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Dog-Friendly Hikes: British Columbia

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The western Canadian province British Columbia is an outdoor mecca, given that it is home to four mountain ranges, 18 volcanoes, and countless rivers and lakes within the 14 million hectares of parkland and reserves. Both Vancouver and Victoria are surrounded by abundant nature, so adventure is never far. Both cities have fantastic hiking directories that allow you to filter by category (like dog-friendly), difficulty, and provide all the information you could want about a hike (links included in specific hikes below).

Easy

Alice Lakes (Squamish) — Just 5km north of Squamish, one of the outdoor capitals of North America, sits beautiful Alice Lake Provincial Park. The 4 Lakes Trail is an easy 4-mile loop that wanders through creeks, second growth forests, and leads to four different mountain lakes. All four lakes are good for a swim, so head there on a hot summer day and jump in to cool off!

Pacific Spirit Regional Park (Vancouver) - Located on the west side of the city of Vancouver, Pacific Spirit Regional Park is a 750-hectare forest with dozens of interconnected trails. Given the park’s location right in the city, the trails are popular with local residents. The best way to explore this park is to simply take a look at the park map and choose a trail that suits your desired time and/or distance. Not all trails permit dogs, so be sure to keep an eye out for signs indicating as such.

Dog Mountain (North Vancouver) – The Dog Mountain Trail is a short, easy 5km hike from Mount Seymour with a spectacular view of Vancouver on a clear day. This short hike with minimal elevation gain does have some technical sections along the way, including slippery roots.

Buntzen Lake Loop (Tri Cities) — The 6.2-mile Buntzen Lake Loop is one of the more popular trails in the park. This hike is perfect for a leisurely stroll or for a trail run with your pup. Despite the crowds at the beach area near the start of the hike, the loop is tranquil with gradual hills. The lake is man-made and maintained by BC Hydro, but is surrounded by forests, beach areas, and many trails. Please note that the gate at the park entrance is closed at night and the times change throughout the year and are as early as 4:30pm during the winter.

Myra Canyon (Kelowna) — Myra Canyon follows 12km (one way) of an old railway bed, leading over 18 trestles and through two tunnels. Hike or bike this trail and take in the beautiful view of the canyon and Lake Okanagan along the way. Visit during the fall to catch the changing foliage of the larch trees.

Photo by West Coast Heeler Pack

Moderate

Thetis Lake (Victoria) — While Thetis Lake has plenty of trails to hike around the series of lakes, try the 3-mile loop Lower and Upper Thetis Lake for scenic views. The trail has several uphill and downhill sections, with plenty of spots to take in the view, making for perfect places to stop and enjoy a tranquil lunch. This popular hike can become filled, so head there early to avoid the crowds!

Mount Douglas (Victoria) — Just 30 minutes outside of downtown Victoria, Mount Douglas offers an incredible 360-degree view of the area around Victoria, including east to Haro Strait and the San Juan Islands. A network of trails wind around the mountain, and the out-and-back Irvine Trail is a great intermediate hike that leads to the top of the peak where you can soak in the views

Mount Cheam (Fraser Valley) — One of the most spectacular views in the Fraser Valley, Mount Cheam offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the communities along the Fraser River, Jones Lake, the surrounding peaks, and Mount Baker. Getting to the trailhead is more difficult than the hike itself and requires a 4-wheel drive vehicle. The 6-mile round trip hike requires about 4.5 hours of hiking time, so come prepared with plenty of food and water.

Lindeman Lake (Fraser Valley) — This short 2-mile hike leads to a beautiful glacial lake in the less used Chilliwack Lake area. Once you arrive to Lindeman Lake, take a lunch break and, if you’re feeling up to it, continue on to Greendrop Lake. Camping is available at both lakes, so bring the packs and sleep on the shores of the lakes.

Difficult

Joffre Lakes (Pemberton) — The highlight of this park is the brilliant turquoise color of the lakes, caused by the glacial silt that is suspended in the water and reflects green and blue wavelengths of sunlight. For a challenging yet rewarding hike, try the trek to Middle and Upper Joffre Lakes, where you’ll find views of rugged peaks, icefields, and rivers below Matier Glacier. The trail winds through spruce and hemlock forests, eventually leading to spectacular views of Middle Joffre Lake glimmering in front of you. Listen closely during the warm afternoon sun for the sound of the ice carving from the glacier. Don’t forget insect repellent, as mosquitoes and black flies can be pesky!

Goldstream Goldmine Trail (Victoria) — This 5.3-mile hike starts from the Goldstream Provincial Park camp area and passes through a lush green forest before arriving at a train trestle. The out-and-back hike is rarely crowded and follows a steady trail that climbs to the trestle bridge. While the train tracks and trestle bridge are technically private property, many people do decide to walk out onto the bridge. If you do so, be very careful to watch your step, as the canyon is a long way down.

Brandywine Meadows (Whistler) — Plan this short but difficult 3.7-mile hike toward the end of summer to catch the colorful wildflowers in bloom. Brandywine Meadows meanders through a pretty meadow cut with a bubbling creek, surrounded by towering mountains and glaciers. Bring a lunch and take in the stunning views from the top.

Enderby Cliffs (Okanagan Valley) — The Enderby Cliffs tower high above the town of Enderby, rewarding hikers with breathtaking views of the Shuswap and the North Okanagan valleys. The full round trip hike takes trekkers 13 miles over cliffs formed during the Tertiary age. Keep an eye out for eagles and turkey vultures playing in the updrafts. Take caution, as this narrow and exposed trail can be slippery, especially when wet.


Looking for other hiking destinations? Read about Dog Friendly Hikes in Oregon, Dog Friendly Hiking Trails in New Hampshire, and Dog Friendly Hikes in Washington State. For guidelines on which National Parks are dog-friendly, check out a full list here.

Jen Sotolongo is a writer and photographer and runs Long Haul Trekkers, a blog about independent, responsible travel with a pet. Over the past 2 years, she and her partner have taken their dog, Sora on a cycle tour spanning across Europe and South America, proving that adventures can include your dog, no matter where in the world they may be.

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