Mt Brunswick is the tallest peak on the North Shore and so I just had to hike it. There are so many beautiful hikes in Vancouver and this one had been on a list for a while. The scramble at the top had put me off doing it solo but last summer I finally convinced Thom to come hike it with me. If you’re planning on hiking Mt Brunswick here’s everything you need to know about the Brunswick trail, what to pack and what to expect.
Hiking the Mt Brunswick trail
Below you’ll find everything you need to know about this Vancouver hike. If you’re looking for more Vancouver hikes I’ve plenty on the blog and, if you’ve any questions about this Vancouver hiking trail, ask away!
How to get to the Mt Brunswick trailhead and Lions Bay parking
The most popular way to get to the summit of Brunswick Mountain is to hike from Lions Bay. If you’re planning on hiking the Howe Sound Crest Trail you could also begin the hike at Cypress Bowl and add Mt Brunswick to the trip. However, this post focuses on the Mt Brunswick trail from Lions Bay.
Lions Bay is about 40km north of downtown Vancouver and to get there you just take Highway 99 out of Vancouver towards Whistler.
Come off at the Lions Bay Drive/Oceanview Road exit, take a left onto Cross Creek Road and a right onto Center Road where you’ll go passed the fire station on your right. Continue on the road taking a left at Bayview and then up the hill and taking a left again on Mountain Drive. Carry on Mountain Drive until you reach a dead end and a small parking lot this is Sunset Trailhead Parking Lot.
The parking lot is really small and fills up very early first thing in the morning. If this parking lot is full then you can find additional parking in the school further downhill.
Lions Bay do a lot of ticketing and towing so make sure you follow the parking rules which you can see here.
What to know before going
- Best time to hike Brunswick Mountain:In summer when the days are longer and there’s little chance of snow.
- Be adventure smart: Remember to respect the terrain, environment, and other users while you are enjoying the trails. Follow the three Ts—trip planning, training, and taking the essentials. AdventureSmart is a great resource to help you get informed before heading outdoors.
- Pack your 10 essentials
- Remember to leave no trace
The Mt Brunswick hike
If you parked at the Sunset trailhead parking lot you’re at the trailhead! For those who parked at the school, work your way back up to this parking lot by walking along the road.
If you’ve hiked The Lions, Mt Harvey, or Tunnel Bluffs from Lions Bay, this is the same trail head and the hike starts out on the same old gravel logging road. The climb starts off fairly gentle and then switchbacks a bit steeper. You’ll pass a concrete structure and shortly after this there’s a path that goes straight away, or one that goes round to the right. Follow the trail to the right.
After around 2km total, you’ll reach a split in the trail and there are a couple of small signs pointing you straight ahead towards Brunswick Mountain.
From here the path is flat for a little while. You’ll cross over Magnesia Creek using a log bridge. Luckily there’s a hand rail as it’s a bit nerve wracking!
As you continue there’s a junction to your left which is signposted for Hat Mountain and Tunnel Bluffs. Stay right and head up hill. Depending on what time of year you hike Mt Brunswick then the path might be very overgrown. Luckily, when we hiked the plants had be trimmed down so it wasn’t too bad.
The trail then begins to climb and there are a series of switchbacks. At around 5km into the hike you’ll be able to enjoy some views of Howe Sound. Make the most of it as things get very steep from here on in!
Soon you’ll reach a junction for the Howe Sound Crest Trail. When you reach this, continue straight following the sign for Brunswick Mountain. (Going left takes you towards Brunswick Lake, and right towards Magnesia Meadows, The Lions and then St Mark’s Summit and the Cypress ski area along the Howe Sounds Crest Trail).
The steepest part of the trail is still yet to take on!
There’s some exposed rock and a bit of scrambling here. Keep your eyes open for the spray paint markings, in orange, on the rocks as you work your way up.
Eventually you’ll reach the saddle which leads up to the summit of Brunswick Mountain. For some people who have a fear of exposure or very tired legs this is the best place for you to stop for today. The ridge is narrow, rocky and very exposed. You can’t afford to fall.
If you do decide to climb the ridge, the views are amazing and worth the effort. Which, after all, you should expect having climbed the highest peak in the North Shore mountains. From the top you can see The Lions, Mount Unnecessary, Crown Mountain, Grouse, Mount Harvey and we could even see Black Tusk all the way in Whistler on the day we summited!
You can continue on to the eastern peak of Brunswick Mountain but the risk/reward doesn’t seem worth it since the view is basically the same you’ll get from the west peak.
Heading back, take the same trails you came in on.
Brunswick Mountain trail statistics
Know what you’re getting into when hiking Brunswick Mountain.
What to pack for the Mt Brunswick trail
Make sure you look at these packing lists for hiking in Lions Bay.