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West Vancouver’s Cypress Provincial Park

Cypress Provincial Park

Located on the North Shore in West Vancouver, Cypress Provincial Park is home to Cypress Ski Hill as well as both summer and winter recreational activities.

 

Cypress Provincial Park

Famous for the Cypress Mountain ski resort, the park is home to way more than just a ski hill. In warmer months, Cypress Park is open to hikers, backpackers and backcountry campers. There are a variety of trails that go through the park including Howe Sound Crest Trail and a section of the Baden-Powell Trail.

One of the sites of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Cypress Provincial Park covers 30 kilometres of land in West Vancouver. The road up to the park is accessed from Highway 1, which is also known as the Trans-Canada Highway or Upper Levels Highway.

The main Cypress Bowl area is made up of three mountains: Mt. Strachan, Black Mountain and Hollyburn Mountain. These mountains make up the ski area in the winter time and contain many hiking trails in the spring, summer and fall.

Cypress Mountain is also accessible through the ParkBus system. ParkBus runs bus lines from downtown Vancouver to many nearby provincial parks.

 

Barrett’s View Lookout

About a third of the way up Cypress Bowl Road you come to a parking area on the right called Barrett’s View or Highview Lookout. From there you can see amazing views of the entire Lower Mainland.

Barrett’s view is about 6 km or so up the road from the highway, just before a large hairpin turn. If driving up the hill on a sunny day, a short stop at the lookout area is highly recommended. Some people do the drive up just for the view and don’t do anything else at the park. It’s that beautiful up there!

 

Barrett's View on Cypress
Barrett’s View Lookout

 

Cypress Mountain in Summer

Cypress Park is a great place to be in the summer time. The area directly beside the main parking lot at the top of the mountain is equipped with picnic tables and washrooms, and the Crazy Raven Restaurant is open as well.

Popular activities at Cypress Park in the summer include hiking, wildlife viewing and backcountry hiking and camping.

In addition to hiking trails, there are also many biking trails that are used by mountain bikers on the winter ski routes. They are world-renowned for being some of the most dangerous mountain bike trails on the planet!

 

Hiking at Cypress Mountain

One of the main activities to do in the summer at Cypress Park is hiking. There is a multitude of hiking trails for folk of all skill levels. Some of the most popular include the Cabin Lake Trail, Bowen Lookout and St. Marks Summit.

In the summer Cypress Park attracts many hikers, backpackers and mountain bikers. Howe Sound Crest Trail and the Baden-Powell Trail are popular hiking routes in the park. There are also smaller trails for less serious hikers.

 

View from St. Mark's Summit
View from St. Mark’s Summit Trail

 

Wildlife Viewing at Cypress

Wildlife viewing is also a popular activity within Cypress Park. One of the best places to do this is on Yew Lake Trail, which is mostly flat packed-gravel. It leads through the forests and around a lake in the middle of the Cypress Bowl area. The trail starts from just outside the Crazy Raven restaurant and is less than two kilometres long.

 

Backcountry Hiking and Camping

Outside of the Cypress Bowl area there are opportunities for backcountry/wilderness hiking and camping. There are three preferred backcountry camping sites located along the Howe Sound Crest Trail:

  • Magnesia Meadows (14.5 km from Cypress Mountain Resort)
  • Brunswick Lake (19 km from Cypress Mountain Resort)
  • Deeks Lake (22 km from Cypress Mountain Resort)

All year backpackers are allowed to camp in the backcountry. That being said, those looking to camp should be experienced backcountry campers as the terrain can be rugged and the weather can change unexpectedly.

At Cypress, as well as at other similar parks, there is the expectation that backpackers bring everything out that they take in, also known as “leaving no trace camping”. Fires are also not permitted in the park, so leave the s’mores supplies at home for another time.

