Vancouver Hikes – Whyte Lake – West Knob – Donut Rock
Do you ever have days when you plan to take it easy, but then get distracted by how lovely it is outside…so you keep going and end up doing a really epic walk? Yeah, we do that too sometimes! On this occasion, we’d planned to hike up to West Knob from Whyte Lake. I thought if we still had some energy, we could keep going up to Donut Rock. However once we made it out we enjoyed the hike sooo much that we devised a longer route to the top of Black Mountain, then back to Whyte Lake via the Trans Canada Trail at the base of Black Mountain.
If you live near Vancouver, you probably know about the hike to Eagle Bluffs. Donut Rock is super close to that, on an alternative path. There were hundreds of people hiking that way on the Sunday when we did this hike. However we had the views completely to ourselves at the West Knob aaaand at Donut Rock. We also had the path to ourselves the whole way back until we got close to Whyte Lake. Basically this route is brilliant if you are attempting to stay socially distanced while in the mountains.
Trail map: Whyte Lake – West Knob – Donut Rock
Choose your own adventure. If you’re hiking with little kids, stop at Whyte Lake. If you feel like a mini challenge, stop at West Knob. A teeny bit more of a climb will bring you to Donut Rock… And then you’re just a hop, skip and a jump away from the top of Black Mountain.
Whyte Lake – West Knob – Donut Rock – the basics
Distance: 19 km
Elevation gain: 1250m
Highest Point: 1217m (if you go to the top of black mountain)
Time: It took us 8 hours, with some breaks
What to bring:
Hiking poles (your knees will thank you!)
Loads of water (although there is some on the trail at Nelson’s Creek)
The 10 Essentials
There is water and toilets at the Cypress resort. There is also a really cool loo on the Trans Canada trail after descending Black Mountain.
Dogs would be fine to Whyte Lake. If they are used to steep trails, they might like all of this.
How hard is it?
Whyte Lake: Easy
West Knob: intermediate
Donut rock and Black Mountain: intermediate-hard
Whyte Lake Trail
The first part of this adventure will take you along a well trodden path to Whyte Lake. The area has some gorgeous old growth trees and is a pleasure to explore. I have a longer post about the Whyte Lake trail here. Whyte Lake itself is pretty nice. When we came past there were a few families with kids and dogs jumping into the lake for a swim.
The trail next to Whyte Lake also has one of the North Shore’s prettiest loos with a view. (as you may know, I love loos with views!) I was feeling brave, so I used the facilities while keeping the top door open so I could see the forest.
Back in 2018 we were given a wild mushroom foraging tour for Christmas, and Marc and I learned that the dew-like drips on polypore fungi are meant to be tasty. The thing is, I never quite got up the courage to taste one. Well, we found a few massive specimens on this walk, so I finally tried the water. It is slightly sweet. I thought it tastes like those small white flowers you find on nettles.
Whyte Lake to West Knob
I knew the trail to Whyte Lake would be busy (it was!) but I honestly thought the trail the rest of the way up Black Mountain would be similar. However as soon as we left the lake, everyone seemed to disappear and we had the forest to ourselves.
The Rock Pile
Once you reach the rock pile, you’ll be at around 550m elevation, so you only need to climb another 200m to reach West Knob. Watch out for a teeny yellow sign (there is a photo at the top of this post) that leads to the viewpoint.
The West Knob
I am still pretty shocked that we had such a lovely viewpoint all to ourselves. Especially one that is so easy to reach and close to Vancouver! Part of the reason we chose this walk, was that we have seen the view before from the top of Black Mountain and from Eagle Bluffs. We thought it was going to be cloudy, but we wouldn’t have minded as we’d seen the view before. To our surprise we emerged from the forest to a perfect blue sky.
The West Knob to Donut Rock
When a day is that good, you sort of have to continue walking don’t you? The hike up to Donut Rock is about 380m higher than West Knob. Plus you have to climb down a bit to retrace your way back to the main path. That sounds easy, but it is actually very steep! I was glad we were climbing up, rather than hiking down it!
We met two hikers who had followed a loop from Whyte Lake, up to Eagle Bluffs, then down via Donut Rock. They were really sweet (they told us they were sad that the rock wasn’t the shape of a donut.) They also mentioned that there were more than 30 people at Eagle Bluffs, even though on this side of the mountain the trail was deserted!
