A fresh look at my “same old” parks in West Vancouver

Social distancing sign at Capilano River Regional Park

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.

Whytecliff Park

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.

Whyte Island at low tide
View from Whyte Island with hundreds of gulls

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.

Boggy, beautiful forest near Whyte Lake

Lighthouse Park

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.

Alex on one of the rocky lookouts at Lighthouse Park

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.

Along the main trail at Cypress Falls Park
One of several waterfalls at Cypress Falls Park

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.

My guys with their long COVID hair at Blue Gentian Lake

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.

Trailhead signage at Capilano River Regional Park
Watching kayakers on the Capilano River…a great reason to take a break from my run

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Categories: Activities, British Columbia, Hiking | Tags: , , , , | 51 Comments

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51 thoughts on “A fresh look at my “same old” parks in West Vancouver

  1. Blanca Lopez

    I think I know well this Spanish woman 😉 It was a pleasure to meet you for the first time.
    It is my first time that I dare to write in a blog in English, but I should do it, I want to share with you a few words.

    It is so nice to meet people with similar interests: travel, enjoy with outdoor activities, nature and help others learning our first languages ( I’m a Spanish teacher, as you know).

    You inspired me a lot with all information you shared with me and every weekend I look forward to discovering new places you recommended me. Actually, 2 or 3 weeks ago, my husband and I went to Lighthouse Park, amazing trees, views, amazing all as a whole….. I have to say I feel very very like to live here during these crazy pandemic months and have the opportunity to be in contact with this fantastic and incredible nature we can enjoy just around the corner.

    Thanks for your post and for all the information and experiences you share with us in your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blanca, it’s so nice of you to leave your comments. As I mentioned, I was really inspired by your enthusiasm during our Zoom session. I agree, it is great to meet people who share similar interests. This is one of the things that has brought me such joy with my blog. I have gotten to know people from all over the world who love to travel, hike, and explore both near and far.

      I’m glad the information I provided is helpful. And, I’m really happy to hear that you guys visited Lighthouse Park. It’s amazing to have such a rainforest right in the middle of a residential area. I’m sure you’ll have fun discovering many other beautiful nature spots in “our backyard”.

      I know it is a bit scary to write in a new language, but your English is very good—no need to worry! Now that you have written your first English comment in a blog post, you are on your way to writing many more.

      Like

  2. How lucky are you to have such beauty on your doorstep? Those gulls viewed from Whyte Island were incredible!! I believe I had walked to Baden Powell Trail when I visited Vancouver in 2006.

    Great to have your son to share the trails with you. I saw a bear cross a path once in upstate New York when I was walking along with my dog, Nelson. I was surprised how calm I was in the moment of the encounter, only to freak out a bit later when the reality of what had crossed my path sunk in. Thank goodness Nelson didn’t start barking (for once!).

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s cool that you’ve been on the Baden Powell Trail, Lisa! It’s a long one with various sections that cross Vancouver’s entire North Shore. Hopefully I can take you on a hike there sometime.
      Dogs and bears aren’t always the best combination. You’re right about Nelson. I’ve heard nasty stories of bears getting very irritated by barking. I’m now up to five bear sightings this season. Thankfully they’ve all ignored me or left quickly when I started to make noise. It’s exciting and scary at the same time.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh wow, that photo of Whyte Island is gorgeous!

    Isn’t it amazing how we tend to take our own backyards for granted? My in laws came to visit us in Colorado last summer and they were amazed by the pine trees and the streams and all the other things that we’re so used to, and it really reminded me to take a step back and appreciate the small stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love Whyte Island. I can see part of it from my house and it’s such a pretty sight. I’ve definitely had a new appreciation of it these last few months when I’ve been hanging out close to home and not racing off to what seemed like more “exciting” things. We’re lucky to both have such amazing backyards.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Really beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My sincere apologies for being late to comment on yet another wonderful post of yours. I saw them earlier, but marked it aside due to some pressing work (blame the WFH). Hope you aren’t angry..

    Coming to your post now. The Whyte Cliff and the Cypress forests are amazing. It’s so refreshing to see a lush green forest (I personally prefer an Icy White forest being a Chionophile). The views you captured are so amazing and unique. If I am ever in Vancuover, I shall visit the Whyte Cliff Park. Thank you so much Madam for sharing.. 😊😊

    [PS: I would like to offer a small suggestion, if you don’t get angry hearing it. You may wish to use the abbreviation “mi” for representing distance in miles, instead of “m”. The SI Unit of length is Metre, denoted by “m”. Sorry for being a bit of a Science freak]

    Liked by 1 person

    • As I mentioned in a comment on another post, there is no need to apologize about “late” commenting. I know how busy people get and how many great posts there are to read, so I am grateful for any comments (or likes) no matter how late they come.

