Updated: Apr 16, 2019
As Canadians, we live in one of the greatest adventure backyards in the world. There is so much at our fingertips and everything we could wish for for the perfect travel exploration. Here are some of my favourite places to go in Southwestern BC each summer!
In the heart of the cascades, you can find some of the most beautiful mountains peaks in the region. These are tall, magnificent, and daunting. If you have a 4x4, you can easily access most of these wonderful camping spots. Cheam Peak is one of my favourite hikes in the region as you get a spectacular panoramic view of the Lower Mainland, Mt. Baker, and the other surrounding mountains. It may seem popular and busy for all the locals, but if you give up some sleeping hours, you can have the most amazing experience. Only an hour and a half up the steep hike, you can find yourself in a beautiful exposed meadow that is perfect for a small tent. At only 100 feet below the peak point, you can camp for the night and enjoy the solitude of being 7000 feet high with no one around you.
At 5:30 on a sunny summer morning, you can step out of your tent to watch the sun rise over the surrounding peaks and bathe the valley in a warm glow. Beware, this peak does get very chilly at night due to the altitude and exposure so make sure you pack warm sleeping clothes and a wind-breaker.
Mount Seymour might be overlooked as we see it every day in Vancouver and it is often busy both winter and summer with tourists looking for an accessible mountain experience. However, a quick trip with a tent with minimal elevation gain over two hours can take you to the first peak! There are lots of secluded camping spots to set up your tent and enjoy the scenic alpine. Beware, do not camp on any snow cornices. These are large snowpacks that seem like they are overtop of rock but can actually be very large packs of snow that are dangerous to stand on as they can break way at any point as the summer sun melts away the bottom. Make sure you camp where land is accessible all around you if you do tent on the snow. In later summer months there are lots of ground sites however. Choose wisely.
Staying overnight in this pretty location, you can see the sunset over downtown Vancouver and the colours over the ocean as the sun dips on the other side of the Island. Other sights are Grouse Mountain and Cypress Mountain to the west. In the morning, an early wake up can also give you a beautiful sunrise over the eastern mountain peaks. This will forever be one of my favourite easy and close backpacking locations. My welcome pop-up when you enter my site is a glimpse of the beautiful sunrise from Seymour.
The added bonus to this trip is that you do not need a 4x4 so it is accessible to everyone. However, make sure that you park your car in the overnight lot to avoid having a talk from the park rangers! (I had this unfortunate experience my first time)
Brandywine is located between Squamish and Whistler on the west side of the highway. The beautiful falls located by the roadway have their headwaters in this scenic alpine meadow. The valley is secluded and bordered by mountains but the meadows are full of wildflowers and there are lots of day hikes in the area if you want to stay multiple nights.
You could manage without a 4x4 to get to the lower parking lot of the trail. This leads you to a two hour trail, if not more, to reach the meadows. It is very steep and not very forgiving as you hike straight up through thick forest. If you have a reliable off road vehicle you can drive to the upper parking lot as far as you can and leave your car anywhere. From here, the meadows are only half an hour to an hour walk without much elevation gain at all. It is a very easy and quick way to venture into the alpine.
This is a very pretty hiking area and I would suggest it to anyone looking at having their first backpacking experience in an area that is very isolated yet close to amenities if needed.
Near Pemberton, this hike is very quick and easy with minimal foot traffic. The trail only takes about an hour, give or take a lot depending on the amount of breaks and exploring you do along the way. The trail is relatively steep most of the way but there is not a lot of elevation gain. When you enter the meadows, you can find an abundance of possible camping locations spotted around tiny crystal-clear lakes. The big mountain over looking the area is Locomotive Mountain and is accessible as a day hike along with the other ridges in the area where you can find lots more small lakes.
This area is very beautiful to explore as there are so many little lakes and small trails you can follow. This hike is perfect for families teaching kids how to go backpacking as there is lots of terrain to explore within the meadow and the adventure is not very difficult. The region is beautiful as the ridges overlook parts of the Pemberton valley and there are so many places you can explore within such a small area.