Three challenging long trails for spectacular all-day adventuring
The three trails highlighted in this guidebook are the most iconic long trails close to Vancouver, B.C. Each of the trails provides enough kilometres, certainly enough metres gained, and more than enough technical challenge – rooty, rocky, (often) slippery, vegetated – trail for an all-day trail-running adventure. All of the routes are found on the north side of the Vancouver Harbour and Burrard Inlet, on the mountains above metro North Vancouver.
Like nearly all trails in the Pacific Northwest, these routes are technical and require strength, resiliency, and sure-footedness to traverse without much grumbling or twisted ankles. That said, these routes are certainly some of the most beautiful trails I have run on anywhere in the world. The trails cross multiple mountains, including a few mountaintops, traverse through majestic, mature old-growth forest, and offer views across the Coastal Mountains, the city of Vancouver, and the water – Burrard Inlet, Howe Sound, and Indian Arm.
The Baden Powell Trail (BPT) is the least remote of the three routes. That said, even on the BPT, runners can feel great solitude and not see anyone else for many kilometres or even many hours. It offers a great all-day getaway from the large city of Vancouver while still being relatively close to the urban amenities of the city. On the other end of the spectrum, the Howe Sound Crest Trail (HSCT) is quite remote, and although one may see some hikers on the trail, running the HSCT offers a fairly remote experience in the Coastal range. Even the Hanes Valley Loop offers remoteness in the northern stretch of the loop, deep in Lynn and Hanes valleys.
Therefore, runners should equip themselves with sufficient food, drink, apparel, and gear to subside for multiple hours. These trails can be maddeningly wet and slippery much of the year due to the damp climate of the coast, but can be dry and (relatively more) speedy in the summer months. These trails are not recommended in the winter months – in part due to the added difficulty and length of time to complete in snowy conditions, but also due to avalanche risk on multiple of the slopes on the routes.
In short, if you're looking for long trails in the Vancouver vicinity – these three are not to be missed!