Stellar Trail Running You Don’t Have To Drive To

You know you have it good when adventure is right out your back door. And in the trademarked Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada, Squamish, it literally is. The Smoke Bluffs trail offers top-notch trail running without even a drive to the trailhead.

I feel lucky to be able to walk to the Smoke Bluffs, a forested Squamish municipal park of granite crags containing more than 500 rock climbing routes. And while the rock climbing community knows the Bluffs for its world-class climbing, locals know its main loop trail and countless connector trails are a fine destination in their own right.

Well-groomed trails lead from surrounding neighborhoods to the Smoke Bluffs, and their flat or rolling nature make the perfect warm-up for your trail run. Once you hit the Bluffs, though, be prepared for a workout. Undulating terrain, staircases and some downright big uphills—and downhills—will give your lungs and quads as much as you’re willing to throw at them.

The Smoke Bluffs loop trail is the quick-hit trail run. Cruise it before or after work, or for a mid-day break for a fast and furious workout. But if you have more time, go explore. The many unmarked climbing access trails, along with some adjoining ultra-steep trails developed by mountain bikers and trials motorcyclists, provide greater technical challenges and come along with some amazing views of the Squamish Valley and Howe Sound. The low elevation of the Smoke Bluffs—they start at sea level—and their rain-protecting canopy make trail running here an enjoyable outing year round.

And while thousands of people a couple of miles away are making the pilgrimage up the Stawamus Chief Trail, which is more of a natural stairmaster than a trail run, you, a handful of dog walkers and climbers moving from crag to crag will enjoy the relative serenity.

Another bonus: If coffee and snacks are in order after your final descent to the valley, the main trailhead is a quick jaunt from the Squamish Adventure Centre where Galileo Coffee is located.

So, no excuses—at least not while you’re in Squamish. Your next trail run does not need to involve burning fossil fuels.