Our 25 favourite fall hikes in British Columbia
Looking for weekend adventures? Have at it.
There's no shortage of fantastic scenery and rugged trails in British Columbia, but there are some spots that are better suited for a quick day trip than others. When we were compiling our list of the best B.C. hikes, we thought about hikes that everyone could enjoy (including kids, seniors, and amateur hikers) and then added a few with more challenging terrain options for the serious trekkers. Here are our top picks for the best day hikes in B.C.
Al's Habrich Ridge Trail
Hiking Time: 6-7 hours
Vertical gain: 350m
You'll be hard-pressed to find better scenery on most hikes, but Al's ridge trail is on the more technical side terrain-wise. This trail travels through glacial formations, old forests, and rivers and is best suited for more experienced hikers. The trail takes a full day to complete (five or so hours if you are skilled and in a rush) and offers plenty of picnic spot break options. Find this trail at the start of the Sea to Sky Gondola and find additional details here.
Cape Scott Trail
Hiking Time: 2-4 days
Vertical gain: 1048m
Technically, this trail is marked 'moderate,' but we think the terrain is manicured and maintained enough to be a good choice for beginners. The Cape Scott Trail is long, though, so you'll want to either break it up or plan to hike for a few days and camp between stretches of trail. Wooden bridges, plenty of forest greenery, and changing weather makes this trail popular with hikers. Make sure to pack correctly because Cape Scott is in a spot where the weather can change rapidly, making the path exciting but challenging to traverse if you don't have the right gear. Bears tend to enjoy this route, too, so make sure to watch out for wildlife! More details about Cape Scott Trail are here.
Cape Scott Provincial Park (Destination BC/Shayd Johnson)
Paul's Tomb (Knox Mountain)
Hiking Time: 2 hours
Vertical gain: 100 meters
If you're looking for a wide trail that you can leisurely traverse, Paul's Tomb in Know Mountain Park is the one for you. This trail is well maintained, doesn't come with overly rugged terrain, and still offers Lake Okanagan's impressive views. This trail is easy enough for beginners, kids, and anyone that wants a nice break from city life. You can find information about the trail and other details here.
Hiking Time: 8-11 hours
This is not a trail for beginners or even intermediate hikers. Dogtooth doesn't offer a course of any kind, to be accurate. Instead, this is a place to hike that's filled with rocks and no real clear cut path, so you'll have to make your way by picking through the rugged mountainside. If you are an experienced hiker, and you do want a challenge, Dogtooth's views are unparalleled, and you'll be glad you took the time to explore this path. You will want to read up on the trail and current weather here before you go.
Hiking Time: 2-3 days
Vertical gain: 1,541m
We're talking 28km of rough and rugged terrain when we're telling you to only venture to Panorama Ridge if you are an experienced hiker! If you fit that description, this trail is not to be missed. Panorama Ridge comes with a crazy lake view and some serious mountainous trails that are roughly maintained. It's recommended that you visit Panorama in the summer or fall but not during the colder winter months as the mountains can get snowy and icy. Bring a tent, overnight essentials, and plenty of warm gear. More details about Panorama are available here.
Iceline Trail, Yoho National Park
Hiking Time: 1-2 days
Vertical gain: 864m
There's nothing quite like looking up to see glaciers above your head, and that's what you can expect from the Iceline Trail. This aptly named trail is best for experienced hikers because it can be steep and treacherous in parts, but it's also a trail that allows dogs on a leash, so you may want to take your pup with you just in case you need some companionship along that 14km. The road that leads to Iceline does close depending on the season, so definitely look at the details before you go.
Yoho National Park (Destination BC/Ryan Creary)
Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
Vertical gain: 1,000m
This is a straightforward hike, but the scenery does not disappoint. Wapta Falls is in Yoho National Park and is a popular spot to visit if you're camping in the park or just out on a day trip adventure. You'll see an amazing waterfall (hence the name of the trail) at the end of this quick loop through a well-maintained path that's wide enough for kids and older adults.
Hiking Time: 4 hours
Vertical gain: 550m
Get your ice picks and serious hikers out if you're heading to Brandywine. This trail is not for amateurs, but it does deliver where challenging trails are concerned. Forests, meadows, and some snow-capped boulders await you with this trail. Brandywine is considered a day trip trail and isn't a camping destination unless you want to spend a few days discovering the area. We recommend visiting the mountain's main website to find out the best way to get to this trail, in addition to current weather updates.
