Brunswick Mountain Hiking Trail
Hiking Brunswick Mountain near Lions Bay
- Destination: Southwest British Columbia
- Season: June-October
- Difficulty: Demanding
- Distance: 13.1 kilometers (out‑and‑back)
- Elevation Gain: 1,540 meters
- Duration: 7-9 hours
About Brunswick Mountain
Brunswick Mountain is the highest of all the North Shore peaks, and as such has incredible views in all directions. Howe Sound and its islands, Brunswick Lake, Sky Pilot Mountain, The Lions, Mount Harvey, and Grouse Mountain are all prominently on display. The narrow summit has a 360 degree panoramic view that is truly one of the best around.
However, the hike to the summit is not for the faint of heart (or for the inexperienced hiker, for that matter). The final 200 m are very steep and exposed, and require some scrambling. Weather can set in quickly, and if there’s snow or ice you must take extreme caution. The ridge approaching the summit is very narrow and a slip at the wrong moment could easily spell disaster.
But, if you can handle the vertigo, Brunswick Mountain is the perfect hike for anyone looking for something challenging, with lots of vertical climbing and jaw-dropping views.
Go north on Highway #99 towards the town of Lions Bay and take The Oceanview Road exit. Then turn left onto Cross Creek Road, followed by a right turn on Centre Road, a left on Bayview Road, left on Mountain Drive, and left on Sunset Drive and park near the gate. Talk about zig-zag!
There is only parking space for 4 or 5 non-residents cars near the gate. You either need to get to the parking lot very early or you will be out of luck. About 1 km back down Bayview road, you can find parking near the Lions Bay Primary School.
The hike to Brunswick Mountain starts along the same gravel road as the popular hike to The Lions. From the end of Sunset Drive, walk past the gate and onto the wide, gravel road. Follow the road as it zig zags and climbs gradually uphill. Within a few minutes you will pass by a concrete structure on your right. After 1 km, or about 15 minutes of hiking, you will come to a metal fence, where the trail splits off on your right, onto a narrower path.
Take the path, uphill, now at a steeper grade for another kilometer. At the 2 km point (roughly 30 total minutes), you will reach another split in the trail. Going right is marked (by a colorfully painted sign) as the route towards The Lions. Go left, onto the skinny single-track trail, which is marked towards Brunswick Mountain. The trail here is relatively flat for the next 700 m. You will quickly reach a small creek crossing, then a large creek crossing to navigate across. This is Magnesia Creek and the trail picks up on the other side, marked by orange flagging. Crossing this creek in the summer should not pose a problem, however, during the early spring it may be a different story as there is no bridge here.
Beyond Magnesia Creek you will come to a junction where going straight is marked for Hat Mountain and Tunnel Bluffs. Go right, heading uphill onto an old, severely overgrown road.
The trail will begin climbing upwards again, at about a 15% grade. The trail becomes quite narrow and can be overgrown in sections. Follow the trail as it switchbacks several times. Just shy of the 5 km mark into the hike, some partial views of Howe Sound will open up through the trees onto your right. After this point, the trail becomes very steep, and will remain so for the rest of the hike to the summit of Brunswick Mountain. Once you reach 1,100 m elevation you will enter into old-growth forest.
After roughly 1.5 – 2 hours of hiking, at the roughly 5.5 km mark you will come to a nice, open viewpoint of Howe Sound. And just a few minutes further along the trail you will get your first view of Mount Harvey to your right through a break in the trees. You are roughly at 1,400 m elevation here, with about 400 m of climbing to go. Tough climbing.
It’s not far to go until you reach the junction for the Howe Sound Crest Trail. When you hit the Howe Sound Crest Trail junction keep going straight up in the direction marked for Brunswick Mountain. Going left or right takes you along the Howe Sound Crest Trail itself – a phenomenal, but challenging hike to complete another day. To the left would take you towards Brunswick Lake (and ultimately Deeks Lake and then Porteau Cove). Going right would take you to Magnesia Meadows (and ultimately to The Lions, St. Mark’s Summit, and Cypress Bowl).
The summit is not far from here, but the toughest hiking of the day remains. Exposed rock and some technical scrambling awaits. There is no clear route in sections, other than the occasional orange spray-paint markings on the rocks. Some sections require hands for scrambling up, and you’ll want to be careful here if you have tired legs. Take your time and remember to look behind you once in a while, as the view is amazing, even from here.
Weather can also pose a challenge on Brunswick Mountain due to its elevation. Weather can set in quickly, making it difficult to find you way around the summit area. If there is any snow or ice you will want to be extremely cautious.
Slowly plug away at the elevation and after some effort you will reach the saddle which leads to the Brunswick Mountain summit. The ridge is very exposed and requires much caution – this is what is called a ‘no-fall zone’, for obvious reasons. The steep drops off the ridge would be unforgiving. You will pass a wooden helicopter landing pad along the ridge just before reaching the summit.
The summit view, however, is unbeatable, and will make you forget about tired legs. You can see Mount Harvey, The Lions, Mount Unnecessary, Crown Mountain, Grouse Mountain, Howe Sound and its islands, Vancouver Island, Sky Pilot Mountain, Brunswick Lake, James Peak, Hat Peak, Mount Hanover, Magnesia Meadow… and more. A lot more. Its a breathtaking sight you have to see for yourself. It’s an amazing feeling to be looking DOWN onto The Lions.
You’ll notice the ridge carries on and you could access the eastern peak of Brunswick Mountain. While possible, the risk/reward isn’t worth it. The risk of falling vs the reward of a view that isn’t any better than the one you can enjoy from the west peak.
To return, retrace your steps. It’s also possible to exit via either way along the Howe Sound Crest Trail with some more planning and a second car.
Cool fact: Brunswick Mountain is the highest peak on the North Shore. Also, the “name comes from the H.M.S Brunswick, one of the ships that fought on “the Glorious Firts of June” 1794, a battle between the British and the French”.
- Dogs allowed
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