of action afoot around Vancouver and neighbouring areas, especially
in city parks and beaches. You can 'walk till you drop' along the
Stanley Park Seawall and along
Pacific Spirit Park's 33-mile (53-km) trail network, 12 miles
(18 km) of which are set aside exclusively for those on foot. Vancouver's
Queen Elizabeth Park and New Westminster's
Queen's Park feature particularly eye-pleasing pathways bordered
on all sides by intensely planted gardens. At certain times of the
year the colours and perfumes are almost overwhelming.
Burnaby both have trails that run beside the Fraser River. Vancouver's
Fraser River Park is located at the south end of Angus Drive
and 75th Avenue. Take 72nd Avenue west of Granville Street and watch
for the large wooden sign that will direct you to the park. There's
always plenty of activity on land, sea, and air to watch as you
stroll the shoreline trail here (easy; 1 mile/0.6 km return). One
of the most interesting features of the park has been the ongoing
restoration of intertidal marshland. Interpretive signs explain
the function of a system of weirs that regulate the flow of water
through the park. Boardwalks and bridges lead beside the river and
make walking a delightful pastime even in wet weather.
There are also
river trails in Vancouver's Riverfront and Gladstone-Elliot
Parks, as well as the paths in Everett Crowley Park just
uphill from Riverfront. To find them, head along SE Marine Drive
to Kerr Street, then south to Kent Avenue. Park here and begin exploring
Riverfront Park with its broad pier, twin walking/cycling/in-line
skating trails (easy; about 4 miles/6 km return), a beach, and a
children's play area. Walk west along this stretch of waterfront
that eventually reaches Gladstone-Elliot Park, which has its own
pier, perfect for river viewing.
One good stretch
with a forested feeling is the Burnaby River Trail (easy;
about 6 miles/10 km return). This hard-packed, cedar-lined dirt
pathway runs east beside the river from the south foot of Boundary
Road near Marine Way towards New Westminster. Parking is available
beside the trailhead on Boundary Road. An alternate approach to
the trail is at Fraser River Park, located at the south end
of Byrne Road off Marine Way. Here in the park, the log booms that
line the shoreline beside much of the trail give way to a long stretch
of open beach. One of the most attractive sights along the trail
is Mount Baker's snow cone, framed by the spires and guy wires of
two bridges, the Queensboro and the Pattullo.
Lake Loop Trail (easy; 1.5 miles/2.5 km return) circles Belcarra
Regional Park's Sasamat Lake. Follow it around from White Pine
Beach as it leads south to a floating boardwalk that crosses the
lake. Two small docks for fishing and swimming are located along
the walkway. The road that leads to the heart of Belcarra Park begins
just before Sasamat Lake. Follow the signs to reach the main parking
area. Detailed maps of Belcarra Regional Park are available year-round
from the park's concession stand nearby. (Note: There is no public
parking in the village of Belcarra, so it is imperative to follow
the road that leads to the park's main parking area.) Belcarra has
a tradition of being a summer picnic destination. Boats once brought
day trippers from Vancouver's Coal Harbour to Belcarra for the day.
Belcarra's picnic area has reservable picnic shelters and even a
Admiralty Point Trail (easy; 3 miles/5 km return) begins from
the main parking lot and heads south through second-growth forest
and over a naturally cobblestoned trail to several good viewpoints.
A 30-minute walk will have you at Admiralty Point and the Maple
Beach picnic area. Even on cloudy days you'll find the open shoreline
on Burrard Inlet is bright. Rocky outcroppings occur at points like
Cod Rock, a perfect place to sit and watch the tide. Besides the
view of Barnet and Mount Burnaby, you can also see Cates Park and
Deep Cove to the west, and Mount Seymour rising above the entrance
to Indian Arm, a fjord that stretches 11 miles (18 km) north.
Cod Rock Trail (moderate; 4 miles/7 km return) leads inland
through tall second-growth forest from Cod Rock to Sasamat Lake
and links with the Sasamat Lake Loop Trail. Yet another pathway,
the Jug Island Trail (moderate; 3 miles/5 km return), begins
beside the covered picnic shelter in the heart of the park. Much
of the way along the trail is either up or downhill, with a series
of wooden staircases for assistance in the steepest sections. Although
there are few views along the way, there is a branch of the trail
that leads out to an opening beside Bedwell Bay. From here you look
east to the slopes of Eagle Ridge and the broad flank of Coquitlam
Mountain. Depending on your pace it will take you between 30 and
45 minutes to reach pleasant cobble-and-sand Jug Island Beach from
the Belcarra picnic grounds. (Jug Island actually lies offshore
at the north end of a narrow peninsula.)
