Vancouverite67, this hike sound absolutely amazing! We will definitely look for a nice day and do it!
Any others that are recommended out of Vancouver or the island?
It's an incredibly tough climb, but if you are up to it, the rewards are worthwhile. I have to confess that we have only attempted the slightly lower Shannon Falls trail, and I have yet to have a go at the summit, but have heard many terrific things, so I'm confident about recommending it.
The lower section is a steep grade staircase. You are basically going vertical, or close to it anyway.
My sister and I (in our mid-late 20's) brought our father (in his late 50's, but active) to hike the Stawamus Chief on Father's Day. I can highly recommend it!
It can be a bit of a brutal climb as it's steep, but the trail's in good condition. It takes about 40 minutes to climb up to where it splits between the first peak and the second peak. The second peak is MUCH more challenging (many more chains, ladders, and vertigo-inducing experiences). First peak has the better view and is actually easier, but still a physical climb - you'll be using your hands and you'll be feeling it in your legs, especially on the way down!
40 minutes? Are you sure? We spent about 5 hrs just doing the Shannon Falls section, which peals off to the right after a fair bit of climbing. I'll confess I've not been any higher, and maybe this was at the top of the worst bit, but I got the impression that there was still a ways to go. (This goes to the top of Shannon Falls, I don't mean the touristy bit at the bottom)
For something gentler, I really enjoy the walk to Killarney Lake in Crippen Regional Park on Bowen Island. I really enjoy taking the short ferry trip across to Bowen, and I like the forest in that park - more maples and ferns than the dense coniferous forest you get on the north shore.
The other one that I have done is Diez Vista around Buntzen Lake. This is near Port Moody, east of the city. This gives some great views back across Indian Arm towards the city. It's about 5 - 6 hrs. (Took me 8 the first time, but I was with a group who stopped to snack and rest at all 10 vista points, so it was a slow trip)
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