Vancouver Big Tree Hiking Guide

Introduction to the Vancouver Big Tree Hiking Guide

Welcome to the Vancouver big tree hiking guide.  This page has been created to help people engage with Vancouver’s local forests through offering interpretation and directions for visiting exceptional old-growth forests in the Vancouver area. Vancouver’s is surrounded by lush temperate rainforest that contains trees over 1300 years old and up to 86 m tall. It is reported that the tallest trees on earth grew in the Vancouver area before logging commenced in the late 1800’s.  Currently, of British Columbia’s 50 or so native tree species, the largest, widest or tallest specimens of at least eight of those species are known to be within Vancouver city limits (e.g., red alder and big leaf maple) or in the forests of the surrounding Lower Mainland (e.g., black cottonwood, amabilis fir, Douglas-fir, western hemlock, Pacific yew, and grand fir).

Two hiking guide pages have been added to this site: The UBC forests and big tree guide and the Capilano Canyon Hiking guide. Other areas around Vancouver with monumental trees worth checking out are listed and represented by photos below.  Pages for these areas will be added soon!

For an introduction to Vancouver’s old-growth forests join the author of this website on a 2 1/2 minute video journey to find a massive Douglas-fir in North Vancouver called Grandpa Capilano!

Please direct any questions or comments to Ira Sutherland at

Select Big tree hiking areas (In no particular order):

  1. UBC old-growth
  2. Stanley park, Vancouver
  3. Capilano Canyon, North Vancouver
  4. Brother’s Creek, West Vancouver
  5. Lynn Valley, North Vancouver
  6. Seymour Valley, North Vancouver
  7. Upper Chilliwack Valley, Chilliwack

Few people know that there is a large (68 ha) old-growth forest area in UBC that contains 400+ year old Douglas-fir and some of the largest grand firs in the world. One such giant grand fir is seen here.

Stanley park contains exceptional individual trees of many species. This big leaf maple is believed to be the largest in BC, and possibly the largest maple tree in Canada

An old-growth Douglas-fir towering above young hemlocks at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park (fee to enter), North Vancouver. This perspective is gained from taking the canopy walkway, which hangs nearly 30m above the ground from tall Douglas-firs. Outside the private Suspension Bridge park are extensive trails through nice forest containing much larger and older trees

Brother’s Creek Ancient Cedar Grove, West Vancouver. Some forests in this area are well over 2000 years old, many of them have no legal protection as parks.

Lynn Valley, North Vancouver reportedly once contained the tallest trees on Earth. The entire valley bottom was clear-cut except for this single 4m wide cedar. Wider cedars can be found further up valley past Kennedy Creek along steep slopes.

The Temple Giant (86m) located in Seymour Valley, North Vancouver is the third tallest Douglas-fir in BC. The majority of Seymour Valley has been logged but it is a large valley with many outstanding groves remaining.

The Upper Chilliwack River is the last large low elevation valley bottom old-growth forest in the Lower Mainland. In here is the world’s largest known grand fir (not shown here).

5 responses to “Vancouver Big Tree Hiking Guide

  1. Hello Ira,

    Would it be all right with you if you could give me the direction of where to reach the giant cedar tree on the west slope (passing Kennedy Creek) at Lynn Valley? I have been unsuccessfully attempting to find it a few times in the past. It would be nice if my daughter and I could join your group to hike there one day?

    John Warren, Vancouver

    • Hi John,

      Thanks for your question. There is an important distinction to make that make help you find the tree you are looking for. There is a single very large cedar (4m DBH) on the west slope that can be reached by following a rough but somewhat marked trail. To get there, drive up Mountain Highway, then continue up the gravel road. Have a look at the map a little ways up the gravel road and identify a trail called the Big cedar trail (or something like that- I cant recall its exact name). That trail leads to the big cedar in Randy Stoltmanns hiking guide, which you could buy off Amazon:

      The other other large cedars are much more difficult to get to. If that is the tree you are looking for then there is no need to venture past Kennedy Creek. Past Kennedy Creek there is no trail but many large cedars. They never logged past there. As far as I know nobody has mapped the large cedars past Kennedy Creek and they require a failry full-hearted adventure to explore.


    • In response to John Warren’s question, I recently found about this hiking guide, which gives quite specific directions to visit the large red-cedar in Lynn Valley, the one referred to in Stoltmann’s classic big tree hiking guide:

  2. TO add, The large big cedar reached via the marked trail is the one seen in the photo on this page. Sorry, we don’t have any plans to hike in there anytime soon. Ill try to let you know if we do.

  3. The ‘Lynn valley tree’ which was 415ft tall was indeed the tallest Douglas fir ever measured anywhere, but nowhere near the record, as several mountain ash trees in Victoria, Australia, were taller, and one measured on the ground after it was blown over, was 434 ft long and had a broken top where the tree was still 29 inches in diameter. One can only surmise how tall that colossal tree was, but it must have been close to 500 ft. The tree was 18 ft in diameter 5 ft up from the base.

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