Stawamus Chief Trail
Hiking Time: 4 hours
Tired of hiking that involves just shoes? Stawamus Chief Trail, or just The Chief, might be the adventure for you. This hike doesn't just include using your feet — expect to use chains, ropes, ladders, and other gear to make it to the top (we love this kind of fun). The view is impressive with peaks that overlook the town of Squamish, and you can hike all of the peaks in one or two days if you are super motivated. Do check the Stawamus Chief Park website before you go, though, in case of pandemic-related restrictions and weather shutdowns.
View from the top of the Chief Trail (Destination BC/Ben Girardi)
Hiking Time: 7-8 hours
Vertical gain: 385m
Crown Mountain is a well-known hike beloved by many folks and is appropriate for those with skills ranging from moderate to advanced. While this mountain provides fantastic views and a trip that you won't forget, it's not a place to bring kids or beginner hikers because it does come with some serious terrain that can get sticky at times. We don't recommend visiting Crown Mountain if it's raining, snowing, or anything else that could provide some steeper grades to become slick. If it's a nice fall or summer day, this trail is worth trekking to.
Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
Vertical gain: 200m
Sometimes you want to step into nature without ice picks or tents. When that time comes, Alice Lake is a great day trip option that's suitable for a stroll or a hike with the kids. This trail is well-maintained and is easy, but it also comes with beautiful scenery and plenty of fun places to explore. At 6km, Alice Lake might be a bit much for little kids, but it's ideal for a picnic day or just for fun. Here's more about Alice Lake: https://www.vancouvertrails.com/trails/alice-lake/
Hiking Time: 40 minutes to 1 hour
Vertical gain: 853m
You know that any trail with the word 'grind' in it will be reserved for advanced hikers, and that's precisely the case with the Grouse Grind. But it's also one trail that you don't want to miss if you love the thrill of the hike and all the exhilaration that comes with treacherous terrain. This trail climbs a steep 850m right off the bat (in the first 3km). Grouse Grind is a great trail to get your heart pumping, but it is one of the more frequently used trails. You'll find wooden steps part way to help you make it to the top and a nice and easy Skyride to bring you to the bottom once you do break the ascent sweat. Due to the pandemic, Grouse Grind does require a reservation, so make sure to book ahead.
Grouse Grind hikers on the stairs
Hiking Time: 6 hours
Vertical gain: 1150m
Ascent Trail is part of the Blackcomb Mountain resort, so you'll have to purchase a day pass through the mountain if you decide to venture out to do this hike. Ascent is a nicely maintained trail, but it can be steep in parts and does run parallel to the ski trails (though you can't tell because it is separate enough from the trails to offer peace away from the ski crowd). It's a good idea to check out the ski lift schedule, too, just in case you can't get to the top (usually people ride up and hike down though you can hike up and ride down again!). More details about Ascent Trail are here.
Crater Rim Trail
Hiking Time: 2 hours
Vertical gain: 230m
Head to Whistler for Crater Rim Trail and the intermediate-level hiking experience it has to offer. You'll get to see a volcano (extinct!), lush forest, gorgeous views, and check out the rim around the crater. This hike is marked "intermediate" because it does have some slippery and edgy terrain, but it's not so crazy that you can't try it out if you've only been hiking a few times. The trail is well marked and is not a place where you can get lost, so we think it's worth checking out if you are in the Whistler area or want a new trail to explore -- check trail seasons and weather here.
Hiking Time: 1hour
Vertical gain: 65m
Twin Falls is an excellent option if looking for a day trip and don't want to push the limits too much (but still want to enjoy some fantastic scenery). Twin Falls crosses the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, so make sure that the bridge is accessible before visiting the trail (due to the pandemic, the bridge may be closed when you want to see so don't skip check out the site before you go).
Hiking at Twin Falls (Destination BC/Andrew Strain)
Whistler Train Wreck
Hiking Time: 1 hour
Vertical gain: 30m
What better way to spend an afternoon than hiking past an old train wreck and snapping some images of the now graffiti-covered twisted metal? The Whistler Train Wreck is an easy hike and a trendy one, but it's also one that you can't miss if you are near the Whistler area. You can bring kids and new hikers on this simple trek but make sure to check the conditions before you go.
Hiking Time: 6-7 hours
Vertical gain: 1160m
Who said that a short hike is an easy hike? Wedgemount Lake might be just 12km, but it is a very, very, steep ascension reaching 1160m in a short amount of time. Because of the slope, the Wedgemount Lake hike is considered difficult and can be a challenge for beginner hikers. If you do like to break a sweat, this is probably one of the best ways to do it. Wedgemount is in Garibaldi Provincial Park and requires some checking ahead of time to ensure the trail is open and accessible.
