St. Marks Summit hike leads to grand views of the Lions

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      The Lions are the classic hike on Vancouver's North Shore.

      When tackled from the Cypress Mountain alpine ski area in West Vancouver, the route follows the Howe Sound Crest Trail over Unnecessary Mountain to the West Lion. It makes for a long and strenuous day.

      If you're feeling less ambitious, St. Marks Summit, encountered along the way, provides a satisfying day-hiking destination involving half the distance.

      From the parking lot, Cypress Provincial Park now (somewhat confusingly) offers east and west access trails for getting on the Howe Sound Crest. There's a lookout of Bowen Island off the graveled west route, and the two trails meet up by a viewpoint of the Lions.

      The Howe Sound Crest then heads through the forest of Mount Strachan to pleasant Strachan Meadows, where you can see the gully that makes hiking that peak quite exhilarating. But, pressing on, the trail climbs and dips, passing over a couple bumps before reaching the goal.

      Atop the bluffs of 1,370-metre-high St. Marks Summit, you'll find expansive views of Howe Sound to the west and the Lions to the north. So, if the bugs will let you, find a spot to eat lunch and savour the scenery before turning back.

      With about 450 metres of elevation gain, the hike takes around 4.5 hours.

      You can follow Stephen Hui on Facebook and Twitter.