As you climb higher there are a couple of places with ropes to help you pull yourself up. There are also occasional views down to Howe Sound.
I thought the views from Donut Rock were just as good as the views at Eagle Bluffs. We saw eagles souring above us and made friends with a handsome raven. I guess the main difference is that there is less space to sit and enjoy the scenery. That was okay for us, as we only need to share it with the raven.
He seemed slightly annoyed that we know the rules about leave no trace. We didn’t share our lunch with him, despite his pleading eyes.
Donut Rock to Black Mountain
The trail gets much easier beyond Donut Rock. You only need to go around 100m higher to reach the lakes on the top of Black Mountain. The route is far less steep. It soon joins the popular trail that leads to Eagle Bluffs. This was the one super-busy part of our route. Still we know this part of the mountain well, so we wandered past the lakes and made our way to the top of the ski runs. We had a quick wave at one of my favourite mountains, the Lions.
Then we followed the trail down the ski run, down to Cypress Mountain resort where we knew we could fill up our water.
Black Mountain back to Whyte Lake
We had hiked up double the amount of elevation gain (compared to my original plan) so we were keen to find an easy route back to the trailhead at Whyte Lake. It turns out, there is a really pleasant trail that starts at the base of the Raven Ridge ski lift. On our map it is called the West Cypress Creek Trail, but there were signs to say it is also part of the Trans Canada Trail (that crosses the whole country.)
We only saw a few cyclists on this path, but we also found another beautifully built outhouse. It’s a shame so few people venture in this direction.
Further around Black Mountain we followed some really fun looking bike trails down to the Whyte Lake trailhead. Whoever built these trails must have had a blast! There were jumps, ladder-like pathways and trees to balance on. I would be terrified to zoom down this on wheels!
Still, it was shady, gorgeous and incredibly quiet, until we joined up with the trail to Whyte Lake, which was now full of people out for the late afternoon/evening strolls.
I really loved this hike! I was expecting it to be easy, and maybe slightly boring, but the myriad of trails allowed us to create our own route, see some stunning views and really push ourselves with over 1200m elevation gain. If you fancy a quiet (but rewarding) day out near Vancouver, this really was a great day. Or, if you like the views, but don’t fancy climbing the whole way up, hiking to West Knob is also a fun option.
I read about the West Knob part of this walk in the 105 Hikes book, which is full of fantastic (and fun) trails like this. If you like the sound of it, you can buy it here.
As always, if you like the look of this, please click on the pins to save them.
64 thoughts on “Vancouver Hikes – Whyte Lake – West Knob – Donut Rock”
I am continually amazed at how pristine these landscapes appear, especially compared to the east coast of the US. Sigh.
Also I love the fact that you guys went on a mushroom foraging tour! My great grandparents came over from Czechoslovakia in the early 1900s and passed down the tradition of hunting mushrooms to eat. My grandmother, mom, aunts, and my sister and I spent every autumn hunting for mushrooms so my Gram could make mushroom soup, mushrooms & eggs, etc. Though I never enjoyed the taste, I knew how to pick “good” mushrooms and people were always amazed (and still are) that my family ate wild mushrooms and no one ever got sick. So cool!
That tour was so fun! But to be honest, we mostly learned about how much there is still to learn! It sounds like your family were much better at choosing the good ones!
Next time I’m in Vancouver I will have to do this trail. It looks beautiful
Yay! I hope you can, and that you enjoy it!
Yes, on occasion I have extended a hike when the scenery was great and I was swept into the mood. I don’t think I’ve ever unintentionally gone 17km but the scenery on this route is tempting.
Lol I think our original plan was 10km, so we only went an extra 9km… 🤣🤣
Nice pics! The scenery is gorgeous. This is the perfect trip for right now with all the social distancing and everything going on. Might need to head up to Vancouver!
Yeah, i was really surprised how empty the trail was. Especially as it is right next to a trail with the same view, that was super busy!
I’ve done Eagle Bluffs but didn’t know about West Knob or Donut Rock! Maybe it’s time to hit up the trails again… been so out of shape since this whole pandemic thing started lol!
It’s funny isn’t it. Some trails are really well known, but others are empty (when they are just as nice!)
