Talk about a great form of exercise! Snowshoeing is becoming an increasingly popular sport for families. When the kids are super little (and mom and dad are in good shape) tucking the kids into kid-carrying backpacks and heading out for a snowshoe is a great outing. I’m sure there are families who get their littles to snowshoe, I’m not that brave. But now that are boys are older – 10 & 12 years – I’m eager for our family to get out there and try this aerobic exercise while breathing in the fresh air and enjoying the stunning scenery.

Seymour Mountain

Discovery Snowshoe Trails (variety)

  • a variety of different trails at the beginner (green circle), intermediate (blue square), and difficult (black diamond) levels
  • view a map of the trails here
  • trails range from 2.3 – 4.5km in length, time to complete ranges from 45 minutes to 2.5 hours

Dog Mountain (moderate)

  • 5km return, 150 metres elevation change
  • 2-3 hours, return
  • trail is out and back, excellent views if weather is clear, very popular trail so expect crowds on weekends and holidays, dogs are permitted on leash

Mount Seymour 1st Peak or Pump Peak (difficult)

  • 8km return, 450 metres elevation gain
  • 3.5+ hours to complete
  • trail is out and back, excellent views if weather is clear, expect crowds on weekends and holidays, dogs are permitted on leash

Grouse Mountain

Blue Grouse Loop (easy)

  • 1.5km return, 20 metre elevation gain
  • 30-45 minutes, return
  • dogs are not allowed on this trail

Snowshoe Grind (moderate)

  • 4.3km return, 240 metre elevation gain
  • approximately 1 hour, return
  • for those who like the physical challenge of completing the Grouse Grind, this is your snow-filled version. The trail was selected to ensure times recorded on the Grouse Grind would be similar to times recorded on the Snowshoe Grind.
  • dogs are not allowed on this trail

Thunderbird Ridge (moderate)

  • 6km return, 200 metre elevation gain
  • 2.5 – 3 hours, return
  • dogs are not allowed on this trail

Cypress Mountain

Nordic Area Trails (easy)

  • a variety of different trails at the beginner (green circle), intermediate (blue square), and difficult (black diamond) levels; up to 11km worth of trails available to explore
  • elevation gain up to 150 metres
  • you can view the map of the trails here

Bowen Lookout (moderate)

  • 3.5km return, 100 metre elevation gain
  • 1.5 – 2 hours, return
  • short but steep climb to a stunning outlook over Bowen Island and Howe Sound. Be sure to pick up your FREE backcountry access pass (at the Black Mountain Lodge) as it is required to cross the ski hill

Black Mountain (moderate)

  • 7km return, 270 metre elevation gain
  • 2.5 – 3 hours, return
  • a steep climb to start and a loop trail that passes a few lakes. Be sure to pick up your FREE backcountry access pass (at the Black Mountain Lodge) as it is required to cross the ski hill

Hollyburn Mountain (difficult)

  • 7.5kn return, 440 metre elevation gain
  • 4 – 5 hours, return
  • a slow start with a few short hills. The last kilometre sees a very steep climb straight to the summit of Hollyburn Mountain.

Sea to Sky

Whistler Train Wreck (easy)

  • 2km return, 30 metre elevation gain
  • 1 hour, return
  • traverse a suspension bridge, over the Cheakamus River, to get to the graffiti covered train cars (6) from the 1956 historic train wreck. This is a popular hike so expect crowds on weekends and holidays. Dogs are allowed.

Nairn Falls (easy)

  • 3km return, minimal elevation change
  • 1.5 hours, return
  • the trail leads to two viewing platforms that over look both the upper and lower Nairn Falls

Alexander Falls (easy)

  • 2.5km return, negligible elevation change
  • 2 hours, return
  • if the weather is cold enough you can witness the Alexander Falls completely frozen. Starting from Callaghan Country it is possible to snowshoe right to the base of the frozen falls.

Elfin Lakes (difficult)

  • 22km return, 700 metre elevation change
  • 7 – 10 hours to complete (or stay overnight)
  • this hike is for well-prepared seasoned snowshoers. The trail is well-marked and the views are stunning.

Fraser Valley

Elk Mountain – Chilliwack (moderate)

  • 8km return, 770 metre elevation change
  • 4 hours, return
  • head uphill to enjoy an incredible viewpoint overlooking the Fraser Valley (including Cultus Lake and Mount Baker). The terrain isn’t challenging but the duration of the hike has us marking it as “moderate” as a 4 hour hike may be too lengthy for some families

Lightning Lake Loop – Manning Park (moderate)

  • 9km return, relatively flat terrain
  • 4 hours, return
  • Lightning Loop is a trail popular in both the summer and winter. The flatness of the loop makes it appealing to families however we’ve marked the trail as “moderate” due to the length of time it takes to complete.

Before You Go Snowshoeing:

Safety is the #1 factor to consider when planning a snowshoeing excursion for your family. Even if you are heading out on trails associated with a resort (e.g. Cypress, Grouse, or Seymour) it is a good idea to plan for the worst-case-scenario.

  • Light – daylight disappears quickly and you don’t want to be caught in the dark. Pack a head lamp – they take up minimal space and tend to have great battery life
  • Heat source – pack waterproof matches (or lighter)in case you need to start a fire to keep warm.
  • Food – always ensure you have extra food and water for everyone in your group.
  • Clothing – pack layers. Snowshoeing in the mountains means being ready for changing conditions. It may feel balmy in downtown Vancouver but as you get to higher elevations, and the day turns to night, the temperatures can drop drastically.
  • Way-finding – be prepared with a map and a compass. Cel phones die, frequently the cold temperatures cause the batteries to exhaust faster than usual. Knowing how to read a compass can be life saving.
  • First aid – I think most parents travel with a basic first aid kit (kids are always sprouting scraped and bleeding knees).
  • For a complete and detailed list of essential items to bring with you on your snowshoeing outing, we strongly recommend you visit the North Shore Rescue’s informative website.