British Columbia and Alberta are magical and unique places that offer everything an outdoor adventurer could dream of. From the sandy beaches on Vancouver Island to the towering Rocky Mountains in Alberta, there is always a beautiful, jaw-dropping area to explore. Here I am going to mention the 6 best-hiking destinations in Western Canada.
Western Canada has it all, and one of the best ways to experience the beauty is by lacing up your boots and going for a hike! While there are thousands of spectacular hiking trails, I chose a handful of well-loved trails in Western Canada that every adventurer should have a chance to explore! The following are the six best-hiking destinations in British Columbia and Alberta.
1. The Juan De Fuca trail
The trail is approximately 47 km in total and can be hiked as a point-to-point backpacking trip, or portions of this trail can be made into a day hike. Chin Beach, Bear Beach, Sombrio Beach, Mystic Beach, or Botanical beach can all be accessed as day hikes. The distance to get to these beaches from the parking lots range from 2.5 to 3 km. If you opt to hike this trail as a backpacking trip, you can start at either Botanical Beach on the north or Chin Beach on the south. My favorite beaches to explore are Botanical and Mystic beach. You can experience unique sea life in the tide pools if you go to Botanical beach during low tide. Mystic Beach provides incredible sunset views and a beautiful waterfall.
A backcountry permit is required if you are camping on the Juan De Fuca trail. Camping is permitted at designated sites, and bear-proof food caches are at each beach. Knowledge of tides and the ability to read a tide chart is essential for this trail, as some areas are impassible at high tide. Keep an eye on the weather, as you may find yourself slogging through muddy terrain and packing up wet tents. But that’s all part of the adventure, right? Find more information here on BCPark’s Website.
2. Stawamus Chief, Squamish
This is a popular hike in Squamish B.C., approximately an hour’s drive from Vancouver. The hike is not for the faint of heart, as you will experience steep terrain and the occasional use of a ladder or rope to help assist your way up, depending on which summit you choose! However, once you master the stair climb, you will be rewarded with stunning views overlooking Howe Sound, Squamish, and the towering Mount Garibaldi and Tantalus mountain range. The Stawamus Chief is one of the largest granite rock formations in the world and has important spiritual meaning to the local Indigenous peoples.
This hike is a unique experience and will get your heart pounding. Not only do you get stunning views all around, but you also get to see rock climbers in their zone as they climb the Chief’s impressive rock face. Be aware that this is a popular hike, so an early start is a great way to ensure you get to see the views without the crowds!
3. Mount Revelstoke
In the interior of British Columbia lies Mount Revelstoke National Park. The park is located just outside of Revelstoke, British Columbia. Within this park are multiple hikes that are accessible by driving approximately 30 minutes up the Meadows in the Sky Parkway. This winding road brings you just below the summit of Mount Revelstoke and offers many viewpoints along the way to enjoy the scenery and take pictures. Once you get to the parking lot, you are at the trailhead for multiple hikes!
Eva lake is a STUNNING alpine lake to hike to, whether you want to do a day hike or a backpacking trip. At the lake, you will be surrounded by impressive mountain views. If you’re wanting something a bit easier, the Balsam Lake Trail or Upper Summit Trail offers incredible scenery and doesn’t require quite as much of a trek.
It is important to note that because Mount Revelstoke is a national park, a day pass is required to enter the park. A backcountry camping permit must be purchased before any backcountry camping in the park. Dogs are also not allowed at the summit area of Mount Revelstoke National Park.
4. Sentinel Pass Via Larch Valley
Sweeping views of the Valley of Ten Peaks, the bright turquoise blue water of Moraine Lake, and the towering ridgeline of Mount Temple await those who hike the 11 km round-trip to Sentinel Pass. This is a popular hike, and for a good reason. Once you hike up the multiple
switchbacks and arrive at Larch Valley, jaw-dropping scenery is in every direction you look. From Larch Valley, you will be able to see your end goal: Sentinel Pass. It is a bit of a leg burner, with almost 800 meters of elevation gain throughout the whole hike, but it is 110% worth it. The rock formations and surrounding views from Sentinel Pass will make it hard to leave.
Read a similar post Everglades National Park Hiking Trails
If you visit this hike in the fall, specifically from mid-September until October, you will get the added bonus of seeing the golden larches in all their glory. It is one of the most stunning vistas to experience. The golden larches, snow-capped mountains, and intense blue lake will take your breath away!
As mentioned, this is a very popular hike, especially during larch season. There is a shuttle service that offers rides to and from Moraine Lake, which is the trailhead to Sentinel Pass. This is a good option if you’re worried about parking, as it is very limited. The parking lot can get full as early as 5 or 6 in the morning during peak season. If you choose to drive your own vehicle, be sure to arrive early to secure a parking spot!
5. Sulphur Mountain
Sulphur Mountain in Banff, Alberta, is approximately 11 km round trip, with about 750 meters of elevation. This hike offers stunning views of the surrounding Rocky Mountains, including Mount Rundle and Mount Norquay. You will also get a birds’ eye view of the town of Banff. Once at the summit, you can have a refreshing cup of coffee at the coffee shop and walk the boardwalk to take it all in. A bonus for this hike is that there is a gondola that goes to the top of Sulphur mountain, leaving the option to hike up and take the gondola down, or vice versa.
The downside of this hike: it gets very busy in the summer. That being said, this hike is perfect for a chill day of exploring! And another added bonus: the trailhead is right by the Banff Hotsprings, so you can relax and soak in the hot springs after your hike!
6. Tent Ridge Horseshoe
Tent Ridge Horsehoe is for the more experienced adventurers. This hike does involve small sections of scrambling, so caution should be exercised! Ensure you have the experience, and required gear, and have done an appropriate amount of research before attempting this ridge. That being said, Tent Ridge Horseshoe is an incredible 10 km hike/scramble with 839 meters of elevation. It is located in the beautiful Kananaskis Country. After the initial walk through the forest, you come to a stunning open meadow with a towering ridgeline above. Once gaining the ridgeline, you will hike along with its horseshoe shape and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and Spray Lake. If you’re lucky enough to do this hike in the fall, you will get to experience the popular golden larch trees.
Be prepared for any type of weather, even in the middle of summer. In the Rockies, the weather is unpredictable, and being stuck on an exposed ridge is the last place you want to be in a storm!
There you have it, 6 incredible Hiking Destinations in Western Canada! These hikes will allow you to experience magnificent mountain views, stunning ocean views, and beautiful alpine lakes. Always remember to respect the land and pack out what you pack in. Leave these areas as they should be: wild and beautiful.