Tunnel Bluffs from Lions Bay
Hiking to Tunnel Bluffs is one of those trails that I have been meaning to do for a while, but I didn’t really like the idea of parking at the old trailhead and crossing the busy Sea to Sky highway. Once I found out there was an alternative route that doesn’t include possible death by speeding cars, I was really keen to try it. This hike involves balancing on log-bridges, a trail with gorgeous mossy trees and finishes at a beautiful viewpoint from the bluffs.
The original version of this hike is listed in the fabulous 105 Hikes book, but we amended it to follow a route from the village of Lions Bay at the Sunset trailhead. This new route seems to be a bit easier (although a little longer) than the old way. It makes it a great option when you just want to hike for a few hours, then head home for a barbecue.
Tunnel Bluffs Map (from Lions Bay)
Tunnel Bluffs – the basics
Distance: 11 km
Elevation gain: 500m
Highest Point: 710m (the viewpoint it lower at 670m)
Time: It took us 3.5 hours, with a nice long break for food
What to bring:
The 10 Essentials. We didn’t need hiking poles for this one.
There is a porta potty at the trailhead
I didn’t see any signs saying no dogs, and all the pups we met along the trail were having a happy, muddy day.
How hard is it? Easy to Intermediate. It will get your heart pumping for the first 20 mins, and you need to cross some creek on logs, but other than that, it’s not a tough hike. That is why it’s so popular.
As I mentioned, in previous years, most people did this hike from Tunnel Point Viewpoint (on the Sea to Sky Highway.) However in 2020, 30 minute parking restrictions were added to that viewpoint. So you *could* try to hike from there, but your car might get towed away! I personally like the idea of starting in Lion’s Bay more; As I don’t want to put my life in danger by rushing across the highway.
However, the parking at Lions Bay is also very limited (and recently became very expensive – $24 per day.) This was already busy before the popular tunnel bluffs trail was added to it. You need to park here to climb up to the Lions, Mount Brunswick, Mount Harvey and Hat Mountain. We arrived at 9am, and snagged the very last parking spot. So I imagine later in the summer you’d have to be up at the crack of dawn to park here!
Tunnel Bluffs – Getting started
The parking is the toughest part of this hike! Once you have found a spot (woot!) following the trail is very easy. The first section is the steepest part as you walk up what seems to be a pretty wide, well maintained logging road. After that, the trail flattens out a bit and it’s a relaxing walk.
The only thing you may not like about this trail is some of the creek crossings. A trail-building superstar has built some fantastic log bridges so you won’t have to get your feet wet. But if you are afraid of heights or don’t feel stable walking along a log with just a flimsy rope to hold on to, this might be a bit scary!
I have to admit, I really loved these bridges!
There are some cool places along the trail where you can see rock slides, as well plenty of mud and pretty flowers. There are a few spots with viewpoints out to Howe Sound, but mostly you’ll be in the shade of the rainforest.
After hiking along at the same elevation for most of the way, the path joins up with the original Tunnel Bluffs trail.
Tunnel Bluffs Views
Once you’re getting close to the bluffs, there are some gaps in the trees. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see the see the peaks of the North Shore Mountains Britania range! They were all shy and hiding behind clouds when visited.
But in the opposite direction, out towards Howe Sound and the Sunshine coast, we were treated to blue skies.
This is the view down to the Sea to Sky Highway. It’s a steep drop down from Tunnel Bluffs, but looks sooo pretty!
This is the perfect spot to eat some lunch!
This is a pretty busy hike, but once we made it to the viewpoint, there was plenty of space for people to spread out so everyone could enjoy the views.
We were a little tired from our recent camping trip, so it was really nice to just have a lazy day and do a short hike, rather than waking up super early to do something epic. Hiking to Tunnel Bluffs was perfect for this; As we still had half a day to drink some cider and have a bbq.
If you’d like to find other hikes in this area, please take a peek at the map on my Oh Canada page. Or, click on the pins below to save them.
30 thoughts on “Tunnel Bluffs from Lions Bay”
I agree, the parking is a big issue. We ended up parking in a gravel lot by a playing field, just below the elementary school. This added 15-20 minutes of uphill. Despite all this, I prefer the route from Lions Bay. It’s more scenic and you get to cross those awesome bridges. Great description of this pleasant hike!