Between dips in the ocean at Crescent Beach, search out viewpoints
south of the sandy beach area. (If you are not planning to visit
the beach, leave your car at a small parking area at the intersection
of Bayview and McBride just south of Beecher next to the Burlington
Northern Railway tracks.) Pick your way along the rocky shoreline
and head south towards distant Kwomais Point, around which the railway
tracks curve east past Semiahmoo Bay and White Rock Beach. Gravel
and riprap make walking more difficult at water's edge than beside
the tracks. (A warning notice posted near the parking area informs
track walkers that they do so at their own risk.)
by offshore, balanced on the waters of the bay with much greater
ease than those poised above on the steel rails. The tracks hug
the hillside, curving gracefully along the embankment. Looking south
from one of the curves, you can just make out the sandstone bluffs
that rise above Birch Bay in Washington State. Along the way, various
rough trails lead down the steep embankment, none of which are very
inviting to explore. The charm here lies in the quiet isolation
of the beach as the less adventuresome throngs are left behind.
Watch for the
'1,001 Stairs' that lead from the beach to the neighbourhood
situated above that is all but unseen from below. The clue to finding
them is the appearance of a very small trestle bridge. A trail runs
from the beach beneath the bridge and then leads south along the
embankment behind a mesh metal fence. In minutes you'll come upon
a wooden staircase that climbs the hillside. Numerous landings interrupt
the flow of stairs, places where you can pause to catch your breath
while taking in the views of Tsawwassen and Point Roberts on the
peninsula to the west across Boundary Bay.
Regional Park in Delta
is interlaced with over 3 miles (5 km) of forested walking trails
that run beside the Fraser River on the north side and Deas Slough
on the south. Walk across the island to a small beach near the west
end where the Fraser laps at the shoreline as large, oceangoing
freighters glide past. The overwhelming girth of these vessels dwarfs
those of the small fishing boats that also ply the Fraser. Eagles
perch in the branches of the tall black cottonwood trees that overhang
the trails. There's even a 2-storey observation tower from which
you can look out over the island at treetop level. Nearby is a lovingly
restored heritage home, a schoolhouse, and an agricultural hall.
Expect to find
extended walking on any of the estuary dike trails listed in the
Cycling section, including Brunswick Point and the Boundary
Bay Regional Trail in Delta, and all the dike trails in Iona
Beach Regional Park in Richmond.
Ears Provincial Park offers more walking and hiking close to
Vancouver than any other single destination. Over a dozen trails
lead to various destinations throughout the park, including a lengthy
8-mile (12-km) one-way journey to the Golden Ears themselves.
park headquarters, tiny Mike Lake is the starting point for the
Alouette Mountain Hiking Trail (12 miles/20 km return) trek
to the summit of Alouette Mountain. Although there aren't many open
views along the way, once on top you have a panoramic perspective
south across the Fraser Valley into Washington and west across the
Strait of Georgia to Vancouver Island. Shorter excursions in Golden
Ears Provincial Park include the 2.6-mile (4.2-km) Mike Lake
Trail. Search the understorey for signs of old logging equipment
and wildflowers such as the delicate pink azalea, with petals shaped
like five-pointed stars. By the beginning of summer, clusters of
bright red elderberries hang from the branches that droop overhead.
A month later, devil's club, a relative of ginseng, with broad maple-shaped
leaves, puts forth red berries from the ends of its pointed - and
very prickly - stems.
two more walking trails begin from the park's Alouette Lake day-use
area. The Lookout and Loop Trails each take walkers
on a 1.5-mile (2.5-km) round trip from lakeside to an elevated viewpoint.
