Get Outside and Workout: Challenging Outdoor Exercise Activities in and Around Vancouver
Image by Flickr / rueffelschwein
Jog, paddle, hike and bike your way around Vancouver with these challenging outdoor workouts
Ditch the dark, noisy, sweaty gym and take your workout outdoors. Here are five activities, in and around Vancouver, that will keep you fit and remind you why you absolutely love this city!
Hike the famous Stawamus Chief
Take a hike! Get your blood pumping and enjoy views fit for a chief in Squamish. (Image: Flickr / Leedman)
The Stawamus Chief, more commonly known by Vancouverites as ‘The Chief’, is located off the Sea to Sky Highway, just outside of Squamish. This hike offers three awe-inspiring peaks to conquer. If the steep hike doesn’t take your breath away, then the amazing views of Howe Sound, Squamish and the towering granite cliffs certainly will.
The first peak is the most popular hike and is incredibly steep in places. Rookies beware: this hike is not for the lighthearted. The round trip usually takes about six hours and will take you up about 500m. If you're up for a challenge, aim for the highest of the three peaks, which is around 750m in elevation. Expect to climb up chains and ladders as you near the peak.
Fun fact: The Chief is the world’s second largest freestanding granite monolith.
Hot tip: Pack your binoculars and be on the lookout for Peregrine Falcons who like to make their nests in these rugged mountains.
Paddle Deep Cove’s Indian Arm
Paddle the tranquil waters of Deep Cove. (Image: Deep Cove Kayak)
Paddling makes for an awesome resistance workout. In fact, an hour of paddling can burn thousands of calories, and with Deep Cove being just 30 minutes from the city, this workout is a real no-brainer!
Deep Cove is one of the most celebrated spots around Vancouver for kayaking and canoeing. Once you get out on the water you'll leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind, with islands in the distance and mountains towering above.
Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak, right on the Cove’s beachfront, has been helping Vancouverites explore Indian Arm for over 30 years, so you’ll be in good hands. They’ll set you up with all the right gear based on your experience and skills.
Bob Putnam, owner of Deep Cove Kayak, encourages people to come out to the Cove and explore the myriad of secluded bays and beaches that are known for their rich sea and bird life. “We usually send people South to islands: Bolder Island, Grey rocks, Jug and and Hamber—all wonderful spots where you can pretend you’re in the Queen Charlotte Islands.”
Keen on trying something a little different? Try renting a paddleboard. Putnam says paddleboarding is becoming increasingly popular. “Instead of sitting in a kayak you’re standing on a board, so you get a great view of schools of fish, sea stars and jellyfish as you paddle.” Says Putnam.
Fun fact: Indian Arm is called Nuth Khaw Yum, by the local Tsleil-Waututh Nation, which translates as "Serpent's Land."
Hot tip: Deep Cove Kayak runs Cheap Date Nights every Friday after 5 p.m., where couples can enjoy a relaxing (and romantic) evening paddle at a discounted price. So ditch dinner and the movies and take your date on an adventure!
Power your way up the Grouse Grind
Sweat it out all the way to the top of Grouse Mountain. (Image: Flickr / Kimba)
Test your strength and endurance, and gain some respect around the office Monday morning with tales of your hike up Grouse Mountain.
The Grouse Grind is 2.9 km from plateau to summit, and usually takes the average person over an hour, depending on fitness and eagerness levels. Each quarter of the trail is clearly signposted to help panting hikers know where they're at and how they're doing.
The trail is only open during the summer months (June-September), and with Vancouverites and visitors alike seemingly suckers for the pain, be prepared to come across hundreds of folks grinding their way to the top.
The Grind can be quite challenging in spots and has 2,830 steps to climb. Sound like fun? Not particularly, but being able to say you’ve done it certainly is! Once you make it to the top and take in the view, enjoy a leisurely gondola ride back down. Nice!
Fun fact: The Grind has been done in less than half an hour.
Hot tip: Hydrate and travel light. This is an intense hike and you'll be kicking yourself if you're lugging a heavy backpack.
Walk, jog, bike and skate the sunny seawall
Get some fresh sea air and pound the pavement of the scenic seawall this summer. (Image: Flickr / SqueakyMarmot)
Not everyone can say they have five and a half miles of perfectly paved seawall in their backyard. Make the most of it while the weather allows and get jogging, biking or skating around Stanley Park this summer.
Grab your iPod, lace up your runners and take to the wall for a scenic walk or jog along the water. Feel like a hike but don't want to leave the city? Stanley Park has 27km of paths and walking trails to explore. Escape the bustle of the city and be humbled by some of the oldest trees in the park along Lake Trail and Siwash Rock Trail.
A leisurely bike ride around the park is just as enjoyable, with spectacular views of the mountain, city and seascapes. Or, if you prefer, dust off your rollerblades and go for a spin around the wall. The bike and walking lanes make it easy to enjoy the fresh and air and sights without having to worry about running into those on foot.
Fun fact: Stanley Park is ranked the 16th best park in the world.
Hot Tip: Bayshore Rentals, located just outside Stanley Park, offers affordable rentals including student and group discounts on bike and skate rentals.
Mountain biking for the sane and relatively sane
Hone your mountain biking skills on the world famous trails in and around Vancouver. (Image: Flickr / footloosiety)
Mountain biking around Vancouver is a no-brainer, with spectacular trails at Cypress Mountain, Mount Fromme and Mount Seymour on Vancouver’s North Shore.
A good number of the trails are advanced and seriously steep, designed by and for professional thrill seekers on two wheels. Luckily, for those of us who aren’t quite as skilled (read: insane), there are great trails for beginners and intermediate riders as well.
Camp Brick Trails between Seymour River and the Seymour Mainline Road are perfect for beginners; or check out Crystal Falls trail, a scenic ride that follows the Coquitlam river and ends up at the falls. Yes, they’re for beginners but they’re not completely tame, with a mix of manicured and paved routes and cross country trails with waterfalls, streams and lush forests to admire.
If you’re an intermediate rider looking for something a bit more exciting, check out the Mt. Fromme Pipeline. It’s a relatively difficult ride but a favourite with the locals, along with Mount Seymour trails like the CBC and the Mount Seymour Bridal Path.
Fun fact: The North Shore is known around the world for its mountain biking trails which are largely maintained by the non-profit North Shore Mountain Bike Association, a group of passionate mountain bikers with the motto: “Trails for all, trails forever!”
Hot tip: Know your skill level and your limits, for your safety and the safety of others. Check out this great listing of mountain biking trails around Vancouver with difficulty ratings.