Born and raised in Vancouver, local hiking guru Stephen Hui was exposed to the breathtaking beauty of B.C.’s great outdoors at an early age. The author and photographer of the best-selling guidebook 105 Hikes In and Around Southwestern British Columbia and former Straight staffer doesn’t think he’ll ever get tired of the hikes in our province.
“I’ve been hiking for 25 years, and I grew up in Vancouver so I started out hiking as a youngster in Scouts. It’s what got me into camping,” Hui explained to the Straight in a phone interview. “In high school and university, I got involved with outdoor clubs, and that’s what really introduced me into backpacking.”
Hui generally goes on a hike every other weekend, sometimes with his six-year-old son in tow. From short nature walks to longer day hikes to overnight trips, he’s constantly roaming through different terrain. It’s hard for the hiking expert to pick his favourite trek, but the most memorable hiking experience in his book (figuratively and literally) is the Sunshine Coast Trail.
“[It] was the longest hike I’ve ever done, [and] it was an amazing backpacking trip,” said Hui. “It kind of tests your limits just being alone in the woods for so long. It also has beautiful scenery and you meet amazing people.”
There are many countries around the globe that offer great hikes, but B.C. hikes have a special place in the local author’s heart. “First of all, you never run out of hikes to do. There are just hikes around every corner,” said Hui. “I keep on finding out about more hikes. There’s so much to do and it’s never boring.”
He enjoys exploring the province’s waterfall- and wildflower-meadow–filled trails so much that he’s already started to work on a second hiking guidebook, which will also focus on southwestern B.C. He can’t spill too many details on his upcoming book for now, but here are some of his insights and tips for those who also love a good outdoor trek in B.C.
Best thing about writing a best-selling hiking guidebook
Going on all the hikes, plus having the excuse to learn tons about the history, ecology, and geomorphology of the region.
Best hike that you’ve ever done in B.C.
Sunshine Coast Trail
It’s so hard to pick, but the most memorable hike was the Sunshine Coast Trail. Ten days, 178 kilometres of walking in the woods. I’ve never had so much solitude and just an incredible experience. I met a family of Germans who live in Hope on that trail, and now we’re friends.
Best thing about going on a hike that you’ve never done before
Everything is new, so just being surprised and seeing a new environment and experiencing new challenges and just getting to know another place.
Best hiking snack you never leave your house without
That’s changed over time. It used to be sesame snaps, and now it’s dried mango.
Best hike to go on with the entire family
Lynn Headwaters Regional Park
Anything in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park in North Vancouver. My son loves the hike along Lynn Creek, hearing the sound of the water and looking for big trees. He likes to call them grandpa trees.
Best foods to bring with you on a multiday hike
Any freeze-dried meals containing tortilla chips. There’s something about eating salty, soggy chips at the end of a long day of hiking. There are a few items [at MEC] that have chips in them, which is kind of weird when you add water to them.
Best hiking spot to capture jaw-dropping photos
Manning Provincial Park
Everyone’s going to say that log at Joffre Lakes, but I’m going to answer with Frosty Mountain in Manning Provincial Park. You can see the North Cascades, wildflowers, and, in the fall, you can see the large trees turning yellow.
Best essentials to bring on a hike
Aside from the 10 essentials, plenty of snacks and the right hiking partner.
Best hike that’s a hidden gem
People always get mad when you talk about these ones, but that’s okay. Lookout Peak on Keats Island: It’s in Howe Sound and most people don’t even know the island’s there. You take a ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale, then you take another foot ferry from Langdale to Keats Island, and then it’s a short hike you can do to the top of the island. You get views of Howe Sound and the Salish Sea. It’s just a day trip.
Best way to wind down after a great hike
If you’re lucky enough to be at a hot spring, it would be soaking in that. Otherwise, it would be devouring an ice-cream cone. That’s actually how I get my son to finish hikes. The other thing that’s amazing is to have a whole watermelon sitting in your car that you can slice into when you come back down from the hike.