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Hiking to the Beautiful Bowen Lookout in Winter

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Bowen Lookout Hike

The Bowen Lookout hike is a must do Winter hike in Vancouver! The Bowen Lookout trail 4km / 2.5 miles return with an elevation gain of 110m / 360 ft located in Cypress Provincial Park. The view at the end is pretty awesome for such a short hike! If you are looking for a hike to do in Winter, this one is for you!

You can also do hike to Bowen Lookout on the way to Saint Marks Summit during Summer as it follows a similar trail. St Marks Summit is one of the best viewpoints to watch the sunset in Vancouver!

The walk takes you through the trees and ends at a viewpoint overlooking Howe Sound. Bowen Lookout is a popular snowshoe trail, however we found it easier to walk it with micro spikes. As the trail is so popular, snow shoes aren’t really necessary and in our opinion would actually make the hike more exhausting.

The trail to Bowen Lookout is easy-moderate as it is quite short, however there is a bit of incline. At the viewpoint, you will be greeted by curious squirrels and birds looking to steal your food.

We did the hike in the middle of the day when it was overcast, however, Bowen Lookout is a great spot to spend sunrise or sunset as well!

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about hiking to Bowen Lookout in the Winter, including how to get there without a car, where to park and what to expect from the trail.

couple sitting at Bowen Lookout

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📑 Hike Stats

Distance: 4km / 2.5 miles
Time: 1.5hrs 
Elevation: 110 metres / 360 ft
From Vancouver: 30mins 
Dog Friendly: Yes 
Toilets: Yes, at the Cypress Mountain Resort

📍 Where is the Bowen Lookout Trail?

Bowen Lookout is located on Cypress Mountain in Cypress Provincial Park near Vancouver. From Vancouver to the parking lot on Cypress Mountain, the drive is only 30 minutes.

Click here to open the map in Google Maps!

Where do you park for the Bowen Lookout Hike

The Bowen Lookout Hike starts from the Cypress Mountain Ski Area. You can drive to the Ski Resort Parking Area where you can park for free in Winter, just make sure you don’t park in the designated ski area as this is reserved for skiers and snowboarders who have prepaid. 

Park only in the designated area Lot 3B for overnight trips. Failure to comply could result in a search and rescue operation and/or your vehicle being towed. Check the BC Parks website for more information and for park opening hours.

You will need to obtain a backcountry access pass from the Black Mountain Lodge in the lower lot for access to the Bowen Lookout Hike in Winter. They are free of charge and more information can be found here.

How to Get to Cypress Mountain without a Car

Don’t worry if you don’t have a car as you can still get to Cypress Mountain without one. You will need to take the Skytrain or Bus to Waterfront Station and then get the Seabus over to Lonsdale Quay.

From here you can catch the Cypress Mountain Shuttle Bus which you can pre-book tickets for online. For Bowen Lookout, you will need to get off the shuttle at CYPRESS Downhill Ski Area.

Where to start the Bowen Lookout Hike from

To get to the Bowen Lookout trailhead, walk up towards the ski area (bottom of the chair lifts) and head towards the Eagle Express Chairlift. Here you will find a sign marked with the Bowen Lookout Trail information.

girl sitting at Bowen Lookout

📑 Things to Know Before Hiking to Bowen Lookout

  • Wear Micro Spikes in Winter – We put ours on when we reached the big uphill section as we realised that it was a little slippery. Our micro spikes are from Black Diamond and Kahtoola and you can purchase these using the links below.
  • Wear layers! Any viewpoint can get a little chilly in Winter so make sure you have enough warm clothes to be able to enjoy it.
  • Leave no Trace (LNT) – Pack out what you bring in and keep our hiking trails beautiful. Take only photos! You can read more on the 7 LNT principles here
  • Make sure you pick up your backcountry permit from the Black Mountain Lodge in the lower lot for access to the Bowen Lookout Hike in Winter. 

🕐 How Long Does the Bowen Lookout Hike Take

The Bowen Lookout Hike will usually take around 1.5 hours on average to complete but of course this depends on your hiking level. If you hike quite often, it might only take you an hour to complete the trail.

🥾 How Hard is the Bowen Lookout Trail

Bowen Lookout is 4km return with an elevation gain of 110m. Bowen Lookout is an easy hike but in Winter easy – moderate as it can get a little slippery on the uphill sections without micro spikes.

We recommend using micro spikes over snowshoes for Bowen Lookout as it is a popular trail and the snow is usually hard packed down. However, if you are looking to practice your snowshoeing before getting out onto the harder trails, Bowen Lookout is a great option!

📄 Do I Need a Day Pass for Bowen Lookout

The Bowen Lookout Trail is free to hike or snow shoe, however you will need to get a free backcountry permit from the Black Mountain Lodge in the lower lot for access to the Bowen Lookout Hike in Winter. This is to keep track of who is out on the trails each day in case of any emergencies.

