CTV Morning Live: Hiking Lesser-Known Kid-Friendly, Dog-Friendly, and Advanced Treks!


‘School's almost out, the weather is better and it's a great time to be outdoors – but with everyone looking for their next summer adventure, the more popular trails are bound to be busy.

If you're thinking of heading uphill, but want to avoid the crowds, areas like Quarry Rock might be out. The North Vancouver hike is so popular that officials have imposed a limit to prevent overcrowding on the path.

Similar measures are in place at Lynn Canyon, and traffic at Joffre Lakes is such a problem that vehicles parked on the highway will be towed, BC Parks warned last summer.

So where else can you go for a workout with a view? CTV News asked fitness expert Mandy Gill for her top picks for lesser-known hikes for all ages and abilities.’

-Watch the segment and read more of the article featuring Mandy Gill written by CTV Producer Kendra Mangione here!

Kid Friendly:

Crystal Falls, Coquitlam:

2 hours and 7 kms of out and back hiking trail with minimal elevation gains, this hike is suitable for babies in carriers, kids 2-5 and 5-8. Ensure you bring appropriate footwear as the trail can be muddy. The Crystal Falls and flowing streams and mossy forest are beautiful pieces of nature your family will appreciate.

Gold Creek Falls, Maple Ridge:

2 hours and 5.5 kms of out and back with minimal elevation gains, this hike is suitable for babies in carriers and kids 5-8. With impressive viewpoints and opportunities for camping, this is a great choice for families. Enjoy Gold Creek, the mountains and Gold Creek Falls.

Dog Friendly:

Jug Island, Belcarra:

Jug Island is a tiny gorgeous island located just off the northern tip of Belcarra Regional Park. The island itself is not accessible but you can hike to a beach that faces the island and offers great views of Indian Arm. Expect to be hiking for approx. 2.5hrs over 5.5km round trip, and little elevation gain. Jug Island is rated as an intermediate hike, where dogs are allowed on leash. Once you reach the viewpoint of Jug Island, stop to enjoy the beautiful rocky beach while having lunch, a snack, or throwing your furry friend a ball!

Elk Mountain, Chilliwack:

The top of Elk Mountain offers a spectacular view of Chilliwack, Cultus Lake, and the surrounding Fraser Valley area. The hike itself begins with a steady incline up the mountain through a beautifully forested area. The hike is approx. 8km round trip (3.5-4hrs), and dogs are allowed. Rated as intermediate, this hike has a much steeper incline than Jug Island. Make sure to bring lots of water (for you and your furry friend) as there’s little to no creeks in sight. Pack lunch to carry up and enjoy at the top, along with the views of beautiful wild flowers!


Mount Gardner, Bowen Island:

Escape the city on a 20-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay to Bowen Island. Mount Gardner combines an opportunity to visit the laid-back island community, and a hike that provides views of Howe Sound, the Sunshine Coast, West Vancouver, and Burrard Inlet. The trail is rated as difficult with approx 10km of hiking round trip over 4-5hrs. Dogs are also allowed on this trail. Mount Gardner features beautiful wild flowers and a pretty cool helicopter pad to soak up the views from once at the top!

The Lions, West Vancouver:

The Lions provide one of the best views of any hike around Vancouver. However, the hike to The Lions is also one of the more challenging, and not recommended for beginners. The Lions are the twin peaks that are seen from downtown Vancouver, They are also known as the Twin Sisters, and they have inspired the naming of the Lions Gate Bridge, the town of Lions Bay, and the B.C. Lions football team. The view from the Lions is truly spectacular, offering a panoramic view of Howe Sound and the Capilano Watershed down to the city of Vancouver. Expect to be hiking for 7-9 hours along 16km of trails, a majority of them very steep, rocky, and snowy (even in July). I highly recommend hiking boots and microspikes.

There are two ways to start this hike, one route from Lions Bay, up the Lions-Binkert Trail, and it’s also possible to hike to The Lions starting from Cypress Mountain Resort (that route has less elevation gain, but longer total distance). Once at the top of the ridge, you are at an elevation of about 1,566 meters. The West Lion summit has an elevation of 1,646 meters and The East Lion has an elevation of 1,606 meters. You can follow the trail to the West Lion, but as cautioned, it is not recommended to scramble the summit. The views are amazing here, and you’re not missing anything by not reaching the summit.

10 Essentials:

These are not get out of jail free cards, electronics can fail, run out of batteries, or lose their signal. Telling someone where you are going, and leave a trip itinerary.

Note on Clothing:

Wear hiking boots NOT runners - runners have a higher risk of slipping and/or spraining your ankle. Wear appropriate hiking clothing that is NON-COTTON, such as hiking pants, poly-pro shirt, poly-pro underwear, toque, and backpack. The whole strategy to clothing is layering and breathability. This prevents overheating and sweating which can cause dehydration and begin the cycle of hypothermia in cold weather and heat exhaustion in relatively warmer weather.


Flashlight or a headlamp with extra batteries (and light bulb if not LED). Green cyalume stick or small turtle lights as emergency backup.

The lack of light is the single most cause of overdure hiker calls for NSR. It is so easy to under estimate the amount of daylight left especially if you are deep in the forest.

Signalling Device

Whistle, Bear Bangers, Pencil Flare

Why a whistle? It is ideal for siganlling for help as your voice will become very hoarse in a short period of time especially if you are dehydrated. When sending out a distress whistle blast do three short blasts in timed intervals of 1 to 5 minutes and in different directions from where you are standing as rescuers may be above below or to the sides of you, especially if you are lost in a canyon.

Fire Starter

Matches (water proof or in plastic bag) or lighter. We also recommend a commercial firestarter and/or a candle. Commercial firestarters can be purchased at outdoor stores like Mountain Equipment Coop.

Warm Clothes

Hat or toque, gloves or mittens, puffy jacket, gortex jacket, polypro underwear, good quality hiking socks and gortex over pants.


Although a multi tool is preferred, a good pocket knife with a quality blade will suffice.


Large orange plastic bag and thermal tarp. Why a large orange plastic bag? It’s actually one of the most valuable items on the list. Crawling into the bag helps keep you warm and dry. The orange colour is also highly visible and helps attract attention, particularly from the air. We also recommend you carry a heavy duty thermal blanket as this provides excellent shelter and reflects body heat.

Water and Food

Electrolytes, bars, fruit, nuts. Water especially is an important essential item to take before and during your hike. We recommend you drink between 1-2 litres of water before and carry 1-2 litres.

First-Aid Kit

Should include pocket mask; Sam Splint, bulk dressings, protective gloves, bandage, scissors and blister dressings.

Navigation/Cell Phone

Good quality compass with built in declination adjustment and both topographical and interpretive maps. we also recommend a GPS unit but only as an adjunct to compass and map.

Cell phone - We recommend you bring a cell phone with a fully charged battery. It is advisable to keep the phone turned off, and stored in a ziplock bag. This way, if you get into trouble your phone will be dry and have a full charge.

Mandy Gill