      The forests around my house are indeed beautiful. Maybe you should visit in winter when the higher elevation forests are beautifully snow covered. I like this season too and often do my hikes on snowshoes.

      Thank you for pointing out the error in abbreviation. I appreciate it and have corrected the mistake.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you once again Madam.. 😊😊 Yeah, people get busy, which is true, but one must also make time regularly for doing things that he/she loves.. 😊😊

        I can imagine the beauty of those places during winters.. I shall indeed visit your beautiful Canada during Winters and witness the Empire of Ice.. 😊😊
        Hiking along such trails is indeed a fun and learning experience.. 😊😊

        Thank you once again Madam for your reply.. 😊😊

        Liked by 1 person

  6. josypheen

    Yay! I love that you’ve been getting out to the gorgeous parks in your area. I honestly think the silver lining of this covid-19 nightmare is that we are all appreciating how gorgeous the green spaces are. I have to admit though, we look at the North Shore from here and I am a bit jealous of the amazing trails you have access to.

    p.s. I didn’t know about Brother’s Creek Trail to Lost Lake & Blue Gentian Lake! I’ll have a look at that one too. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, the North Shore is pretty great for getting out into the wilderness trail. But then I’m sometimes a bit envious of my friends who live in town and can walk to all kinds of shops, restaurants, cultural venues. Either side, we have it good!
      The Brother’s Creek area has tons of trails waiting to be explored. There’s some beautiful old growth and it’s nice to have a picnic by one of the lakes.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So lucky to have so many wilderness spots and nature reserves at your beck and call! Happy to hear you enjoying them safely and hoping this finds you well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I’m very fortunate. Our health officials still advise against non-essential travel within the province so it’s great to have these options close to home.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Looks fabulous. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. We’ve been to nearly all of these. We are soooo lucky to live here with access to all this nature and beauty. Even my urban forest hike around the golf course is lush and green and full of tall trees and spring flowers. Love Lighthouse park and Whytecliff. It feels like a long time since we’ve been to Capilano River Park – better make it an outing soon!
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

    • Urban hiking in Vancouver is pretty darn nice. Even though I’ve lived here for 20 years now, I still can’t get over the spring blooms—really an incredible sight. Just wandering around my residential neighbourhood is beautiful with the flowering rhodos, azaleas…
      Capilano Park is always a pleasure and there are so many trails to explore.
      Happy walking!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Everyone is envying your parks … but I am envying the guidance of your officials and the behavior of your fellow citizens! I’ve got some nice parks (although there is zero elevation!) within walking, running, or biking distance from my house, but there are so many people crowded into them, and no one is following any kind of rules. I’ve had to totally leave the parks where I used to do all of those activities every day and find new spots. Luckily, I also live near a neighborhood with winding, shady streets and large lots, and I’ve been in there every day for several months now. Just this week, I tried my old bayou running path, and it was acceptable! Still a little too busy, but most of the people clogging the parks are now at the bars, hairdressers, gyms, tattoo shops, etc. that are wide open here in Texas! 😫

    P.S. Your son looks so much like you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We are really fortunate in British Columbia to have Dr. Bonnie Henry, the lead health official. She’s a brilliant woman and has the kind, feel-good personality of a kindergarten teacher. She keeps to simple messages, repeated often and has taken a very conservative approach. People respect her, and for the most part we’re a pretty obedient bunch. On some of our busier local trails (which I avoid), municipal workers have a new role: going around with those styrofoam pool noodles and reprimanding folks who don’t keep distance. It looks pretty funny but I think they get some abuse. I suspect it’s going to be a long time until my gym opens (there’s some talk about doing outdoor-only classes this summer) so I’m grateful for the trails/parks. I’m glad you have some outdoor exercise options. I’m with you about avoiding busier places; it’s just too stressful and defeats the point of getting out into nature. I was going to say that at least you have quieter trails now that people have moved to indoor activities, but that’s very worrisome. I guess time will tell. Stay safe!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I totally loved the pictures (and also the story with it) but the pictures are so amazing. Reminds me of northern Norway. We don’t have such forests in Denmark, but a lot of beaches which is also not bad. Really enjoy being able to visit your blog; thanks. love and greetings from Liv

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Liv, thanks for visiting and for your nice comments. It’s interesting what you say about northern Norway. I would love to visit someday (and Denmark too).

