St Marks Summit – Cypress Mountain Hikes

St Marks Summit – Cypress Mountain Hikes

St Mark's summit - gorgeous, even on rainy daysSt Mark’s Summit is a great hike for early summer if you live near Vancouver. You get to experience the start of the Howe Sound Crest Trail that follows along the Britannia Range of Mountains, past some incredible old growth trees with pretty mountain and sea views. The path is easy to follow, and not too exhausting if you are used to Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains.

If you fancy a quiet hike- this is probably not the best hike for you! It was sooo busy! You can just about keep social distance on the trail; But there were so many people that we didn’t really experience the quiet nature sounds on the way to the Summit. Having said that, if you continue on to Unnecessary Mountain or the Lions, it is far quieter.

St Mark’s Summit Map

St Mark’s Summit – the basics

Distance: 10.8 kmΒ 
Elevation gain
: 460m (elevation change is closer to 605m)
Highest Point: 1371m
Time: 4.5 hours (including a long break on the top)
What to bring:
Hiking poles are useful, as are microspikes if you go in spring or early summer.
The 10 Essentials
Facilities:
There is water and toilets at the Cypress resort.
Dogs: Fun for dog, but they need to be on a leash.
How hard is it? This is a great walk for the start of the hiking season. There is an easy to follow path (although it’s very rooty in some places.)

St Mark’s Summit – Getting started

One of the great things about this hike is that you can start at the base of Cypress Mountain Ski resort. This means that although the hike reaches up to an elevation of 1371m, your car will bring you all the way up to 900m. To get started, follow the signs towards Bowen Lookout. In early June there was a bit of snow on the trail straight away, but it wasn’t icy, so we didn’t need our microspikes.

Bowen Lookout

After 30-40 minutes you’ll reach the first really good viewpoint, Bowen Lookout. If you don’t fancy walking the whole way to St Mark’s Summit this is also a fun mini hike with great views.

There were loads of families and small children who’d walked as far as Bowen Lookout. It was really busy, so I’m sharing my photo from last year when we arrived early in the morning and had the views to ourselves.

Path to St Mark’s Summit

I’ve described this pathway before (when we hiked to Unnecessary Mountain and the Lions). The forest in this part of Cypress Provincial Park is a pleasure to explore. The trees are seriously beautiful, especially when the sun shines through their foliage.

The pathway between Bowen Lookout and the turn-off to St Mark’s Summit had a few snowy patches. But once we reached Christmas Gully (the turn off if you plan to climb Mount Strachan), there were some deep areas of snow. This shows why St Mark’s is so popular at this time of year, the way up to Mount Strachan looks a bit more risky in the snow.

By now we were on the steep, but easy climb up St Mark’s. The path is wide, mostly snow-free and easy to follow.

After a while, the path levels off a little. Then, after that you get into the more adventurous part of the hike. The route is covered in roots, mud and melting snow. This was much more of a muddy adventure.

Get a bit higher still and the path was completely covered by snow. Be really careful once you reach the snow patches as the snow was not well packed down, and lots of people were post-holing, leaving deep tracks into the snow. Post-holing is always worse later in the day once the snow has warmed up a little – so if you want to walk when there is still snow on the ground, try to go in te morning.

Clouds on St Mark’s Summit

We reached the summit just in time to see… absolutely nothing! Despite the sunshine at lower elevations, cloud had settled on the peak, so we could not see anything at all. We decided to eat lunch slowly and hope that the sun might come out a bit later. We waited for around 30 minutes. Then, just as I had decided we should head back as it was a bit too cold… we got a few teeny views through the clouds.

This was the first weekend Cypress Provincial Park re-opened after the covid-19 lockdown, so it was VERY busy up here. We did manage to find some rocks to perch on while maintaining social distance… but we could still see and hear other hikers. When the teeny view appeared, everyone cheered!

I thought I should share a couple of photos from our previous trip up here, so you can see how amazing the views can look.

