Opal Cone. I did it as an 8 hours solo round trip from the car but most parties will want a lot longer than that or to do it as a multi-day trip.

  6. Haylmore-Melvin Divide (Twin Lakes)
    I love this area and have done 3 trips in the last decade to the Twin Lakes & peaks above. On a nice summer day, it reminds me a lot of Switzerland. Bring a bike to save your knees from the descent from the little hut back down to your car at the end of day.

  7. Black Tusk
    I struggle where to put Black Tusk because the book expressly says to go to the viewpoint rather than the summit, and while the viewpoint is cool, the summit is cooler. If you’re up for a short bit of crumbly class 3 scrambling, grab your helmet, go early to beat the crowds and avoid getting beaned in the head by rocks knocked by whoever’s ahead of you, and carefully ascend to one of the most unique and iconic places you can find.

  8. Illal Meadows
    Easy access? Check. Plentiful water? Check. Perfect camping pretty much anywhere? Check. Illal Meadows may be my favourite camping destination in the province. Wonderful meadows and no fewer than 3 fun destinations to ascend above them (Coquihalla Mountain, Illal Peak, Mount Jim Kelly).

  9. Stawamus Chief
    Overcrowded, but legitimately great. Head direct to the 3rd peak, cross to the second while taking time at the viewpoints and imagine climbing the faces and buttresses below, and then back down to your car for a quick half day trip. For a repeat trip head up the skyline trail on the backside of the 3rd peak.

  10. Marriot Meadows
    The Marriot basin is perfect for a day or weekend of exploring and scrambling the myriad ridges and bumps nearby. Easy access, the really cool Wendy Thompson Hut (book in advance to stay in it), great flowers, and can combine it with a trip to either Mt. Marriot (hard!) or a wander up Mt. Rohr (easy!).

  11. Elk-Thurston
    One of my favourite places for mountain running. Hustle up past the crowds on the Elk trail and you’ll usually find the route beyond to Mt. Thurston to be quiet despite the great views across the valley to Mt. McGuire and Mt. Slesse.

  12. Russet Lake
    The walk from Whistler summit out along the musical bumps to the top of Cowboy Ridge is world class, with amazing views to either side. Do it as a loop, using the gondola to save yourself some uphill and then take the singing pass trail down at the end of your day, or camp up above Russet Lake and add on an ascent of Fissile for a fantastic overnight trip.

  13. Yak Peak
    One of the most direct routes in the Coquihalla, if you’re lucky you’ll find a few groups of climbers ascending Yak Check just above you and to the left as you ascend the steep trail to the right of the main face. It’s a short trip, so you might as well wander over the heather and bag Nak Peak while you’re up there!

  14. Tricouni Meadows
    Tricouni Peak might be the best easy scramble in BC, but the meadows below are worthwhile on their own, with their lakes a perfect azure. This would be a top 10 route if only the book suggested going all the way up to the summit.

  15. Mount Steele
    A charming introduction to Tetrahedron park, visit a couple small lakes and two huts on your way up to this great Sunshine Coast summit with great views of Tetrahedron peak itself.

  16. Three Brothers Mountain
    A classic of SW BC, Three Brothers is a rare hike in that you start high… and stay high. There’s a fair bit of ground to cover, and the terrain isn’t very exciting, but time it right and you can spend hours in sub-alpine sublimity.

  17. July Mountain
    Much quieter than the more southerly Coquihalla peaks, the route up July mountain spends only a brief period in the trees before passing a nice lake and ascending pleasant ridges up to the summit, where you can take in a view of the Coquihalla from a different perspective.

  18. Rainbow Lake
    Rainbow lake is nice, but to keep things interesting, do this as a crossover from Madley Lake to Whistler, and consider ascending Rainbow mountain while you’re at it.

  19. Goat Mountain
    Easier than Crown mountain in that it doesn’t require any scrambling or descending into Crown pass, Goat Mountain nonetheless is a really nice half day hike that lets one gaze north into the depths of Garibaldi Park and then take the Skyride back down to save your knees. Many years ago I used to take beginners joining the SFU Outdoors club here for their first “real” hike. There’s also a Goat Mountain near Mt. Baker / Glacier, Washington, which is a great hike in its own right. Feel free to ascend it as well to have climbed two peaks of the same name.

  20. Skyline Trail East
    I love open ridge rambling, and that’s what this hike brings in spades. Hike from Strawberry flats up to the ridge above and ramble over to Snow Camp Mountain and Lone Goat Mountain for great views of Frosty and the twin spires of Mt. Hozomeen. In order to not have to re-trace your steps, have some friends hike in from Skyline Trail West and swap keys when you pass each other.

