Hill climbing is great exercise, providing not only a strenuous cardio workout but also a fantastic way to strengthen and tone those leg muscles. And the views make it all worth it!
The Grouse Grind in North Vancouver attracts more than 100,000 hikers every year from all over the Lower Mainland — and beyond — and provides a challenging vertical workout. The Coquitlam Crunch, not quite as strenuous, is also attracting an ever-increasing number of hikers and runners.
To escape the crowds, there are a number of other climbing routes in the Tri-Cities, many of which surpass the Grind in both distance and steepness.
These are briefly described below in order of difficulty. Note that distances are one-way.
Starting on Runnel Drive between Falcon and Lansdowne drives, the Crunch ascends 270 m in 3 km along easy paths and stairs. There are fine views to be had to the south.
This mountain bike trail is best accessed from the equestrian parking lot at Buntzen Lake. The total ascent is 770 m over 5.5 km, with a mixture of easier angled switchbacks and steep sections. At the top, you are rewarded with a spectacular viewpoint looking west.
The Halvor Lunden Trail to Lindsay Lake is a steep trail that rises 1,030 m in 6 km from the main parking lot at Buntzen Lake. Sections of rough trail can be expected along the way and expect snow at the higher elevations into early summer. Lindsay Lake is a worthwhile destination but the hike can be cut short by turning for home at the El Paso junction.
Plan on spending a long day climbing from Quarry Road on the east side of Burke Mountain to the summit. The total elevation gain is 1,200 m over 7.5 km. On the way, you will pass Munro and Dennett lakes as well as other spectacular viewpoints. Expect snow at the top late into the season.
To reach the start of the Swan Falls Trail to Mount Beautiful, you will first need to hike 4 km along the east side of Buntzen Lake. The trail then climbs 1,240 m in just 3.9 km, making this easily the steepest and hardest climb of the set. The climb is relentless but the end point — the summit of Mount Beautiful — is one of the best viewpoints in the Tri-Cities. Route finding at the top can be tricky when there is snow on the ground, which will typically linger until late in the season, so be ready for the wet and cold.
Steve Chapman is a Coquitlam Search and Rescue volunteer, a member of the Burke Mountain Naturalists and the creator behind a detailed new map of Tri-City trails. More info on safe hiking: www.coquitlam-sar.bc.ca.