The waterfront Ambleside Park and its partner Capilano River Regional Park, are among the most sociable gathering places on the North Shore. Visitors come to stretch their legs and exercise their dogs while taking in the view of others doing the same across First Narrows on the Stanley Park Seawall. Although most of the leisure activity takes place close to the Capilano River’s confluence with the ocean, Capilano River Regional Park’s hiking trail runs 5 miles (8 km) north from Ambleside Park to Capilano Lake.
Ambleside Park is easily reached from numerous entrances along Marine Drive, including the south end of Taylor Way, the first major intersection west of the Lions Gate Bridge. There’s usually a buzz of marine activity offshore from Ambleside beneath the Lions Gate Bridge. On Saturday evenings in summer this is a picture-perfect place to watch gaily lit cruise ships power their way out of port.
When salmon are running in the Capilano River in September, you can count on seeing dozens of small pleasure craft drift-fishing just offshore. Upstream at such times, residents of the Capilano Indian Reserve, on whose land Ambleside Park and the north end of the Lions Gate Bridge are located, will also be fishing along the riverbank. Tidal currents ripple the surface of First Narrows, but the water at Ambleside’s sandy beach is predictably calm. Skip a stone, toss a stick, talk to your neighbour: it’s that kind of park.
As you follow the Capilano River Trail upstream from Ambleside Park (a short section of the trail is also signed as West Vancouver’s Town Trail), it will lead you through a residential neighbourhood before reaching the wilder side of the park. From this point north there’s easy access to the boulder-filled river. For many visitors, this sea-level section of the park provides enough exploring to take up an entire visit. For others, there’s a long ribbon of trail to follow as the Capilano-Pacific Trail leads along the west side of Capilano Canyon to the Fish Hatchery and Cleveland Dam. Allow three to four hours to complete the round trip from Ambleside Park.
Going to the beach is a far different experience on the North Shore than across Burrard Inlet in Vancouver (which, interestingly, is never referred to as the South Shore). Over here it’s rugged from tideline to skyline. Cobble beaches and rocky outcroppings make beaches on English Bay look positively cushy by comparison. That being said, a few soft pockets do exist in places such as Caulfeild and Ambleside Parks in West Vancouver, and Cates Park in North Vancouver’s Deep Cove neighbourhood. All are extremely popular with families on weekends and yet can be almost deserted on weekdays. Cates has a forested ambience that leads out to Roche Point, while Ambleside and Caulfeild are open, windswept expanses. No matter which you choose, the views of English Bay and Burrard Inlet are terrific.
Ambleside Park is located in North Vancouver, on the North Shore of Vancouver, British Columbia.
Nearby Regions & Towns
This park is a Regional Park, Municipal Park, or proposed park, and does not fall under the jurisdiction of Parks Canada (National Parks) or the BC Ministry of Environment (BC Parks).