  21. Valentine Lake
    2.5 hours access to a gorgeous camping lake? Only 1 hour of that in the trees and the remainder wandering through meadows and open trees? Bring it on! The scrambles above the lake (Saxifrage & Cassiope) are fairly demanding and beyond the comfort level of most hikers, but just wandering up into the heather and boulder meadows above the lake is beautiful and worthwhile.

  22. Helm Lake
    I’m not sure if this even belongs on the list given that my recommended route to Panorama Ridge include this route as part of it, but if you don’t have the time or energy to go to Panorama Ridge, then Helm Lake is still a worthwhile destination. This is the direction that the Black Tusk is most imposing from, and the landscape around Helm Lake is a very interesting volcanic wasteland.

  23. Blowdown Pass
    If you have a 4×4 that’ll get you to within a few km of Blowdown Pass, then this is a highly recommended destination. Enjoy Blowdown lake, hike up to the pass, then turn left to follow the easy ridge up to the summit of Gott Peak before descending through open meadows back to the road below.

  24. Tangled Summit
    From anywhere in the Lower Mainland, the ridge rising east of Buntzen lake looks like any other treed ridge in our province, but looks can be deceiving. In the case of Tangled summit, after passing Lindsay lake the terrain opens up to become a very pleasant open ridge with fun rock slabs and great views all around. Recommended for the end of summer when the day are getting too short to go further afield.

  25. Conway Peak
    So, you’ve climbed Cheam or Lady, the Conway Peak trail up from Wahleach lake lets you climb the southernmost peak in the Cheam range and check out the steep back faces of Welch and Foley peaks. The road at the bottom can be aldery if nobody’s cleared it out lately, but once it opens up as you ascend towards mile high camp, the route is top notch and you’re unlikely to find any crowds.

  26. Hope Mountain
    The road can be a bit of a mess to reach the trailhead, but from it a quick two hour ascent gets you to the summit directly overlooking Hope. I led a work party to clear the trail of bush and deadfall back in 2014, but can’t attest to its current condition.

  27. Brandywine Meadows
    Beautiful by themselves, this route would be ranked much higher if it described going all the way to the summit of Brandywine Mountain, which is where you should go if you choose to visit the meadows

  28. Mt. McGuire
    The route described in 103 hikes is a no-go due to a bridge outage, but luckily there’s another route that’s just as good from the north east. Head steeply up the ridge, cross the bowl to the traditional trail, and ascend a fun easy ridge to the summit. Great views of the border peaks. Go in early summer when the bowl north of the summit is still snow filled to save your ankles from the talus.

  29. Guanaco Peak
    Head steeply up the slopes between Guanaco, past a crazy natural stone staircase formation to the col between Vicuna and Guanaco. If you’re into exposed 4th class scrambling, turn left to go up Vicuna. If you want an easy rambling ridge ascent, turn right and summit Guanaco to get great views of Alpaca, the Anderson River group, and the backsides of the peaks above the Zopkios rest area. My dad made the first ascents of many of the mountains and routes in this area (including of Vicuna) back in the 70s, and so this area has a special place in my heart.

The Very Good

Hikes that are great fun, usually to an interesting destination, but just aren’t special enough to be the best.

  1. High Falls Creek
    Go steep up beside the creek, see crazy steep falls, walk down road. Only takes a couple hours total, but worth it.

  2. Mount St. Benedict
    One of the easier trips in the Mission area, Mt. St. Benedict has great views of the peaks north of Alouette and Stave lakes. Can be done as an easy snowshoe as well.

  3. Lightning Lakes
    The hikes around Lightning Lake, Flash Lake, and Strike Lake are some of the best easy hiking around and they’re usually snow free quite early in the season. The trail ends just as it gets to Thunder Lake though and so you don’t get great views of it, especially compared to what you could see from the Skyline trail up above you. I once went around the end of Thunder Lake, crossed the log jam and followed the ridge up to the summit of Lone Mountain but I can’t really recommend adding that on. Instead, go back to the original Lightning Lake and rent a canoe for a bit of extra fun on your day.

  4. Mount Macfarlane
    Really cool views of Mt. Slesse and the other peaks in the Chilliwack Valley. However… it’s a long ways up. I’ve done trip up to Pierce Lake twice and don’t know if I have it in me to do it again.

  5. Mt. Harvey or Mt. Brunswick (Individually)
    They’re fine trips by themselves, but do yourself a favour and combine them (see trip #13)

  6. Mount Outram
    The big peak guarding the entrance to Manning Park, Outram is a great day trip for a lot of elevation with nice meadows if you time it right.