There is a very steep drop off, but the views from St Mark’s summit are spectacular. When you can see them…

Bonus Flowers on Cypress Mountain

I just had to share this as well! On the drive up and down the mountain the grassy slopes were covered in alpine lupine flowers. Aren’t they gorgeous!?

We were soooo happy to get back out to Cypress Provincial Park. St Mark’s Summit was a great (if busy) hike for this time of year. I hope you like the look of it too. Please click on the pins below if you’d like to save it for later.

Bowen Lookout and St Mark's Summit - fun hikes near Vancouver St Mark's summit - gorgeous, even on rainy days St Mark's Summit - Great hike for the start of the season

69 thoughts on “St Marks Summit – Cypress Mountain Hikes

    1. Finding snow in June was such a novelty when I first moved to Vancouver. Now the novelty has well and truly worn off and I want it all to have melted by May! πŸ™‚

  1. Love these views! This looks like a great hike and a great way to get some fresh air, especially while we’ve been stuck at home! My friend in Hong Kong was telling me that she was trying to go hiking but the trails around her home were so crowded that she didn’t feel safe taking off her mask because there just so many people. Around the world so many people are having the same experiences! So great to hear you made it to a place with more space and less foot traffic. Looking forward to the next hike you share!

    1. I have been following a couple of hikers from Taiwan on twitter, it looks similar there (unless you go mid-week!) This trail was very busy, but there was still plenty of space for everyone.

      I hope you can get out and about too Courtney!

    1. They are gorgeous aren’t they! Those are lupines. They don’t smell as sweet as lavender, but I loovoe the colours.

  2. It is great to get back up there, isn’t it!? And I agree that the lupines on the drive up are outstanding. I did the Black Mountain/Eagle Bluffs hike a couple of weekends ago and it was quite busy too. I’m glad you ended up with at least a teeny view.

    1. Oooh we might have been there at the same time! This was the first weekend when Cypress opened. Last weekend we visited lots of waterfalls, but I didn’t get around to writing about those yet…

    1. Thanks Hazel! I have seen them before (they are amaaazing further into the alpine areas) but it was awesome to see a mini super-bloom on the mountainside.

    1. They are gorgeous aren’t they!? I never really considered my favourite flower…but it might be the Indian paintbrushes with their bright red spikes. Do you have those near you too?

  3. I’m glad that the sun peeked out a little so you could get a bit of a view! I think I’d be more than a little disappointed if I’d hiked all that way up only to see clouds!

    1. I know what you mean, but on this day I wouldn’t have minded too much. I was just so excited to be allowed back out to this area (it was closed for covid-19 until that weekend, so we really missed the trails.)

  4. What an awesome hike this looks like! Between the trees, the snow, the mountains and the wild lupins it seems like it’s a a worthwhile hike. Definitely adding this to my list for if I’m ever in the area!

  5. The views, the flowers, the clouds. Everything about this hike looks beautiful. I need to get some more local hikes under my belt, and this seems like a good one to start with

    1. It’s a good one for getting your legs used to the steepness again after winter! At the moment though, the waterfall hikes are amaaaazing. If you need to get outside, head for waterfalls while they are massive. πŸ˜€

    1. Oooh I have seen a few amaaazing looking Aussie hikes recently (from ladies in the Wandering women fb group) it looks like you have loads of options.

      Happy trails!

      p.s. if you start blogging about your hikes, should should join the lovely Maiden Voyagers fb group.

  6. This walk looks amazing! And the countryside is so green and gorgeous… I live in the Middle East so don’t get to see scenery like this very often. I look forward to a visit one day.

    1. Thanks Sharon! I have seen some fantastic looking hikes in the middle east as well, but you’re right, they don’t seem to have many quite as green as the hikes near Vancouver!

