Arbutus Greenway – Local Vancouver Walks
The Arbutus Greenway is an easy path to explore if you live in Vancouver. The route follows along a former rail corridor so it never gets very steep, but there are quite a few places with fantastic views. This is a great cycle route, but while we are self isolating, it seemed like it might be a good option for us to stretch our legs. We walked the whole way to the Fraser River, and then found a different route home zig-zagging through pretty neighbourhoods.
If you are visiting Vancouver (or if you live here and are sick of being indoors in self isolation) this is a great trail.
Arbutus Grenway – The basics
Distance: 8.7 km one way
Elevation Gain: 69m
Time: 1.5- 2 hours
What to bring: You don’t need to bring anything special.
Dogs: Its perfect for dogs, but they need to stay on leashes.
How hard is it? It is an old railway line, so not steep. It’s pretty easy.
Arbutus Greenway Map
This pathway will take you the whole way from false creek (in central Vancouver) to the Fraser River. So you get a mini tour of Vancouver neighborhoods as you head South.
The Arbutus Greenway – Getting started
Near the start of the Arbutus Greenway is one of my favourite cafes for croissants or pain au chocolat, Beaucoup Bakery. They are buttery, crispy and the pain au chocolat’s chocolate is not too sweet, and really tasty. If BC is no longer in lockdown, you want to stop here for a treat.
Once you’re full of croissant and coffee, you’ll be ready to wander up the Arbutus Greenway.
Flowers along the Greenway
The pathway has space for both cyclists and walkers, and in some parts it is lined with flowers, so really lovely to walk. I especially love the area along 6th avenue for all the wildflowers, especially the poppies.
Views over Vancouver
The pathway turns south after going along 6th Avenue. This is when you will climb slowly up a hill and start to see some really good views over people’s rooftops and over to the North Shore Mountains.
Wander past Kerrisdale
Once you’re on the path, you basically just follow the greenway south. There are lots of pretty neighbourhoods for you to explore along the way. Once you’ve seen Point Grey Secondary School (below), you’ll reach Kerrisdale. This is a good area to stop for lunch as there are quite a few good places to eat (along 41st Avenue.)
Arbutus Greenway – Good for self isolation walks/cycles?
One thing that is pretty good about this pathway is there is quite a lot of space, so it does not seem too busy once people spread out along the trail. I have cycled up and down this quite a few times over the last few years, but it definitely seems busier now we’re all stuck on lockdown in the city. Still, there is grass on both sides of the path, so when it is busy (or if you need to overtake large families) you can walk onto the grass.
As well as all the people and doggos along the path, if you look up at the wires above the Greenway, you might also see bird parties happening above you.
Gardens along the route
There are a few places where locals use the edge of the Greenway to grow plants. I liked the fence that is decorated with bike wheels.
…And watch out for all the scare-crows near 53rd Avenue. There are several in a row and they all have names. Cute eh?
Other than that, there isn’t a huge amount to see in the section from 60th Avenue down towards the Fraser River at 75th Avenue. We found far fewer walkers as we got further south. If you prefer walks with epic views, you might find this too boring…but you can cycle or run to get to the river more speedily…
Industrial and less picturesque
The Arbutus Greenway is far less fun near the end of the path. You’ll have views over an industrial area that is not particularly pretty. But, keep going. It’s nice again once you reach Fraser River Park.
We took a mini detour because we spotted a green-ish pathway that looked like a prettier route to the river.
Fraser River Park
I really like the views of the Fraser River at the end of the walk. It’s not bad is it?
We explored a but inside the Fraser River Park because it was full of very happy-looking dogs, so we couldn’t resist taking a look. There are boardwalks along the edge of the river, and some marshy areas if you have a dog that needs to dunk itself in mud. If you look carefully at the photo below, you might be able to spot a very happy labrador chasing ducks in the water.
Fraser River Views
This was our reward at the end of the walk, this view of the Fraser River. The opposite side of the river is the Island where Vancouver Airport is located. It was very quiet when we visited, but normally, this must be a good spot for watching airplanes take off and land. It reminded me of how much fun we had digging holes on Swishwash Island – click here to have a read if you missed that adventure!
The only problem with this walk is the 8.7 km is only in one direction, so if you need to get back to Vancouver, you’ll need to walk, cycle or take a bus back again. We ended up walking over 20km on the day we did this walk – so it was a pretty decent way to stretch our legs.
Anyway, I hope you like the look of it. Click on the pins below to save them for later.
54 thoughts on “Arbutus Greenway – Local Vancouver Walks”
What a lovely place in nature to wander around.
Thanks Bliss. This one wasn’t super nature filled (well…until right at the end) but it was still quite fun.
Yay for greenways! I wish there were more around here! I’d love to go on more walks right now. You’re making me want some pastries with tea! 😛
I have to admit, the croissant bakery was closed last time we walked passed during the lockdown…I just thought I should include it for when things are back to normal. I love a good pastry. 😀
20 km in a day is no joke! Well done on getting in a good workout AND a great walk.