  7. Stoyoma Mountain
    By far the furthest from Vancouver in terms of driving time of the peaks in 103 hikes, do this on your way to or from the interior to do something else. You get to drive pretty much to treeline in the middle of nowhere, from which the summit of Stoyoma is just a quick hike away. The ridges continue a long ways in each direction if you’re so inclined.

  8. Punch Bowl
    Punch Bowl is a beautiful little lake tucked into the northwest corner of Manning Park and worth a day trip. We camped just before the pass and tacked on an ascent of Snass Mountain to make the trip a bit more fun.

  9. Coliseum Mountain
    Rather than follow what 103 hikes says and ascend from Lynn Valley / Norvan falls, ride your bike up towards the Seymour dam and follow the trail up to Coliseum on the east side. This trail is steep(!), but you rise quickly and Coliseum is where you get the best views of Cathedral mountain to the north.

  10. Mount Elsay
    Mt. Seymour too short? Go to Mt. Elsay! Do it as a loop by dropping down to the west between the second and third peaks of Seymour, add in a jaunt up Runner Peak to make your day more interesting, and return from Mt. Elsay via the Elsay Lake trail.

  11. Slollicum Peak
    A surprisingly pleasant ascent above Harrison Lake, this trail had a lot of work done on it in 2019 and also makes for a quality spring ascent when there is still too much snow for higher peaks.

  12. Mount Gardner (Bowen Island)
    The second best Howe Sound island, Gardner makes for a great first hike of the season.

  13. Widgeon Lake
    Adventure! Much of the trail to Widgeon Lake isn’t very exciting or in very good condition, but it has four things going for it. First, a really nice canoe ridge through Widgeon slough. Second, you get to stop at Widgeon Falls. Third, the bridge across Widgeon creek is a sight to behold. And fourth, the lake itself is way bigger than you’d expect given how close it is to the ciity.

  14. Zoa Peak
    Incredibly popular as a ski tour or snowshoe, Zoa is a nice short hike as well, although its neighbours are better.

  15. Slesse Memorial
    Highly recommended as a late season hike when the days are getting shorter or higher destinations are snowed in, the memorial itself is interesting, but the NE buttress of Mt. Slesse above it are awe inspiring.

  16. Black Mountain
    Grind your way up from Horseshoe Bay via Eagle Bluffs (consider adding on West Knob on your way), or shortcut up from the Cypress Bowl ski area. Either way, Black Mountain has a great summit with lots of little lakes to relax by.

  17. Statlu Lake
    Go for the views of Mt. Bardean & Mt. Ratney above the lake. The bridge near the trailhead is pretty insane too. I have no idea how they managed to get that log in place. Look online for current directions to reach the trailhead because logging in 2020 realigned the logging roads.

  18. Hector Ferguson Lake
    You probably think I’m insane for ranking this so high, and maybe I am. 103 hikes notoriously misstates the roundtrip distance as 28km when it’s more like 36km, and the lake itself is nothing special, but I had a great day in part due to the sheer ridiculousness of the affair. A long bike ride to start, a hike through some crazy forest, a creek crossing, a boulder gulley, and then a little lake. This is a trip you do for the variety and to see how fast you can go, not for the destination. We did it in 8.5 hours, how about you?

  19. Vedder Mountain
    Great as an early season hike, I’ve carried my kids up here. I wouldn’t bother in high season, but as a place to get a nice snow-free half day hike in the shoulder season, it’s one of the best options.

  20. Mount Strachan
    Nothing against Mt. Strachan, but the other hikes in the area are simply better. Hollyburn is better for carrying little kids, Black Mountain has better lakes, Howe Sound Crest Trail has better views.

The Rest

Do these once if they’re far, or do regularly if they’re close. They’re hikes, often interesting enough, but I’m not going to make any effort to repeat them. Often there’s another nearby hike that’s simply a better use of your time.

  1. Lions (Binkert) Trail
    Yeah, the Lions are iconic, but this trail doesn’t go to the summit, nor is it very safe to go to the summit. Do Harvey & Brunswick instead.

  2. Mount Crickmer
    Good views of Robie Reid, but too much road slogging unless you’re lucky enough to find the gate at the bottom open.

  3. Diez Vistas
    I live near this, so I’ve done it lots. Good for exercise but don’t expect to see much of anything.

  4. Bear Mountain
    Great as a late season hike when days are short and other destination are now covered and does have very god views of the Cheam range. Not worth it in other conditions.

  5. Cerise Creek
    I feel bad ranking this so low, but I feel like other summer destinations in the Duffey are better. Make this worthwhile by continuing beyond it and up to the summit of Vantage peak.

  6. Dennett Lake
    Good exercise close to town, and the viewpoint above Munro lake is really good.

  7. Skagit River Trail
    Essentially just a walk in the park. There’s only one reason to do this trail, and that’s that in early June it has a couple huge groves of wild rhododendrons.