If you’re feeling out to shape, it would be easier to go up Black Mountain from Cypress Resort, then reach Donut Rock from that direction. You just need to watch out for the turn off. 🙂
p.s. Yaaaay I am so excited to find another blogger in Vancouver!
Once again you’ve found an awesome place to explore and hike in. The scenery and wilderness is absolutely stunning all around Vancouver isn’t it? What a place to live.
Thanks Jonno! I hope you are settling in to your new house-sit and that you find some fab new trails too!
This looks stunning! My hiking bucket list for Canada keeps getting longer and longer, and I’ve now added this to my list too! The scenery looks incredible, sounds like the perfect hike!
Canada bucket lists are dangerous! Each time you do one thing, you find out about 3 more epic adventures to add to the list! 🤣🤣🤣
What a spectacular find! I know exactly what you mean by getting swept up in the moment. You end up going just a little bit further… and a little bit more… until you’ve spent the whole day hiking! No regrets though haha.
Yeeees! That is exactly what happened!
I can’t believe how many amazing trails are so close to where you live! It’s like a hikers dream. The trails through the forest are so beautiful and then the views are wow! I like that depending on time and ability there are different places to turn around. I would love to come spend an entire summer in Vancouver and explore these trails. Oh and I love that outhouse in the middle of the woods. So cute!
The loos with views are pretty fab aren’t they!? Ness, I think you would love spending a summer (or 3) hiking here…your photos are always so fab, you’d show the rainforests off at the best.
Another lovely hike with your near Vancouver. I learned about the polypore drops. wonder if it’s any polypore?
I’m not sure, there are sooo many types. He showed us on ones like my photo, and we have seen them all over the place since then. The larger flat polypores with reddish brown/ dark tops (they look like pancakes) don’t seem to have those dew droplets.
omg these all look awesome! I’m so keen to come back to Vancouver, so I’ll keep these in mind!
Yay, thanks Holly!
I’m pinning all of your Vancouver hiking posts so we have them next time we go back!
Let me know if you come back and need advise for family friendly hikes. 🙂
Um, I’m sorry, I got distracted at first mention of Donut Rock lol. This hike, as always, looks incredible!! How does one even choose what amazing trails to explore near Vancouver?!
It’s really tough! We’ve been here for 3 years and I STILL keep finding new hikes that we have not seen yet!
p.s. lol I have to admit, I wish I bought a dounut to eat on the rock!
Josy, I missed something in this post. Where is the obligatory photo of you jumping in the air?
I find he photo “Steep trail, gorgeous forest” to be one of you best. It looks like walking in a mystical forest.
Thanks Rudy (about the photo)
I think I did take a jumping photo, but my top jumped up to reveal my belly, and I didn’t want to assault the internet with that view! 🤣
Donut Rock! I’d want to eat a donut at that rock, hahaha. I love hikes where you get the place all to yourself! *-* Your photos are (as always) gorgeous! <3 I'd love to check this place out someday! The bike trails sound like fun too!
The bike trail did look amazing if you are in to that! You have sooo many hobbies, so I can imagine you’d be amazing at cycling too!
p.s. We failed- next time I’ll take donuts!
This looks like such a great hike! I share the feeling of waking up some days and just wanting to walk and walk, it feels so rewarding once you finish.
Rewarding…and a little tiring. 😉
Wow, This places looks so amazing and I would love to hike there. unfortunately my partner is not into hiking, so I can only enjoy reading your experience and looking at your great pictures. Thanks for sharing
If you ever come to Vancouver, you can always hike with us (and let your partner stay in the city) Maybe we can show you the top ten hikes.
Your opening line had me chuckling! We have opposite days! Days when we plan on doing some walking an end up lazing around, haha!
SO awesome you did an 8 hour hike on day you planned to take it easy! The hike does sound awesome and the views are fantastic, even from West Knob.
Lol yeees! We have those days too! They are more likely to happen when it is raining though…sunshine is good at getting me out of bed and on to the trails!
Wow! That hike sounds great! (but also like I hope you treated yourself to something delicious afterwards!) This is a great reminder that sometimes we need to let ourselves go with the flow and enjoy that path we are choosing in the moment. Also, thanks for sharing the little viewpoint sign. I could definitely imagine missing that!