    1. Thanks Ana! I have to admit, I thought the same about your latest Romania post! We can keep exploring vicariously through each other…

  7. Thanks so much for this! A friend of mine lives in Vancouver so I’ll pin this for when I go visit her!

    1. Sweet! You already have an excuse to come and visit! I bet your friend will know lots of good hikes too. πŸ™‚

  8. Wow! This hike looks incredible. I honestly miss the PNW mountain ranges so bad! The hiking is just so beautiful! I haven’t spent much time in mountains in Canada but hopefully onday.

  9. Great post! I would love to visit Vancouver and we love hiking! Definitely on our list of things to do when we visit. Thanks for sharing!

  10. There really is nothing better than getting to the top of the mountain and taking in the stunning views! I can’t wait to get to Canada to go on all the amazing hikes you’ve shared!

  11. The view from the top looks stunning. What a fantastic hike!
    I tend to avoid hikes that have snowy parts, but I’ll add this one to my ‘when in Canada’ list anyway!

    1. Don’t worry, this one will be totally snow free soon (plus you have a better chance of seeing the views without rain later in the summer!)

  12. This is gorgeous! We hiked quite a bit of Vancouver but we were on more family-friendly length trails as our kids were still pretty young. We’ll have to hit this trail when they are a bit older!

    1. Oooh I didn’t include a photo (as I’ve mentioned them lots of time on snowy posts) but they are fab! They fit over your shoes to make it easy to walk on ice. πŸ™‚

  13. These trails look so so pretty! I am not much of a hiker, but I will admit that being cooped up inside has me wanting to do it more and more! The view would be worth the climb πŸ™‚

  14. I guess it’s so disappointing when you come all the way and there is nothing to see because of the fog… Is it still worth it somehow? Why would you go there again if you already been in good weather? Sorry if my question is stupid, I’m not a hiker really πŸ™‚

  15. It’s always a little frustrating when you go on a hike and the weather doesn’t allow you to see the great views, but it sounds like you were able to enjoy some on the way up.

    It also sounds like the was a nice element of comradery between all the visitors when the clouds separated a little!

  16. Wow! This looks like a wonderful place to go for a hike! We would love to visit someday, just to get that breathtaking view from the top of the mountain! Adding this to our Canada bucket list now!

  17. Bowen Lookout does look like a great spot for a mini hike! Love your jumping in the air shots – how do you manage to get such great ones!?
    Bit funny to hear about how busy it was – I can imagine the children milling around ruining some great shots, haha!
    Such a shame about the clouds! I remember dragging my husband on a hike in East Switzerland while it was raining (!) in the hopes that it would clear up by the time we reached the top – it didn’t, instead it got worse, *facepalm*!

  18. Wow! It’s too bad it was a little foggy, but I’m glad you got pictures on your previous trips so you could show off what it looks like on a clear day! That must’ve been very nice to finally be able to go back after lockdown, although I’m sure it would’ve been a little bit better without the crowds. I haven’t visited the PNW during summer in two years, but I am planning to in 2021, and your posts are inspiring me to write a hiking post of my own when I do πŸ™‚ Your photos are always make me miss home in Seattle!

  19. The PNW is a magical place! There are so many places to hike, and this looks like a great one. The view from the top is unbelievable (when you can see it.) I haven’t ever really done hikes longer than 2-3 miles, but I just bought a pair of hiking boots and am looking to put them to use!

  20. Oh wow, this hike looks amazing, such incredible views. I love that you can drive all the way to 900 m as you still have plenty to hike, but you’re already starting at a height where the views are amazing! The scenery looks beautiful and the ideal place to get away from it all πŸ™‚ this is really making me want to hike but currently I am not near anywhere this epic and we aren’t allowed to stay overnight in hotels yet!

  21. I always love reading your hiking posts! St Mark’s Summit looks absolutely gorgeous. I love your images of the trees and the low-hanging clouds. Also, snow! Was it chilly up there?

  22. I was planning a trip to Cypress before the pandemic and have been living vicariously through every blog I can find. I love this hiking guide and have bookmarked it for whenever I am able to visit so I can go on some awesome hikes and see even more of the beautiful country.

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