Just about everywhere you go in western Canada you’ll find good hiking opportunities, from short walks in urban parks to backcountry treks through untamed wilderness. Best of all, it’s free.
In British Columbia the regional parks surrounding Vancouver have a wide variety of trails, while over on Vancouver Island the challenging West Coast Trail is renowned for its coastal scenery. Many provincial parks scattered through the province—Garibaldi, Manning, Kokanee Glacier, and more—hold a range of hikes, but always with mountain scenery as a backdrop. The national parks of the Canadian Rockies hold the greatest concentration of hiking trails. Here you can find anything from short interpretive trails with little elevation gain to strenuous slogs up high alpine passes. Some trails are accessible from downtown Banff, while others require some advance planning, like those around Lake O’Hara (Yoho National Park), which are on a quota system.
Heli-hiking is an out-of-the-ordinary way to experience the high alpine without making the elevation gain on foot. The day starts with a helicopter ride into the mountains, where short, guided hikes are offered and a picnic lunch is served. Whistler, Valemount, and Canmore are bases for heli-hiking operations.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition