Snowshoeing for Beginners – Black Mountain

Snowshoeing for Beginners – Black Mountain

Black Mountain is one of the super fun snowshoeing adventures in Cypress Provincial Park. It’s great as a moderate walk that you can complete in just a few hours. We have spent lots of time on this mountain on the various hiking trails as well as skiing, so I am always excited to head up here. It’s pretty similar to Hollyburn Mountain in terms of distance, difficulty and how crowded it is. It might be busy, but it is a fantastic hike, even with the crowds.

This is how I spent my birthday in December. We might not be able to visit friends in 2020; But we can celebrate by snowshoeing! I still have adventures to write about from the summertime, but there are so many people getting into snowshoeing here in Vancouver that I thought it might be more helpful for me to write up a few more of ideas for snowshoeing first.

Black Mountain Snowshoeing Map

Black Mountain Snowshoeing – the basics

Distance: 6 km 
Elevation gain
: 360 m
Highest Point: 1224m (North Peak)
Time: 3- 3.5 hours
What to bring:
The 10 Essentials
There is a loo, cafe, restaurant and a shop at Cypress Lodge
Dogs: Yes (on a leash)
Parking: The resort has started to charge for parking in most areas. You can only park in lot 3B for free. This is a slightly longer walk to the trailhead.
Transit: In winter you can take the shuttle up to Cypress Mountain.
How hard is it? Intermediate – It’ll get your heart going, but the path is well marked and it’s not very long.
Extra info:
You need to go to Blackcomb Lodge to pick up a (free) back country pass before you get started.

Snowshoeing on Black Mountain – Getting Started

In previous years we just parked at the same area as the ski slopes. However in 2021 Cypress Resort is using covid-19 as an excuse to start charging for parking if you don’t have a ticket for skiing or snowshoeing on their paid Nordic trails. If you want to avoid the extra parking fees, you can park at lot 3B. After that, you need to visit Blackcomb Lodge. Just inside the door you can pick up a free back country pass that will allow you to cross the ski slopes at the base of the mountain without paying.

The start of the trail to Black Mountain and Bowen Lookout is just past the base of the Eagle Express Chairlift at the base of Black Mountain. Show your free back country pass to the Cypress Mountain resort staff, then follow the red sticks with green “BC parks” signs. Be careful to watch out for skiers who might zoom by on their way to the chairlift!

Bowen Lookout vs Black Mountain

Keep going straight if you plan to hiking to Bowen Lookout. It is one of the easiest free trails in the area, and is great if you fancy a short walk. For Black Mountain, you want to take the first turning on the left; Turn up the Baden Powell Trail and follow the switch backs up the mountain. The path has a few steep moments, but it is easy to follow and totally doable, even if this is your first attempt at snowshoeing.

As you climb higher, you are more likely to walk into the sunlight. You need to hike up past the top of the blue ski runs, so you can watch skiers and snowboarders swish down the slopes. You can also look back to Mount Strachan behind you.

Black Mountain Loop

Once you reach the top of Black Mountain, there is a loop past Cabin Lake and the two peaks. We headed clockwise past Cabin Lake first. It’s funny to think of swimming on top of this mountain when the lake is totally frozen!

Yew Lake Lookout

There is a trail up to the North Peak from the edge of Cabin Lake. Fewer people bother with this section, so there is a chance you’ll get these views to yourself.  We stopped here for a cuppa to admire the views down to Howe Sound. I love looking at the Lions from this lookout.

Snowshoes vs Microspikes

Last time we visited Black Mountain we carried our snowshoes, but we didn’t actually wear them. The trail was so packed down by other hikers that is was easier to walk up with microspikes on our shoes. I’ve included a photo of both so you can see the difference. Both options fit over your hiking boots. It is easier to walk with microspikes if the trail is hard-packed. However once you reach powdery or melting snow, you’ll sink down into it. If you plan on visiting after fresh snow has fallen, then you should bring both.

