Take the gym outside: 5 Beautiful BC hikes

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A commitment to movement doesn't have to be confined to the inside of a gym or the surface of a treadmill. Fortunately British Columbia is home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world. Hiking provides a full body exercise that engages your upper and lower body. The incline of the path combined with rough terrain, engages your core and provides a steady dose of cardio. The arrival of summer presents an awesome opportunity to get active outdoors and embrace the wonderful views around us. If the gym is becoming drab, these outdoor trails can be a great way to introduce a scenic way of getting your blood pumping. Here are 5 hikes in British Columbia that have outstanding views. 

Twin Falls

Photo: Basic Elements Photography

Photo: Basic Elements Photography

Location: North Vancouver 

Round Trip Distance: 1.5km

Time: 1 Hour

If you don't have time to venture away from the city, the twin falls is a scenic trail that features the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge and views of the twin falls. This trail has a steep incline that will get your glutes firing. The twin falls trail provides a quick escape from the bustling city scape. Since you can complete this trail in under an hour, you can still have time and energy to add some resistance training.

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Big Cedar and Kennedy Falls Trail

Photo: Colin Knowles

Photo: Colin Knowles

Location: North Vancouver 

Round Trip Distance: 10km

Time: 5 Hours

The Big Cedar and Kennedy Falls Trail is for those that are looking for an adventurous path that’s close to home. This path features the impressive 600 year old Big Cedar Tree. The path is has a low overall incline, but it does have uneven terrain and features natural obstacles that will engage your whole body. Since this path is more involved and takes about 5 hours to complete, it’s recommended that you bring a pack that contains enough snacks and water to keep you fed and hydrated. To prevent strain in your back, make sure that the weight of your pack is evenly distributed and that the bag is lightly snug along your back. 

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Tunnel Bluffs

Photo: Caroline Helbig

Photo: Caroline Helbig

Location: Lions Bay

Round trip distance: 8km

Time: 4.5 Hours

The Tunnel Bluffs hike is one of the more challenging paths on this list, but the view at the top is certainly worth it. As you navigate along this steep path, you'll need to use your upper body to pull and support yourself with a series of yellow ropes. When you reach the top, you'll be able to see views of Bowen Island, the Sunshine Coast, and boats moving along Horseshoe Bay. Since this path features a variation of terrain, it’s important to wear appropriate footwear that provides ample support and protection.

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Stawamus Chief

Photo: Davide Tortora

Photo: Davide Tortora

Location: Squamish

Round trip distance: 11km 

Time: 6 Hours

With a trail that is lined with boulders and slabs of granite, the Stawamus Chief will require your full attention and the strength of your entire body. Metal chains are provided to help you pull yourself along steep rocky pathways. With a 5 hour completion time that includes climbing through plenty of up hill stretches, this path will surely deliver a quality cardio session. Once you reach the peak of the trail, you'll be able to take in a scenic view of the mountains of Garibaldi Provincial Park and Howe Sound.

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Mount Gardner

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Location: Bowen Island 

Round trip distance: 17km 

Time: 7 Hours

The ferry ride to Bowen Island sets the stage for the experience of leaving the city behind and immersing yourself in a nature filled trek that offers views of Howe Sound, the Sunshine Coast, and West Vancouver. Since this trek will take the majority of the day to complete, it’s very important to take time to integrate breaks for periodic stretching, snacking, and hydration. Dynamic stretching will keep your muscles and joints loose throughout your lengthy journey. It’s also a great opportunity to remember to hydrate and grab a snack to eat. Maintaining hydration, loose muscles, and a steady blood sugar, will be key to preventing injury and compensation.

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Hiking is a great way to integrate exercise that takes advantage of the beautiful surroundings that reveal themselves during the summer months. It provides full body exercise that engages your muscles in unconventional ways. If the gym is starting to become drab, going on a hike can inject some adventure in your commitment to movement.