Living in a province that is chock-full of endless exploration opportunities means that selecting the best hiking trails in British Columbia is a daunting task. There are so many views and destinations of epic proportion that it seems wild to showcase just a few.
So how did we come up with our list of the best hiking trails in British Columbia exactly? Great question. Each featured hike is “the best” for a different reason including varied approach, length, views, destination or camping opportunities.
Sparkle Lake [Top of the World Provincial Park]
Distance: 19km round trip
The first 6.7km of this hike to reach Fish Lake will fly by. This cruisy trail can be biked or walked, and a separate trail exists for horse travel if preferred. Enjoy the beautifully spaced forest and trickling creek, which often hugs the side of the trail. Upon reaching Fish Lake, prepare to be amazed by the tranquil blues and distant waterfall – linger here, you won’t regret it. If you plan on camping there are campsites here and a cabin – first come, first serve so leave overnight gear here to save your spot and lighten your load. Don’t forget to leave payment for the hardworking parks crew!
Now it’s time to head up, up and away from Fish Lake to reach Sparkle Lake. The initial elevation gain is intense in comparison to your first 7km, but well worth the sweat equity. As you travel through a few linking alpine bowls and winter slide paths, the valley will expose itself to all the potential for exploration in Top of the World Provincial Park. Sparkle Lake is impressive in both depth and in turquoise color. Do this hike on a hot summer day and you’ll be sure to find a great cliff jumping spot right into the green! This quiet hiking trail is just one of the many adventures that await when using Kimberly BC as an exploration base!
Know Before You Go
- 53 km of service road separate you and the trailhead for Top of the World Provincial Park, 4×4 and high clearance are recommended.
- There is a hike to the campground and cabin on route to Sparkle Lake at Fish Lake if you’d like to make it a multi-day hike.
- The trail network at Top of the World Provincial Park is extensive and easily connected, take the time to explore it by adding a few days on to your trip!
Mummery Glacier [Blaeberry Valley]
Distance: 4.5km round trip + 14km round trip biking
Elevation: 710m on foot + 250m on bike
A doozy of an outing, the Mummery Glacier hike will leave you out of breath for multiple reasons. Located in the Blaeberry Valley, just west of Golden BC, Mummery Glacier is part of the well-known Columbia Icefields. If the beaten path is your cup of tea this hike isn’t for you. You’ll need a vehicle with good clearance, a bike and some legs ready to gain some serious elevation! Ascending nearly a vertical kilometre is not for the faint of heart.
To get this adventure rolling, you’ll drive to the end of the Blaeberry main FSR and begin your bike ride. The road used to continue to the trailhead but a massive flood in the early 2000s washed out the road, and this is why a bike is needed – small trails exist on the newly carved banks that are bike-able. While biking, a plethora of cascading waterfalls will come into view, along with the stunning hanging glacier above. The hike will take some careful route-finding skills but will lead you right to a refreshing ice wall and a series of alpine tarns perfect for cooling down. A more detailed description of this hike can be found on Tourism Golden and Crowfoot Media’s website for reference.
Know Before You Go
- Glacial travel is required to summit the mountain. A rewarding journey but only recommended for those with extensive ice travel experience.
- This is a very remote location, plan appropriately and carry a radio or satellite phone in case of emergency.
- You’re in grizzly country!
Juan De Fuca Trail [Vancouver Island]
Distance: 47km – sections of the trail can be done individually
Elevation: Along coast – minimal change
Hugging the southwest coast of Vancouver, the Juan de Fuca Trail is rich in ocean views and dense in coastal rainforest. It can be done as a whole in one very big day, but it is recommended to take 4 days to thoroughly enjoy all the ground you’ll cover. This is smaller in length than its sister trail, The West Coast Trail, and does not require a reservation prior to embarking. The wild coastline is no stranger to animals including sea lions, eagles, herons and occasionally a pod of whales, as well as ground dwellers like wolfs, cougars and black bears. The contrasting rich greens of the forest and endless blues of the ocean and skies are vibrant and all encompassing on this multi-day hike. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how quickly you can cover ground when staying near sea level!
Know Before You Go
- Coastal weather can change quickly, be prepared for all weather.
- Backcountry camping fee is $10 a night.
