One of the most appealing features of Vancouver is that it hosts mountains, ocean, and amazing outdoor landscapes that just beg to be explored. As a dog owner, it seems so silly to do anything outdoors if it doesn’t involve bringing the pup along. So we have begrudgingly tested the best dog-friendly hikes in the area to bring you five distinct options to enjoy with your adventure partner-in-crime.
UBC Endowment Lands/Spanish Banks
This option is less of a hike, more of a walk through nature. Stroll through the beautiful shaded forest, which is blessedly an off-leash area! The trail spits you out right near the Spanish Banks dog beach, which at both high and low tide guarantees a tired dog. This area has the potential for sandy beach fun or fields for picnics and lots of fetch. Once your pup is good and tired, head back the way you came, enjoying Vancouver’s temperate rainforest.
Directions: Park along Chancellor Blvd soon after you enter the UBC Endowment Lands coming off of West 4th. Parking is free. Take the left-most trail, the E. Canyon Trail until you reach a fork, again taking the left branch, this time the W. Canyon Trail. Eventually you’ll reach another branch, where you want to take a right and head down the stairs leading you to Spanish Banks. The trail will spit you out near the road, so make sure to leash back up. Map
FOR THE ADVENTUROUS
For this challenging trek, an early start is best! The uphill climb can be a bit daunting at points, but the hype about Joffre Lakes is true. Along the trail, there are three lakes, each more beautiful than the one before. Pack a lunch to eat beside one of the vibrant, glacier-fed lakes that are perfect for a cool-down swim. This one requires lots of water, a water bowl for your pup, snacks, and clothes you can swim in.
Sea to Summit Trail
The fairly new Sea to Summit hike and Sea to Sky Gondola are perfect for group hikes with furry companions. This steep trail can be challenging at points, but is mostly easy terrain. For lunch, enjoy the panoramic views from the restaurant patio (dogs not allowed), at the many picnic tables (dogs allowed), or as you explore the many short, easy trails that span out from the top. The best part of the Sea-to-Sky is that you don’t have to hike back down! Avoid sore knees and banged-up toes by downloading on the gondola. Dogs are welcome (for $10) to download, but cannot ride the gondola up the mountain.
BEST KEPT SECRET
Capilano Suspension Bridge
I know this sounds crazy, but if you’re dog isn’t afraid of bridges, then the Capilano Suspension Bridge is actually a really fun place to bring your bff. Stroll through the forest, enjoy the sweeping views of the river below, and explore the tree canopy and cliff-side terraces. If you’re local, your entrance fee goes towards a year-long “membership” which allows you to return throughout the year for free. You’ll obviously want to avoid the crazy touristy times – autumn is probably best. But on the plus side, there’s a gift shop!
Widgeon Falls canoe and hike trip
This day-trip requires a calm dog that won’t capsize a canoe and loves water. Starting from Widgeon Lake, rent a canoe (or kayak if your dog is uber well-behaved). Enjoy the beautiful lakeside scenery as you paddle your way upstream towards a little lagoon and the trailhead. The trailhead departs from a small campground so it’s a good place to break for lunch before or after your hike. The road to Widgeon Falls trail heads up to the right and is a great easy terrain hike for in-between paddling sessions. Depending on how motivated you are, you can continue to a viewpoint near the lower falls. When you make it back to your canoe, enjoy some lazy swimming and the rope swing before paddling back to the lake, parking lot, and real life.