West Lion

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West Lion Region South Coast
West Lion.JPG
South west aspect of the West Lion from Unnecessary in winter.
Elevation 1654 m (5427 ft)
Quick Info The West Lion along with its cousin 300m to the east are famous landmarks that define the skyline from Vancouver. Because of its visibility and location close to a large urban centre, the West Lion is a popular objective for all manner of inexperienced outdoor people despite it's difficulty as a class 3-4 scramble with serious exposure.


The Lions are a prominent set of peaks in the North Shore visible from many parts of Vancouver. The East Lion is located in the watershed and is therefore off-limits. Furthermore it requires some technical climbing on somewhat dubious rock and therefore is rarely climbed. There is a popular hiking trail to the base of the West Lion, and the final climb to the summit is an exposed class 3-4 rock scramble.

From Cypress Bowl

The traditional approach begins at the Cypress parking lot and follows the Howe Sound Crest Trail past a few peaks (Unnecessary Mountain) before reaching the base of the Lions. Park fees are in effect at the Cypress parking lot.

From Lions Bay

The "modern" approach is from Lions Bay.

Translink Bus Information
C12 Lions Bay map schedule
257 Horseshoe Bay Express map schedule

Drive North from Vancouver for about 11km on Hwy 99 toward Lions Bay then take The Oceanview Road exit. Take the left on Cross Creek Road, turn right on Centre Road, left on Bayview Road, pass by a school, left on Mountain Drive, then finally left on Sunset Drive and park near the yellow gate. No parking fees are involved, but as there is limited space, you want to make sure that you are there not to late as then there will be no available spots. If the trailhead parking is full, alternative parking is available at the elementary school back down the road. There is a new trail connecting the elementary school overflow parking to the main trail.

Lions Bay can be reach by public transit on community shuttle bus C12 from Horsehoe Bay. (Bus 257 goes to Horseshoe Bay from downtown Vancovuer) The bus route ends in the middle of the village, so you will have to walk the last 2km or so from the bus stop to the trailhead.

Parking at the trailhead has been a bit of an issue. The municipality has put up "No Parking" signs. There is limited parking for non-residents at the trailhead. You may need to hunt around for parking elsewhere in town. Additional parking can be found at the school that you pass on the way to the trailhead. There is a trail from the school parking lot that joins up with the main road beyond the yellow gate.

The trail starts out on logging roads, and it's important to know which fork to take. At the first fork, go right; the left fork doesn't go anywhere. At the second fork go right again; the left fork here crosses Magnesia Creek and goes to Brunswick Mountain. At the third fork, go right once more; going left heads to the north face of Mount Harvey. Finally, the road climbs up into Harvey Creek. The trail departs on the right side, crosses Harvey Creek and goes straight up the other side to the Lions.

Climbing to the Summit (standard route)

Reaching the summit involves some exposed scrambling near the top. It's not difficult when dry, but if you fall in the right place you could seriously injure yourself. There's no shame in bringing a rope along for the climb. At the very least, it will dissuade other unequipped hikers from attempting the climb and getting in over their heads.

Climb down to the notch just south of the west lion, and traverse right across the east face on a down sloping ledge. Past the ledge, easy climbing trending up and right leads to the summit.

Doing a loop

If you have two vehicles, an excellent day trip can be had by starting at Cypress and returning via Lions Bay.