Decker Loop/Overlord Trail [Whistler Blackcomb]
Distance: 7.1km round trip
Elevation: 261 m
We may be biased, but a list of the best hiking trails in British Columbia has to include at least one Whistler mention! Into the alpine with ease, this lift accessed and well-groomed trail is accessed via Whistler Blackcomb lift service. The 7km round trip winds you in and out of the subalpine, passing by a series of alpine lakes including Blackcomb Lake and Decker Tarn. Jaw-dropping views of the range, glaciers, Fissile Mountain and the Fitzsimons valley will entertain you thoroughly. Elevation change is minimal and distance is easily doable in under 3 hours, but plan on taking your time to embrace all the stunning views. Overhead you’ll see glimpses of the often moody Blackcomb Peak, which has a scramble to the top that can be accessed. This scramble will take a day, not to be attempted on the same day as your Decker Loop hike, for details on this unmarked and technical scramble pick up a copy of Matt Gun’s ‘Scrambles in Southwest British Columbia‘ at Escape Route in the Whistler Village.
Want to create your own Whistler adventures? Be inspired with our video and post!
Know Before You Go
- This route is accessed via lifts of Whistler Blackcomb, a lift ticket purchase is required.
- Lifts have seasonal hours, please confirm before setting out on a hike.
Canyon Falls/Crawford Falls [Kelowna]
Elevation: Less than 40m
Need a break from all that beer sampling during the Great Okanagan Beer Festival or weekend of wine tours? Well, this short and techy hike will snap you back into the beautiful backdrop that surrounds your lakeside indulgences, sans alcohol. Coming in at number five in our list of best hiking trails in British Columbia, this two-waterfalls-one-hike trip is accessed off of a trailhead on Westside Drive in Kelowna. Crawford Falls will greet you first on the trail. Traveling to the lower falls will take an additional 20 min, here lie 20+ foot tall falls. Continue on for roughly 10 more minutes and you’ll be rewarded with the much larger falls, approximately 40 feet.
Know Before You Go
- Although short, this hike is considered difficult.
- Dogs are welcome on leash, but if your pup doesn’t do well with steep rocks they might better be left at home.
Sherbrooke Lake [Yoho National Park]
Distance: 6km round trip
Most definitely a rewarding walk/hike in the woods! It’s hard to believe that such a minimal elevation gain will drop you at a lake just below the alpine. Glacial blue water reflects the jagged mountains that seemingly plunge right into the lake. Easily done in a half a day or made bigger by also summiting Sherbrooke Peak. The fork to reach the summit is near the half way mark on the Sherbrooke Lake trail. Upon reaching the summit there is an old fire lookout to explore and seek shelter from the elements if needed. This addition has substantial elevation gain but features remarkable views of Wapta Lake from above.
Know Before You Go
- Dogs on leash are welcome and your pup will welcome the swim!
- Next to the trailhead lies The Great Divide Lodge, a perfect place to stay when exploring Yoho or to grab dinner after a day of hiking.
Best Hiking Trails in British Columbia: Honorable Mentions
As we mentioned, given the province is so packed full of beautiful locations and amazing trails, choosing the best hiking trails in British Columbia really is a challenge. Out list wouldn’t be complete without giving a shout out to the following hikes:
- The Chief, Squamish: A classic hike and well-known face among climbers, The Chief towers over the Howe Sound.
- Brunswick Mountain, Vancouver: Climbing and scrambling above the Vancouver coastline makes for moody skies and epic sunrises. Not an easy summit, but a rewarding one no doubt.
- Mount Currie, Pemberton: A newly built hiking trail takes you to the summit of Pemberton’s most iconic valley. From here access lakes, glaciers, alpine traverses and views of both the Pemberton and Whistler valleys.
- Harvey Mountain, Smithers: Get eyes on the often explored Hudson Bay Mountain and surrounding Bulkley Valley from a top of the Babine Mountains, complete with a lake for swimming.
We’re keen to hike and see more – please pass along your suggestions of the best hiking trails in British Columbia so we can keep this list growing! And, as always, we love seeing your adventures, so don’t forget to tag @GibbonsWhistler and share the stoke for the awesome hiking in beautiful BC.
Don’t forget to bring adequate gear, like some quality hiking boots on your trail day!
If you want to reward yourself after a solid day’s hiking, yet still stay connected to the great outdoors, check out our suggestions for glamping in British Columbia.