How to Explore B.C.'s Parks from Your Home

April 7, 2020

For many of us, getting outside and being surrounded by nature is a daily need, and luckily, virtual hikes exist for the days when doing so just isn't possible. 

While they are not a new idea, virtual hikes have been gaining popularity in recent years due to the many benefits they offer. There are now apps, dedicated websites, and more and more YouTube videos popping up every day, allowing viewers to still get a glimpse of nature while you’re at home.

What are virtual hikes you might ask? They are point-of-view (POV) filmed videos that vary in length and feature different trails and walks across the word, with the main objective to make you feel like you’re on the hike yourself.

Here are a few reasons why you might want to tune into a virtual hike instead of yet another Netflix docuseries.

Photo: Dave Heath/Destination BC

They're accessible

Virtual hikes are great for nature lovers of all skill levels and abilities, as well as those who don’t have a car or want to explore a new part of the province you have never been to before. You can visit the coast, mountains and forest all without leaving the comforts of your own home - for free.

You can exercise at the same time

Stand up and walk round the room (if you have a Fitbit or a health app you can count your steps), lay down a yoga mat on the floor in front of your TV/computer, grab some weights, basically do whatever form of exercise you like! It’s important to keep your body moving if you can while staying home, and this helps you picture yourself in a different setting.

They're relaxing and distracting

Many people use nature as a form of therapy or relaxation when they’re anxious or stressed out. When you go on a virtual hike, focus on the sounds, the scenery, the sights. Simply listening to nature sounds can help improve your physical and mental wellness. Set up a comfy place to sit and use this as a time to mediate and unplug from the rest of the world. You can also invite your friends to join via video chat if you’re more of a social climber and like having people to talk to.

They're flexible

If you have work, class or other commitments, there are many different hikes to choose from that vary in length that can fit in your schedule. You’re also not restricted by the sun rising or setting as you can view the hiking video whenever you want.

Photo: Screenshot from Virtual Videos Channel on YouTube

Start exploring your backyard

Here are a few virtual hikes in B.C.'s parks you can explore:

  • Alouette Mountain: Located in Maple Ridge, this video focuses on the West Canyon Trail in Golden Ears Provincial Park, with lots of beautiful mountain scenery.
  • Juan de Fuca Trail: Running along the southwestern coast of Vancouver Island the Juan de Fuca Trail is a multi-day trek. This video only covers a small section, but you still catch glimpses of the ocean and hear the sounds of birds chirping.
  • Mount Seymour: This mountain on Vancouver's North Shore has hiking in the summer and skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing in the winter. This particular video is a tour along one of the snowshoe trails. 
  • Naikoon Provincial Park: While less of a hike but more of a hands-on exploration, you can virtually tour the trails of Naikoon Park, exploring interactive elements, learning about the park, and the Haida traditions and legends from the area.
  • Tsútswecw Park Story Trail: Again, less of a hike and more of an educational experience, but you can learn some Secwépemctsin (Shuswap) language words and Secwépemc history by clicking through our virtual Story Trail signs.

There are many more fantastic virtual hikes & park tours out there. So grab a water bottle, put on your favourite hiking shirt and queue up your next virtual outdoor adventure!


About the author

Julie Gross is currently studying Marketing Management and Tourism at the British Columbia Institute of Technology and will be graduating in May. In between juggling her internship and school, she loves snowboarding, playing frisbee golf and dreaming about her next travel adventure.