I wasn’t going to write about parks in my West Vancouver neighbourhood as it seemed so “same old,” but two things changed my mind. One was a chat I had with a woman originally from Spain who is a participant in my Zoom English Conversation Club. She was gushing about our local parks. Her enthusiasm was infectious and it reminded me that these parks may be “same old” to me, but they’re also incredibly beautiful. The other was the creative social distancing signage at a favourite park. The bald eagle image showing the 2 metre/6 feet wingspan made me smile.
Here in British Columbia, our provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is clear with her directives. She urges people who aren’t sick/quarantined to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. That means keeping 2 m apart, going solo or in family unit, and staying close to home. I’m lucky to have amazing parks near my house—many in walking or cycling distance. Here’s the ones I’ve been hanging out in over the past few months.
I fell in love with this park when we moved to West Vancouver 20 years ago. It’s only a short stroll from my house and over the years I’ve relied on Whytecliff Park for an easy bit of exercise and a whole lot of stress relief. Sitting up on the cliffs looking out at the stunning views over Howe Sound never fails to help me put things in perspective.
Whyte Island is separated from the rest of the park during high tide, but it’s fun to scramble up the rocky outcropping when the narrow isthmus is exposed. Mike and I were there late one day a few weeks ago when a huge flock of seabirds circled overhead. They were the same old sea gulls we see all the time but it was such a joyous moment.
Baden Powell Trail/Whyte Lake
This is where I go when I need a quick dose of cardio in the forest. It’s pretty well straight uphill on the Baden Powell Trail from our house, but it’s the perfect one and a quarter hour, door-to-door workout. My son Alex who is lucky to be doing his Ontario-based summer job online here in Vancouver (that’s 4200 km/2600 mi away) has been accompanying me three or four times a week. His companionship these lasts few months has been wonderful and it also make me less nervous about encountering bears (two, so far this year).
I searched unsuccessfully for a photo that does justice to the place, and realized how infrequently I take pictures of my pretty, go-to workout hike.
This well-loved coastal forest park has old growth cedars and firs, rugged cliffs, great views and a scenic lighthouse all connected by a tangle of well-maintained trails. The cool thing is that this piece of wilderness sits smack in the middle of a residential neighbourhood. Until recently, the parking lot and neighbouring residential streets were closed due to COVID restrictions, though the park was open. I discovered that the bike ride from my house, a hilly 15-20 minutes, isn’t too bad. I’m hoping I’ll continue to leave the car at home even though the lot is open again.
Cypress Falls Park
This is another park that butts right up to a residential area, yet a mere 5-minute walk from the parking lot brings you to a thick forest with a series of giant waterfalls that plunge into a deep gorge.It feels like you’re in a remote wildness area. Usually I drive the 10 minutes to the trailhead but sometimes I walk from Whyte Lake (described earlier) on a trail that connects to Cypress Falls Park. The options for short and long hikes are endless. I visit this park a lot and thought I’d seen all the waterfall viewing points. But the other day, I was thrilled to discover a new spot—seems like this same old park has more surprises for me.
Read an old post about this old favourite. It provides route description/directions.
Brother’s Creek Trail to Lost Lake & Blue Gentian Lake
It’s a rare treat to go hiking with both my guys but we got it together last weekend. The Brother’s Creek trailhead is about a 15 minute drive from our house and starts high up in a residential area called the British Properties. This area offers a myriad of hiking and mountain biking possibilities. Our 8.5 km/5.3 mi loop took us past massive old trees, waterfalls, creek crossings and two pretty lakes. We were surprised that Blue Gentian Lake was still mostly frozen and that we were walking on snow for a lot of the upper part of the hike.
Here’s a link for directions and maps for this loop.
Capilano River Regional Park
Last but not least, Capilano River Regional Park, which straddles North and West Vancouver, gets credit for the creation of this post. When I pulled up to the trailhead, I was greeted by the awesome bald eagle social distancing sign. For years, Cap Canyon as it is called by locals, has been the spot for my Tuesday morning trail run with an old friend. Back in March, we stopped going due to COVID-19 concerns as the trails are narrow in parts and the park can be busy. With new COVID-19 cases tracking very low in B.C., I ventured back last week for a run that turned into more of a walk as I stopped to admire viewpoints that I usually just run by. Folks were good about following the distancing guidelines and it felt great to be back at this old favourite.
Get more information about this park, including maps in a previous post.
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