Avoid Postholing

This is what happens when you don’t wear snowshoes on softer snow! Your feet can fall into the snow, creating a posthole (as if your leg is some kind of fence post!) We didn’t have this problem on the main trail – only on the lesser-used path between Cabin Lake and Yew Lake Lookout.

Black Mountain South Peak

We spent the most time at the North Peak as it is so quiet, but we also wandered over to the South Peak

The views of Howe Sound and Mount Gardner (on Bowen Island) are lovely. If you come snowshoeing on a clear day, you can see all the way to Vancouver Island.

Watch out for cheeky Whiskey Jacks here! They will come to greet you if you take any snacks out of your bag. Just resist their cuteness as you should never feed wildlife in Canada (it’s one of the principles of leave no trace)

Once you have finished looking at the views, you can return the way you came, or continue snowshoeing along the loop around the top of Black Mountain. The loop will take you past a couple more pretty frozen lakes, and finish near the top of the ski slope, where you can head back down on the Baden Powell trail.

Walk or slide

If you are wearing snow pants, there are a couple of spots on the return hike that are perfect for sliding down the mountain. It’s not as steep as Hollyburn Mountain, (which is epic for butt-sledging) but it is still a giggle.

If you had fun, and still have some energy left, you can continue by hiking on to Bowen Lookout. That is what we did, so I’ll write a post about that snowshoeing trail next. If not, Black Mountain is a great mini winter adventure all on it’s own! What do you think? Would you like to snowshoe here? Or do you have other favourite winter trails near Vancouver?

Fun snowshoeing near Vancouver - Black Mountain Snowshoeing on Black Mountain near Vancouver, Canada Great place for snowshoeing near Vancouver - Black Mountain

27 thoughts on “Snowshoeing for Beginners – Black Mountain

  1. Always have fun reading your blog and seeing your winter adventures. Snowshoeing Black Mountain looks amazing. Great views and a snow day trip!

    1. Thanks Ashlee! Yeah we are super lucky to be so close to these kind of views, even when we’re in a bit of a covid-19 lockdown. Thank you so much for commenting. 🙂

  2. Great post! I’ve only been snowshoeing once and it was harder than I’d thought it’d be somehow. Definitely could use more practice!

    1. Yeah, I guess it depends massively on the weather and the snow. We were lucky as the snow was packed down, so this was more like an easy hike in the snow, followed by a slide down the mountain!

  3. I always love reading your blog and seeing all the amazing outdoor adventures you have. These views are stunning and love the practical advice about snowshoeing. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Another lovely winter post. I love the postholing photos. Been there, done that when I forget snowshoes. Incredible views.

  5. Hi Josy!

    Loved the article. I wish we had more snow in the UK so we could go for a snowy hike like this. The views look phenomenal!

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  6. Wow, all your pictures are so beautiful. I don’t know if it’s my ignorance or because I’m from the UK, I did not know what snowshoeing was… but now I have added it to my bucket list. Therefore, your guide to Black Mountain would be perfect!! I wish I lived near here!!!

  7. Hello Josy, I had imagined snow shoes as looking like tennis rackets. Any chance of pictures of the bottom of the shoes not the tops, as I cant really see what they are like at all? Also, how do you get out of a post hole? Love, Lis

  8. This looks like such a fun winter activity! I love snowshoeing, but I always tend to just go around the trails near my house and never on real hiking/snowshoeing trails! This is something that I def need to try!

  9. Ive always wanted to try snow shoeing! This was so helpful to understand the gear and what to expect. Looks like I have a new winter activity to look into !

  10. I must admit that I always thought snowshoes were bigger. This looks like something I would be able to do! and I would also take advantage of the ‘butt sledging!’

  11. Gorgeous! We got up really early Saturday morning to do this and it was glorious. We’d hoped to continue to Eagle Bluffs but gave up after a few hundred metres of trudging through deep snow in our microspikes. I guess the recent snow has covered up the trail. I did it several times last year. Love this area!

    1. My friend Lisa taught me that when we kept losing our legs in the snow!! 🤣🤣

      Do you say something different in Minnesota?

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