Sandwiched between Lynn Headwaters Regional Park and Mount Seymour Provincial Park in North Vancouver, the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve comprises approximately one third of the 18,000-hectare Seymour Watershed, and falls under the Operations and Maintenance Department of the Watershed Division of Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD). The Seymour Watershed is managed for the GVRD’s water supply, and this lower Seymour watershed is managed as a multi-use area secondary to water management needs.
The 5,668-hectare reserve contains some of the most spectacular and diverse landscapes in the Greater Vancouver area. Its alpine meadows, forested slopes and river flood plains are within minutes of downtown Vancouver and are easily accessible from many areas in the Lower Mainland. Formerly known as the Seymour Demonstration Forest, almost 25 miles (40 km) of roads and recreational multi-use trails run through the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve (LSCR).
Trails head off in all directions from the gatehouse at the parking lot. Take a quick stroll though the forest or a full day trip up the river. There are over 25 kilometres of hiking trails in the forest, mostly lengthy but easygoing, with something to suit everyone’s ability. The most challenging ones are the Homestead Trail, Twin Bridges Trail, and Fisherman’s Trail, which lead down into the Seymour Valley and follow the Seymour River. Walk the Forest Ecology Loop Trail (0.25 mile/0.4 km). You’ll find it on the north side of Rice Lake, a short walk from the parking lot. Tie in this short walk with a more wide-ranging exploration of the forest. Maps and an interpretive brochure are available at the gatehouse.
From the parking lot it’s a 1.4-mile (2.2-km) walk down to the Seymour River, from where the Fisherman’s Trail heads north and Twin Bridges south. The winding Fisherman’s Trail leads to the Mid-Valley Bridge, a distance of about 3 miles (5 km). Plan on taking two hours to complete the distance one way.
The Seymour Valley Trailway is a 10-km paved path that winds through a beautiful diverse forest and crosses scenic creeks and streams. The Trailway features five picnic sites that include outhouses, benches, picnic tables and garbage cans. The Trailway is ideal for joggers, bicycles, strollers, and in-line skaters. Because of the hilly terrain, the Trailway is not suitable for absolute beginner in-line skaters. The Trailway was built to replace the popular mainline service road, which is no longer open to the public due to construction of several drinking water projects.
Along the way you’ll have one of the best views of Mount Seymour’s deceptively gentle-looking peaks. Even when the weather is at its hottest in Vancouver, there’s always a soft breeze blowing through the valley. In summer, combine a bike ride here with a splash in the Seymour River, and you have the makings of a perfect recipe for recreation. The last section of the road is unpaved. Note that trails are occasionally closed for upgrades, repairs and general maintenance.
Mountain biking: The North Shore is rightfully renowned for some of the most challenging off-road mountain-bike trails in the world. Most of these have only recently been constructed as the popularity of single-track riding has outpaced road riding. Cyclists would also do well to consult Darrin Polischuk’s Mountain Biking British Columbia, a very comprehensive guide for the entire province. One of the attractions of the North Shore slopes, particularly at lower elevations, is that trails stay snow-free throughout most of the winter. This is a prime reason why many of Canada’s elite mountain-bike riders live and train in North Vancouver.
There are downhill-style trails available for riding, most of which are suited for intermediate to advanced riders and can be accessed off various points along Mt. Seymour Road. None of these trails loop back to the parking areas, so advance preparation must be made to get back to the parking areas. Most riders travel in teams and park one vehicle at each end of the trail. There are some trails that can accommodate a more leisurely ride. These trails can be accessed from the main parking lot.
From extreme style “North Shore” mountain biking to scenic road riding, there is a wide range of terrain. Several of the hiking trails here are also open to mountain bikes, including Twin Bridges, Riverside, and Fisherman’s. Cycling is permitted throughout the forest with the exception of: the Rice Lake Loop Trail, Homestead Trail, and the Old Growth Trail. Bikes must be walked along these sensitive ecosystem routes due to limited visibility and steep slopes.
