Eagle Bluffs and Black Mountain Hike in West Vancouver

 

Eagle Bluffs – Table of Contents

  1. Hike Introduction
  2. Hike Statistics
  3. Map and Elevation
  4. Hiking Route Description (Cypress Bowl Route)
  5. Hiking Route Description (Nelson Canyon Route)
  6. Hike rating
  7. Free PDF Download

Eagle Bluffs Hike Intro

Eagle Bluffs near Black Mountain in Cypress Provincial Park is considered by many the best vantage point on Vancouver’s North Shore. Perched on the rocky bluffs, you have jaw-dropping views of Howe Sound, Bowen Island, Eagle Harbour, Vancouver, Point Roberts, Mount Baker, and beyond. The hike to Eagle Bluffs also takes you to the two summits of Black Mountain, and offers a chance to see, or even swim in, the beautiful Cabin Lake – along with numerous other subalpine lakes you will pass making your way along the serene forest trail.

Eagle Bluffs is a popular day hike for many locals (and for good reason), so the only drawback to this hike may be the crowds.

There are three options for doing the hike to Eagle Bluffs and Black Mountain.

Option 1: The most common option is to start the hike at the alpine skiing area at the Cypress Mountain parking lot. From here the trail is well marked and takes about 4 hours for a round trip over Black Mountain, to Eagle Bluffs and back to your car. The route also allows for a partial loop to be completed.

Option 2: For the hardier hiker, you can access Eagle Bluffs and Black Mountain from the Nelson Canyon Park parking lot, just below Highway 1 on Westport Road. This route takes you past Whyte Lake to the Baden-Powell trail, and up, up, up.

Option 3: If you have 2 cars, you can drop 1 car at Cypress Mountain, then start the hike in Nelson Canyon Park, doing a point-to-point hike up to Eagle Bluffs from the bottom, then driving back down.

**The routes for starting at Cypress and from Nelson Canyon are both described in separate sections below**

B.C. Parks also marks a winter route to Black Mountain if you want to do some snowshoeing while the trail is still buried in deep snow.


Eagle Bluffs Hike Stats from Cypress Bowl

Rating: Moderate
Distance: 9 km
Elevation Gain: 320 m
Highest Point: 1,224 m
Time Needed: 4 hours
Type: Partial-loop
Season: June to October
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Est. Driving Time from Vancouver: 30 minutes
Trailhead Coordinates: N49.395863, W-123.203891

Eagle Bluffs Hike Stats from Nelson Canyon

Rating: Difficult
Distance: 19 km
Elevation Gain: 1,184 m
Highest Point: 1,224 m
Time Needed: 8 hours
Type: Out-and-back
Season: June to October
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Est. Driving Time from Vancouver: 30 minutes
Trailhead Coordinates: N49.360764, W-123.258828

 

For a better understanding of the stats and difficulty rating, check out the Hiking Guides page for details. Always carry The 10 Essentials and fill out a trip plan.


Eagle Bluffs Map and Elevation

Eagle Bluffs Elevation

Elevation profile from Cypress parking lot (does not include Black Mtn north peak detour)


Eagle Bluffs Hiking Route from Cypress Bowl

Park your car at the very end of the parking lot near the Cypress Mountain ski lodge. As you drive into the parking lot there is a large signboard for Cypress Mountain Provincial Park with a map giving you an overview of the trails within the park – including Yew Lake Trail, Bowen Lookout Trail, Howe Sound Crest Trail, and of course, the trail to Black Mountain and Eagle Bluffs via the Baden-Powell Trail. (Here is the park map).



To get to the trailhead, walk to the big lodge at the end of the parking lot and find the trail. Right below the Eagle Express Quad Chair there will be a BC Parks sign to get you started. The sign will point you in the direction of the Howe Sound Crest Trail and Black Mountain. Follow the wide, gravel trail and very quickly there is a junction. Go left here in the direction for Black Mountain. (Going straight will take you to another junction for the Howe Sound Crest Trail, and also for Yew Lake Loop. If you wish, you can do the Yew Lake Loop for an extra kilometer of easy hiking before it joins back up with the trail to Black Mountain. The trail starts out fairly flat, but will soon begin to climb up alongside the Maelle Ricker’s Gold ski run. This section of the hike is very steep, but the trail is wide and very easy to follow up through a set of switchbacks.

