St Mark’s Summit has quickly become one of my favourite hikes we’ve done since living in Vancouver. In fact, I like it so much that I’ve done it twice in the space of just a few weeks. It’s a moderately challenging hike that’s close to downtown Vancouver and has incredible views across the Howe Sound. Due to it’s proximity to downtown Vancouver it’s not exactly the quietest hike around, but it’s worth it and the crowds can be avoided if you go early, or late!
St Mark’s Summit is part of the Howe Sound Crest Trail (a 30km trail from Cypress to Porteau Cove). When you begin your hike you won’t see signs to St Mark’s, instead you’ll see signs to Bowen Lookout and The Lions. Following these will put you on the right trail.
How to get to the trail head for St Mark’s Summit
The hike to St Mark’s Summit begins from the Cypress Mountain ski area. From the parking lot you’ll head past the winter offices and ski pass pick up on your left until you get to a pick trail map and the start of the woods.
Parking is free but if you think you’ll be out hiking until gone 8pm then make sure to abide by the signs so your car doesn’t get locked in!
Hiking to St Mark’s Summit
There are a few different routes you can take to get to St Mark’s Summit. You can hike via Yew Lake or you can take the more direct route to the top!
If you take the Yew Lake route bear left at the beginning of your hike to St Mark’s Summit. Then follow the signs until you loop back round and get to a signpost and take a left turn, following signs to Bowen Lookout. This is where you’ll come to if you just went straight from the Cypress ski area and didn’t go to Yew Lake.
From here you’ll walk down a gravel road before bearing right. Here the trail begins to climb with a series of steep switchbacks. After a few hundred metres there’s a sign post off to Bowen Lookout. This is worth the short detour if you’re up for it!
If you choose not to go to Bowen Lookout, or once you’ve rejoined the trail, continue uphill until you come to a forest-y area. Here there is a map of the hiking area and slightly past this you’ll get a glimpse of the incredible Lions.
St Marks Summit
Continue along the trail where you’ll pass a few streams and then begins heading uphill again. You’ll also come into a small meadow and cross two bridges.
Here the path begins to level and there’s a brief downhill section. This is short lived as then trail climbs again through another series of steep switchbacks.
Half way through this uphill section the trail goes from a well maintained path to one that isn’t maintained. There are lots of roots and rocks that will probably slow your pace down!
When the trail levels out you’ve reached the upper region of St. Mark’s Summit. Cross uphill a little and there’s a big rock to your left which offers your first viewpoint from St Mark’s Summit.
Go up here first and take in the views and then head down to the second viewpoint which is slightly tricker to find. You’ll have been able to see it from the first viewpoint, it’s the rock off to your right Ask other people or look for the most well trodden path!
Best time to hike to St Mark’s Summit
St Mark’s Summit is best in Summer & Fall; after the snow has melted and before it comes back!
For the best light hike St Mark’s at sunset but don’t forget to take your 10 essentials; especially a head torch and bear spray!