Hiking to the Summit of Mount Elsay in North Vancouver

One of the most rewarding hikes in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland is the trail to the top of Mount Elsay in North Vancouver. Mount Elsay rises 1,312 meters high in Mount Seymour Provincial Park, offering panoramic views of Vancouver and the surrounding mountains. The hiking trail to the summit is a challenging 6 kilometers round trip, but the vista at the top is worth the effort.

The trail starts at the end of the road in Mount Seymour Provincial Park. Follow the path marked for Mount Elsay, which starts off relatively flat as it winds through old-growth forest. Massive Douglas fir and western redcedar trees tower all around, some estimated to be over 500 years old. As the trail steepens, switchbacks lead you up through the forest to an open ridge with the first views of Vancouver below.

After 2 kilometers, the forest opens up to reveal the rocky upper slopes of Mount Elsay. The trail becomes very steep, with a final ascent over loose talus to the summit. As you navigate the unstable rocks, use the fixed ropes to help pull yourself up to the top. The final push is the hardest part of the hike, but your reward is emerging at the summit with 360 degree views in every direction.

To the south, the city skyline of Vancouver rises up, dominated by the snow-capped North Shore Mountains. The Lions, Mount Harvey, and other peaks are arranged behind. Looking west, you can see over Vancouver Island and the Strait of Georgia. The Coast Mountains and Howe Sound lie to the north. On a clear day, visibility can extend all the way to Mount Baker in Washington State.

Spend some time at the top to appreciate the breathtaking vistas. The summit has a small plateau where you can sit down, have a snack, and just take in the beauty surrounding you. Since 1967, the summit of Mount Elsay has been marked by a large metal box containing a summit register logbook. Sign your name to record your accomplishment of reaching the top.

The hike down the mountain retraces your same path, going slowly down the steep and rocky sections. Return down through the forest to complete the rewarding challenge of summiting Mount Elsay. The dramatic views and sense of accomplishment will stay with you long after completing this unforgettable hike in North Vancouver. Experience the natural splendor of British Columbia from the peak of Mount Elsay.

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