After roughly 40 minutes of climbing, you will come to a junction marked for Cabin Lake (80 m) and Black Mountain (250 m) to the right and ‘Baden Powell trail to Eagle Bluffs (2.7 km)’ to the left. We are going to briefly detour off the Baden-Powell trail, so go right, towards Cabin Lake/ Black Mountain. Quickly, you will come to another junction just before Cabin Lake. The trail to the right is a quick 5-minute detour to the north summit of Black Mountain and is marked as ‘Yew Lake Lookout’. It’s a quick climb up to the rocky lookout to get views of Mount Strachan and the Lions, and the Tantalus Range beyond in the north. The elevation here is 1,224 m.

The Lions

View of the Lions from the north summit of Black Mountain

Cool fact: “[Cypress Provincial Park] has many natural highlights, including several sparkling mountain lakes – such as Blue Gentian, First, Yew, Cabin and West – that are nestled below the peaks of Mount Strachan (1,454 m), Black Mountain (1,217 m) and Hollyburn Mountain (1,325 m).” [source]

Retrace your steps back down to the junction and heading right you will immediately be at Cabin Lake. This is a great spot to stop for a rest and a snack. On a hot summer day, it’s common for people to take a dip in the chilly waters.

From Cabin Lake continue along the boardwalk in the direction which was marked for Black Mountain. Within 5 minutes, you will come to another junction (make a mental note of this junction as it is where you will go in the other direction to make a partial loop on return). For now, head right, in the direction again marked for Black Mountain. From here, you will make the short climb to the summit area at of the south summit of Black Mountain at an elevation of 1,217 m. The rocky outcrop will be on your left and you can hop up to take in the 360-degree views.

After enjoying the view at the south summit of Black Mountain, carry back along the Baden-Powell Trail due south, as the best views are yet to come – about 2 km and 40 minutes away at Eagle Bluffs. The trail will drop down into the forest, into technical, rooty terrain. Within 10 minutes, the picturesque Owen Lake will appear on your left. Keep following the trail and the sections of boardwalk (this area can be quite muddy). You will soon pass Cougar Lakes, also on your left.

A short while past Cougar Lakes, you may notice a tree marked for Donut Bluff – a short, but challenging and hard-to-navigate stretch of trail to a different lookout. Ignore this steep trail for now and stay on the Baden-Powell. It’s not far from the Donut Bluff junction before you will emerge from the forest onto the rocky Eagle Bluffs at an elevation of 1,094 m.

On a clear day the sprawling Lower Mainland, Mount Baker, Point Roberts, Eagle Harbour, Horseshoe Bay, Bowen Island (Mount Gardner), and the Gulf Islands can all be seen. There is a great view of Stanley Park, UBC, and the numerous container ships sitting out from English Bay directly to the south. Find an open area to sit down, grab lunch, and enjoy the views.

To return, simply retrace your steps from Eagle Bluffs back to the parking lot. To add some variety to the return trip, take the junction to the right just past Owen Lake. This junction is marked for Theagill and Sam Lakes along the Baden-Powell Trail. It will add a short loop taking you between the two small lakes, before bringing back to the junction just below Cabin Lake / Black Mountain north summit. Back at that junction for the Cabin Lake Trail, you will go right and return to the parking lot.

Eagle Bluffs Lookout

View of Vancouver from Eagle Bluffs

Download the PDF version of this guide for offline use


Directions and Parking

Eagle Bluffs from Cypress Bowl:

On Highway 1, take Exit #8 for Cypress Bowl Road. Follow the paved highway for 13 kilometers all the way until the parking lot at the very end by the downhill ski area.

Here are Google Map directions.


Eagle Bluffs Hiking Route from Nelson Canyon Park

Eagle Bluffs elevation from Nelson Canyon

Elevation profile from Nelson Canyon Parking lot to north summit, return


At the end of the small Nelson Canyon Park parking lot there is an information board about the park. Walk passed the yellow gate down the wide gravel road. The road quickly takes you under Highway #1, and there is a trail marker marked for the Trans Canada Trail by a large water tank. Go right, and up the gravel road. At the top of the road is another marker in front of another water tower, and this is where the trail will begin into the canyon – again marked for Trans Canada Trail. The Nelson Canyon Park map can be useful for getting an idea of this beginning stretch of trail.

The trail begins to climb at a gradual grade. You will zig your way through the beautiful forest, with Nelson Creek on your left. After about 15 minutes from the start of the hike, you will come to a junction where the TCT bears right, towards Eagle (Dick) Lake. Stay left at this junction and in a few minutes will you cross over Nelson Creek, and now follow Whyte Creek upstream. In about 10 more minutes you will reach Whyte Lake itself – a suitable spot for a dip off the wooden dock on a hot summer day.

