Mount Burwell is one of the most epic hikes you can do on Vancouver’s North Shore. I know that sounds like a big claim, but it is an incredibly beautiful hike, with very few people and truly spectacular views of the other North Shore Mountains. It’s also a big day out. If you park outside Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, it’ll be 34km with elevation gain of almost 1400m. We left home at 5am, and only made it back around 9:30pm(!)
Mount Burwell kicked our arses. I mean, I did have one of the best days hiking so far this year, but oh my goodness this is an exhausting day out! It’s also totally worth it if you have bundles of energy and like epic Canadian mountain views.
Mount Burwell – trail map
Mount Burwell – the basics
Elevation Gain: 1377m
High Point: 1541m
Time: 12-14 hours
What to bring:
Loads of water (and a way to filter more) Marc drank 7 litres on our trip.
Plenty of food
The ten essentials
You also reeeeally want to leave a hike plan with a friend for this one just in case things don’t go to plan. Leave your name and contact details at Lynn Headwaters Regional Park at the start of the hike.
There are toilets and water near the trailhead in Lynn Valley.
Not suitable for paws. You need to scramble up cliffs.
How hard is it?
Difficult. This is one of the best hikes on Vancouver’s North Shore, but it is exhausting. I found it tougher than the Lions.
Mount Burwell – Getting started
We followed the route through Lynn Valley, which is the same as the way to Coliseum Mountain. We knew it would take us a long time, so we parked outside Lynn Headwaters Regional Park (before it opened) and hiked a couple of extra kilometers to the trailhead.
Follow the signs toward Norvan Falls. It’s 8.5km along a flat-ish path before you even start the steep approach up the mountain.
Steep trail and mushrooms
I always find the first hour of ascent the hardest on this approach. The hike up from Lynn Valley is super steep, and a bit slippy. We found quite a few cool mushrooms along the trail to keep things interesting.
Bear – Oops
Once you get a bit higher, the path turns and becomes more fun. I slipped over a couple of times, so I was watching my feet as we walked though Norvan meadows. Apparently I strode right past a massive black bear. Marc was walking a couple of minutes behind me, so he looked up and the right moment to see the bear. It was less than 5 meters from the trail, but so busy munching on berries, it was not interested in us. (Phew)
Right before you make it up to the ridge, the path gets super steep again. Save some energy for this area of beautiful, ancient hemlock trees.
Coliseum Mountain ridge
We were pretty exhausted by the time we made it up to this tarn on the ridge. Even starting super early, once we were up here we started to heat up as there is very little shade. The views are fab though!
Coliseum Mountain’s false summits
If you’d like to read a more in depth post about reaching Coliseum Mountain, you can read about the first time it turned our legs into jelly here. For this attempt, we knew that there would be several false summits, so it felt like less of a slog to get up to the beautiful natural amphitheater area, and then up to the rocky peak. I really love Coliseum Mountain for the gorgeous view of the needles, the other North Shore Mountains and the rest of Vancouver.
The views over to Goat Mountain and Crown Mountain are fantastic. If you are used to seeing these mountains from Vancouver, it’s quite a shock to see them from this direction. The cliffs of Crown Mountain are especially impressive from here.
Overheating on Coliseum Mountain
I think Marc overheated himself a little bit on the way up. We stopped for a while to eat and take in the gorgeous views. Marc found a shady spot and lay down for a bit to regain some energy.
Stop at Coliseum vs continue to Mount Burwell
Once you’ve made it up to Coliseum Mountain, you have the big decision about if you should continue on to Mount Burwell. We knew it would take 45mins – 1 hour to hike over to there, so by the time we were ready to go, we were cutting it a bit fine time-wise. In the end, we decided to go for it as we had headlamps if we got stuck in the dark on our return.
We had to hike down to the tarn in the photo below, then scramble up the ridge to the mountain on the right.
There isn’t really a set path between Coliseum Mountain and Mount Burwell, so you have to scramble up some pretty impressive inclines. We got stuck at this rocky cliff in the photo below. I managed to climb up the rocks in that big crack by the trees, but it was a bit dodgy. Once I got up there, I found a better path (to the left of this photo) so Marc came up that way.
Once we’d found that faint path, the walk became much easier (and prettier!)
Isn’t this a fantastic place to walk!?
Scramble up Mount Burwell
We are not amazingly speedy at scrambling or climbing, so it took us a whole hour to hike from Coliseum Mountain over to Mount Burwell. It was hot, but beautiful the whole way. The rocky bump in the photo below is the view of Coliseum Mountain from Mount Burwell (with Mount Seymour far in the background.)
This is how happy our faces were at the top! We have wanted to do this hike since 2017, we just knew that we had to strengthen our legs first (because Coliseum was so hard the first time we visited it.) Anyway squeeee!
Views from Mount Burwell
This is what we came for! I love the view down to Palisade Lake and to Cathedral Mountain. We stayed up here and relaxed on the summit for as long as we could. There were 3 other hikers leaving as we arrived, but other than them, we had the whole mountain to ourselves. I find it slightly mad that a mountain with views this fantastic can so so quiet, when other nearby peaks will be crawling with people in the summer.
There are epic mountain views in aaaaall directions.
You can even see the Lions looking a bit different from the east. Cool eh!?
We dragged ourselves away from the peak and started our long walk home. First we stopped at the tarn on Coliseum for more water (we brought pills to purify it.)
Then we had to wander back up to Coliseum to drink in the views once more before the knee-breaking hike down.
The hike back is along the same route as the hike up. It took us another 5.5 hours to make our way back, so it was just starting to get dark when we reached our car. Once again we both ended up with jelly legs on the steep path back to Norvan falls. I have to admit, we were both pretty over it for the last 8 kilometers – we just wanted to make it home to sleep!
This is our final view back up to Mount Burwell. I hope you like the look of it as much as we did! We both endured a whole week of sore legs after this epic hike!
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