Description: This beautiful trail winds its way up the mountainside toward the twin peaks known as the Lions. The forest scenery is amazing throughout the hike, with breathtaking open views at the top and a couple of open viewing areas along the way as well. The total distance is approximately 16 km (10 miles) round trip, and the elevation gain is 1,280 meters (4,200 feet). Parts of the trail are quite steep and require scrambling, so this hike is recommended only for fit, experienced hikers.
Time: VancouverTrails.com says allow 8 hours for this hike to be on the safe side. We did it in a little under 5.5, stopping for lots of photos and a quick picnic at the top, but we kept up a decent pace otherwise and didn’t stop to rest along the way.
Difficulty: This hike is listed as difficult by other sources, though most of the difficulty is in the final third near the top. The first bit just requires walking steadily uphill on an overgrown gravel logging road. The next bit includes gentle slopes and relatively flat bits, but the trail is narrow and rough in places, with lots of roots, rocks, and other things to trip over. The third and final stretch is quite steep and requires nearly continuous scrambling. The trail is not really evident in many places; there are lots of markers to keep hikers on track but people still lose the trail sometimes.
The spot to stop, eat, and admire the view at the end of the trail is actually a ridge overlooking the Lions peaks; apparently you can get to one of the peaks, but it’s quite a dangerous trek, very exposed and risky (people have died on that peak; don’t attempt it unless you’re an experienced climber).
Required Equipment: Hiking shoes with good grip, clothing appropriate to the season, food, plenty of water, and sunscreen; a first aid kit and headlamps are also a good idea for any rugged hike.
This hike is recommended only for July through October (or November, depending on the source you consult), and even in the summer months there may still be some snow near the top. Most hikers manage with just hiking boots, particularly in the summer when the snow is usually thinner and patchier. However, some have run into deeper snow and recommended bringing crampons or snow shoes. We went in mid-October and there was no snow so we were fine with hiking boots.
- There are fantastic views from the ridge and at viewing points along the trail, as well as gorgeous forest scenery throughout the hike.
- There’s a large open area on the ridge to sit down and have lunch while enjoying panoramic views of the Lions and surrounding area.
- You’ll get a good workout on this trail, even if you’re quite fit already.
- There is very little parking at the trail head (just 6 spots, and anything parked illegally will be towed). If the little lot near the trail head is full, you can park about a kilometer away down the road.
- There are no toilets either at the trail head or anywhere along the trail.
- Although there is no rule against bringing your dog, taking dogs on this hike is not recommended because some stretches of the trail are very dangerous for them.
- Going down is hard on the knees. Lots of hikers complain about sore knees after this one, and it’s definitely not a good choice for anybody who suffers from knee problems already.
- Come early to make sure you get parking and don’t end up coming come down the trail in the dark (the forest is thick over parts of the trail, so it will get dark earlier in there than it will out in the open).
- There are forks in the Binkert Trail where other trails branch off (they’re marked, but not always in a way that’s obvious). You can find information about these forks, driving directions from Vancouver, and more at the following sites: