As the weather warms, the snow melts and British Columbia’s great outdoors takes on a whole different set of qualities that are so worth the trip out of the city. Whether a sweat-inducing hike or a waterside picnic is your jam, the feeling of submerging yourself in refreshingly cool, or glacial cold, water on a hot day is a sure favourite summer pastime.
So, float with friends downriver on a tube, seek out dips beside a jetty perfect for relaxing, and play detective to find those hidden away hot springs — there’s something for everyone.
The definition of a summer well done — grab your friends, your floaties, and a tasty spread for the road... or river in this case. Be cautious of the current, but for the most part, you’ll have a true “lazy river” experience as you take to the Alouette River in Maple Ridge for 11km of scenic floating downstream. You’ll end in tranquil Davidson’s Pool where, hidden away from the bustle of city life, locals and visitors alike spend the day sunbaking on hot rocks and wallowing in the shallows.
What’s worth a 45-minute boat ride, 22km bike ride, and a short hike? The answer: secluded hot springs. You’ll have your work cut out for you, but this is the kind of adventure BC is so known for, and what better way to celebrate all your hard work than soaking those sore muscles. You’ll have to scale down a steep path using a rope in order to bathe under a blanket of geothermic waters in one of two small pools carved into the rocks beside the stunningly turquoise Pitt River.
When there’s such a wealth of activities and locations to explore, Vancouverites can be known to miss out on treasures right in their own backyard. Head out to Coquitlam by car or SkyTrain, relax on the sands of White Pine Beach, and jump off the dock into surprisingly warm waters at this local favourite. Fitt Tip: stop by charming Port Moody on the way there for baked goods and brews to take with you.
Cypress Mountain is utilized by snow buffs for mid-week, post-work shred sessions in winter, but come summer, you’ll be hard-pushed to find a trail that isn’t being trodden by a plethora of people. But for the oasis tucked within Cypress Provincial Park, it’s well worth joining them. While there are others in the park, the tree-lined, mirror-like water of Cabin Lake draws eager crowds to take a dip (sometimes au naturel). Bonus: the hike there contains views of Howe Sound, the Lions, and the Sunshine Coast.
No swimming hole bucket list is complete without a waterfall, and while the water is typically Canadian in its freezing temperature, Norvan Falls is also a breathtaking shade of emerald green. Be sure to pack your camera — the pool may be small, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in its picturesque setting. While the hike through Lynn Valley may not be steep, it’s certainly long, so be sure to pack your favourite snacks, plenty of water, and comfortable shoes.
Spend time exploring one of Vancouver’s best backyard spots, Lynn Canyon Park. There’s plenty of shade on offer for those hot days, but really, you’ll want to work up some heat before submerging yourself into the icy, crystal-clear water at 30 Foot Pool. To get there, hop on a bus from Downtown Vancouver, cross the suspension bridge at the park’s entrance, and head north at the first left turn, choosing the trail that follows the rushing river. On an especially hot day, you may just need to follow the hikers with beach towels.
If you’re sticking around Lynn Canyon, follow the trail downstream after the suspension bridge and you’ll come across Twin Falls. It’s a popular viewpoint for photographs but also an opportunity to bathe beneath a waterfall in jade waters. Be wary of rocks and be ready for a quick dip in chilly water, then stay a while amongst the forest’s canopy that feels a world away from the city. For the adventurer in you, there’s a few other sneaky spots for swimming—besides this one and the 30 Foot Pool—in the park if you want to avoid the hoards.
Filled with tree-lined trails that crisscross around the Capilano River, the choice is yours for snagging a riverside spot if you make the effort for some exploration. Not for the faint of heart, head to Granny’s Cove in Capilano Canyon to give cliff jumping a go — there are multiple spots, and it’s certainly a safer option than some of the other North Shore jump spots. Though, be sure to bring your favourite fluffy towel to wrap up in afterwards, as the cool waters are enough to get your teeth chattering.
While it doesn’t quite live up to its mysterious name in its popularity, this is still a gem worth visiting, particularly if you want that hiking ambiance without the effort. Take in the views as you hit the short trail in Mount Seymour Provincial Park, and pack a picnic, towel, and your favourite book to make the most of the generous shoreline around this alpine lake.
This is more of a day trip, but we recommend an adventure up the Sea-to-Sky Highway beside sweeping vistas of the ocean, islands, and Sunshine Coast to reach the ‘Outdoor Capital of Canada’: Squamish. Here, you’ll find Brohm Lake, the perfect spot to sunbake on hot rocks and give multiple rope swings a go as you plunge into its refreshing depths. Make the most of your daycation by hitting the Tantalus View Trail first, and Alice & Brohm ice cream after. Fitt Tip: get here early — the parking lot gets packed full through the summer months.