Location: Cypress Provincial Park
Park here: 6000 Cypress Bowl Road, Vancouver
Hike Distance: 8-9 kilometres (round-trip)
Hike Duration: 3-4 hours (10:30 start/2:30 finish, 20-30 minutes at Eagle Bluffs)
What makes it intermediate? A 1.8-km uphill start
Park website: env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/cypress
Eagle Bluffs has become a very popular hike because the viewpoint offers unobstructed views of Vancouver, Georgia Straight, West Vancouver, Howe Sound, Bowen Island and Gibsons. I’ve been meaning to hike Eagle Bluffs for some time now, but when I first attempted it April 30th the trail was still too snowed-in for my runners. I ditched and headed for Dog Mountain in Mount Seymour Provincial Park.
Today of course, was a bright, bluebird August day. Only thing was, I didn’t have anyone to go with. Then I thought about the hundreds (thousands?) of people who would be hiking to Eagle Bluffs. So off I went.
Finding the Trailhead
After exiting Highway 1 to Cypress Provincial Park, drive until the road ends at Cypress Ski Area. Along the way you’ll surely see cyclists making the long slog to the top.
Park in the unpaved lots and then make your way on foot to the downhill ski area. Pass the green Olympic rings and the lodge. Head to the Eagle Express Quad Chairlift and find the trailhead just a few paces away.
The confusing thing about hiking to Eagle Bluffs is that the trail is not called “Eagle Bluffs Trail”. You access the bluffs by climbing Black Mountain. A few metres down the trail you’ll find a BC Parks signpost. Go left and starting hiking up, up, up.
The Hike Itself
The first 1.8 km will be an uphill grunt, complete with switchbacks and loose gravel. Find reprieve in the views you’re immediately rewarded with.
After a relentless ascent you’ll find yourself at a BC Parks signpost. Take this opportunity to check out Cabin Lake. If you’re up for a swim, this is the place to do it. It’s free of lily pads and other signs of still water you’d want to avoid.
Continue on toward Eagle Bluffs via Baden Powell trail (as indicated on the signpost above). You’ll encounter a few boardwalks and a smattering of small lakes before the trail leads you into a peaceful forest. I really liked how the sun punctured the canopy, sending light beams dancing through the boughs. The forest floor was markedly more rooted and pine needs blanketed the trail.
At this point the trail continually loses elevation until you reach the bluffs. There is at least one rockface scramble, though it’s nothing technical.
At this point I should note, plenty of trail websites say this hike has a 350-m elevation gain. I found that to be a bit misleading. It doesn’t adequately convey the elevation gains and losses. For a better grasp of that, see this post.
Take a short while to drink in these views. To your far left is Metro Vancouver. Panning right you’ll see the airport, freighters moored in English Bay, West Vancouver, West Vancouver Yacht Club, and Vancouver Island in the far distance. Edging right is Bowen Island, Horseshoe Bay (where ferries arrive and depart), the Sunshine Coast (Langdale), and Howe Sound. Have a sit, eat a snack, sip a brew, and make fast friends with some scavenging chipmunks and ravens.
Leave on the same trail you arrive on. Ascend back up Black Mountain and encounter a BC Parks signpost. You can either head back the way you came (via Cabin Lake) or go right along a partial loop. That trail leads around a small lake and deposits you back near Cabin Lake again. At that point, you travel 1.8-km downhill to the parking lot.
Before you go
- The best time of year to go is July through to the first snowfall. Apparently you can snowshoe it in winter.
- The trails are very well marked with 2-inch-by-2-inch orange diamond trail markers. It would be difficult – in my opinion – to lose your way. Also, there are plenty of BC Parks signposts at critical junctures that indicate trail names and distances.
- This is the backcountry so there are no public facilities. Always tell someone where you are going and when you intend to return.
- Leave no trace.
Overall, this was a nice way to spend a couple of hours in the woods, and it was just a 30-minute drive from my place in North Vancouver. On the flip side, that’s likely a contributing factor to the amount of foot traffic this trail sees. I’d say it earns a moderate rating given the challenging 1.8-km uphill start. But for fellow Grouse Grinders, avid hikers, or those with satisfactory cardio, it really shouldn’t be a problem.
Have you hiked Eagle Bluffs? What do you think of the trail? Let me know – comment below!