The 12 Best Hiking Trails in British Columbia With Amazing Views

Looking up the Columbia River in Revelstoke, British Columbia.
Mascdman / CC BY-SA 2.0

Written by Joyce Nash

Published: November 2, 2023

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Located on Canada’s Pacific coast, British Columbia boasts mountains, islands, and the largest temperate rainforest on the planet. Its landscapes are known worldwide for their incredible scenery. Keep reading to discover the 12 most scenic hiking trails in Brish Columbia with amazing views.

12. Stanley Glacier Trail

Mountain range of Kootenay National Park with yellow leaves and Kootenay Highway in Autumn, Canadian Rockies, British Columbia, Canada

Kootenay National Park covers over 500 square miles in southeastern British Columbia.

With views of waterfalls, forests, and alpine meadows, the Stanley Glacier Trail is easily one of British Columbia’s most scenic hikes. The moderately difficult trail gains 1,800 feet in elevation throughout a 7.1-mile out-and-back trail with a small loop at the end.

The trail starts with the Vermillion River Footbridge in Kootenay National Park, followed by a trek through a forest that was burned by lightning in 1968. A series of switchbacks leads to a river fed by Stanley Glacier. The trail crosses the water and continues to an alpine meadow with spectacular views of multiple waterfalls. The trail continues, and Stanley Glacier will be visible to the right. 

11. Helmcken Falls Rim Trail

Beautiful view of Helmcken Falls at the Wells Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada

The Helmcken Falls are located along the Murtle River.

Counted among Canada’s tallest waterfalls, the Helmcken Falls are located within Wells Grey Provincial Park and have a straight drop of over 460 feet. The Helmcken Falls Rim Trail offers stunning views of the falls as well as the canyon below.

The trail is an easy 5-mile out-and-back hike that gains just over 650 feet in elevation, making this scenic hike a good choice for families and beginners. The trail follows alongside the Murtle River through a forest for 2.5 miles before arriving at a viewing area for the falls. 

10. West Similkameen Trail

Aerial drone view of the Similkameen River near Princeton in British Columbia, Canada.

Following the Similkameen River, the West Similkameen Trail overlaps with a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail.

This popular hiking spot in Manning Park is an easy 1.2-mile trek that runs alongside the Similkameen River. The trailhead is located off of Highway 3 on Gibson Pass Road. This trail is a connection point for the Pacific Crest Trail, as well as the Frosty and Windy Joe trails. 

After about a mile of hiking through a pine and spruce forest, the trail reaches a junction. The Windy Joe trail continues to the south, and the East Similkameen trail extends to the north. Or, hikers can turn around and enjoy the relatively flat and scenic 1.2-mile hike back to the trailhead.

9. Juan de Fuca Trail

Logs on the peaceful qualicum beach, vancouver island, british columbia, canada

The Juan de Fuca Trail is located on Vancouver Island, between China Beach and Botanical Beach.

Spanning almost 30 miles of Vancouver Island’s southwestern coast, the Juan de Fuca Trail traverses beaches, suspension bridges, and dense forests. Hikers can complete the trek over multiple days or hike sections that are divided up along several different trailheads.

The Juan de Fuca trail is a moderately strenuous hike, with some sections that are much more difficult due to sandy or rocky terrain. Additionally, some sections of the trail cannot be accessed during high tide. The highest point on the trail is around 600 feet in elevation, but the trail has a cumulative elevation change of nearly 5,500 feet. There are several campsites along the Juan de Fuca trail, with many offering views of the ocean.

8. Sunburst Lake Hike

Sunrise on Sunburst Lake with Mount Assiniboine in autumn forest at provincial park, Canada

The Sunburst Peaks add striking scenery to Sunburst Lake.

A short distance from the British Columbia-Alberta border, Sunburst Lake is a popular backpacking destination for its incredible scenery. This lake is located in Mount Assiniboine Park and is a short hike from the Lake Magog backcountry campground.

However, the Lake Magog campground is at the end of a strenuous, multi-hour hike. Several trailheads lead to the Lake Magog campground, which boasts a log shelter for cooking, water taps, and outhouses. There is a trail from the campground to Sunburst and Cerulean Lakes, which offers incredible panoramic views of the park. 

7. Panorama Ridge

Scenic Landscape View of Blue Garibaldi Lake and Distant Snowcapped Coast Mountains from Panorama Ridge in Sea to Sky Corridor between Squamish and Whistler, British Columbia Canada

Panorama Ridge looks out over Garibaldi Lake and Black Tusk Mountain.

Located in Garibaldi Provincial Park, the hike to Panorama Ridge is a strenuous 9.3-mile journey. Since the trail gains nearly 5,000 feet in elevation, many hikers camp overnight at nearby Taylor Meadows or Garibaldi Lake.

This hike begins at the Rubble Creek parking lot, where it shares a trailhead with the hike to Garibaldi Lake. The hike begins with a set of wooden stairs that lead into a forest. After about 3.5 miles, the trail comes to a clearing. At the junction, take the trail to Taylor Meadows. Continue through the meadow and Black Tusk junction to finally reach Panorama Ridge.

6. Takakkaw Falls Hike

Takakkaw Falls, Yoho, Canada

The road to the Takakkaw Falls trailhead is open from late June through mid-October.

