Tunnel Bluffs Hiking Guide
I glimpsed a dash of blue through the trees… the ocean! Dave and I started walking faster and the view of the enormous Howe Sound opened up in front of us.
The Tunnel Bluffs Hike near Vancouver, British Columbia is a popular trail in Lions Bay that leads you to an absolutely epic viewpoint that looks out towards Bowen Island and the Sea to Sky Highway!
We ended up doing the hike two weeks in a row because we loved it so much! If you are looking for sunset hikes near Vancouver, you need to do Tunnel Bluffs!
The trailhead is only a 30 minute drive from Vancouver located in Lions Bay. Tunnel Bluffs is 11.5km return with an elevation gain of 470 metres. It will take about 4 hours to complete the hike.
We saw a lot of families and groups of friends on this hike as the majority is fairly flat so easy to have a good chat along the way. We also saw lots of dogs because the trail is dog friendly. The viewpoint at the end is the perfect spot to have a small picnic. Brings some snacks and drinks to fuel up and enjoy the view with before heading back to the trailhead. Remember to leave no trace and take out everything that you brought in.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about doing the Tunnel Bluffs hike, including what to expect on the trail, where to park and how to find the trailhead as well as other commonly asked questions.
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Distance: 11.5km / 7.15 miles
Elevation: 470 metres / 1,541 ft
From Vancouver: 30mins
Dog Friendly: Yes
Toilets: Yes, pit toilet at the trailhead
📍 Where is the Tunnel Bluffs Hike Located?
Tunnel Bluffs is around a 30 minute drive from Vancouver and located in Lions Bay along the Sea to Sky Highway.
Click here to open the map in Google Maps!
How to Get to Tunnel Bluffs Parking by Car
You will need to drive along the Sea to Sky Highway heading North, until you reach Lions Bay where you will turn off at the Lions Bay Avenue exit.
You will see the Lions Bay General Store and Café pretty much right away on your right-hand-side. Follow the road around to the left and then turn left onto Bayview Road.
Continue driving on Bayview Road before taking another left at Mountain Drive. The next left turn will be at Sunset Drive and you will see the small parking lot.
The Tunnel Bluffs trailhead is located at the Sunset Trailhead public pay parking in Lions Bay.
TIP: Don’t type “Tunnel Bluffs Trailhead” into google maps as it will take you to a carpark that only allows 30 minute parking. Feedback about this carpark is that vehicles occasionally get towed if they stay over the 30 minutes. Instead, type in “Sunset Trailhead Public Pay Parking, 10 Sunset Dr, Lions Bay, BC V0N 2E0.”
Where to Park
The Sunset Trailhead parking is apparently supposed to be paid parking, however, the two times that we did this hike, there were no pay stations around and no Paid Parking Signs. This is something to be aware of though, as perhaps they will bring back paid parking in the busier Summer months.
At the trailhead you will find a pit toilet which is the only one along the trail so if you need to go, go now. Make sure you bring plenty of water with you. There are no taps to fill up drink bottles and it is not recommend to drink the water from the streams even if you filter.
Finding the Trailhead
The map above shows the trailhead which is located right next to the carpark. The carpark is fairly small and as the hike is so popular, you will either need to get to the trailhead super early or be prepared to park down the road a little. This will add an extra climb up the hill to the trailhead to your hike. Make sure you don’t park in the permit only spots.
How to get to the trailhead by public transport
It is possible to reach the trailhead by public transport, however this will add an additional 30 minutes of walking to your journey. The journey will also take you about 1 hour 45 minutes as opposed to the short 30 minute car ride.
Click here for the google maps directions via public transport.
The public transport option includes 2 buses and a 30 minute walk once you reach Lions Bay. You will need to catch the 250 bus from West Georgia Street & Seymour Street (trip time: 55 minutes). Hop off the 250 bus at WB Marine Dr @ Nelson Ave and cross the road to change to the 262 bus from EB Marine Dr @ Nelson Ave (trip time: 14 minutes). This is where the 30 minute (1.6km) walk begins up to the trailhead.
The walk (shown above) will take you up Bayview Road. You will go past the Elementary School and the road will become quite windy and reach an intersection at Mountain Drive. Turn left onto Mountain Drive and keep walking. At the end of Mountain Drive you will reach an intersection which means you are almost there! This is Sunset Drive and you will go left.
🕐 How Long Does it Take to Hike the Tunnel Bluffs Trail
The Tunnel Bluffs takes around 3-4 hours on average. Make sure you leave enough time to enjoy the viewpoint because it is gorgeous!
🥾 How Hard is the Tunnel Bluffs Hike
Overall Tunnel Bluffs is a moderately difficult hike.
The start of the Tunnel Bluff’s trail is steep and we would classify this section as moderate to hard in difficulty. However, the remainder of the trail flattens out and can be classified as easy to moderate in difficulty.
There are a couple of log bridge crossings and also a little bit of scrambling up some rocks at the very end of the hike, but these are the most technical sections of the trail. The rest of the trail takes you along a pretty flat fire trail.
🐶 Can Dogs do the Tunnel Bluffs Hike
Tunnel Bluffs is a dog friendly trail and we saw LOADS of dogs both on the trail and at the lookout. It is a great hike to do as a group of dog parents with your puppies.
⌚ When is the Best Time to Hike Tunnel Bluffs
Tunnel Bluffs does occasionally get snow, but otherwise it is mostly snow-free all-year-round. Usually, I would recommend Summer as the best time of the year for hiking in the mountains in Vancouver, but for Tunnel Bluffs, there is no wrong time. Unless it’s raining. Then you might want to rethink your plans. 🙄
The best time of the day to hike Tunnel Bluffs is at sunset. The sunsets from this viewpoint are incredible! If you plan to spend sunset at the viewpoint and hike back in the dark, make sure you bring along a headlamp.
Can you Hike to Tunnel Bluffs in the Winter?
Yes! You can hike Tunnel Bluffs in the Winter! Just make sure you have checked the weather and snowfall before hand. As the hike is at a relatively low elevation, the snow forecast is usually the same as it is in Vancouver.
Tunnel Bluffs: One of the Best Sunset Hikes Near Vancouver
There are loads of great viewpoints near Vancouver to watch the sunset, with Tunnel Bluffs being on of the best! Another great sunset hike in Vancouver is Saint Marks Summit, or if you are looking for a much shorter and easy hike, The Murrin Loop Trail near Squamish is an excellent choice!
The viewpoint at Tunnel Bluffs during sunset is absolutely gorgeous! You will quickly understand why it is such a popular sunset spot. Hiking to Tunnel Bluffs at sunset means that you will either have to walk back in the dark or camp the night.
🥾 The Tunnel Bluffs Hiking Trail
The trail begins with a climb which lasts for around 2km and is pretty unrelenting. It feels like it goes forever and we had to stop a few times to catch our breath and take off some layers. The ground you will be walking on is a mix of dirt and rocks/gravel so this part of the trail is definitely the hardest fitness-wise.
After around 2km, the trail flattens out and you will walk along a wide trail through the forest. We crossed a few muddy spots along the way so would recommend wearing hiking boots to keep your feet dry.
During the hike, you will cross 2 different streams over log bridges each time. There is a bit of a rail to hold onto but watch your step here as it can be slippery if icy or wet.
The trail narrows after a while which means you are getting closer. Towards the very end and to get to the viewpoint, you will have to scramble a little up some rocks. The viewpoint will leave you astonished and so glad that you made the choice to do the Tunnel Bluffs Hike!
Can you Camp at Tunnel Bluffs?
There is no official campsite up at Tunnel Bluffs and not all that much space for camping. However, it is possible. If you do decide to camp, make sure you respect the other hikers who are also trying to enjoy the view and don’t put up your tent until after everyone has left. This may be after sunset as Tunnel Bluffs is an extremely popular sunset spot, so don’t forget your headlamp.
Pack out all of your rubbish with you and don’t leave anything behind. There is no toilet up at the viewpoint, so if you need to go, you will need to bring along your own toilet kit and use the green toilet.
😉 Other Useful Tips
- If you are planning on doing the Tunnel Bluffs Hike for sunset, don’t forget to bring headlamps. We have Nitacore headlamps which we use every time we need to hike in the dark and they are great!
- Bring Snacks and water! I can’t stress this enough! When we did the Tunnel Bluffs hike for sunset the first time, we completely forgot to bring snacks but also wanted to stay and watch the entire sunset. We both had pretty severe hunger pains that evening.
- Wear layers! Make sure you bring enough warm clothes with you to be able to enjoy the view point. We recommend wearing a Merino hiking shirt, a fleece, an insulated jacket and a windbreaker/raincoat. If you are hiking in Spring, Fall or Winter, we also recommend bringing a beanie with you.
- Let someone know where you are going. As always on any hike, you should let someone know where you are going and what time you plan on being back. Although it’s unlikely that you will have an issue, it’s always good to have this as a back up and peace of mind.
🌲 Leave No Trace
The 7 Leave No Trace principles are important to be aware of to help keep places like Tunnel Bluffs beautiful. Nature is there for us to enjoy but also respect and leave the way we found it but as well as respecting nature, we should also be respecting and treating each other with nothing but kindness. To remind yourself of the 7 Leave No Trace principles, check out the LNT website.
🚶♀️ Other Great Hikes in the Area!
Even though, you are still so close to the city, there are loads of hikes in and around Vancouver. Why not add a few more to your Vancouver itinerary?
Saint Marks Summit
If you like being at the top of a mountain with epic views below you, making you feel like you are on top of the world, then you should DEFINITELY take my advice and hike Saint Marks Summit! The Saint Marks Summit hike is located on Cypress Mountain. It is 10.5km with 587m elevation gain and takes around 4-5hrs return which includes time to stop and enjoy the viewpoint. The trail is also dog friendly so you can bring your furry friend along with you.
Murrin Loop Trail
The Murrin Loop Trail to Quercus Viewpoint is one of the easiest hikes we have done near Vancouver and is a perfect spot for a sunset picnic. To get there from Lions Bay, you will need to continue driving North up the Sea to Sky highway almost all of the way to Squamish.
💭 Our Thoughts
The Tunnel Bluffs Hike is extremely popular and we were surprised at how many people stayed at the viewpoint for sunset and walked back in the dark. Although the view brings the crowds, it was a nice atmosphere with everyone enjoying the sunset show together. We actually loved this hike so much that we have now done it twice!
If you are looking for a shorter hike with a view, we can recommend the Murrin Loop Trail which offers views towards Howe Sound is a perfect for a short sunset hike!
You might also enjoy:
- How to Hike Saint Marks Summit at Sunset
- Best Hikes Near Vancouver
- Hiking the Murrin Loop Trail for an Epic Sunset
- The Stunning Dog Mountain Hike on Mount Seymour
- 10 Beautiful and Easy Hikes Near Vancouver
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