Tunnel Bluffs hike from the Lion’s Bay parking is one of the most famous day hikes near Vancouver. Tunnel Bluffs is situated along the Sea to Sky highway. Also known as just Tunnel Bluffs, this hike gives a very nice view of the Sea to Sky highway, Howe sounds waters and Vancouver islands. It’s a well-liked location for sunset enthusiasts as it’s oriented towards the west, allowing you to witness the sun setting over the ocean and islands. This place is a hit on Instagram due to its truly breathtaking views.
Tunnel Bluffs Hike Trail Summary
- Hike Difficulty: Medium
- Hiking Duration: 3-4 Hours
- Elevation Gain: 519 meters or 1703 feet
- Best time to hike/ Hiking Season: May to November
- Trail type: Out & back
- Dog Friendly: Yes
- Public Transport: Bus Number 262 from Horseshow Bay to Crosscreek Rd at Lions Bay (Trailhead is 1.5Km walk from here)
- Day Pass: Not needed
- Camping: Not Allowed
- Parking: At Lion’s Bay Parking at Trailhead or Park near Lion’s Bay Elementary School Overflow Parking opposite to 257 Bayview Rd, Lions Bay, BC V0N 2E0
- Parking fee: If you park at the trailhead, you have to pay $24 for the full day parking. Parking at elementary school overflow parking is free (Trailhead is another 1 KM from here)
- Washroom: Near the trailhead
Tunnel Bluffs Trail Guide
How to get to Tunnel Bluffs
You have two transportation options to reach Tunnel Bluffs: by car or by taking the bus on public transit. However, navigating through Lions Bay and locating the current trailhead can be a tad perplexing, especially since it was previously situated elsewhere. In this segment, I’ve compiled all the essential information for driving, parking, and utilizing the bus to access the Tunnel Bluffs trail.
Driving Direction to Tunnel Bluffs
Starting from Vancouver, make your way across the Lions Gate Bridge and proceed west on Highway 1. Follow the indicated signs to transition onto Highway 99 North before reaching Horseshoe Bay. Once in Lions Bay, take the exit onto Lions Bay Avenue from the Highway.
Navigating the streets in Lions Bay might prove a bit perplexing, so I personally find it most convenient to input “Sunset Trailhead Public Pay Parking” into Google Maps and follow the guidance of my GPS.
Upon exiting the highway, ascend the road up the hill, then take a left onto Crosscreek Road and cross the bridge. At the stop sign, turn right onto Centre Road and continue uphill, passing the fire hall. At the ensuing intersection, make a left onto Bayview Road. Stick to Bayview Road, passing several sets of speed bumps in front of the school, and continue uphill, negotiating a few bends.
When you reach a T-junction, turn left onto Mountain Drive. Continue your ascent until you reach another T-junction. Take a left onto Sunset Drive. At the terminus of this road, you’ll find the parking lot and the trailhead. For precise driving directions using Google Maps, click here
Tunnel Bluffs Parking & Trailhead
Lions Bay stands as a petite community, yet regrettably, it doesn’t extend the warmest reception to hikers. In 2021, the village of Lions Bay rolled out pay-to-park measures across the entire area, accompanied by an abundance of designated no-parking zones. The adherence to parking rules is exceptionally strict, so it’s imperative to ensure you both pay for parking and station your vehicle in authorized zones; otherwise, the risk of receiving a ticket or being towed looms. Further details about parking in Lions Bay can be found here.
Paying for parking can be done either through a kiosk at the Sunset trailhead or by utilizing the Flowbird App. However, bear in mind that cellular service in Lions Bay is less than optimal, so I recommend downloading the app and setting up an account before your arrival.
The most suitable parking spot for embarking on the Tunnel Bluffs hike is the lot situated on Sunset Drive. Yet, with just around 15 available spaces, these fill up rapidly. The cost of parking here amounts to $3 per hour, with a maximum daily charge of $24, and a cap at 3 days.
For a secondary parking option, consider the on-street parking on the east side of Mountain Drive. Thoroughly peruse the parking regulation signs to ensure compliance with legal parking. This location demands a parking fee of $2 per hour, payable either via the Flowbird app or at the meter positioned at the intersection of Bayview Road and Mountain Drive. It’s important to note that selecting this parking area will tack on an additional 0.5-1 km and an elevation gain of 40 meters each way to your hike.
During the summer months and over weekends, a cost-free parking alternative is available at the lower lot of Lions Bay Elementary School on Bayview Road. However, opting for this lot adds an extra 1 km and an elevation gain of 120 meters each way to your hiking journey.
Additionally, accessing the trailhead from the parking lot required crossing the highway, posing a considerable risk. Tunnel Bluffs parking has always been a big discussion point. If you are planning to do the Tunnel Bluffs hike from Lion’s Bay parking then there are two parking spots that you can use. Here are their details:
Sunset Trailhead Public Pay Parking
- Situated right at the trailhead
- $24 for entire day parking. I think hourly is $3 per hour
- Very limited number of spots available and the parking gets full very early. So, go as early as 6 in the morning on weekends to get a parking spot
Park near Lion’s Bay Elementary School Overflow Parking
- Free parking
- Opposite to 257 Bayview Rd, Lions Bay, BC V0N 2E0
- You have to walk extra 1 KM to the trailhead
- Lot of parking spots
Reaching Tunnel Bluffs Trailhead by Bus
Tunnel Bluffs presents an excellent hiking option reachable via public transit. Starting from downtown Vancouver, catch either the 257 or 250 bus bound for Horseshoe Bay. Upon arrival, make a transfer to the 262 bus headed towards Lions Bay. Disembark from the bus at the Crosscreek Road and Oceanview Road stop in Lions Bay.