🕐 When is the Best Time to Hike to Bowen Lookout

The best time during the Winter to hike to Bowen Lookout is either during the day or if you are feeling a bit more adventurous, at sunrise or sunset to get that beautiful golden light at the viewpoint.

If you do decide to hike it for sunset in the Summer months, make sure you park outside of the gates to the main parking lot as this closes at sunset in the Summer.

Bowen Lookout is also a great hike to do in the Summer! We love doing it as a side trip on the way up or back from Saint Marks Summit which is another amazing Cypress Mountain hike with even more insane views!

☀ Hiking to Bowen Lookout at Sunrise or Sunset

We absolutely love golden hour during Winter especially when it is spent at an amazing viewpoint like Bowen Lookout! If you are planning on hiking in the dark, there are a few extra things you need to do to make sure you are prepared:

  • Bring a headlight for hiking in the dark. Our headlights are from Nitecore and we love them!
  • Make sure you have downloaded the trail maps from All Trails. The Bowen Lookout trail is well marked but it doesn’t hurt to have a back up.
  • Make sure a friend knows where you are going
  • Have enough food and water with you
  • Bring/wear layers. There’s nothing worse than being cold on a hike or at a viewpoint!
  • Triple check the weather! You don’t want to hike in a snow storm ever but in the dark, it is much more dangerous and could lead to you getting lost on the mountain.

🥾 Bowen Lookout Trail Description

The hike begins in a forest and weaves around the trees for a bit. Soon you will come up out of the forest and onto a fire trail. You will see a pump house on your right and you will need to go left here.

The next junction that you come to is at a small bridge. You will need to go right here, over the bridge. After this the trail inclines quite dramatically and this is where we put on our micro spikes as it was a little slippery going uphill.

After inclining for a bit, you will come to another junction where the trail continues on to St Marks Summit. St Marks is not recommended in Winter but during Summer Saint Marks Summit is one of the best spots for sunset in Vancouver! Go left and soon you will be met with the beautiful view overlooking Howe Sound.

Enjoy a snack and some water before heading back down. Oh and watch for the squirrels!

Bowen Lookout Viewpoint
couple sitting at Bowen Lookout

👚 Essential Items to Pack For Hiking to Bowen Lookout in Winter

When Winter hiking in Vancouver, you are going to want to dress in layers and make sure you wear waterproof outer layers. These are some of the things that you should bring along with you.

    🥾 Check out a full list of our hiking gear!

    If you would like to purchase your own snowshoes, you can get them online from MEC here. As we live in Vancouver, we love having our own snow shoes so that we don’t have to worry about finding somewhere to rent them.

    You cannot rent snowshoes from the Hollyburn Nordic Ski Area for this trail as they cannot be taken out of the Nordic Ski Area.

    Other Things to Do on Cypress Mountain

    Cypress Provincial Park is an awesome place for outdoor adventures! There are loads of amazing hikes and there is even a cool bar with a view on the way down the mountain that we love going to after our hikes.

    Hollyburn Peak Hike

    Hollyburn Peak on Cypress Mountain at Sunset
    The view from Hollyburn Peak at sunset

    Distance: 6.9km / 4.2 miles | Elevation: 415m / 1,361 ft | Time: 2.5-3.5 hours |  Level: Moderatechallenging

    Hollyburn Peak or Hollyburn Mountain is one of our favourite hikes on Cypress Mountain. The Winter hike begins from the Hollyburn Nordic Ski Area and takes you high up to Hollyburn Peak which has incredible views of Burrard Inlet and Downtown Vancouver.

    Hollyburn Peak is a grind but so worth it!

    The Shed Pop Bar on Cypress Mountain

    View from Cypress Mountain
    The view from the Shed at Sunset

    The Shed is the best bar to go to after a tiring hike on Cypress Mountain! You can find the bar about a quarter of the way up Cypress Mountain. They serve yummy pizza and drinks and we love going there for a beer and to check out the view after our adventures on the mountain. The views from here are some of the best views in Vancouver and you don’t need to purchase anything from the bar to enjoy them.

    Our Thoughts

    If you know us, you won’t be surprised to hear that we would love to go back to Bowen Lookout for a sunset or sunrise to get some photos with some beautiful light. Bowen Lookout is one of the best Winter hikes in Vancouver but also beautiful during Summer.

    Overall, we thought the Bowen Lookout Hike was a fun hike to do if you are looking for a short hike that isn’t going to take up your entire day. The viewpoint was beautiful but there are definitely better less obstructed viewpoints around such as Dog Mountain.

    If you want a hike that is similar in distance but with an even better view check out our blog post on Dog Mountain here.

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    Bowen Lookout Hike