The mountains overlooking Vancouver have several rockstars. There are the three ski resorts, the gondolas of Grouse, and the choppy crest of Crown. Perhaps the most distinctive peaks are The Lions, named in the 1880s because they resemble two sleeping lions (and because nobody back then deferred to Indigenous names). Hiking the Lions is a challenge for all who see these mighty dolomites, and it’s not easy. It’s a strenuous, 8 – 10 hour roundtrip ridge summit from Lions Bay to the West Lion, a knee-knocker with a thrilling ascent to get to the peak. There’s plenty of reviews of the West Lion hike on various hiking sites, and yes, I can confirm the last scramble is as challenging as everyone says it is.
Cost: It’s free other than parking fees in Lions Bay (a community not entirely welcome to visitors). There’s free parking if you choose the route from atop Cypress Mountain.
Best time to go:: I’d recommend late summer, when the bugs have had their party, it’s sunny but not too hot.
Where to Stay: Hotels in Vancouver or West Vancouver, as there are no hotels in Lions Bay.
Where to Eat: Stop in Horseshoe Bay on the way back to Vancouver to celebrate your triumph. Trolls is a good option. Alternatively keep going and get something to eat in West Vancouver or North Vancouver. A beer or eight might be needed so you’ll want to park the car for the night.
Official Site: All Trails’s page about The West Lion gets into the details about the hike and should be your first stop.
Getting There: The Sea to Sky Highway (BC-99) heads north from Horseshoe Bay towards Lions Bay. Take the Lions Bay Ave exit and head up Oceanview Road, taking a left at Crosscreek Road. Take a right onto Centre Road and a left at Bayview Road. Follow Bayview Road all the way up to its end and turn left onto Sunset Drive. There’s a very limited number of pay-parking spots, which are usually full unless you get there very early. If full, drive down the road until you find a spot. It adds some lovely uphill you really don’t need. You can find more parking information here.
Note from Robin: This was my second toughest hike after the West Coast Trail, but at least it was only a day! I still quite can’t believe they let people scale up the Lion to get to the summit without any ropes. Other than one handy rope to assist with a 5 metre drop at the start, there are no chain ladders or ropes. The sane thing to do is to NOT go all the way, and most people don’t. If you do, be very careful with your footing and make sure you don’t grab onto any loose rocks. The views, of course, will always be worth it. Pack lots of water, check if there are any wildfire warnings and look out for bears.
You can read my full report on the hike here.