SAR officials said the search began after a caretaker at the research forest noticed a van left parked at the forest's entrance after closing, and then later heard shouts for help coming from the woods.
Ridge Meadows SAR Search Manager Del Doornbosch said the hiker's vehicle, a work van, had been in the parking lot since about 6 p.m.
Doornbosch says the missing man is believed to be a local resident in his early 40s.
"Apparently he has no cellphone, or no working cellphone currently. That was one of the first things the RCMP — I understand — tried, and there was no success," said Doornbosch.
"The sense is that he went out for — from our estimate — likely a quick hike up on the trails. Most of the trails here are wide open and easy to follow, and it doesn't sound like he was prepared for anything more than that."
Doornbosch said the warm, dry weather helped the search effort, and the risk of hypothermia is low.
The RCMP Air One helicopter could be seen circling above the forest, but it didn't turn up anything after more than a dozen sweeps of the area.
The RCMP K-9 unit was also deployed to take part in the search.
Doornbosch said SAR crews are called out to the Malcolm Knapp Research Forest two or three times a year, although it's not as popular with hikers as nearby Golden Ears Provincial Park.