From this point, veer right onto Centre Road, then proceed to ascend Bayview Road, adhering to the driving directions detailed earlier. Opting for the bus route will introduce an additional distance of 1.8 km and an elevation gain of 160 meters each way to your hike. The last bus is available till 10 PM in the night. But please do double-check. I am not sure of the week days bus availability
Tunnel Bluffs Hike
First 2 Km to Lion’s hike fork
The Tunnel Bluffs trailhead also serves as a common trailhead for famous hikes such as Brunswick mountain hike or lion’s hike The first two km of the trail is steep but wide and graveled throughout. The trail is also very well-marked throughout with distance markers every 500 meters. On an average, it takes around 20 Mins per Km from trailhead to the Tunnel Bluffs lookout.
The first two km is steep and nothing much to see except tall old trees and dense forest on both sides of the trail. There are two forks in total where you have to keep right both of the times initially. Once you arrive at a junction after two kms, it marks the end of the steep part of the hike. The trail from here onwards until the Tunnel Bluffs Lookout is almost flat. After two km, you also arrive at a fork. You have to continue straight. The right trail goes to other famous hikes such as Lions, Mt. Harvey, etc.
Magnesia Creek @ 2.7Km
Magnesia Creek is situated at a distance of 2.7km from the Lion’s Bay Parking trailhead. After heavy rains, the Creek roars heavily. Also, there are multiple small and large streams along the Tunnel Bluffs trail which make the hike beautiful.
Brunswick Hike Fork @ 3.2Km
Mount Brunswick fork comes at around 3.2km from the trailhead. On the right, the trail goes to mount Brunswick and on the left, the trail goes to Tunnel Bluffs. There is also a clear marker at the fork showing Brunswick and Tunnel Bluffs sign
After Brunswick Hike fork, you come at M Creek. M Creek is similar to Magnesia creek too with the wooden bridge across the creek. This part of the Tunnel Bluffs hike is full of small water streams.
Lion’s Bay trail fork At 4.7Km
At 4.7Km, you will see a wooden sign showing Lion’s Bay and Tunnel Bluffs. Another Tunnel Bluffs trail which starts directly from the Sea to Sky highway joins the Tunnel Bluffs hiking trail here here. That trail is very steep though and not as scenic as the Lion’s Bay Parking trail. The trail from here gets narrower than before but is still beautiful. You will continue seeing the distance markers every half a km throughout the Tunnel Bluffs hike.
The last portion of the Tunnel Bluffs hiking trail has some easy rocky sections before you make it to the final viewpoint. It can be quite slippery after a fresh rain shower so be careful. Tree roots and muddy trails can become slippery. So, precaution is advised.
Tunnel Bluffs Lookout
Finally, you arrive at the famous Tunnel Bluffs viewpoint/ Lookout from where you get a nice view of the Sea to Sky Highway, Howe Sound, and Vancouver island mountains.
Camping at Tunnel Bluffs
Although you might have come across images of individuals camping at Tunnel Bluffs, regrettably, such activity is not sanctioned. The absence of restroom facilities coupled with the rugged terrain results in an unsanitary accumulation of human waste. Additionally, previous instances have occurred where campfires initiated by campers spiraled out of control. While relishing the site during sunset or any daylight hours is certainly recommended, staying overnight is strongly discouraged.
Tunnel Bluffs most asked questions
- Is Tunnel Bluffs Hard (Difficulty)? No. But the first two km are steep and can be challenging if you do not hike or are not in shape. After two km, the hike is easy. I have seen people out of shape doing the hike so you can do it too.
- Tunnel Bluffs vs Chief: If you do not hike much, then Tunnel Bluffs is a good start. Since hiking the Chief involves the iron ladder and chain part, it can become challenging and that too even more on a rainy day. Here is a video of the chief (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPHzI-XUDkU)
- Tunnel Bluffs Day pass: No, you do not need a day pass for this hike as of now
- Tunnel Bluffs Sunset: Sunset hike is beautiful on a clear & sunny day. Make sure to carry light or headlamps as while returning it will get dark fast in forest
- Tunnel bluffs vs st marks: Again Tunnel Bluffs if you are just starting to hike and not in great shape. For a better view, you can try St. Marks summit. Though St. Marks summit is more difficult and has a higher elevation gain.
- Tunnel bluffs vs eagle bluffs: The view is much better at Tunnel Bluffs compared to Eagle Bluffs and the hike is similar . So I would recommend Tunnel Bluffs
Tunnel Bluffs vs Other hikes
|Difficulty||round trip||Hiking time||dog friendly||elevation gain||distance from vancouver||parking|
|Tunnel Bluffs from Lion’s bay||moderate||11 km||4-5 hours||yes||520 m||30 min drive||limited parking|
|St. Marks from Cypress mtn||moderate||10.5 km||4-5 hours||yes||587 m||30 min drive||Ample parking at Cypress|
|Eagle Bluffs from Cypress mtn||moderate||8.9 km||3-4 hours||yes||443 m||30 min drive||Ample parking at Cypress|
|The Chief (First peak)||moderate- hard||3.7 km||2-3 hours||yes||535 m||1 hour drive||Ample parking|