Vancouver Day Trip — North Shore Mountains

North Shore Mountains: Capilano Suspension Bridge, Grouse Mountain and beyond


Why Go: The North Shore Mountains are the range of mountains overlooking Vancouver on the north side. They offer great mountain escapes only minutes from the city. It would take more than a day to explore this range but we have condensed the plan for a day trip adventure. Get your walking shoes on during the warmer months and your snow skis during the winter.

What you can do: In Summer/Fall plan an early hike. There are two areas for consideration. One option is to start at Cypress Mountain. Make sure to check out the Cypress Provincial Park scenic viewpoint on the right hand side of the road, about 1/3rd the way up. Stop here for your first breath-taking view of greater Vancouver.

Once you reach Cypress Mountain, several hiking trails await you. Depending on your pleasure, you can take an easy stroll, a medium length-medium difficulty hike or a two to three hour adventure hike. Cypress Mountain has many options. Trails in this provincial park are well groomed and well-marked. Consider the easier Yew Lake Trail & Old Growth Loop, complete with an interpretive guide.  This hike is short and sweet with little elevation change.

To add a bit of depth and breadth to this hike, add the trail to Bowen Lookout. You can complete this moderate hike in less than two hours. The viewpoint is beautiful as you look west at Howe Sound and beyond. For a more extensive hike, consider taking a healthy portion of the Howe Sound Crest Trail towards St. Marks Summit or a portion of the famous Baden-Powell Trail over Black Mountain. Plan a three to four hour trek on one of these trails for breathtaking views of Vancouver and/or Howe Sound.

Once you have completed your hiking, head to Grouse Mountain for lunch and ride the Skyride, an aerial tram, to the top of Grouse Mountain. After the morning hike, this will be a leisurely ride to more vistas and activities (see paragraph below).

You have another hiking option that does not include Cypress Mountain. If you are really adventurous, there is the famous Grouse Grind hike, an extremely steep and mountainous trail that climbs 853 m (2,799 ft) over a distance of 2.9 km (2 mi), with an average grade of 30 degrees. This hike takes most people between 1.5 and 2.5 hours to complete but you have to be in shape. The reward is a beautiful view of greater Vancouver and all of the facilities of Grouse Mountain such as Theatre in the Sky or the World Famous Lumberjack Show.  Plan to have lunch at the one of the restaurants at Grouse Mountain.

The next step of the day's activities can be a visit to Capilano Suspension Bridge and Capilano River Regional Park, just down the road from Grouse Mountain. At the Capilano Suspension Bridge, you can walk the rainforest trails; enjoy the Treetops Adventure, a walk high in the trees; or hike up to Capilano Lake in the Capilano River Regional Park.

Depending on the time of year (the sun sets late in the summer) you can extend your adventure with a hike in Lynn Canyon Park and a visit the suspension bridge here. You might find the crowds more to your pleasing. A bit further east is Mt. Seymour Provincial Park.  Again, options are many depending on your pleasure and stamina. The drive is beautiful and plenty of hiking trails exist in this park as well.

Winter/Early Spring: Cypress Mountain, Grouse Mountain and Mt. Seymore all have winter activity facilities to host alpine and cross country skiing, snowboarding, and more. Make sure to check with the facilities to get details of the resorts season, hours, prices and activities sponsored at the resort.

Travel portion: The drive to the North Shore is through Stanley Park across the Lions Gate Bridge on HWY-99. Once on the North Shore, you take Canadian HWY 1 east and/or west to reach these destinations.

Specific Directions: To Cypress Mountain, Take HWY 99 north towards Horseshoe Bay/Squamish/Whistler.  HWY-99 will become HWY-99/HWY-1. Take Exit 8 to Cypress Bowl Road. From Cypress Mountain to Grouse Mountain, return down Cypress Bowl Road to HWY-99/HWY-1 South/East. Follow HWY-1 East to Exit 14, Capilano Rd. all the way to Grouse Mountain.

Grouse Mountain to Capilano River Regional Park or Capilano Suspension Bridge is down Capilano Rd. 2 to 3 km. If you are considering exploring Lynn's Canyon Park or Mt. Seymour Provincial Park, go back down Capilano Rd. to HWY-1 and go east about 4 to 5 km to Exit 19. Follow Lynn Valley Road North East past the Mountain Highway intersection, and then continue to Lynn Valley Road. Watch for Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre sign on the right hand side of the road. Turn right onto Peters Road, and you will find the main entrance at the end.

If you are going to head east to Mount Seymour Provincial Park, continue on past Exit 19, Lynn Valley Road to Exit 22, Mt. Seymour Pkwy. The entrance to Mount Seymour Provincial Park is located on Mount Seymour Road just north of Mount Seymour Parkway, about 4.6 km.

Food options: Enjoy an early breakfast in Vancouver. For lunch, plan on one of the casual options at Grouse Mountain.  Heading back to Vancouver for dinner is a great idea. But there are other options. If you are still in the Grouse Mountain area, consider dinner at Grouse Mountain's Altitudes Bistro or The Observatory (more upscale). If you made your way out to Lynn Canyon or Mt. Seymour, you could be tempted to dine at Black Bear Pub or Tomahawk Barbecue.