  8. First Brigade Trail (Tikwalus Heritage Loop)
    The local first nation has done a great job at adding interpretive signs to explain the history of the region, and that elevates this otherwise mundane trail to be one of some interest.

  9. Poland Lake
    A nice lake at the end of a long valley if you approach via how 103 hikes recommends. I liked it, but you have so many iconic hikes nearby that you’ll want to do first.

  10. Wells Peak
    Hope Mountain’s baby brother, another short hike from the same parking area. More wild and can be done in the same day if you have the time.

  11. Hanes Valley
    Good for a trail run or workout, or access to the Crater Slabs route up Crown Mountain.

  12. Tin Hat Mountain
    Lovely summit, but the route is a bit annoying with a lot of up and down, and the fact is that other logging roads will get you a lot closer to the summit.

  13. Skyline Trail West
    As mentioned above, best done with a second party doing the complete skyline trail in the other direction. Great views of Hozomeen but if you’re only going to do half, do the other half.

  14. Mt. Amadis
    Very steep, but surprisingly interesting trail above Cultus Lake. A lot of effort for the view, but the ridge itself is more unique than you’d expect. Much of the ridge is near knife-edge, with significant exposure on the trail in places. There are handlines in the worst places, but definitely not for the un-fit or the faint of heart.

  15. Silverdaisy Mountain
    A good safe snowshoe or early season hike on snow, there isn’t much special about Silverdaisy. Nonetheless, it’s one of the better trips to hike in April/May.

  16. Mount Hallowell
    The old fire lookout on the summit is neat, but too much of the route is on road, first clear, then overgrown.

  17. Radium Lake
    Radium lake is a long ways to go for a pretty unremarkable lake. That said, it’s possible to go above to Macdonald Peak (a bit tricky) and Mt. Webb (super easy) to turn this into a grade A day.

  18. Sumas Mountain
    Chadsey lake is reasonably nice, but in the end you’re taking a very long trail to a summit that you can drive almost to the top of.

  19. Mount Thynne
    Beautiful area, but a road all the way up. I didn’t know where to park, so I ended up driving right to the summit.

  20. Flora Lake Loop
    A big day. Not bad at all, and Flora Peak is nice, but still… if you have the time to do this, first tackle the long days higher on this list.

  21. Sigurd Creek
    Crooked falls are really nice, but this hike doesn’t really go anywhere as described in 103 hikes. Instead of the route described, either go just to the falls for a short outing, or buckle up for 1800m of elevation gain and head up to Sigurd Peak itself, the trail to which recently had work done and is in very good condition.

  22. Blue Mountain
    Road, road, road, road. Decent early or late season trip, but you’re essentially on a dirt biker access road the entire time.

  23. Dilly-Dally Peak
    Use a bike to get to the trailhead to save yourself 5km of walking each way. I actually liked this trip, but I can’t recommend it above Tangled Summit, although if you do go to Tangled Summit and have the energy to spare, you may as well continue on over Dilly-Dally Peak

  24. Greendrop Lake
    A nice lake in a nice valley. Very popular, although friends have had their cars smashed up at the trailhead.

  25. Mount Artaban (Gambier Island)
    This is a really short trip, so do it in the offseason as a traverse and add in an ascent of Burt’s Bluff

  26. Alouette Mountain
    Why go to Alouette mountain? I don’t know. It’s a real slog. Evans peak is a 10x better trip for a typical hiker, and even if you are thinking of doing it on your ways to Blanshard Needle, use Fly gulley instead.

  27. Mount Killam (Gambier Island)
    Reasonably nice trail, and a good viewpoint 80% of the way up, but… there’s no view from the summit.

  28. Mount Lincoln
    Ticks, ticks, ticks. Do you like ticks? If so, go to Mt. Lincoln. If not, go somewhere else.

  29. Campbell Lake
    Only a viewpoint half way up of Harrison Lake makes this trip half way worthwhile.

  30. Lindsay Lake
    There’s nothing wrong with Lindsay Lake being in the book, but it’s there as filler. There is absolutely no reason to turn around at Lindsay Lake when the beautiful Tangled Summit is just ahead of you and also described in the book.

  31. Lower Grouse Mountain
    Good for some exercise, pointless as a destination

  32. Burke Summit
    There are simply better hikes in the area, such as to the Coquitlam Lake Viewpoint. I did camp on top once though in order to get access to the peaks beyond.

  33. Ghostpass Lake
    This lake is nothing special. Save your feet from some wear and hike in from behind, from the head of Sowawqua Creek if you really want to get there.

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