Allow an easy hour to complete the loop, just time enough to dry
off between swims. The Spirea Nature Trail is a short walk
that winds through the woods adjacent to the park's main road and
introduces visitors to the fascinating variety of flora in the forest
understorey. The trail begins from the parkway near the entrance
to Alouette Lake.
begin from the Gold Creek day-use area parking lot, located at the
north end of the park's main road. Both lead to a set of waterfalls
on Gold Creek. The Lower Falls Trail (easy; 3.5 miles/5.5 km return)
is one of the most popular walks in Golden Ears Provincial Park.
The East Canyon Trail (moderate; 17 miles/28 km return) is much
rougher. One of the benefits of taking either route to the falls
is the views of the Golden Ears and other peaks in this group that
stand revealed on the skyline above Gold Creek.
Trail is a gentle, cedar-bark trail that winds through a mixed
forest of mature vine maple and conifers. This is an especially
pretty walk in autumn, when pancake-size bigleaf-maple foliage blazes
red and reflects in the golden waters of the aptly named creek.
Trail runs along the east side of Gold Creek and leads to the
upper falls and far beyond. At first the trail follows a service
road from the Gold Creek parking lot, past a metal gate, then left
where it divides. (If you stay right, this road brings you to Alouette
Lake's North Beach in 15 minutes.) The road, signed with orange
markers, climbs gradually uphill. Although you can't see Gold Creek,
its voice filters up through the surrounding forest. Moss-covered
limbs of gracefully bowed vine maple frame the road. Large cedar
stumps attest to the size of the ancient forest that once stood
here. The rubble from runaway creekbeds, prone to flooding during
heavy storms, cuts across the roadway in several places. At the
'2.5 km' sign lies the wreckage of an old log bridge that has been
swept aside. A short distance beyond, watch for a rough trail, part
of which is a broad, dry creekbed, that leads downhill to a dramatic
view of the thundering falls. Mind your step here.
If you want
to explore the far reaches of Golden Ears Provincial Park, hike
the West Canyon Trail (easy; 6 miles/10 km return), which
links with the Golden Ears Trail (moderate; 10 miles/20 km
return) to eventually reach the summit of the north Ear, part of
the two horn-shaped granite formations easily spotted from as far
away as Washington and the southern Gulf Islands. An alpine cabin
sits below the summit on Panorama Ridge and sleeps eight. In summer,
many climbers use Panorama Ridge as their base to make an approach
to the Golden Ears, which form the twin peaks of Mount Blanshard.
A note of caution: Weather patterns in the region may change rapidly.
Storm clouds smoke up the valleys so quickly that hikers on exposed
sections of the trail may have little time to shelter. Hypothermia
is always a threat, even on the hottest days. Plan (and dress) accordingly.
You can lose
yourself without getting lost on the miles of walking trails in
Campbell Valley Regional Park. The
landscape here is so welcoming that you won't feel isolated or alone.
At every twist and turn along the pathway, a bird will call, a squirrel
will chatter, and fellow walkers will offer a smile. Little Campbell
River bubbles along its meandering course. Follow the 1.4-mile (2.3-km)
Little River Loop Trail through the meadows and forested
slopes of the valley bottom. Pause at the Listening Bridge to listen.
Spend an hour or more exploring the gentle contours of the park
along the Ravine Trail, where former owners once farmed.
Wander around the Annand/Rowlatt farmstead, whose sturdy barns,
sheds, chicken coops, and home have all been well maintained. Peek
in the windows of the old, one-room Lochiel Schoolhouse nearby that's
been relocated to the park. For a longer stroll, follow a portion
of the Shaggy Mane Trail that makes a grand 8.7-mile (14-km)
sweep around the park's perimeter. Horseback riders also use this
trail for their workouts, so mind your footing. The Shaggy Mane
Trail does not connect with many other trails in the park, so the
best idea is to walk a portion of it before retracing your steps.
For example, walk up into Cottonwood Meadows from Little River Loop
Trail's junction with Shaggy Mane to reach the Campbell Valley Downs
As you approach
Edgewater Bar entrance in Derby Reach Regional
Park's west of Fort Langley, the road passes the Houston House
and nearby Karr/Mercer historic barn, recent additions to the park.
The easygoing 2.5-mile (4-km) Fort-to-Fort Riverside Trail
begins across the road from the farmhouse. At present, its use is
restricted to walkers, although in the future it may open to cyclists,
too. Trails through the wooded countryside to the west of the Houston
House are for walkers and horseback riders only.