St. Mark's Summit
Hiking Time: 5-6 hours
Vertical gain: 460m
St. Mark's Summit is part of Cypress Mountain and does require some spikes if you intend to go on a wintry day. This trail crosses a lush meadow (during the warmer months) and two bridges worth snapping some photos of. The trail is best for intermediate hikers as it does reach steep grades quickly, but it can also be enjoyed by beginner hikers in good shape, looking for a challenge.
Snowshoeing in the Cypress area
Hiking Time: 4 hours
Vertical gain: 600m
Zoa Peak is in the Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area and offers some of the best views of Thar Peak, Zum Peak, and Nak Peak. If you aren't familiar with those peaks, know that Zoa is one way to escape hectic life and gaze at some mountain peaks for hours while sitting on top of a boulder that nearly reaches the sky. This is an intermediate trail that won't take too long to conquer (a few hours should do it), but you do want to add some time to sit and reflect or munch on some snacks when you reach the peak. There's not much shade here, so we recommend visitation on a fall day or cooler summer day. More details here.
Wild Pacific Trail, Vancouver Island
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Visiting Vancouver Island is a must-do, and while you're there, it's essential to check out some of the island's hiking trails. Ucluelet's Wild Pacific Trail is one of the longest and most scenic day hikes on the island, and it's worth the 9km hike to view the coastline as you've never seen it before. The trail itself is long and windy, and well-maintained, so we will rate it okay for beginners to traverse if endurance isn't an issue. Some closures are happening and other details to note before you go.
Wild Pacific Trail (Destination BC/Mike Seehagel)
Rainbow Ridge Trail
Hiking Time: Two hours out and back, or hike for days in the Rainbow Range
Vertical gain: 300m
You'll find Rainbow Ridge in the Tweedsmuir South Provincial Park, and it won't be easy to miss given its signature red, orange, lavender, and yellow mountains (hence the name 'rainbow'). The trail is long, though, so make sure to pack water and snacks because, at 16km, you're going to need the extra fuel. You can make this a one-day trip or pack a tent and camp in the summertime (harder to do during other seasons). Find details and additional notes here.
Tweedsmuir Provincial Park (Destination BC/Kari Medig)
The Golden Ears Trail, Golden Ears Park
Hiking Time: 1-2 days
Vertical gain: 1500m
Golden Ears is a rugged trail that winds on for 12km. This trail is best reserved for intermediate to advanced hikers but is also tame enough to take leisurely because of its length. The trail is operating with winter hours in effect, so make sure to check the site before you go. Other things to note is that this trail is frequented by wildlife and can be busy during the summer months as it's a popular option. There aren't many stopping points, so bring water and snacks with you.
Berg Lake Trail
Hiking Time: 4-5 days
Vertical gain: 1509m
To get lost, you have to find a trail that offers little in the way of downtime. Berg Lake Trail is one of the most popular off-trail options in BC because there's no avoiding ice patches, snowy parts, glaciers, and cold streams. You'll have to traverse tricky terrain to cross Berg Lake, and it can get chilly! Make sure to bring warmer gear, plenty of snacks and water, and the right shoes. It's also a good idea to tell someone where you are going before you leave and check-in at the park here.
Hiking the Berg Lake Trail (Destination BC/Brayden Hall)
If you have an afternoon off and live in Vancouver, there's no reason not to go outside and take a hike, especially to Dog Mountain, one of the most easily accessible hikes near the city. This is a short and straightforward hike atop Mount Seymour but comes with great views, clearly marked paths, and plenty of space for you and your dog to run around. It's not advised to visit Mount Seymour during the winter months due to snow and ice, but you can enjoy the trail until October.
Hiking Time: 5 hours
Vertical gain: 820m
There are a lot of hiking options at Garibaldi Provincial Park, including the popular Garibaldi Lake hike. This hike will take you past glaciers and through mountains, but it's not considered an advanced walk, so you can quickly bring the kids or take your time strolling through the pathways. You can check out other trails while you're at the park, too but go before the snow starts to fly and some of the trails close. Garibaldi comes with some reasonably detailed maps too that you'll want to look at before you go.
Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
We added this one last because it's a quick hike that's not far from the Vancouver city centre and makes for a perfect nature break. Quarry Rock is beloved by many city dwellers and is a well-worn path ideal for a dog walk or quick stroll, but it also comes with lush pine forest views and a lovely lake to look at when you get where you're going. Get to Quarry Rock early and skip the crowds or go during a cooler autumn day.