Time: 2 Hours
Open: Year round
Elevation gain: 175 Meters
Round Trip : 5.0 Kms
Difficulty: Moderate (there is a lot of uphill and steep downhill areas)
Monday was sunny and very warm. My husband and I decided to venture out on a hike we’d never done before: The Lion’s Bay Loop to Crystal Falls. With beautiful views high above Howe Sound and the reward of a rushing waterfall at Magnesia Creek this is a relatively easy hike although there is a lot of uphill, stairs and a couple of steep descents.
The trailhead starts a few feet north of the Lions Bay General Store on Centre Road. Follow the Centennial Trail crossing a metal bridge over Alberta Creek. The trail then starts to gradually climb up into the forest keeping parallel with the highway (sea to sky) down below. The forest is mostly Western Cedar, Hemlock and Douglas Fir, typical of our temperate rainforests.
There are 3 junctions you will come to. Keep left on each so you don’t miss the great look-outs on the way. Views of Howe Sound with Islands jutting out of deep blue water, sparkling in the sunlight. There are benches and picnic tables for a rest or snack.
I found Arbutus Point to be the nicest of the views.
Back into the forest and continuing along the Centennial Trail we came across an interesting scene: 6 teddy bears perched high on a platform someone built for them in a tree. This reminded me of the childhood song Teddy Bear’s Picnic and I hummed it as we trudged along deeper into the forest.
The trail continues up, up, up until you get to the junction for Harrison Trail.
This is where you return to after doing the loop. Keep left and continue down the stairs.
At this point the trail descends quite steeply.
Down some switch backs and crossing a creek, the trail exits the forest onto a road.
Cross the road and you’ll see a patch of gravel, walk up to it and to the right you’ll see the path open up again with the Sea to Sky highway below on your left hand side.
The views of the Sound are great from this point and the trail is lined with bright wild flowers; Foxgloves, St Johns Wort, Daisies, Lupines. Up on the hill an entire field burst with colour. So beautiful!
Follow the path until you reach Crystal Falls Road.
Turn right on Crystal Falls Road and walk up the hill. You’ll start to hear the rushing falls from here.
At the top of the hill the road splits into a fork, looking straight ahead and you’ll see the trailhead again.
Entering the forest once more, follow the trail uphill and stop when you reach the water tower.
To the left of the trail there’s an outcrop between the trees. This is going to be your best view of the Falls and Magnesia Creek.
There’s a wood bench to sit under the forest canopy and enjoy the falls. No one else was around so we took our time to rest, drink plenty of water, enjoy our surroundings and take photos.
Once you’re ready to head back get ready for a leg work-out.
Follow the trail to your left as it climbs a steep hill until you reach a fence.
Passing the fence there is a gravel clearing and toward the right is a great view of Howe Sound.
To the left you’ll see an old logging road with a sign to Soundview Trail. Follow this road uphill for about 10 minutes.
You will come to a junction and to your left you’ll see the Upper Harrison Trail. You don’t want to take this trail so keep going straight a few meters and you’ll see the Harrison Trail to your right.
Your legs will thank you when you start to head downhill again. Through dense forest, sunlight was trickling through the leaves casting light and shadows on the moss and lichens.
Down, down, down, until you get to the Centennial Junction again (and see the wooden stairs you took before to your right). Head left joining Centennial trail once again.
Finally the trail evens out. My thighs were burning with all the up hill so it’s nice to be back on flat-er ground. Watch for loose rocks and roots though to avoid tripping. It’s easy to want to look up and around at all the beauty in the forest.
The trail continues gently until it exits onto Centre Road and back at the General Store again.
A 40 minute drive from Vancouver. An afternoon communing with nature. I feel very blessed to live in such close proximity to this beauty.
Until next time.