Of all the regional parks on the North Shore of Vancouver, Crippen Regional Park on Bowen Island holds the crown as the king of picnic grounds. The park’s Snug Cove features picnic shelters and barbeques, and picnic tables are also arranged elsewhere in the park, beneath the sheltering arms of a cedar grove at Killarney Lake, a 30-minute walk from Snug Cove.
A 20-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay lands you on Bowen Island. Bowen is a paradise of trails, from relatively easy loops around Killarney Lake in Crippen Regional Park to the burning climb up Mount Gardner. The island is a world unto itself, so take the time to explore and revel in Bowen’s sedated pace. Although the tempo may be relaxed, mountain bikers will find the roads that ring the island demanding, with few level stretches and even fewer beach-access points for well-deserved breaks.
The best part of visiting Crippen Regional Park is that you are in the park the moment you step off the ferry. Even though the ferry ride and a stroll on the beach make an entirely satisfactory trip in themselves, the best way to appreciate Crippen is over the course of a half-day or more. Head inland to Killarney Lake to explore the quiet side of Bowen Island. As you walk or bike uphill from the ferry on Government Road past the Union Steamship store, trails marked by a green park signpost lead off to Killarney Lake. Allow 30 minutes to walk the 1-mile (1.6-km) Killarney Creek Trail to the lake. Take one of two routes to reach the Killarney Lake Trail. One trail leads past a pair of fish ladders that climb the hillside above a small lagoon. Alternatively, walk down past the Memorial Garden to a causeway that crosses the mouth of the tranquil backwater.
On the opposite side of the lagoon, follow left on Melmore Road to Miller Road, where a yellow gate across from St. Gerard’s Church marks the entrance to the Killarney Creek Trail. The first third of the trail is on level ground padded by years of fallen leaves and needles, then it begins to rise gently through second-growth forest. Huge cedar stumps testify that these graceful giants once predominated here. At the halfway point to Killarney Lake, a path leads off to the left and across a small bridge over Terminal Creek. Horses exercise in a paddock nearby. Once at the lake, the Killarney Loop Trail (2.5 miles/4 km) circles its perimeter somewhat erratically, passing a picnic area and a small beach along the way. A lovely stretch of boardwalk spans a marshy area at the north end of the lake. Crippen Regional Park comprises everything visitors hope to find in a park.
Crippen Regional Park is located on Bowen Island in Howe Sound near the North Shore of Vancouver, British Columbia. For a map of Bowen Island, stop at the island’s gas station near the ferry dock. Visitors can catch a vehicle and passenger ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Bowen Island. There is a small charge for bicycles. You can travel to Horseshoe Bay from Vancouver by bus.
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