      Liked by 1 person

      • you should do that, it’s absolutely lovely
        actually the whole of Norway, not just the North
        we actually have a B&B here in DK
        but we are keeping it closed for the time being
        hopefully in a year or two things will be different and we all will be able to travel again

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I must admit I’m a bit jealous of you. It’s so nice that all these parks are not far from your house, which of course encourages an active lifestyle. All the parks in Jakarta (which are not that many, and most are small) are still closed during the restrictions imposed by the provincial government. So for now I must be content with the jogging path near my apartment which is fortunately quite nice thanks to the trees and flowers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Although our provincial parks were closed (just starting to re-open now) many of the municipal/regional parks stayed open but with parking closures that helped limit the number of visitors. We are very lucky here to have the proximity to parks. I think both the sheer number of parks and our relatively low population density (especially relative to a place like Jakarta) made it easier/safer to allow parks to remain open.
      I’m glad you are at least able to get out on the jogging path! I see from the Worldometers stats that the number of cases in Indonesia as a percentage of population is relatively low. I hope it will stay that way (and get better of course). It’s alarming how some countries like Brazil have all of a sudden had huge increases. Enough of this gloomy talk. All the best to you (and sorry to make you jealous).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Unfortunately that low percentage is caused by the low number of testing Indonesia has conducted so far — one of the lowest testing rates per capita in the world actually. This means a lot of people who may have been infected by the virus are unaware of this and keep spreading it to others. Also, in Jakarta alone there has been a spike in funeral numbers which means some people might have died of Covid-19 without being tested at all.

        Anyway, since I don’t have that luxury of having such beautiful parks near where I live, I create a “mini garden” in my apartment. My houseplant collection has grown significantly since the past three months! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Of course! That was definitely an oversight on my part. It’s very difficult to get an accurate picture without widespread testing and reliable information gathering/reporting.
          I’m glad your mini garden is growing and bringing you joy. Spending much more time at home these days, I’m particularly enjoying my indoor and outdoor plants (and they are benefiting from more attention/care).

          Liked by 1 person

  13. Thanks for the wonderful reminder Caroline of how incredibly fortunate we are to live and play together in these beautiful parks near our back yards! Trish and Steve

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi. You really are fortunate to have such beautiful areas nearby. I’d have to travel pretty far to get to anywhere as good as these places.

    Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ya Neil, I’m really fortunate. Being close to nature was one of the main reasons that brought us out to Vancouver. Of course it’s not all perfect here; we put up with a lot of rain and it’s an expensive city.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I love Vancouver. So close to dense forests, ocean views,and of course the mountains. I was thinking you wouldn’t still have any snow (like we do) but I see it’s not all gone. You’re lucky to live in such a beautiful city, it’s far from being the same old. By the way we’ve had 16 bear sightings, all black bears but still unnerving.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Holy crap, that’s a lot of bears! Is that in Golden? You must be out in the forest all the time. Seeing black bears remains unnerving for me, even though I see them every year. Our local mountains had a ton of snow this year and seeing all the snow on our hike made me a little sad about missing what would have been some terrific skiing months. I shouldn’t whine, I’ve got it good here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes in Golden, well actually on the road between Golden and the resort. We have to bike on the road a bit to get to and from the mountain biking trails. It’s pretty freaky, but they don’t seem to care about us passing them on bikes. I feel the same about the snow, when we got back from Belize there was so much snow around, but we only had a couple of weeks to ski before the lock up. Hopefully the summer is good.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Caroline, you guys have so many spectacular parks over there. Your photos are gorgeous, I always love trees near running creeks and rivers . I spent time in Cathedral Grove on VI and although it was a challenging day, the beauty of the park more than made up for it. We had a ball. Lyn

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Lyn. I’m glad you had a nice time at Cathedral Grove. Even though we’ve been to Vancouver Island many times, we almost always stop for a little stretch/walk when we’re on the Cathedral Grove route. Those giant trees never fail to awe.

      Liked by 2 people

  17. These look like all great places to go for a hike. It’s interesting to see how some parks are adapting to COVID-19 and social distancing. We went to a conservation area close to home in Ontario this weekend and one of the trails is now one-way only and had plenty of signs posted reminding people not to pass and to stay apart.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I know what you mean about parks adapting to the situation. I like the one-way idea—I haven’t seen this in parks only at our grocery store. Here, there’s a lot of difference in the way parks are handling things depending on whether they are municipally or provincially run (and a difference between municipalities). I’m just really happy to have access to them. Happy hiking!

      Liked by 2 people

  18. Wow, you live in such a beautiful part of the world! Can’t believe you have so much natural beauty right on your doorstep. If o ever have a chance to visit Vancouver, I would want to explore the Lighthouse Park and Lynn Canyon park. Thanks for sharing so many beautiful photos, Vancouver is such a stunner. I hope all is well with you and your family 😊 Aiva

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Aiva. I’m very grateful to have all this wonderful nature at my doorstep. The combination of forest and ocean is pretty special. If you visit Vancouver, I’d be happy to provide you with recommendations. All the best to you and your family!

      Like

  19. Nicole Beissner

    Awesome! I have been doing all the same ones and also found some new trails and been on my bike a few times which I love. Hope you’re keeping well. Would be great to see you for an SD hike soon 🙂 Nicole

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Monika MacNeill

    Hi Caroline,

    I loved reading your article!!!

    Monika

    >

    Liked by 1 person

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