Oh, Canada: Vancouver, B.C.

Our last stop in Canada before heading back into the U.S. was Vancouver. The city scene isn’t usually our style but Vancouver was a lot of fun and had plenty of beautiful nature spots to explore. I had heard about a park with a suspension bridge and sky walk (Capilano Suspension Bridge Park) and really wanted to check it out. That is, until I saw the steep admission fee of $46 per person. Ouch! As a free alternative, we went hiking at Lynn Canyon, famous for its beautiful natural pools and suspension bridge. There were a ton of people when we arrived in the morning but we were lucky to snag parking in the overflow lot, which was completely full by the time we left. The crowds seemed to be centered around the suspension bridge and thinned out on the trails.

IMG_6176 2

IMG_6179 2I was hoping there would be better accessibility at Lynn Canyon but unfortunately none of the trails are accessible with the exception of the gravel service and emergency access roads (neither of which are particularly scenic). Despite lacking accessibility, the park itself was beautiful with lots of moss-covered trees and ferns in every shade of green. We had a peaceful hike on the Baden Powell Trail’s wooden boardwalk and saw only a few others along the way.

IMG_6174 2

We had a few days of stormy weather, which meant we stayed inside the RV listening to the rain, reading, and watching Netflix. The storms also cleared out a lot of the smoke from nearby wildfires. When the sunshine returned we went out on the bikes with Gaius one day. Our RV park was located right near a nice hike and bike trail system and we rode to a dog park where Gaius got to run around and play for awhile. Usually Gaius doesn’t get to enjoy dog parks because he’s mean to the other dogs (especially large dogs) but luckily we had this place all to ourselves.

We also spent a day hiking at Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver. The park is located in a beautiful rainforest that flourishes along the rocky coast. Hiking trails travel through lush forest canopy and lead to beaches and scenic overlooks. The Beacon Lane trail doubles as a wide gravel access road that provides a direct and accessible route through the forest and to the lighthouse lookout. There are accessible restrooms and a drinking fountain near the end of the trail.

Other trails in the park were only partially accessible, including the Juniper Loop Trail which starts off as accessible packed gravel trail at the parking lot but leads to areas where large rocks obstruct the path. Segments of other trails had steep inclines, deep stairs (some without railings), and traveled over large boulders. A few large accessible parking spaces are available in the parking lot.

Visitors aren’t allowed inside the lighthouse but a paved driveway leads down to a nice lookout. The park also has a few small beaches and offers a great view of the city from across the bay.

IMG_6267-490525217-1536019495135.jpgIMG_6258-2796461171-1536019532253.jpg

I think my favorite experience in Vancouver was riding the trail around the town of Port Coquitlam. Many visitors complete the trail in segments but we decided to do the entire 18-mile loop at once. The trail truly has a little something for everyone and is also super accessible. We started off on a packed-gravel trail that passed through a city park, then traveled a short distance down a paved trail along the highway before riding alongside the Coquitlam River.

The ride along the shore was beautiful and easy with very few inclines. The gravel and dirt sections of the trail were flat and free of obstacles. The paved sections of the trail were nice and smooth and there were accessible restrooms along the way. The route is marked with signage, making it very easy to follow. The trail passes through most of the city’s parks so there are plenty of spots to stop for a picnic or other activities.

We saw several signs along the way warning of bears in the area and had our bear spray packed just in case. Seeing how populated and active the area was, I honestly thought our chances of seeing a bear were pretty slim.

I was wrong. At about 9 miles into the trail we traveled through a beautiful wooded area along a stream. We turned a corner and no more than 15-20 feet in front of us was a gigantic black bear sitting in the middle of the trail. We slammed on our brakes and our bikes skid a bit sending a poof of dust and dirt into the air. I screamed, not because it was a bear, but because I did not expect to see anything around the corner. Luckily, the bear was startled and sort of jumped up like it was spooked, quickly flipping his head and running off into the trees (kind of like those videos where cats are startled by cucumbers). Mitch quickly grabbed his bear spray but thankfully the bear continued into the woods. We hopped back onto our bikes and cautiously continued down the trail being sure to make a lot of noise. We didn’t see the bear or any others again but still can’t stop talking about the experience.

A section of the trail was closed so we had to take a short detour down a city street before meeting back up with the trail. Near the end of our loop the trail passed a bar and pub (no minors allowed) where we decided to stop for lunch. There was a bike rack on the side of the pub near the pier where we locked up our bikes before we headed to the patio for some grub. It was a great place to stop for a bite to eat and to rest from the long and exciting ride.

We also utilized Vancouver’s awesome (and accessible) public transportation system and spent a day exploring downtown. Using public transportation is great because it’s usually affordable, it’s better for the environment, and it takes away the stress of driving and parking downtown. We purchased $10 day passes from the RV park, which gave us access to Vancouver’s buses, trains, and ferries.

IMG_6385.png

We visited Gastown, Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood and home to the antique, whistling steam clock and some of the cities most notable restaurants.

IMG_6386.png

We also visited Stanley Park and walked along the Seawall. The Seawall follows along the perimeter of Stanley park and was built to slow coastal erosion. The entire trail is roughly a 15-mile long loop offering stunning views of the coast. The trail is paved and very accessible. Accessible parking is available in the various lots that provide access to the Seawall. Cyclists are permitted to ride the loop via a one-way bike trail that travels counterclockwise. Visitors using the pedestrian trail are permitted to travel in either direction.

IMG_6387

Along the Seawall there’s a small accessible water park for kids with accessible restrooms and a cool “kid-dryer” or walk/roll through human dryer.  There’s also a small park with beautiful totem poles. These brightly colored cedar poles tell the story of the First Nations people and their culture.

We finished off our day with dinner and drinks in Gastown at the Steamworks microbrewery. We sat out on the patio and shared a bowl of seafood chowder as busy city life bustled by. We followed dinner with gelato from Bella Gelateria. I had read their salted pecan flavor had won awards in Italy. After trying a sample topped with maple syrup, I could see why it was such a hit. Mitch chose salted caramel and I went with a double scoop of salted pecan with maple syrup and matcha green tea. Still dreaming about it today…

It was hard to believe we’d been in Canada for a whole month and that our Canadian adventure was over. Still, we were ready to trade in liters for gallons and kilometers for miles and make our way back home. Next stop- Seattle!

Thanks for reading.

Leave a Reply