Mount Harvey challenges hikers behind the Lions

Some hikes are fun. Mount Harvey isn’t one of them.

This hike in Lions Bay is a steep slog that would be unbearable on hot, sunny days if most of the route wasn’t well shaded. But it’s worthwhile because it climaxes with a ridge walk leading to one of the highest summits on Vancouver’s North Shore. You’ll also be rewarded with a backside view of the Lions most people never see.

From West Vancouver, the trailhead is reached by driving north on the Sea to Sky Highway. Exit right on Lions Bay Avenue, and immediately go left on Crosscreek Road. Then turn right on Centre Road, left on Bayview Road, left on Mountain Drive, and left on Sunset Drive.

There’s a good chance that the small parking area at the north end of Sunset Drive will be full. In that case, you’ll have to find a spot lower down—perhaps on Mountain Drive. Just pay attention to the many no-parking signs when selecting a spot.

From the gate on Sunset Drive, the route to Mount Harvey can be broken into three sections: the logging road, the forest trail, and the ridge walk.

Although a logging road might sound like a nice way to ease into a hike, this one climbs relentlessly. Stay right at all junctions—passing trails to Brunswick Mountain and Magnesia Creek—until you see an orange marker on the left before the road hits Alberta Creek.

That marker signifies the start of the steep Mount Harvey trail. Early on, there’s a waterfall viewpoint to the right. The rest of the tough ascent is punctuated by two Howe Sound viewpoints, the first facing Bowen Island and the second looking out at Gambier Island.

Finally, you gain the southwest ridge and are treated to an eye-popping view of the West Lion. During the ridge walk ahead, you’ll notice a rock tower, known as Harvey’s Pup, to your left. An easy scramble brings you to Mount Harvey’s 1,652-metre summit.

Aside from the Lions, whose twin tops are lower than your perch, the panoramic view includes Brunswick Mountain, the highest peak on the North Shore, and Hat Mountain, with its communications cone, close at hand. You might spot the red emergency hut in Magnesia Meadows to the northeast, as well as bits of the Howe Sound Crest Trail in Cypress Provincial Park. On a clear day, you can make out Mamquam Mountain, Golden Ears, and Mount Baker in the distance.

When you’re ready to leave, follow the ridge, trail, and road back to the trailhead. Although the forest path is easy enough to navigate on the way up, braiding means it’s not hard to go off-trail on the descent.

The 13-kilometre round trip involves 1,400 metres of elevation gain. (For comparison, the Grouse Grind rises a mere 853 metres.) Last month, it took me 7.5 hours to complete.

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