If there’s one thing that’s always on Kristine Krynitzki’s mind, it’s mountains.
The 37-year-old has been hiking for about 12 years now and estimates she’s completed about 750 hikes.
She’s happy to admit she’s “a little obsessed” with hiking. Originally from Toronto, Krynitzki moved to B.C. in 2002 to work as a snowboard instructor in Whistler; she left after a year but later returned after falling in love with the mountains and the outdoor lifestyle.
She moved back permanently in 2008 and she’s been here ever since, hiking more and more each year.
“I love hiking because I feel such peace in the mountains and summitting such a sense of accomplishment,” Krynitzki told Vancouver Is Awesome.
“Nothing makes me happier than being surrounded by nature and knowing just my own two feet got me to such a magical place makes me appreciate my health and all that we have access to here on the west coast.”
Krynitzki now shares her adventures on her blog and Instagram page Hikes Near Vancouver—passing on the knowledge she’s learned over the years. She hikes all year round but said exploring snowy mountains in winter is a particularly incredible experience.
“Hiking in the snow is really fun, and gives us a different perspective of these beautiful areas,” Krynitzki said.
“The fresh, crisp air, the sparkle in the snowflakes, and the stunning views of snow-covered trees and mountain peaks are seriously magical.”
We asked her to tell us her favourite winter hikes near Vancouver that avid snowshoers should tick off their list.
If you’re not familiar with snowshoeing or need a reminder of safety information for winter hiking, you can read Krynitzki’s post on snowshoeing for beginners. She also recommends being well-versed with avalanche training and equipment if you plan to venture out onto backcountry trails.
Here are Krynitzki’s top picks for winter snowshoe hikes near Vancouver:
Artist Point – Mount Baker Area, North Cascades, Washington
Krynitzki’s “absolute favourite” snowshoe hike is Artist Point in the Mount Baker area in Washington, about a two and a half-hour drive from Vancouver.
“It’s not far from Vancouver and it’s a short and moderate level trail to the most spectacular views,” Krynitzki told V.I.A.
Artist Point is a 6.43km round-trip snowshoe with about an 800 ft. elevation gain. The trailhead starts at the last parking area on the Mount Baker Highway just southwest of the Heather Meadows day lodge.
“I love artist point because you drive up to the mountaintop and it's mostly a Ridge hike so you have the most spectacular views from start to finish, right from the moment you step out of your car and it just keeps getting better and better.”
It’s considered a moderate hike, but it should be achievable for most beginner snowshoers. Starting at 4,300 ft. you’ll snowshoe to 5,100 ft. and see epic mountain views along the way. Keep in mind there are a couple of steeper sections that can be challenging depending on the snow conditions.
The stunning mountain views make it a popular winter hike, so there’s usually a clear track to follow. When visibility is good, the hike offers views of Mt. Shuksan, Table Mountain, Mt. Baker, and much of the North Cascades Range.
The route to Artist Point does go through avalanche terrain, so it’s advisable to check avalanche conditions via the Northwest Avalanche Center before going.
You can also check the Mount Baker Ski Area Snow Report for current snowpack conditions. Find more details on the hike here.
Time: 3 to 4 hours
Elevation gain: 800 ft.
Snowshoe season: December to April
Drive from Vancouver: 2.5-hours
Dogs: Allowed on leash
Mt Seymour to Brockton Point – North Vancouver
Mt Seymour to Brockton Point is Krynitzki’s second favourite winter hike. “It’s incredible and it’s right in our backyard on a locally owned mountain,” Krynitzki said.
Only a 45-minute drive from downtown Vancouver, the 4.3km round-trip intermediate snowshoe has a 275-metre elevation gain and offers incredible panoramic views if you don’t mind some steep climbs.
Krynitzki said the short, well-marked trail was stunning during the day but was also a great route for an afternoon or night hike too.
“It’s a super short and easy-ish trail perfect for a quick jaunt to catch the sunset after work,” she said.
The Brockton Point trail is accessed from the same area as Dog Mountain.
Elevation gain: 295m
Drive from Vancouver: 45 minutes
Dogs allowed: Yes
Tin Hat Hut – Sunshine Coast, Powell River area
If you’re after a fun, free, overnight snowshoe adventure Krynitzki recommends checking out the Tin Hat Hut hike on the Sunshine Coast Trail.
“It’s a great overnight trip to an insulated free hut with a fireplace,” she said.
Tin Hat Hut is located about halfway through the epic 180km hut-to-hut hiking trail and offers one of the most incredible “mountain top” views anywhere on the Sunshine Coast. With a 750 m elevation gain, the 5km hike is relatively steep but the reward is more than fitting.
During the summer, there are 14 huts along the Sunshine Coast trail, in winter you can trek to Tin Hat Hut or Walt Hill Hut, which are both winterised with pellet stoves and are free for daytime and overnight use. If you have the time, you could link the two huts for a two-or three-day adventure and stop in at Elk Lake Hut as well. The fastest way to get to Tin Hat Mountain Hut is by Old Tin Hat Road Trail. Find more details on the hike here.
Time: 4 to 6 hours
Elevation gain: 750 m
Elfin Lakes – Squamish
Elfin Lakes is definitely a must-do, bucket list hike that offers incredible views all year round, but in winter the snow gives it an extra special touch.
Krynitzki said the 22km round-trip backcountry hike was another great overnight hike to a winterised cabin that offered spectacular views along the way.
The trail itself is rated difficult and is a steady uphill climb of 11 km to reach the hut at Elfin Lakes. With a 600 m elevation gain, the hike is estimated to take around 3 to 5 hours each way depending on weather and snow conditions.
The hike leads to two small lakes surrounded by mountains. (It's spectacular.) Krynitzki also suggested doing a multi-day hike and venturing beyond up the Gargoyles or down to Mamquam Lake.
But, if the trek to Elfin Lakes is too much, you can stop at the 5km mark at Red Heather Meadows. You can make a camping reservation to book a spot in the heated shelter for the night.
The trail starts at Garibaldi Park’s Diamond Head Parking lot. The route to Elfin Lakes does go through avalanche terrain, so it’s advisable to check Avalanche Canada for current conditions. Find more details on the hike here.
Round-trip: 22 km
Elevation Gain: 700 m
Time: 7 to 10 hours (or overnight)
Be sure to check current weather, terrain, and wildlife conditions prior to embarking on a hike. In addition, make sure that you know your physical limitations, tell someone where you are going, bring enough food and water, wear appropriate clothing, and never hike alone. Don’t attempt dangerous poses for photographs. Visit Vancouver Trails online for a detailed list of safety tips and things to consider before your next hike.