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Bowen Lookout is my goto when I just need a short, easy hike near Vancouver with a great view. This hike can be done in an hour (but likely more since you’ll want t to enjoy the view) and is the perfect place to watch the sunset near Vancouver. Whilst it’s most commonly done as an addition to either the St Mark’s Summit hike or Mt Strachan, it’s definitely worthwhile doing as a hike on its own. You can also do a Bowen Lookout snowshoe hike in the winter.
Cypress Mountain Bowen Lookout hike
The Bowen Lookout trail is an easy, short hike with amazing views. As the name suggests, this Cypress Mountain lookout viewpoint looks out on to Bowen Island. However, you can also see Vancouver Island, The Sunshine Coast, Anvil and Gambier Islands. Often done as an extra stop off on the way to St Mark’s Summit, Bowen Lookout is well worthy of being the destination too!
How to get to Bowen Lookout
The Bowen Lookout trailhead goes from the Cypress Bowl downhill ski area. You can park for free in the upper car park. But, if there’s any chance you’ll be out past 8 pm then you’ll need to make sure you park before the gates to avoid your car being locked in.
From downtown Vancouver, head over Lions Gate Bridge and follow signs to Whistler to join Highway 99 headed north. Then, take signs to Cypress Ski Area. The trailhead is about 30 minutes away from Vancouver, depending on traffic.
Know before you go
- Always practice leave no trace ethics. Not sure what those are? Get a refresher here.
- Just because it’s spring in the city, there’s often still snow in the local mountains until July.
- Carry bear spray with you on all BC hiking trails. Get more bear safety tips here!
- Wondering what to pack for Vancouver day hikes? Here’s a hiking packing list!
- Refresh your memory about hiking safety with BC Adventure Smart.
- Don’t leave home without your 10 essentials. They could save your life!
- Dogs are allowed on a leash.
- This map from MEC is great for North Shore hiking and Cypress mountain trails.
Bowen Lookout trail
Starting at the parking lot for Cypress ski resort, head towards the ski area with the main lodge on your lefthand side until you reach the Cypress Provincial Park signboard and map. At the bottom of the Lions Express Quad Chairlift, there’s a trail marker heading into the forest signposted ‘Howe Sound Crest Trail’. Follow this route into the woods.
Very quickly, you’ll arrive at a small junction. Here, you can continue straight, following signs for Bowen Lookout rather than Howe Sound Crest Trail for a more scenic hike. Or, take the Howe Sound Crest Trail path. You’ll end up at the same place.
You’ll then notice the Eagle Express Quad Chair on your left, but keep going straight into the meadow and towards Yew Lake. Then, make a right at the junction marked for Bowen Lookout. After a short, small climb in the forest, make a left at the sign for Bowen Lookout and then left again once you reach the gravel road. This is where you’ll come to if you didn’t take the Yew Lake trail route.
The road is flat and you’ll cross over a small bridge before beginning to climb uphill over a series of switchbacks. The switchbacks get progressively steeper but there’s only about 5 of them to tackle. The last of the switchbacks is the steepest, as you round the corner, look out for a sign pointing downhill to Bowen Lookout. A few hundred metres down this path you’ll come out to Bowen Lookout and the beautiful views!
To return, retrace your steps to the parking lot.
Note: DO NOT feed the birds. There are lots of Whisky Jacks and Blue Jays (also chipmunks), that’ll come and try to get any snacks you’ve got – Do not feed them.
Bowen Lookout hike statistics
Know the essential hike details for the Bowen Lookout trail/Cypress Mountain viewpoint.
Bowen Lookout snowshoe trail
The only thing better than hiking to Bowen Lookout in Summer is hiking to Bowen Lookout in winter after a fresh snowfall. When the Cypress Mountain ski resort is open you’ll need to get a free backcountry pass tag. You can get this from the backcountry hut which is towards the back of the main/upper parking lot at the Cypress Mountain downhill area.
The snowshoe trail to Bowen Lookout follows much of the same route but the starting point is a little different. Head towards the Eagle Express Chairlift (the one on the lefthand side as you approach from the parking lot), to the snowshoe trail area. Follow the orange-tipped poles until you reach a junction. Take the trail to the right alongside Yew Lake and then follow the directions above. The trail is well marked out in winter.
Snowshoe rentals at Cypress Mountain
While the Hollyburn Nordic ski area does offer snowshoe rentals, you’re not permitted to take them out of that area. Therefore, if you need to rent snowshoes for Bowen Lookout, I recommend renting them in Vancouver before heading up the mountain. You can rent the at MEC or at Bees Knees on Burrard and Harwood downtown.
What to pack for Bowen Lookout
Make sure you look at these packing lists for the Bowen Lookout hike.
Other Cypress Mountain hikes
If you’re looking for other local hikes and more Cypress hiking trails, check out this list:
- St Mark’s Summit hike
- Eagle Bluffs
- Hollyburn Peak
- Mt Strachan
- All Vancouver hiking trails (including Squamish & Whistler)