Hiking Lions Bay Loop
Hiking Lions Bay Loop
I also took Friday off and ended up hiking every day. Running and hiking combined, I logged almost 70 km over 4 days. I followed that up with a donut and sitting at my desk all day on Tuesday.
On Saturday morning, I got in a run along the Stanley Park seawall and was in the mood for an easier hike in the afternoon. I haven’t been out in the direction of Howe Sound and the Sea to Sky Highway for a few months so hiking Lions Bay Loop sounded like a good choice.
Lions Bay Loop hike starts from the General Store and Café in Lions Bay, a residential community along the Sea to Sky Highway and midway between West Vancouver and Squamish.
If you have never driven along the Sea to Sky Highway, that is worth a trip in itself! The Sea to Sky is a section of Highway 99 from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver to Pemberton past Whistler. It travels along the coast of Howe Sound and winds through steep mountains. The scenery is truly unbeatable and offers quintessential BC views.
If you don’t have access to a car, fear not. I took transit to the trail head: first I took a bus from downtown Vancouver and transferred in Horseshoe Bay. From there, I took a small bus out to Lions Bay and got off at the General Store. It took approximately an hour door to door.
Once you take a minute to admire the views of the Sea to Sky, the Lions Bay Loop trail head is down the street from the General Store and on the opposite side of the street. The hike initially follows the Centennial Trail, before leading to the Harrison Trail and Crystal Falls Trail. You eventually return to the General Store along Centennial Trail. For detailed trail directions, visit VancouverTrails.com.
The hike is approximately 5 km round-trip and has some elevation gain and drop, though nothing significant. The trails are very well-maintained and well-marked (much of the signage looks new). There are even educational signs scattered throughout, explaining everything from the types of trees you may find to the animals you could encounter.
While some people complain about the noise from the nearby Sea to Sky Highway, I personally just found it to be white, background noise. I loved the variety of the hike – from the runnable trails inside the rainforest, to the countless views of Howe Sound and beyond, brief walk through wildflower-covered meadows, and climb up to Crystal Falls (a decent-sized waterfall).
Be sure to check out all the mini viewpoints along the start of the hike, offering expansive views of Howe Sound and ocean below. There are benches, chairs, and picnic tables scattered throughout, making the viewpoints the perfect spot to stop for a rest, picnic, or snack.
When I reached the end of my hike, I had some time to kill before the bus arrived. First, I stopped in the quaint General Store and Café. It has everything from snacks, to beer and wine, coffee, and more. The café also has a great patio, overlooking the Sea to Sky Highway and Howe Sound.
After grabbing a drank, I left the café, turned right, headed down the very steep hill, and crossed the railroad tracks, to explore the rest of the neighborhood. I ended up stumbling upon the somewhat hidden Lions Bay Marina and public beach – a hot spot for the locals!
Then it was back up the hill to catch the bus and head home. Had I had more time (and energy) a quick stop in Horseshoe Bay for food and pictures, before transferring to the Vancouver bus home would be a great option.