I think we were so tired that we just ate leftovers and went to sleep! 🤣 But it’s okay, the following day we had a bbq.
That is such a stunning side of Canada. You’ve managed to really pull us into the hike with your photos. Also, that mushroom looks like an animal – haha. And high five, I’m a fellow loos with a view lover too. I think the best loos with views are the rickety ones in Ladakh, India 😀 Thank you for this amazingly engrossing post.
Oooh yay for a fellow lover of loos with good views! 😀 I have a feeling I would love trekking in India!
Haha, you surely will 🙂 The Himalayas are absolutely stunning.
I have had many days like that! So many days that I planned to just relax at the pool, but once outside and seeing the gorgeous weather I somehow find the motivation. I have seen so many great hikes in Vancouver recently, I really have to make it to the area. This looks like a great hike with a great variety! I would be a little disappointed if the donut rock didn’t look like a donut as well!
Thats a great hike. The trail looks really beautiful. The best part of the trail seems from West Knob to Donut Rock. All the pictures are really beautiful.
It looks amazing- quiet, peaceful and you can almost taste the clean air.
Vancouver is just so lovely. I find such hikes really interesting. I would love to spend a entire summer here explore these trails. My camera would love clicking this place.
This trail really makes me want to head out to Vancouver! I love that the trail is so lush and green, with all those amazing views! It’s been a while since I’ve hiked a full 8 hours, but it sounds well worth it.
This place looks beautiful! And it was finally sunny! 🙂
Wow what a long but amazing hike!! This place looks so pretty.
What a stunning trail. What a view from those outhouses!!
I’m planning to hike to Eagle Bluffs via Whyte Lake tomorrow. I’ve not been to Donut Bluffs nor have I done the route down (always left a car up at Cypress). Thanks for the helpful info.
Oooh yay! Let me know how it goes! The Donut Rock side is definitely a lot quieter than the Eagle Bluffs side. But it’s easy to find from Whyte lake. 🙂
I live in the Austrian Alps and am always looking for similar hiking experiences in other countries. The Whyte Lake and West Knob Vancouver hikes look like they would fit the bill!
I love hiking so much! This guide was amazing too, and I can’t wait to use it when I (hopefully) visit Canada!
Hehe, West Knob and Donut Rock! Love it. We did some of this trail, right?? It links up with Eagle Bluffs? Beautiful photos as always – I love that one of the Lions (of course)! I hope you didn’t have any hallucinations from the mushrooms! 😀
We love finding new hikes! Thank you, this is very informative 🙂
These hikes look amazing! Vancouver is high on my bucket list for when I make it back to Canada. The scenery looks incredible! Totally keeping this handy. 🙂
I only got to visit vancouver once! but i want to return so I’ll add this to the list!
These photos are absolutely stunning! I found the part about licking the Polypores pretty funny – I had never heard of that but I would be very hesitant to try it as well.
I’ve done a form of this hike twice, but have always gone back down the eagle bluffs path on the return. donut rock down would be pretty steep, but the west cypress creek trail seems like it would be a lot easier on the knees! i would classify up and back on either donut rock or baden powell as a hard just for the steep descent. would be great if you had a category for your easy, intermediate, and hard hikes to see what you classify has hard/difficult. a map would be really handy for this one so folks take the right fork and also the donut rock trail can be hard to find in spots. great pictures!
Yes I agree, I think coming back down via Donut rock would be really steep and very tough on the knees. The route we found back down around the mountain was longer, but sooo much easier.
I do have a map with the different hike levels. If you’d like to take a look it’s on my main Canada page: https://www.awalkandalark.com/oh-canada/
Hi, just wondering if this is doable in the winter?
It’s doable but pretty tough in winter.
You’d need to follow the snowshoe route down Black Mountain to avoid the ski slopes.
The return journey via the West Cypress Creek Trail is very quiet and unlikely to have tracks so it is likely to be much harder to follow than the summertime. It goes through simple avalanche terrain.
Great, thanks! I think it would be best if we just go to black mountain, and then go back the same way.
Yeah, that is much easier! The steepest section is before you make it up to Donut Rock. If it seems too dodgy in the snow, you can always retreat back down to West Knob. Just be careful as it is easy to lose the path in the snow.