Mount Seymour is among my top hikes on Vancouver’s North Shore. Located in Mount Seymour Provincial Park, it makes a great summer hike and a beautiful winter snowshoe excursion. But my favourite season is fall. Dazzling reds, oranges and golds accentuate the subalpine meadows and add pops of colour to the craggy peaks. My trusty hiking buddy Eva and I did the trek on a glorious day in late September. Join me for big views and fall splendour on Mount Seymour.
Given its beauty and easy access for those living in Metro Vancouver, Mount Seymour is a tad over-loved. If you have the flexibility to do this hike on a weekday, preferably starting out early, the experience is far more enjoyable. On our Friday excursion, there were a fair amount of cars at Seymour’s downhill skiing parking lot (the trailhead access point), but the trail and the summits were not busy.
The out and back hike to Mount Seymour is 8.5 km (5.3 mi) with an elevation gain of about 580 m (1903 ft). It takes 4-5 hours to complete. Don’t let the moderate stats fool you. Mount Seymour has rugged terrain, steep drop-offs and fickle weather. During this time of the year, mud and ice can result in slick conditions. Many folks come ill-prepared for this hike. As we set out from the trailhead, park officials were checking hikers’ preparedness. I’d never experienced this before, but it makes sense given the growing number of incidents on the North Shore mountains.
One of the many things I like about this hike is that the route actually covers a series of three peaks—Pump Peak (First Peak), Tim Jones Peak (Second Peak), and Mount Seymour (Third Peak). So, depending on your time and energy, and the weather conditions, there are satisfying turn-around options. The entire route is well marked with signs, orange flagging and orange paint markings.
Another big plus for this hike is that by the time you’ve driven to the trailhead, you’ve already gained over 1000 m from Vancouver’s sea level location. Unlike many other North Shore hikes, where you’re trekking through a lot of dense forest (not always a bad thing), much of the Mount Seymour hike is spent in the subalpine with open vistas. While the three peaks are the destinations, the whole journey is totally enjoyable.
Pump Peak (First Peak)
The trail to Pump Peak (or First Peak as it is often called) is the busiest section of the route and serves as an end destination for many hikers. Don’t be disappointed if this is as far as you get. The terrain is sprinkled with little ponds and blueberry patches that turn lovely shades of burgundy in fall. There are great views along the way, particularly at Brockton Point, only 1.9 km into the hike. We were able to see the giant mass of Washington’s Mt Baker.
Eva and I took a long snack break at Pump Peak, about 3.2 km into the hike. We savoured the views over the Burrard Inlet to Greater Vancouver, and the rugged Coast Mountain panoramas.
Tim Jones Peak (Second Peak)
After tearing ourselves away from our scenic perch on First Peak, we continued along the trail to Tim Jones Peak. Second Peak was renamed Tim Jones Peak to honour the former team leader of North Shore Rescue who suffered a fatal heart attack in 2014 while coming down from the rescue team’s cabin on Mount Seymour. Tim Jones made over 1500 rescues during his volunteer career; some of his most dangerous rescues were around Second Peak.
Tim Jones Peak is 3.7 km into the hike and only 0.5 km beyond Pump Peak. I love this short stretch that first dips into a rock-strewn col and then climbs a steep, bouldery path lined with brilliant fall foliage. There’s a bit of a scramble at the very top, but nothing technical. On this outing we actually didn’t take the short detour to the peak proper, but it’s worth it, especially if you don’t plan on continuing to Third Peak.
Mount Seymour (Third Peak)
The third and final summit of the hike is amazing, however the roughly 0.5 km trail from Tim Jones Peak to Mount Seymour is beyond some people’s comfort zones and should not be undertaken in foggy or slippery conditions. On our clear, dry day, we continued steeply down into the next col where there’s a short, narrow ridge with a significant drop off. It’s not that difficult, but it may be inappropriate for novice hikers or those with a fear of heights.
After negotiating the tricky section, we got a pretty reprieve hiking among golden-hued subalpine shrubs and over a false summit with beautiful views.
There was just a bit of huffing and puffing over a short, steep section of slab rock and boulders until we arrived at the expansive Mount Seymour summit. Words can’t do justice to the 360 degree panorama. Hopefully my photos will covey the grandeur of Mount Seymour views. Eva and I took in the scene from every direction—the rugged Coast Mountains to the north, the Pacific Ocean and Greater Vancouver to the south and west, the steep-sided glacial fjord of Indian Arm to the east.
Eva and I have been hiking together for a long time. When conditions are good, one of our favourite activities is to take a mid-hike mini-snooze. We had a wonderful little nap on top of Mount Seymour. Now that the inclement weather has settled in, I assume that was our last hiking snooze of the year. It’s a happy memory that will keep me smiling until the next time we catch some z’s on top of a mountain peak.
For information about this hike and others, I use Stephen Hui’s excellent book 105 HIKES in and around Southwestern British Columbia. Hiking statistics, map and directions for Mount Seymour can be found online at AllTrails.