Hiking Hollyburn Mountain or Hollyburn Peak in Winter
Distance: 6.9km / 4.2 miles, Time: 2.5-3.5 hours, Elevation: 415m / 1,361 ft, From Vancouver: 30 mins Dog Friendly: Yes, Toilets: Yes, at the Hollyburn Nordic Centre
Hollyburn Peak or Hollyburn Mountain as it is often called, is a hike on Cypress Mountain that takes you high into the mountains with epic views of the city! It is one of Vancouver’s best Winter hikes because when you reach the top it is as though you have been transported into a Winter Wonderland. The snow-covered trees near the top all look like they have come straight out of a Doctor Suess book!
The hike is an 6.9km / 4.2 miles loop with an elevation gain of 415m / 1,361 ft. You can also choose to do it as an out and back which will shave off a km or so.
From the viewpoint at the top, you can see Burrard Inlet and the Cypress chair lift and the skiers coming back down the mountain!
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about hiking to Hollyburn Peak in Winter including what to wear, how to find the trailhead and tips for hiking at sunrise or sunset.
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📍 Where is the Hollyburn Mountain Trail
Hollyburn Peak is located in Cypress Provincial Park on Cypress Mountain. The trailhead can be accessed from the Hollyburn Nordic Ski Area and you can park in the Nordic Ski Area paid parking lot. There are toilets that you can use in this parking lot too. It is around a 30 minute drive from Vancouver to the Hollyburn Nordic Ski Area.
Click here to open the map in Google Maps!
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 Hollyburn Peak, you will need to get off the shuttle at the Hollyburn Nordic Ski Area.
Finding the Trailhead
If you are driving, try to park near the entrance of the parking lot, just before you get to the buildings. The trail head is on your left when you first enter the parking lot. It is pretty easy to find before there are signs but I have also pinned the exact location of the trailhead for Winter access on the above map.
📑 Things to Know Before Hiking the Hollyburn Peak Trail
- Dogs are allowed on the trail on leash
- Wear micro spikes during Winter
- The trail is extremely steep in sections
- You do not need a hiking pass, however parking is paid at the Nordic Ski Area
🕐 How Long Does it Take to Hike Hollyburn Peak
We calculated this on our All Trails app and it took us almost 2 hours moving time to do the trail as an out and back with a bit of extra time to enjoy the view.
To do the Hollyburn Peak loop, it takes people on average around 3 hours in total but of course this can range depending on your fitness levels and how fast of a hiker you are.
If you have enough time before or after doing the Hollyburn Mountain trail, you could make use of that paid parking to check out some of the Cypress Mountain Cabins!
🥾 How Hard is the Hollyburn Mountain Hike
We were surprised to find that the trail started out not too steep. However, the steepness came later!
About halfway into the hike, the real challenge begins. From mid-way, this hike is STEEP and unrelenting. We found that having hiking poles helped a little with the steepness although we did wonder out loud a few times whether the 400m elevation that was listed on All Trails was correct. We measured the trail ourselves and can confirm that it is.
I would rate the Hollyburn Peak hike as moderately challenging due to the sudden elevation gain from the halfway point until the end of the hike. The slippery snow also made it extra challenging even with micro spikes.
📰 Do I Need a Pass for Hollyburn Mountain?
Many people assume that you need a snowshoe pass to hike Hollyburn Mountain, however the trail is free to use. If you drive, you will need to pay for parking which is $12 for the day.
❓ Is Hollyburn Peak Worth the Hike?
The view from Hollyburn Peak is one of the best Winter views in Vancouver, in our opinion. The feeling you get when you reach the top and can look down at how high up you are is so worth it! The Hollyburn Peak hike is not too long and won’t take up too much of your time, but even if it took double the time and effort, I would still say the views are worth the hike! I really love this trail 😉
⛷ Do I Need Snowshoes to Hike Hollyburn Peak in Winter?
On the trail, you will see a lot of people wearing snowshoes, however it isn’t usually necessary unless it has snowed a lot and you are one of the first on the trail. Snowshoes are made to stop you from sinking down into deep snow and instead enable you to walk on top of the snow more easily.
As the Hollyburn Peak trail is extremely popular, unless there is a lot of fresh snow, the trail has usually been flattened by all of the foot traffic and so snowshoes are not required. Instead, I recommend wearing micro spikes on the bottom of your boots which will stop you from slipping so much without the awkwardness of snowshoes.
🕐 When is the Best Time to do Hollyburn Peak
You can hike Hollyburn Peak all-year-round, however this hike is especially beautiful in Winter because it becomes a Winter Wonderland. It is also great for Winter hiking because it isn’t too long or difficult. Usually once the snow has melted, we opt for longer and harder hikes that we wouldn’t usually do during Winter.
