HIKING AND WALKING IN B.C.
Vancouver's North Shore Mountains
Hiking, cross-country Skiing, Snow-Shoeing
Vancouver's local mountains are just a short distance from the downtown core; an average drive of 15 - 20 minutes will get you to the parking lot of the three local mountains. The parking lot for Grouse Mountain is at the base of the mountain; from there access to the mountain is by tram (for a fee) or hiking up. Parking for Seymour and Cypress Mountains is near the top. All mountains offer facilities to meet your basic needs - food services, equipment rentals, washroom facilities.
In summer and autumn, all three mountains offer walking and hiking opportunities. There are easy trails for beginners and more challenging routes for the more adventurous hiker. On clear days, spectacular views of Vancouver, its harbour and the surrounding municipalities can be seen from all three mountains.
In the winter and spring, the local mountains cater to downhill skiers and snowboarders with chair lifts and rope tows, but that costs money! Strap on your snowshoes or cross-country skis for free at Mount Seymour! My family had never tried snow shoeing before, so I drove up to Seymour Mountain. We rented snowshoes for $13 each per day for the fancy, new aluminum type (cheaper models were available), grabbed our backpacked lunch and hit the trails clutching a free map (available at the rental shop) of the mountain's trails. My two children, aged eleven and thirteen, found the experience very exciting and immediately took the lead. The trails were easily identified and simple to follow. All junction points are well marked and the trail map was easy to follow. The trails were not overly crowded. While we stopped for lunch in the snow, only one other group went past our make-shift picnic site. On the way back to the parking lot, we saw a couple of cross-country skiers and several others on snowshoes. While on these hikes, you get the awesome feeling of being alone in the woods, while at the same time having the reassurance that others are not too far away.
Images of our trip to Seymour Mountain.
Grouse Mountain offers a limited amount of cross country trails. Rentals are available for skis and snowshoes.
Cypress Bowl offers a wide variety of snow-based activities including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, tubing and tobogganing. Cypress Bowl does charge a small fee (under $15 depending on the activity) to help offset the cost of maintaining the park and its facilities.
Precautionary Note On Outdoor Activities In The Mountains
Due to a number of hikers, skiers, and snowboarders requiring rescue from the North Shore Mountains, and the escalating costs involved, many of the mountains now have very strict policies in effect regarding search and rescue. All visitors to local mountains should inquire as to the local mountain policy before starting out on the day's activities. All hikers must lodge a hike plan at most of the area trailheads. Be smart - tell someone of your plans before you go, dress for the weather (include waterproof gear), carry extra food. If you have access, a cellular phone (fully charged) can be a lifesaver. Many mountains now charge any rescued party for the search and rescue costs if the party is found "Out of Bounds". Be smart and stick to the marked trails.
Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge
The Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre is located in Lynn Canyon Park. The Centre offers educational programs and interactive displays focussing on the flora and fauna of the region. The park features a free suspension bridge across Lynn Canyon. Once across the bridge, there are plenty of walking trails. This is not the place for a child's stroller. Visitors with young children may want to think about using a child backpack. Walks take visitors to some spectacular waterfalls and pools. Do not be tempted to swim or dive in the pools. Please take the (posted) Park warnings seriously.
No trip to Vancouver is complete without a trip to world famous Stanley Park. Perhaps Vancouver's most famous attraction, the park is packed with free things to do. Visitors who want peace and tranquility can find it along the myriad of walking trails. Start at Lost Lagoon and visit the nature house, then proceed around the Lagoon. You'll find geese, swans, and many other species of birds. The Stanley Park seawall is an ideal way to take in the view from all around the park. Visitors are welcome to walk, bike or rollerblade the 8.85 km (5.5 mile) wall. Cyclists and rollerbladers do need to proceed with caution and yield to pedestrians. In some areas, bladers and bikers are required to depart from the seawall and travel on roadways for a short distance.
The park also features a number of beaches (Third, Second, English Bay) with lifeguards on duty in the summer months. Second Beach also features a pool with wash rooms and change rooms. A children's water park is located at Lumberman's Arch and a refreshment stand is close by. The Miniature Railway (which has an admission fee) is located a short walk from the water park.
A pitch and putt golf course is located near the Rhododendron Garden and the formal Rose Garden is located near the Stanley Park Pavilion. The park also has tennis courts, located near the Lost Lagoon Nature House.
Also worth checking out (although it does require an entrance fee) is the Aquarium.