True to its former name – Seymour Demonstration Forest – part of the largely second-growth forest is a manicured showcase for the logging industry. Much of the undergrowth has been brushed out in places near the park entrance, which makes for smooth trail riding. Tie in a trip around the forest with an off-road spin through nearby Lynn Canyon Park, located immediately south and west of Seymour’s parking lot. Main trails are all well signed to avoid confusion.
Fishing: Anglers can drop a line in at Rice Lake, which is stocked with more than 5,000 Rainbow trout each year. The more adventurous can try their luck in the Seymour River, reputed to be one of the Lower Mainland’s best steelhead fishing rivers. All provincial fresh water fishing regulations apply in these areas. Boats and personal floatation devices or boats are not allowed in the lake. Swimming is not allowed in Rice Lake, but the Seymour River provides several great places for a cool dip on a hot day.
Kayaking & Canoeing: The Seymour River has been used by kayakers and canoeists since its opening in 1986. The river has beginner to advanced sections and accordingly Class 1 to 5 waters. Vehicle access to launch sites is restricted and users must pass through a security gate. The security personnel will require the group leader to fill out a brief form that provides details of the visit and contact information. The group leader must be a member of a a recognized paddling organization that has an up-to-date annual permit with the LSCR in order for access to be granted. Please check with your group or association to see if it is a permitted group.
Education Programs at LSCR include Watershed Tours of Coquitlam Watershed and Capilano Watershed, Watershed Discoveries School at the Seymour Watershed (an outdoor science exploration program for children grades K-6), Natural and Cultural History presentations, and Watershed Education programs that educate the people of Metro Vancouver to know where their tap water comes from and understand the value of this resource.
Special Events: The close proximity to downtown Vancouver, the natural features, and the well-maintained facilities in the LSCR make the area an attractive place to hold special events such as weddings and birthday parties, as well as running and cycling races.
Dogs are permitted on designated trails but not north of Rice Lake Gate. Off-limit areas include the Seymour Valley Trailway, the Fisherman’s Trail (north of the Homestead Trail junction) and the Rice Lake Loop Trail. Dogs must be on a leash at all times except on designated off-leash trails. Please show courtesy to other park visitors by removing your dog’s droppings.
Wheelchair Access & Facilities: The LSCR is wheelchair friendly, offering 10 km of smooth pavement on the Seymour Valley Trailway; a low gradient compacted gravel trail around Rice Lake as well as the Douglas Mowat Special Fisheries Project. There is also a wheelchair accessible drinking fountain, wheelchair friendly outhouses, specially designated parking spaces in the main lot, and access ramps to all public buildings.
Hours: The Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve is open 365 days a year, from dawn to dusk. Area closures will only occur for public safety if dangerous wildlife (bears or cougars) persist in an area, if weather conditions warrant (high wind or heavy rain), and when the fire hazard has reached an Extreme rating (Fire hazard is assessed daily from April 1 to October 31 and a rating display board is located near the parking lot entrance. Check the board and observe any restrictions when entering the LSCR). The LSCR opens at 7am every morning, with closure times varying based on the season (5pm November to February, 6pm March & October, 8pm April & September, and 9pm May to August).
Amenities at the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve include outhouses and picnic sites that include benches, picnic tables and garbage cans.
The Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve is located on the North Shore of the Lower Mainland, at the north end of Lillooet Road. Take exit 22 from Hwy 1 at the north end of the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Bridge. A large green GVRD sign at the intersection of the parkway and Lillooet Road points straight ahead on Lillooet to the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve (Seymour Demonstration Forest).
Travellers by bus should take the #228 Lynn Valley bus, starting from the Lonsdale Quay Seabus terminal to Lynn Valley Road and Dempsey Road, or the #210 Upper Lynn Valley from Downtown Vancouver to Underwood Avenue.
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).