Sidenote: As of 2017, the lake was experiencing some flooding due to beaver activity, and the dock was in poor shape.

Whyte Lake

Whyte Lake

Following the trail alongside the lake, you will reach a split in the trail, and an outhouse perched up on a small hill. Keep going straight at this junction. If you go to the right, to the backside of the lake, it is possible to also connect to the Baden-Powell Trail, but the route that way is less obvious.

Just about a few minutes further down the trail and you will come to a junction with the Baden-Powell Trail. Go right here, merging onto the Baden-Powell, which you will now follow all the way to Black Mountain. (You can also start this hike at the Baden-Powell trailhead on Marine Drive, but I find the way through Whyte Lake more scenic and easier for parking). The Baden-Powell is a well-marked trail with the signature orange, triangular ‘BP’ tree markers that bear the World Scout emblem in the shape of a fleur-de-lis arrowhead. If at any point from here you go a significant stretch of distance without seeing this marker, it’s worth stopping to make sure you’re on the correct trail.

Baden-Powell Trail

The iconic BP marker for the Baden-Powell Trail



The trail here is wide, and will drop down for a short stretch. About 3 km into the hike, a view of Howe Sound will open to the west. Shortly after, the trail narrows and climbs back uphill. There will be a large sign notifying you that you are entering a sensitive watershed area.

The trail will narrow further into singletrack, and it will begin to climb up alongside Whyte Creek again, which you will cross over a few times before the trail levels out once more.

There is one junction shortly from here, which is not obvious if you aren’t paying attention. Going left will take you on the Donut Bluff trail towards West Knob. Make sure you stay on the Baden-Powell trail.

Following the orange markers, you will cross over Nelson Creek, and very quickly come to a steep scree slope emerging from the thick forest – this is about 5 km into the hike. From here, the trail climbs sharply all the way until Eagle Bluffs. Get ready for tired legs and lungs! The trail will switchback its way up for a while before coming to a very large boulder field. Scramble up the boulders, staying to the right side. As you approach the top you’ll notice pink flagging in the trees, where the trail picks up again.

Eagle Bluffs Boulder Field

The boulder field on approach to Eagle Bluffs

As you approach Eagle Bluffs, be sure to take a look behind at the amazing views. After about 6 km you will finally emerge victorious atop the bluffs. You are rewarded with views of the Gulf Islands, the Strait of Georgia, Vancouver, and Mount Baker, to name a few landmarks.

There’s no shame in having lunch here and turning back, for a careful descent to the Nelson Canyon parking lot (always remember – the way down is more dangerous than the way up). If you want to continue, more panoramic views await at both the Black Mountain summits, about 40 minutes further along the Baden-Powell Trail. The pristine Cabin Lake is also worth the stop, sitting between the two summits.

Black Mountain

The Straight of Georgia seen from Eagle Bluffs

Directions and Parking

Eagle Bluffs and Black Mountain from Nelson Canyon:

From the Upper Levels Highway (Highway #1) in West Vancouver, take Exit #4 for Woodgreen Drive and take a left turn onto Westport Road. Go straight through the 4-way top and continue down Westport Road for 1.5 kms. Immediately after going under the highway (drive slow!) there is a pull-out on the right for the gravel parking lot.

Google map directions are here.


Outdoor Vancouver and Reader’s Hike Rating

  • 75%
    Variety of the terrain - 75%
  • 90%
    Views and scenery - 90%
  • 65%
    Not too crowded - 65%
  • 85%
    Overall 'fun factor' - 85%
79%

Summary

Eagle Bluffs offers one of the best views around Vancouver. There are several summits, pristine subalpine lakes, and a variety of routes you can take which make the journey to the viewpoint rewarding in itself. The only drawback for this hike is the potential for crowds.

Leave your rating using the stars, or the comments section below:

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User Rating 3.14 (14 votes)



Other great hikes in this area

  1. Hiking St. Mark’s Summit from Cypress (moderate)
  2. Hiking the entire Howe Sound Crest Trail (difficult)
  3. Hiking Mount Strachan (moderate)
  4. View all hiking guides here

Eagle Bluffs

Eagle Bluffs

Download the PDF version of this guide for offline use

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One Response

  1. Shayla Nguyen Jun 9th, 2017

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