St Mark’s Summit is a very popular hike. It probably has something to do with the breath taking view of Howe Sound and its islands. The view really encompasses the beauty that the Vancouver peninsula is. I would go as far as saying that this hike has the best view out of any hike around Vancouver!

Getting Started

The trail starts right from the Cypress Mountain ski parking lot, which is about a 35 minute drive from downtown Vancouver. Along the drive up there are pretty awesome view points to stop at but don’t get distracted or else you won’t find a spot in the main parking area. In the peak season the main lot will be full by 10 am, getting from the overflows can be an exhausting warm-up. The earlier you get there the better it is.

On the way back I would recommend to stop at these view points to simply enjoy the view or for a picnic. You will also want to come back to them at night if you love photography. The views are of the peninsula and downtown Vancouver.

The Hike

If you are starting the St Mark’s Summit hike early and do not see the crowds it may get confusing at first. I wasn’t sure where to go. St. Mark’s Summit is part of the Howe Sound Crest trail so most of the signs refer to that.

In the parking lot, head towards the main building and on the right you will see the typical Parks mapboard for the Howe Sound Crest trail (HSCT). Take a right into the woods and you will either loop around or cut across to a path in which you might notice it will point to take Howe Sound Crest trail West or East. This part tripped me up as HSCT is a 29km hike and the wrong turn can be obviously bad.

St Mark's Summit, Vancouver, Hiking, Travel
This is how the trail looks like, wear shoes accordingly. Also notice the red and orange squares on the tree for you to follow.

I’ve seen a group of people that were also confused about it and didn’t know what to do. The good news is they both lead you to the same hike. If you turn left (West) at that sign it will take you on a marginally longer route with a stop over at Bowen Lookout. I don’t think it is worth it and it will be crawling with people on a busy day (some people don’t go beyond this view point). If you are with kids or those with mobility issues, the Bowen Lookout is a great option as it is very similar view to that fromthe Summit.

If you turn right (East), as I suggest, you will come come across a large green water tower. Stay to the left and you will shortly see a path onto a trail uphill. Notice the square orange markers on the trees which will accompany you the rest of the route. About 10 -15 min into entering the forest you will come across another mapboard of the area. You are on the right track.

Depends on the time of the year the trail can be muddy and very slippery. Some parts are very rooty as well, so watch your step. The hike is only a 460M elevation gain, even though there is a series of switch backs it is not that bad. Most of the trail is heavily wooded and doesn’t really open up to much views. It is just building you up for the grand finale.

St Mark's Summit, Vancouver, Hiking, Travel

When you see this sign you are there. Climb the the small little hill on the left that will open up to the vista of Howe Sound. You can also scramble down to a look out on the right down below. It is very short distance away, but if you want to get a way from the crowds or a different angle than do that. Careful when it’s icy, I have seen people slip going down there many times.

Breath taking, isn’t it?

Distance: 11 km.

Elevation Gain: 460 meters.

Difficulty: Medium. I would say most fitness levels can do this hike if you take your time.

Time: Around 6 hours.

Season: April to early November. I did this hike early November and there was barely any snow. Check for weather report if you hiking close to winter months.

Dog Friendly: Yes. Just make sure your puppy is used to hiking and other dogs. There are lots off leash on this trail.

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