Howe Sound Crest Trail (Wilderness Hike)

GPS Downloads

  • KML/KMZ files can be opened in Google Earth, and many smartphone apps.
  • GPX files can be opened by most GPS software apps when KMZ cannot. Note, GPX files do not contain custom colours and icons that we use on our maps; all tracks and icons will appear the same colours and styles. We recommend using KMZ instead when possible.
  • GPX-Garmin are GPX files that we have optimized for older Garmin units that only display tracks that contain 500 points or less (such as Garmin eTrex units).

Visit our GPS & Navigation page for instructions of how to use your smartphone as a GPS device (even when outside of data coverage) or how to import data to your Garmin unit.

About the Journey: 

The Howe Sound Crest Trail is a fantastic, but challenging 28 km hiking journey along mountaintops north of Vancouver between Cypress Mountain and Porteau Cove. The hike provides view of Howe Sound from dizzying heights, but the hike itself isn't exceptionally technical or dangerous - though some parts can be quite intimidating. Normally, this hike is undertaken as an overnight trip by staying at one of the campsites along the way - the Magnesia Meadows campsite being a suitable halfway mark.

The route connects to the Trans Canada Trail in West Vancouver - and many hikers begin the trip at this intersection, located at the parking lot of the Cypress Mountain ski hill. The northern terminus is located at Highway 99 near Porteau Cove. Unfortunately, public transit from this point does not exist so most hikers are reliant on a pick-up.

  • Steep climb near Cypress
  • First view of the Lions
  • Narrow ledge on the Howe Sound Crest Trail (camera angle makes it look worse than it actually is)
  • Mountain goats on the HSCT
  • Views of Howe Sound
  • Not as bad as it looks!
  • A-frame Hut on the Howe Sound Crest Trail
  • Glacial Lake on the Howe Sound Crest Trail

Journey Highlights: 

Trail users should be aware that this is a wilderness hike and is far from any services or assistance. The northern portion (from trailhead to Brunswick) can be hiked in a day trip. The southern portion (from Cypress to the Lions) can also be hiked in a day. Flagging along the trail is generally good, but there are some areas where losing the trail is possible.

  • Fantastic views of Howe Sound
  • Great camping with optional shelters
  • Clear glacial lakes
  • Opportunities to encounter mountain goats and other wildlife
  • Close proximity to Vancouver

Parking & Staging Areas

Southern trailhead is located at the Cypress Mountain ski hill parking lot. Northern trailhead is located at Highway 99 just south of Porteau Cove.

Public Washrooms

Outhouses are very limited. Practice eco-friendly alternatives (dig a cat hole) and pack out toilet paper.

Directions: Northbound

The common method for this hiking trip is to travel from the south (Cypress) to the north (Porteau), while camping at Magnesia Meadows overnight. This first day is a tough hike, so one should start early from Cypress. On the second day, continue the hike north from Magnesia Meadows to the Porteau staging area. The Brunswick campground is not used in this scenario. An alternative is to hike from north to south, and/or to do the trip in 2.5 days. If you try it, let us know how it worked and your recommendations!

Accommodations

A-frame huts c/o Alpine Club of Canada at Magnesia Meadows (roughly halfway point) and Brunswick (closer to northern end).