 

Cypress Chairlift Silhouettes
Skiing at Cypress in Winter

 

Winter Activities at Cypress Mountain

Cypress Mountain is home to a variety of winter activities. The mountain is home to Vancouver’s largest ski hill as well as a Nordic area for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snow tubing. Parts of the Cypress Mountain backcountry are also accessible in the winter time for backcountry snowshoeing and camping.

In the winter the park typically gets a fair amount of snow, especially in the mountains, making the ski resort such a popular spot to visit. In addition to the 53 ski runs, there is an abundance of cross country ski trails.

The three mountains that are used for skiing are Hollyburn Mountain, Black Mountain and Mount Strachan. Black Mountain and Mount Strachan are the primary places to downhill ski whereas Hollyburn Mountain is the place to go cross country skiing, snowshoeing and tubing.

 

Skiing & Snowboarding at Cypress

Cypress Mountain is the largest ski hill in Metro Vancouver with the most vertical drop, terrain and lifts. The mountain consists of six chairlifts connecting to more than fifty runs.

For more details check out our article about Cypress Mountain Ski Hill.

 

Snowshoeing & Cross-Country Skiing

Cypress offers a wide variety of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails in the winter. The trails are located in the Nordic area, which is separate from the downhill ski and snowboard area.

For more information click Snowshoeing at Cypress Mountain.

 

Cross-Country Skier at Cypress
Cross-Country Skiing at Cypress

 

Tubing at Cypress

Gnarly’s Snow Tube Park is Cypress Mountain’s snow tubing and sliding park. The park is located in the Nordic area, close to the snowshoeing and cross-country skiing areas. Sessions are just under 2 hours long and must be pre-booked online.

 

Backcountry Hiking and Camping

To use the backcountry trails at Cypress Park during the winter time, visitors must get a Backcountry Access Tag (BAC) from the backcountry kiosk. Use caution as these trails are outside the area maintained by the Cypress Mountain Resort and there can be avalanches.

There are three main winter backcountry trails in Cypress Park: Hollyburn Peak, Black Mountain Plateau and Bowen Lookout. Winter camping is allowed about one kilometre past the boundaries of the Alpine and Nordic Ski areas.

 

Tips and Advice

Below are some suggestions and extra bits of advice to help you make the most out of your visit to Cypress Provincial Park.

TIP #1: When hiking in the forest, be bear-aware. Cypress Mountain is rugged backcountry terrain and home to many forms of natural wildlife. There are bears on the mountain. Keep your food locked up if you can and watch out for warnings and signs.

TIP #2: When hiking and camping, practice the leave-no-trace policy. Don’t litter and don’t leave anything behind. This not only helps keep bears and other wildlife away but it also keeps the environment clean.

TIP #3: A fun activity for families in warmer months is to drive up to the top of the hill with bicycles in or on the back of their vehicle. Everyone but the driver can then ride their bikes back down the hill. It’s tons of fun! You have to ride carefully though as the road is steep. Ensure your brakes are in good working order, and to make sure kids ride safely.

TIP #4: Cypress Ski Resort has snowshoeing trails that you have to pay to use. Some of the hiking trails at Cypress Provincial Park make good snowshoeing routes in winter too, however, and they are free! These include the trails to Hollyburn Mountain, Black Mountain Plateau and the Bowen Lookout. These are all backcountry trails which means they aren’t patrolled or maintained. If you don’t know what you’re doing or you aren’t properly prepared, stick with the ticketed routes at the resort.

TIP #5: Got friends from out of town? Take them up to the Barrett’s View Lookout for one of the best views of the entire Lower Mainland. It’s both free and beautiful. And don’t forget your binoculars!

 

Lower Mainland View from Cypress Lookout
Vancouver from Barrett’s View Lookout

 

Other Information

For more details about Cypress Park see the BC Parks website.

For information regarding the ski hill during the winter time see our articles about the Cypress Mountain Ski Resort or Snowshoeing at Cypress.

Other articles that might be of interest include the following: