Hiking Brunswick Mountain in Vancouver, BC
The climb up Brunswick Mountain, the highest peak on the North Shore, is a hard one but as make your way up and start catching glimpses of the view that’s on it’s way, you’ll find the boost in energy needed to reach the top. As you make your way through the thinning trees and see the Brunswick Mountain peak looming almost directly over you, you’ll be almost certain that can’t possibly be where you’re headed but don’t stop now, the final push will be worth it!
After the challenging 1550 m elevation gain over 7 km, you’ll be rewarded with a 360 degree panoramic view of Howe Sound, the Lions, gorgeous Brunswick Lake and the stunning coastal mountains that stretch out behind Brunswick. It’s truly jaw-dropping up there!
We did this hike on a clear and sunny day and the views were spectacular. Not only would I not feel safe hiking Brunswick Mountain poor conditions but you’d miss out on the view at the top, so save this one for sunny day! The weather can change quickly on the North Shore and after having done this hike, I’d highly recommend waiting until you know you’re in for clear skies all day. Being out on that exposed rock and narrow ridge in fog or rain would be both dangerous and terrifying!
Brunswick Mountain Highlights
- quite and peaceful compared to more popular hikes in the area
- stunning 360 degree panoramic views
- fun but challenging level 3 scramble to the summit
- great workout
- easy access from Vancouver
- start early and be back in Vancouver by 3 pm
- serene forest scenery as you climb
- clearly marked, easy to follow trail
- room at the peak to eat lunch and take in the epic views
Distance from Vancouver
The trailhead to Brunswick Mountain can be reached in about 40 minutes from downtown Vancouver. It’s located in Lions Bay, just south of Squamish, BC. There aren’t many parking spots available at the trailhead, so arrive early to ensure convenient parking. We started our hike at 7 am and were the first car there. If the lot is full, the next closest available parking is 1 km away at a nearby school.
Difficulty Rating: Very Challenging
I’ve done quite a bit of hiking, some short hikes, some longer and more difficult and I’d say Brunswick Mountain is definitely on the more challenging end of the spectrum. Be prepared for very steep and exposed sections that require near-vertical scrambling up loose rock, particularly in the final ascent to the summit. The narrow ridge approaching the peak of Brunswick must be crossed with caution as it has 300 foot drop offs on either side. Be very careful.
I had sore muscles for days from hiking Brunswick. Not just from the climb, which will burn your glutes and calves but from the descent which will tax your quads, knees, feet and ankles. If you’re looking for a killer cardio and total-body endurance workout, this is it.
Time Needed: 6-9 Hours
It’s hard to say exactly how long this hike will take you but I think the average hiker can expect a 7 hour round trip. It took us 7 hours total including a 30 minute lunch at the peak, only stopping briefly for water and a quick snack during our ascent. It took 4 hours to reach the top keeping a fairly stead pace from start to finish. After a 30 minute lunch, it took 2.5 hours to head back down and get ready because coming down is just as challenging as going up! I think you could do it in 6 hours but you’d have to really be moving and only stay briefly at the top.
Elevation Gain: 1,543 m
Be prepared for non-stop elevation gain from base to summit. Like I said, this is not an easy hike so expect to start climbing right away! Just keep heading up and up and remember, you can eat at the top! I think it’s easy to say “it’s worth it” with most hikes but in this case, it really is SO WORTH IT. Keep climbing, the views from the highest peak on the North Shore can’t be beat.
What to Bring
- plenty of water
- Bring plenty of water on this hike, especially if it’s a warm day. I brought two large bottles and ran out on my way down so I could have brought even more.
- camera/cell phone
- bug spray
- The bugs were pretty relentless up there, we didn’t have bug spray with us so didn’t spend much time standing still!
I would recommend bringing some hydrating snacks such as cucumber, celery, grapes, berries and sliced apple and consider packing a full lunch to eat at the top. It’s up to you but one of my favourite things about hiking is eating. I always err on the side of too much food but I usually eat it all anyways. It’s a 7 hour hike so fuel up!
Here’s what I brought to eat:
- sliced apple
- chickpea salad wrap (mashed chickpeas with chopped celery, pickles, dill, vegan mayonnaise, lemon, red onion, salt and pepper)
- Zimt Vegan Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Bar
- Prima energy bar but you could make your own
- healthy trail mix with mulberries, cashews, pepitas, cranberries and almonds
- vegan ginger cookie that I ate once we finished
What to Wear
You’ll want to layer up for this hike, especially if you’re starting early in the day. It was cooler at the top and I was happy to have some protection from the bugs so a long sleeve shirt or hoodie came in handy. I just wore regular running shoes, which was fine however it might have helped to have a bit more ankle support.
Comfortable tights, loose pants or shorts are fine! If you’re really bothered by bugs, I recommend wearing a loose pair of pants to keep your legs protected! Also, be prepared to get a little dirty as you scramble up and down the top sections.
All in all, I would say Brunswick Mountain is a must-do hike and I’d highly recommend adding it to your hiking bucket list. The challenging workout, peaceful scenery, easy access from Vancouver and the absolutely stunning views make the climb well worth it. You’ll finish it absolutely beat but feeling accomplished and grateful come around the final corner and see the black gate from where you began your day!
If you do this hike, please come back and let me know what you thought!