Yeah, I was thinking it might be hard to come back to try the bigger hikes Mount Brunswick or Mount Harvey with the difficulty of parking (especially now we need day passes for some of the other popular routes.) I guess it might be worth taking a bus from Horseshoe Bay.
It is a bit of a shame that the mayor and residents are so keen to keep hikers away from Lions Bay. 🙁
That looks absolutely fabulous, what amazing views of the Sea to Sky Highway and I love those log bridges. You get out to some great locations for your hikes don’t you?
Thanks Jonno! Yeah the views along the Sea to Sky highway are just spectacular! I love hiking and driving in this area!
What a gorgeous hike! Thank you for introducing me to more of Vancouver 🙂 Happy to hear this trail isn’t too difficult – might be one I even try – and I can bring my dog! Though the parking does seem challenging.
Yeah the parking does making it a bit tougher. But if you can go early or on a weekday, your doggy will love it!
Great post, I would love to visit one day. 🙂
I love your style. A long hike followed by a BBQ. I’m in! Your pictures are really beautiful. Especially loved the one with the log and the wildflowers. Hiking under, over and through logs is something so lovely about the west. Thanks for the inspiration to hit a trail!
Lol yeees! Hike followed by a bbq is the new normal for us. It used to be hike followed by beer/pub but in the covid-19 era, we’ve been doing more on our own patio.
I hope you can get out onto the trails soon too.
I like all the fun little bridges on this hike. And of course the views. One of them actually reminds me a bit of a reservoir view from a hike here.
Oooh nice, that must be a massive reservoir! I really loved the log bridges too. <3
This one looks magnificent. The views over the lake are stellar. Your air jumps are getting better too (-;
Thank you sooo much!
I think they got worse again after this one…the last few have been a bit rubbish, but I really like jumping.
hahaha, I’m really glad you found an alternative route not involving speeding cars! $24 is a lotttt for just parking, but I guess if you have a full car and split evenly, it’s not so bad (gotta put stuff in perspective)! From your photos, it definitely looks worth it! <3!
I think it was $3 per hour, so you wouldn’t have to pay the full $24 for this hike…still, it is pricey. This is a very wealthy community (all the houses are worth millions) they don’t really want us hikers to park in their village. 🙁
The trails and beaches were there before the posh houses, but it is their area, so they get to set the rules.
The views looks so pretty! Definitely want to add this one on my list of national parks to visit. Good to know how expensive the parking is. 🙂
Thanks Melissa! This one isn’t even within a Provincial Park’s boundaries. The views are amazing, even outside of the parks near Vancouver!
The Tunnel Bluffs hike sounds really exhilarating. The views are simply amazing. For me the exciting part seems to be the walking on the log bridges. A great experience in the lap of nature. I smiled to myself reading that Parking is the toughest part of the hike!
Thanks Sandy, yeah those log bridges were great fun!
Some of the island pics remind me of views you see from Acadia National Park in Maine, on the other side of the continent. 🙂
Like all of the hikes you post, this one sounds amazing! Those views seem like they would be pretty hard to come by. No wonder it’s so popular!
This place looks beautiful. Sometimes it’s nice to have an easy short hike.
I love hiking and this hike looks absolutely amazing! I would love to try this one.
Vancouver is a special place for me! I am a fellow Canadian, and Vancouver is beautiful! Thanks for all of these tips and tricks!
The Tunnel Bluffs From Lions Bay looks ah-mazing! You always find some of the most scenic places. I wouldn’t have thought the parking would be so challenging. But the sea to sky view looks like dealing with the headache of parking worth it. Thanks for sharing, awesome post.
What a cool hike! The views from it looks so incredible. I’m happy that you are writing about the difficulty of it, because I have a bad knees and even though I love hiking, I wouldn’t be able to do difficult hikes. The creeks crossing looks super adventurous!
This hike looks absolutely gorgeous!! Super happy it’s a fairly easy hike. I’ll be trying this the next time I’m in Vancouver 🙂
This place looks absolutely gorgeous! I’ll definitely going to try in next time I’ll visit Vancouver. Thank you for sharing this!
Looks like a fabulous place to go hiking! I loved how green everything looks, the waterfall and the wood bridge. I haven’t been to Canada yet, but would love to visit sometime!