We’re all creatures of habit and sometimes it’s tough to get out of our comfort zone to explore somewhere we’ve never been before, but it doesn’t have to be
By Christina Willis
Lynn Loop, North Vancouver
Lynn Valley is a gem of the Pacific North West. It was a rainy day the first time I did the Lynn Loop, but as a born and raised BC girl I don’t mind the rain, in fact I rather enjoy exploring the forest under the wet green canopy. The rain made the popular trail quiet and I was reminded of my childhood as I walked over roots, around boulders, and hopped from stump to stump, playing hopscotch over the giant puddles of the forest floor.
The Lynn Loop trail is easy to complete while still getting a good sweat. There is a steep section as you climb the hillside before looping into switchbacks down to the river. I completed the hike in about 2 hours; it’s just over 5km from the headwaters parking lot. You can also park near the End of the Line General Store (my preference) and walk the Varley Trail along the river (which is lovely) before entering the park.
The Lynn Loop trail is one of many trails in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park and is home to magnificent hemlock, cedar and fir trees, some of the largest in the world. The lush forest of the North Shore is incredible, much of which has barely been explored.
Sword Fern Trail, UBC
When I go for a hike in Vancouver, I almost always head to Lynn Valley. But sometimes it’s nice to try something different, so this week I grabbed my runners and set out to discover Pacific Spirit Regional Park, without research or hesitation, because why not explore somewhere new?
I’m an active woman; I practice yoga at home daily, ride my bike often and almost always choose walking over driving or taking transit. I have peaks and valleys of athleticism where I’ll run 3-5km three times a week… and then not at all for months. Thankfully, the trails at Pacific Spirit Park are great for novice trail running, flat and wide with few roots or rocks.
There’s plenty of free parking along 16th Ave, the Northern border of the park, and I entered the trails from here. I was turned around a few times, the trails criss and cross, intertwining and name changing, and the park maps weren’t easy (for me) to follow. It all worked out though (I have a damn good sense of direction) and I headed South along Sword Fern Trail, hopeful I would meet the ocean.
Though I had to cross 4 lanes on SW Marine and was only able to look at the ocean, from a parking lot, but it was still worth it. After researching the park, I’ve learned that there are 73 km of trails (I saw only about 10 km in 2 hours). Pacific Spirit Park is home to 168 acres of old growth forest and a variety of wildlife.
Beaver Lake Trail, Stanley Park
The shoreline forest in Pacific Spirit Park and the forest of Stanley Park have something in common: the only remaining old growth trees in the city of Vancouver. The vast majority of the trees here, including most on the North Shore, are second growth trees and not more than 100 years old.
Stanley Park is on most people’s “must do” list for visitors to Vancouver, and walking the sea wall around its perimeter is an awesome activity, but sometimes it’s worth it to go into the park, not just around it.
Beaver Lake Trail is an easy trail that wraps around Beaver Lake, one of the city’s only freshwater lakes, which feeds Beaver Creek, one of the city’s only remaining Salmon streams. The Beaver Lake Loop is only 1.5 km from Stanley Park Drive.
I did the hike by entering the park near the Vancouver Rowing Club, looping around the lake and following Lake Trail to Third Beach. From Third Beach I walked the sea wall into the West End, an easy 6 km walk that takes approximately an hour and a half. I would recommend you do like I did, and finish off at Kintaro Ramen on Denman for the city’s most delicious bowl of noodles!
Vancouver’s West is Best mentality boasts some of the world’s most magnificent parks and trails. Get outside and make the most of the city you’re in!
Remember to stay hydrated and always let someone know when you go hiking, even if you’re not going alone.
Christina is a beer drinking, noodle dreaming introvert. She loves warm fuzzy socks, miniature vegetables and listening to records on a rainy day. If she’s not at the brewery, she’s probably eating a bowl of ramen. Read about her adventures at discoverybird.com.