This quick and easy hike offers unparalleled views of the spectacular Takakkaw Falls, the second-tallest waterfall in Canada. It is fed by the Daly Glacier and has a main drop of 833 feet, while its total height is 1,224 feet. 

The Takakkaw Falls hike is a 0.8-mile out-and-back with an elevation gain of only 120 feet. The trail starts with a bridge that crosses over the Yoho River, then climbs briefly to reach a viewing area for the falls. This short but scenic hike is located within the Yoho National Park, which has an abundance of activities and areas to explore. 

5. Wapta Falls

Kicking Horse River west of Field, near Natural Bridge Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

The hike to Wapta Falls follows the course of the Kicking

Horse

River.

Deep in the Yoho National Park, Wapta Falls is the largest waterfall on the Kicking Horse River. The 2.8-mile trek is appropriate for beginners and has a modest elevation gain of 230 feet.

The trail stretches alongside the river and provides an excellent view of the falls at the Top of Falls viewpoint. Wapta Falls is a powerful natural force that spans over 350 feet with water that drops almost 60 feet to the river below. The trail continues to the base of the falls, where hikers can stand in the mist as the water crashes down.

4. Garibaldi Lake

View of a mountain lake between fir trees

Garibaldi Lake is nestled at the base of Castle Towers Mountain.

Located a short distance from Whistler, the 5.5-mile hike to Garibaldi Lake is moderately difficult, with an elevation gain of nearly 2,700 feet. However, hikers are rewarded with views of an alpine lake with glaciers on the surrounding mountains. 

The hike to Garibaldi Lake begins at the Rubble Creek parking lot with a set of wooden stairs. The passes through a forest for the first 3.5 miles before reaching a clearing with views of The Barrier, a rocky cliff that formed following a landslide in 1885. Hikers will pass by two lakes before the trail finally descends to Garibaldi Lake.

3. Myra Canyon Trestles Trail

Biking over the Wooden Trestle Bridges of the abandoned Kettle Valley Railway in Myra Canyon near Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

The wide, flat path and recently restored trestle bridges make the Myra Canyon Trestles Trail a good choice for families.

Located near Kelowna in southeastern British Columbia, the Myra Canyon Trestles Trail is part of the larger Kettle Valley Railway trail. The former railroad is open for hiking and biking from May through October and snowshoeing and fat biking from November through April.

The trail boasts incredible views of Myra Canyon as it crosses over 18 trestle bridges and through two tunnels, passing by orchards, vineyards, and farmlands. The Myra Canyon Trestles Trail is family-friendly, with only gentle gains in elevation.

2. Joffre Lakes

Joffre Lake 3 - stock photo canada lakes

The Joffre Lakes hike passes by Lower, Middle, and Upper Joffre Lakes.

Renowned for its beauty, the Joffre Lakes hike passes by three alpine lakes and is relatively moderate, considering the trail gains 1,200 feet in elevation. The hike is a six-mile round-trip that is typically accessible from June through September.

The trail quickly reaches Lower Joffre Lake, with views of Matier Glacier above. The hike to Middle and Upper Joffre Lakes passes through a forest and then a boulder field while gaining elevation. Joffre Creek runs alongside a portion of the hike, with beautiful waterfalls as the water flows from the upper to the middle lake. The trail ends at a campground near Upper Joffre Lake, which is an excellent spot to take in the striking views.

1. Saint Mark’s Summit

Canadian Mountain Landscape on the West Coast of Pacific Ocean. Dramatic Sunset and Hazy Smoky Sky. St. Mark's Summit near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Nature Background

Saint Mark’s Summit is located within Cypress Provincial Park.

As part of the Howe Sound Crest Trail, the hike to Saint Mark’s Summit offers outstanding views of the Sound and nearby mountains. Saint Mark’s Summit reaches around 4,500 feet, making it one of the most scenic hikes in British Columbia. The hike to the top is an out-and-back trail with a round trip of just under seven miles and an elevation gain of 1,500 feet.

The hike to its summit begins in the parking lot for Cypress Mountain. The first portion of the trail follows a ski run for a nearby ski resort. The trail goes past Bowen Lookout and provides views of The Lions and Mount Strachan as it climbs to a high-elevation meadow. The second half of the trail is more challenging, with steep elevation gains and loose, muddy, gravel terrain. Hikers who reach the top are rewarded with breathtaking views of the Howe Sound below.

Summary: The 12 Best Hiking Trails in British Columbia With Amazing Views

RankHike
# 12Stanley Glacier Trail
# 11Helmcken Falls Rim Trail
# 10West Silmakeen Trail
# 9Juan de Fuca Trail
# 8Sunburst Lake Hike
# 7Panorama Ridge
# 6Takakkaw Falls Hike
# 5Wapta Falls
# 4Garibaldi Lake
# 3Myra Canyon Trestles Trail
# 2Joffre Lake
# 1Saint Mark’s Summit


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About the Author

Joyce Nash is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering travel and geography. She has almost a decade of writing experience. Her background ranges from journalism to farm animal rescues and spans the East Coast to the West. She is based in North Carolina, and in her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time with her husband and two cats.

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