Friday, February 24, 2017

Vancouver - The hikes

I visited Vancouver for the first time in Summer 2015 but it was a short visit. When I visited again in 2016, I got to experience the winters. November was just rainy and the temperatures were between 5 to 14 degrees celsius and it started dipping to 0 towards mid December when I returned (for good). So for the first 3 weeks of my stay in Vancouver, the weather was decent with slight drizzle so I got to go on numerous hikes (or as we call it - trek)

All hiking places are accessible via bus and the timings are accurate to the minute on Google Maps. Though it might be cold, avoid wearing layers and be sure to carry an extra set of clothes because whatever you wear will get wet either due to rain or sweat (during winter). Apart from that carry standard trekking items like water and some snacks. The best part of the hikes in Vancouver is that the paths are well marked. The trees have numbers every 100mts and a pamphlet with map is available for free at the start of the hike. Oh and if you are scared of dogs, you better skip the hikes because almost everyone on these hikes have dogs with them.

1) Quarry Rock
Reaching there: Take route 211 from downtown which is a direct bus to Quarry Rock. Or take route 210 from Downtown to Phibbs Exchange and transit to route 212 to reach Quarry Rock (Deep cove). 

Quarry Rock trail is a moderate hike since it involves climbing 2kms uphill through a series of wooden stairs and rocks. The trail starts by the bay where you get a good view of the dockyard followed by a climb through the forest. 
Though the climb is exhausting, the view from top is worth the effort. The tiny boats in the river will make the view even more better.

You can continue on the trail ahead of Quarry Rock to reach BP Trail to Indian River Drive. I went halfway but since I was doing a solo hike, I feared getting lost in the woods and returned. There are good restaurants and bakery for lunch or snacks once you climb down from the hike.

2) Capilano Suspension Bridge
Getting there: Take the route 246 (Highland) and ask the driver to drop you at the nearest stop. You can then either walk around half a km or wait for another bus to take you to Capilano Suspension Bridge

The main attraction here is the long suspension bridge and the cliff walk.

They do have an artificially created trail which takes you through tree top bridges and a nature tour explaining the various flora and fauna found in Vancouver. The trails created here can actually be experienced in the Quarry Rock and other hikes near Vancouver.

There is however an entry fee of $40 to enter the place so if you are budget conscious then you could skip this one.

3) Pacific Trail
Getting there: Take 246 (Highland) to Marine Drive (after Lionsgate ramp) and take the trail route from near the mall.

The actual trail starts further ahead from some dam but it was a rainy day so I cut the trail short to about 3kms. The trail starts by walking next to the Capilano River.

As you walk further you can turn back to see the Lions Gate bridge and the Capilano river merging into the bay below it

If you walk further you will reach the Ambleside beach. You are free to walk further north but it leads to the city so I ended the trail at Ambleside beach to catch the bus.

4) Lighthouse park Trail
Getting there: Take 246 (Highland) all the way to the Lighthouse Park stop. Then walk half a km to reach the starting point of the trail.

Lighthouse park is the west tip of Vancouver. There are few trails here which will lead you to the various viewpoints.

I had done the Pacific Trail before I visited the Lighthouse Park so I was exhausted and it started pouring + it was getting dark. So I went to see the main lighthouse and the east beach which took me near the sea.

You could take other trails as they seem quite easy.
5) Lynn Headwaters park
Getting there: Take route 210 (Upper Lynn Valley) and get down at the last stop. Follow google maps post that to reach the start of the trail. However you will need to walk at least 2kms to reach the park. The other interesting way to get there is to get down at EB McNair Dr NS Ramsay Rd and then walk a km through the forest to reach the park.

I took the forest route to the park and it was scary yet amazing.

The park has a small reservoir where you can see the water gushing out from under the bridge.

Here there is a map of all the trails and the difficulty level. The minimum trail would be 4kms and moderate one is about 8kms. The hard ones are about 15kms and involve the easy and moderate trails and going further into the forest. The trails are a loop where you can go either clockwise or anti-clockwise.

I chose to do the moderate trail. I would recommend to go clockwise (start from the road leading left and return from the road right). The reason being the clockwise involves less climbing and more going downhill which would be the opposite if you go the other way. The trail starts with easy walk by the river.

It then gets to a point of steep climb which is sure to make you tough to catch a breath if you are not so fit.

You finally go downhill from where it looks all amazing :) You could then take the trail back to the Upper Lynn Valley final bus stop. The one I mentioned first in the route above.

6) Cypress falls:
This one is not so easily accessible via road mainly because the frequency of buses is bad to this part of the city. I would recommend this only if you have a car. The trail is very short compared to the ones I visited before this.

I walked 3kms by the road to catch a bus and encountered a nice view of the sea.

I eventually ended up at Horseshoe Bay but that is a different post altogether :)

General Tips:
1) Buy a prepaid Compass Card which you can load with the money required for commute. The cost of a ticket on weekends is CAD $1.5 valid for all transit 90mins from the first swipe. This 90mins include transit by bus, seabus and skytrain.
2) Google maps comes in Handy so make sure you have data connectivity (there are prepaid sim cards available in all the malls)
3) If you are traveling between Oct-Dec then carry an umbrella or a raincoat for hikes.

You might also be interested to read: Seattle, Vancouver City, Portland

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