Mt. Harvey is one of the highest peaks in the North Shore Mountains, and its distinctive steep-sided pyramidal summit marks it clearly from a distance. Harvey like Mt. Brunswick (its neighbour to the NW) is located within the confines of 3000Ha Cypress Provincial Park, located just on the outskirts of West Vancouver.
Mt. Harvey is a serious climb, like its neighbour Brunswick the final 1km up to the summit is open and exposed and can be potentially dangerous.
Harvey, like many of the coastal features in and around Howe Sound is named after Captain John Harvey who served under Admiral Howe in the 18th Century. THe hike to Harvey's summit is the steepest trail in and around Vancouver, it is 12.5km long (8 miles) and has an elevation gain of 1475m. No tiptoeing through the tulips here. There have been more than a few rescues because of people underestimating this mountain.
Like Brunswick this area was logged extensively in the late 19th and early 20th century and is only now really recovering. Harvey's 'pup' is a 75m high spire that rises out of the mountain's western side around 200m below the summit proper. it is a popular spot to do some cragging or challenging free climbs.
Prior to the 1980's access to Brunswick and its neighbouring peaks involed a lot of challenging and at times dangerous bushwacking until Halor Lunden created access to the peaks from Lion's Bay. With help from friends and volunteers he created the trail in the early eighties providing outodoors enthusiast even further access to the beauty of the North Shore Mountains.
The views from the summit are some of the most spectacular around... affording some of the best views of Howe Sound, the islands and the West Lion anywhere. Cypress Provincial park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts year round. Featuring trails for cross country skiing and hiking as well as the famous Cypress Bowl for downhillers. It isn't hard to get lost amongst the remaining old growth firs and cedars, the small lakes, waterfalls and sub-alpine meadows resplendent with a carpet of wildflowers.
Mt. Harvey is located 40km north of downtown Vancouver. To get there head north on Highway 99 to Lions bay. Once you reach Lion's Bay turn right on Oceanview drive and then left on Cross Creek Rd. Continue on the road across harvey Creek until you reach Centre Rd. where you will take a right. From there take a left on Bayview followed by another left onto Mountain Dr. Again turn left on Sunset where you will come across the gate that marks the trailhead and bars further progress.
***Additional parking can be found at Lions Bay Elementary School 1km back along the road.
Follow the old logging trail for 15 minutes until you come to a fork in the trail. Take the right fork (the left will take you to Brunswick). After this the trail becomes steeper and more rugged. Twenty minutes or so later you will come to a second intersection. Stay to the right here as well. The trail continues to steepen for another 5 minutes until the forest begins and the grade eases off. Here you catch your first glimpse out over Horseshoe Bay.
Soon after you will arrive at a T-intersection again stay to the right and soon enough will find yourself at yet another intersection. This is an important intersection and is marked with trail markers, a large cairn and three rust coloured boulders. There is a trail marked with orange markers this is the route to the summit. The trail here narrows and steepens considerably. Follow the trail through a series of awitrchbacks and across a wide basin. You will come across a barren section still recovering from a forest fire, then it is onto the shoulder and the final 750m scramble to the summit.
**Exercise caution on the summit scramble as it is open and exposed in places and the drop offs are egregious.
There are no permits or user fees. The parking lot at the trailhead is small but no pass is needed, while the parking lot at Cypress Bowl has a lot more room but once again no pass is needed and there are no user fees. Recently fees have been added for parking which are set at $5 a day or $50 for a year long pass.
Conservation is of course encouraged, you are simply asked to leave the local animals and vegetaion alone and try to keep all impact to a minimum.
Numbers for Cypress Park
1 604 926 6001
1 604 928 0825
When To Climb
The best time of year to climb is from late May to mid October. In the winter it is possible, but snowfall in the North Shore Mountains is measured in the meters and any trip into the backcountry should only be made after talking to experienced members of the park staff.
The climb isn't much more difficult but getting there could be a real hazard as Vancouver can go for weeks at a time without seeing the sun and because of the egregious amounts of snow (as previously mentioned
As far as camping goes there are designated campsites along the Howe Sound Crest Trail, a 29km trail that starts at Cypress Provincial Park and provides access to 9 summits in the North Shore Mountains. Other than that camping is restricted, Brunswick is a day hiking destination so camping is frowned upon by park staff unless there is an emergency.
Numbers for Cypress Park
1 604 926 6001
1 604 928 0825
It is possible to camp at Harvey Pass or Magnesia meadows, but it is a popular spot for black bears so come prepared for a close encounter with nature.
The best way to check the weather is to check the weather at the Cypress Bowl ski resort, or failing that check the weather (the weathernetwork.com) for the city of Vancouver or its suburbs of North and West Vancouver. Also the weather for Horseshoe Bay or Lions Bay would yield accurate information as well
Check www.compusmart.ab.ca. I found this on a page entitled extensive moutnain weather forecasts. I checked it out and it has forecasts for all of the parks. Straightforward to navigate as well.