Hiking to St. Mark’s Summit with Amazing Views of Howe Sound

Using the weather and increase in tourist sightings as my gauge, I would say that Summer has arrived in Vancouver! We are so lucky to have access to all this beautiful, natural terrain in Vancouver and I’m planning to take full advantage of that. Today, my best friend Alison invited me to go on a local hike with her friend Max and his giant dog (that a few people thought was a bear!). The hike began from the Cypress Mountain parking lot, continued along parts of the Howe Sound Crest Trail and ended (for us) at St. Mark’s Summit. Here’s our view at the top!


Essential Stats taken from Vancouver Trails:

Region: The North Shore
Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 5 hours
Distance: 11km
Elevation Gain: 460 meters
Season: July – October
Camping: No
Dog Friendly: Yes
Public Transit: No
Approx. 45 minutes from Vancouver

Here we were walking from the parking lot and the base of the ski hill. We arrived at 9:00 am on a Sunday morning and there were only a handful of cars. By the time we left Cypress around 1:30 pm, the parking lot was packed!!

Tip: 9:00 am is considered “early” in Vancouver!


There are many trails you can choose from in this region and lots of scenic view points along the way that make for good “short” hikes. We followed the signs that were labelled “Howe Sound Crest Trail”.

During the first 10 minutes you walk along a gentle gravel road that is relatively flat. Barkley the Lab/Great Dane mix kept jumping into all the little pools of water along the way.

Dress code

Me: Are those Tommy Bermuda shorts??
Alison: They’re Tommy Bahamas!
Max: Guys, it’s Ripcurl.

Take note, here’s how we dress for hikes in Vancouver 🙂

Time for a snack break –  that is actually food in Max’s green bag. Alison stayed energized with chocolate-covered almonds. Visible in the background are some ski runs that operate in the Winter (but not this past Winter.. I sure hope next season is better!)

After walking along the gravel path uphill for a ways, there was a junction with a large map. Don’t go right like we did! You need to go left and a few minutes later, you come upon this clearing. In the distance are the iconic “Lions” of Vancouver.

The Lions are rated as one of the most difficult hikes in Vancouver and I’m hoping to do them this summer! (Will update when complete!)

I loved the view of Howe Sound along the hike. Unlike the Grouse Grind, (which I don’t consider a hike, but rather, an insane workout where you don’t have the luxury of views until the end) there are many scenic rest points here.

Soon after this point in the hike, the gravel road connected to a dirt trail with twisted roots that served as little steps and stairs.

More water for Barkley to play in. Surprisingly, he prefers the muddy pools!

The trail started to get pretty steep with several switchbacks, but there are a few areas where we descended before going back uphill – a bit of welcome relief in my case.

Good example of some tree root stairs.

And there’s the muddiest pool of them all! This section flattened out which was great because my legs were starting to really feel the effects from the Sea to Summit Hike the previous day (read about it here) – one of my new favourite hikes after Garibaldi Lake!)

About two hours after we embarked from the parking lot, we made it to St. Mark’s Summit – there’s the post marker.

Other Trails

We saw a group of people with large backpacks and camping gear – (I wondered where they were coming from?). Max mentioned a few hikes that originated from Horseshoe Bay and would intersect up here so that could be it.

We turned left and hiked up this rock so we could eat snacks and take in the view for a good 30 – 45 minutes.

View at the top

Panoramic views of Howe Sound, Bowen Island, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the Sunshine Coast (which is not an island!).

Looking down the rock, back at our trail and to the left (North) we could see the path continue further. This would be our summit for the day, however.

The below picture shows the small dirt hill that we rested on. There we fuelled up on a variety of chocolate-covered goods including almonds, coffee beans and blueberries. I also brought crackers and gruyere. Next time, I shall bring wine 😉 (Reminiscent of my time hiking in the French Alps!) Wine tastes better at high altitudes – I’ll do a write-up on the reasons why in a future post!


Here is the view looking down. Other hikers were a bit wary of my going so close to the edge – at least it’s not a straight drop!


Alison was scouting out this rock for us.

View looking North-West.

If you look closely, there are people perched on that far ledge, along with massive black ravens.

During our ascent, we had seen a post marker indicating a turnoff for a Bowen Island lookout that was only 400 m away. We chose to save it for the end of our hike and here we are heading downhill towards it.

This platform was more crowded than up at the top and probably due to a combination of it being later in the day, and fairly easy to get to! I would guess around 30 minutes to make it up here.

We couldn’t help but notice all the delicious picnic spreads people had assembled here that included smoked salmon and capers. It was at this moment that we decided to go for lunch at Burgoo afterwards!

We also met this 4 1/2 month old puppy while up here! He was so fuzzy and soft!

Post hiking reward

A new tradition: hiking followed by Burgoo’s After School Special!! A delicious and satisfying pairing of any soup and sandwich on their menu!! We went to the location near Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. You can’t go wrong with their Dos Diablos (grilled cheese and chorizo) sandwich paired with the Crab Bisque. Thanks Alison for introducing me to this particularly winning combination 🙂

Bonus of eating here on a Sunday? Drink special for the day is a Caesar since they declare it “Shakespeare Sunday”.

Oh yes, we will be back. I’m very excited for more hiking rewards like this!

Stay tuned for more Vancouver hikes!

What are other people’s favourite hikes in and around Vancouver?

My favourite Vancouver-area hikes:

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