Hollyburn Peak is beautiful all day but we absolutely love watching the sunset from the viewpoint. Of course, if you decide to hike up for sunset, you need to be extra prepared and make sure you have all of the correct gear with you in case of an emergency.
Hiking Hollyburn Peak at Sunrise or Sunset
One of our favourite times of the day for hiking trails in Vancouver with amazing viewpoints like Hollyburn Peak, is at sunrise or sunset. The golden light on the snow-covered trees during Winter makes the hiking experience so magical! If you are planning on hiking in the dark, you need to make sure you are extra prepared.
- Bring a headlight for hiking in the dark. Our headlights are from Nitecore and they are great! Check them out HERE
- Make sure you have downloaded the trail maps from All Trails. This trail is pretty well marked but it doesn’t hurt to have a back up.
- Make sure someone 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.
The Hollyburn Mountain Trail Description
The Hollyburn Peak trail takes you along the side of a cross country skiing trail which you can see at times so it’s fun watching the skiers while hiking. The trail starts out in the forest until emerging at a spot where you can look back and see downtown Vancouver. It then goes back into the forest for some time before the steep climb begins. The great thing about the climb, is that you have amazing views behind you the entire time so it’s easy to take lots of breaks to enjoy the view.
On the way back down, it is popular to slide down, however make sure you do this off the main trail because if you slide down the main trail, it makes it super slippery for the hikers coming up. You will get wet sliding down so I recommend wearing waterproof pants or bringing along a garbage bag. We bumped into some lovely people who were on their way down as we were just starting the hike who were kind enough to pass their garbage bags onto us!
Hollyburn Peak VS Pump Peak
Hollyburn Peak is Cypress Mountain’s version of Pump Peak on Mount Seymour. If you are trying to decide between these two amazing trails, I’m here to help break down the differences.
|Hollyburn Peak||Pump Peak|
|More trees obstructing the view more a more interesting view||Cleaner views of Vancouver without trees obstructing the view|
|More fun “Doctor Seuss-like” trees to enjoy||Located on Mount Seymour so you will need to book a free day-pass through BC parks|
|All of the insane elevation is stuffed into the second half of the hike||Similar elevation but more spread out through the entire hike|
|Can be done as a loop hike||Out and back hike|
|Parking is $12 for the day||Parking is free|
👚 What to Wear When Hiking in Winter in Vancouver
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.
- Micro Spikes – if you are on a popular trail and the snow is packed down or if the trail is too narrow for snowshoes
- Waterproof outer layer
- Puffer Jacket – this is my favourite puffer jacket
- Fleece mid-layer – my favourite fleece
- Merino hiking t-shirt – my favourites are from Icebreaker
- Fleece Leggings or water resistant snow pants
- Hiking boots or insulated hiking boots
- Warm merino hiking socks
- Hiking poles if required
- First aid kit
If you are looking to purchase your own snowshoes, you can get them online from MEC here. You cannot rent snowshoes from the Hollyburn Nordic Ski area for this hike as you are not allowed to take them out of the Nordic Ski area.
Other Awesome Things to Do in the Area
If you are already planning on parking in the Hollyburn Nordic Ski Area, you may as well get as much bang for your parking money as you can! You can do the popular Lights to the Lodge snowshoeing trail which is one of the best Vancouver snowshoeing trails or you could try to find some of the Cypress Mountain Cabins.
Cypress Mountain Cabins
The Cypress Mountain Cabins are a cluster of cabins along the trails on Cypress Mountain. You can also park in the Hollyburn Nordic Ski Parking Lot for this trail so it is a perfect activity to pair with Hollyburn Peak.
The cabins are so much fun to find and there are literally 100s of them! You may have seen the cabin in the photo above on social media. You can spend as much or as little time as you want exploring the trails in search of cabins.
The Shed Pop Bar on Cypress Mountain
The Shed is a cool bar located about a quarter of the way up Cypress Mountain. They serve 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.
Cypress Mountain Lookout
Another of Vancouver’s best views and especially popular at sunrise and sunset amongst photographers, the Cypress Mountain Lookout is a great spot to stop at on the way back down the mountain to get a quick photo or stop for a bathroom break.
💭 Our Thoughts
We both absolutely love the Hollyburn Peak trail and think that it is one of Vancouver’s best Winter hikes! It is amazing how close to the downtown Vancouver you still are and yet, it feels like you are in a totally different world up there at Hollyburn Peak.
You might also enjoy:
- 11 of the Best Vancouver Snowshoeing Trails
- How to Find the Magical Cypress Mountain Cabins
- The Best Things to do in Winter in Vancouver
- Pump Peak Hike in Winter – Mount Seymour
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