In Vancouver, we’re definitely lucky when it comes to finding an easy escape from the daily grind. Surrounded by the water, a network of trails worthy of adventuring and a trio of mountains that beckon us to ditch desk duty on the regular… Simply put, we are spoiled and we know it!
That trio of mountains come in the form of Mount Seymour, Grouse Mountain and Cypress Mountain – all of which are located on the North Shore, just across the Lion’s Gate Bridge and easily accessible to any local or visitor to YVR. Each mountain offers up something a little different and appeals to a slightly varied skill set.
Go to Mount Seymour if you’re looking for a local spot that’s a bit on the rustic side, less tracked out by tourists, and still captures that old-school ski hill feel. Boasting a consistently good snowpack, plenty of groomed runs, and an elevation of nearly 1500 metres, it’s definitely no bunny hill. If you’re not into strapping into a snowboard or set of skis, fear not – they’ve got plenty of other options to help you work up a sweat outdoors this winter. Try your hand at Nordic skiing, tubing, tobogganing or snowshoeing. Post powder, head down to nearby Deep Cove and hit up the Raven Pub for some après sustenance (Mount Seymour doesn’t have a formal dining area as of yet)… or do what we suggest and smuggle in a thermos filled with Bailey’s and keep topping it up with your favorite coffee to keep you going.
If you’re not totally into the full-on outdoors (or elevation that comes with Seymour), make your way over to Grouse Mountain where you’ll have a few extra pickings to keep you occupied for a day. Again, this spot is super sweet, affords one of the most spectacular city views we can think of, and is a mere 20 minute drive from Vancouver’s downtown core – it doesn’t get much better. Grouse is a year-round tourist (and local) go-to mecca given its central location and convenience. Scoot to the top via one of two Gondolas that offer up a killer view. You’ll venture over a wolf den, cascade overtop ancient growth forest, take in views of the Burrard Inlet, ocean and Stanley Park before landing at the apex: 1,230 or so metres of it. Disembark and decide what you want to do next: snowshoe, ice skate, catch a sleigh ride, downhill or Nordic ski or meander down a groomed trail before grabbing a pint and massive plate of nachos at their Altitudes Bistro or Observatory Restaurant.
Finally, the third North Shore option is Cypress Mountain (and one of our favorites). A bit further along the Sea to Sky Highway heading towards Horseshoe Bay (and Whistler), Cypress offers the best consistency in terms of snow quality and runs. It’s where the locals go when skiing or boarding ‘in town’. Runs are well maintained, less tracked (than they are at Mount Seymour) and it’s serviced by 9 lifts. With about a 2,010-ft vertical rise, it’s the highest of the North Shore Mountains. Make a day (or night) of it and enjoy a snowshoe adventure followed suit by a cheesey evening in their Hollyburn Lodge where you can indulge in a fondue/wine night or head to the Crazy Raven or Cypress Creek Grill when it’s time for après eats. You’ll need it after a day of skiing any one of their 53 different runs!