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Trail running

Our province’s natural landscape provides the perfect backdrop for a wide variety of running trails.

Over the last several years, the popularity of running has increased substantially. Running USA’s 2014 Annual Report on Half Marathon Finishers documented an all-time high of half marathon finishers, with over 60% being female.

The rise of social media has contributed to the growth of both road and trail running. Here in British Columbia, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of race organizations and races. On any given weekend, both new and seasoned runners have the opportunity to participate in inaugural or long-standing races.

Our province’s natural landscape provides the perfect backdrop for a wide variety of running trails. Here are my top 5 running trails in BC:

Norvan Falls, Lynn Valley Headwaters Park, North Vancouver

Lynn Valley is a very popular walking, hiking and running destination. The trail offers a mix of terrain varying from gravel trail to technical with exposed roots. The Lynn Loop trail is well marked and provides an 8 km loop to and from the parking lot. Runners looking for some extra distance can add the ‘out and back’ trail to Norvan Falls for a 14 km round-trip.

Buntzen Lake Trail, Buntzen Lake Park, Port Moody (Belcarra)

This well maintained trail wraps Buntzen Lake. While Buntzen is a very popular summer camping and picnic destination, most people don’t venture to the far side of the lake. While the parking lot can give the impression that the trail will be busy, the reality is that once you’ve gotten through 2 km of the loop, most of the trail will be fairly clear and friendly. This route offers great views of the lake and surrounding mountain peaks.

Fisherman’s Trail, Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve (LSCR), North Vancouver

Accessed via the Twin Bridges Trail from the main parking lot, Fisherman’s follows the Seymour River all the way to the Seymour Dam. This out and back route that will bring runners to one of the most peaceful and least trafficked areas of the North Shore. It is also an excellent option for runners seeking a fairly flat route that gets them into nature. This route is 22 km round-trip and is currently only accessible from the LSCR.

Trail Running-  trai run bc

Big Cedar Trail, North Vancouver

This trail is a little more difficult to find, yet is gaining popularity in the trail running community and is well-known to locals. Accessed from Mountain Highway, the trail rolls above the Capilano River (on the opposite side from the Lynn Loop). The trail isn’t as well maintained as the others being highlighted, so there are several trees that cross the trail which create more of a run / walk experience for most runners. The reward of this trail is at the turn around point marked by the trail’s namesake, a “big” cedar estimated to be between 400 – 600 years old. More experienced runners can choose to continue all the way to Kennedy Falls. It should be noted that this trail is more rugged and much less trafficked than the others on this list.

Baden Powell Trail, West & North Vancouver 

A part of the Trans-Canadian Trail, the Baden Powell stretches from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove. There are numerous access points in both West & North Vancouver, enabling runners to choose the sections they wish to cover. The terrain varies from simple and well maintained to extremely technical - primarily the most westerly section. The eastern Deep Cove section includes the very popular Quarry Rock trail.

Trail Running “Must Knows”

  • Many trails take you into areas without cell phone coverage. It is best practice to never run alone and to bring extra clothing and food.
  • Always have someone you check in with before and after your run.
  • Carry a map and if you are new to trail. See if there is someone who can take you until you are familiar with the route.

Trail running is not only an excellent way to switch up your usual fitness routine, but also a sport with a knowledgeable and supportive following. Trail Running Canada is a great resource for runners of all fitness levels.

Many trails runners have increased the time they spend in the gym focusing on a variety of muscle groups. Kettlebells, TRX, and other functional training can have a profound impact on your trail running performance. Make an appointment with a member of our certified Personal Training team to learn more about incorporating functional training into your routine.