West Lion – Binkert Trail
The Lions, West Lion and East Lion, are two iconic peaks in Cypress Mountain. In Vancouver area, a lot of places are named after them, like Lions Gate Bridge, Lions Gate Entertainment, and community of Lions Bay where the Binkert Trail starts
There are a few trails that lead hikers to the West Lion. Two trails are the most popular, one is Howe Sound Crest Trail (HSCT). Another one is the Binkert Trail. HSCT starts from cypress ski resort, where Binkert starts from Lions Bay. If you choose HSCT, round trip is 18.7 km according to alltrails. Binkert trail to West Lion is 14.6 km round trip. Both have similar elevation gain, about 1430 m. By taking HSCT, you will pass through a few more scenic places, like Bowen Lookout, St. Marks peak, and Unnecessary Mountain. You will have a nice view of Howe sound about half way.
If you choose Binkert, you need to prepare for a very rocky scramble from time to time, in addition to steady ascending from the beginning. Good hiking shoes/boots are a must to protect your feet and ankles. You need to bring a lot of water. There is no running water source after 2 km from the start and you will pass through some exposed boulder fields therefore it will be hot during sunny days. This is a hike recommended for well prepared and active hikers.
After you drag yourself across the trail and finally arrive at the shoulder of the West Lion, you have to make one decision…are you well trained and well prepared enough to scramble to the top of the West Lion. It was described as pure free rock climbing by some people. One missed step and you will pay big time. I wasn’t ready at that time. I heard that the view at the top is similar to what you can see from the shoulder anyway.
Parking is an issue similar to many of popular hiking trails in Vancouver. The main parking lot (the one that is next to the trail head) only has 15 or so parking spots and it’s a paid parking lot. Alternative parking, street side parking, is about 500 meters from the trail head, and paid parking too.