You know 20km in the mountains feels like a massive adventure, but when you’re in the city, it is soooo much easier. I guess it’s because the route-finding is so easy and the hills are teeny!?
What a gorgeous place! The nature looks amazing there 🙂
Thanks Lyne. The nature-filled area down by the river was the best part of the walk for that.
Love the views and interesting things to see along the way. 20 Km is certainly a long walk!
Thanks Tania. Yeah, I guess it is one of the longer isolation walks by the end of the day. It didn’t feel so long though as the paths are so easy to follow.
We did finish the day with pizza as we were too tired to cook – so i guess that counts as a long walk!!
You’ve got to love a greenway
Geoff! Long time no chats. I hope you are doing okay in self isolation! This Greenway actually reminded me of the old trainline walkway near Finsbury park. I have a feeling we chatted about that one once before.
I love those gardens! How cute they are! This sounds like a great walk to get outside for a few hours.
This looks like such a good hike for isolating! I love the views over Vancouver.
Me too! I love seeing the mountains, although it makes me want to be in them all!!
Wow, that’s great to have access to such great walks. I recently discovered a beautiful garden just around the corner of my house.
Oooh nice! Is it a private garden, or can you explore it and see the flowers?
The views all around Vancouver are fabulous and I even quite like the urban and industrial parts as it’s just a little different. Croissants and coffee look perfect to get going with too.
You are right, and I guess the city would not function without those industrial zones! I really hope the croissant shops will reopen again soon. 😀
Awesome guide, the views are just perfect. And thanks for the foodie tips, now I feel like I know everything
You know, Vancouver is great for food, but croissants is the one thing that they normally seem to fail at here…that is why I had to mention that cafe! 😉
What a beautiful walk! It looks like a lovely trail to go out and get some fresh air during lockdown. Thanks for the great guide!
Hello Josy, please tell me more about Arbutus.that your post is named for. When we lived in Ireland I grew one in the garden and you may well remember the enormous one by the ‘Possibly’ shop. Both had strawberries on them. They are called the Strawberry tree there. Is this the same plant where you are and do you eat them? I keep intending to plant one here. Lis
The Arbutus here is a tree that has bright red/ orange peely bark. They only grow within a couple of kilometres of the coastline, and they are really gnarled and beautiful. I took some photos of them in my post about lighthouse park: https://www.awalkandalark.com/vancouver-walks-lighthouse-park/ Is that the same as the ones in Ireland? They definitely don’t involve strawberries here…
This looks like such a wonderful and beautiful walk! And I wouldn’t mind to start with a fresh croissant either 😉
Lol the world is always better when you start with a croissant.
What a beautiful place! I love the flowers and the river views 🙂
Thanks Francesca. Those are my favourite parts too.
I love finding dog friendly activities around the world! Thanks for sharing! 😄
Well 20km of walking is definitely deserving of a pastry, i’m sorry you will have to wait until after lock down to enjoy the one from this bakery (looks delicious)!
I’ve really been enjoying keeping up with the walks you’ve been going on during lockdown and seeing how you have made the most of the outdoor spaces available to you at the moment.
Thank you so much for your sweet comment! I was a bit worried my recent posts would be boring, but it’s quite fun searching out the nature spots, even within the city!
I worked in Kerrisdale for a couple of years and just loved it. The restaurants were amazing.I looked forward to going to work everyday because of the pretty location. I went for a walk almost every lunch break and in the spring with the cherry blossoms I felt like I was in heaven. I love the community gardens! Thanks for this lovely memory.
Oooh nice! I bet you know this area far better than I do then! Was the Arbutus Greenway already pathed back then, or does it look different?
First of all, can I just say that I love that AllTrails map you provided for the Arbutus Greeway Walk? How cool is that map that shows you exactly where the elevation issues may or maynot be (in this case since it’s as you say an old railway trail)!
Second, I love this walk. When I think of travel to Vancouver for my bucket list project, the whole adventure seems to be based around outdoor activities like this. Now, I know that the Arbutus Greenway is somewhat industrial and thus some of the views aren’t as “pretty” but I have to say the whole experience looks grand to me!
Oooh Eric, if you ever need a hiking map for your bucket list project, you should totally look at all trails. They are super easy to create and embed into blog posts. Let me know if you need advice on how to do it.
Looks like fun! I love greenways, both the country/forest and the city sights you can see. This is definitely a good option for people to stay close to home.
That’s a huge walk if you do the round trip. But it’s got so many different things to look at along the way, so it’d be worth it. Of course, I’m always a fan of a good coffee shop along the way.
So green and lovely – I could really use some of this right now.
Those pictures look really nice. What a nice guide for people in Vancouver wanting to get out and about.
You got amazing views on your walk – especially those flowers which reminded me Himalayan villages in India. Narrow roads, full bloom flowers and mountain view in the distance – just perfect. Oh what would I give for such a walking view right now!
Sounds like a perfect day to me! I actually like the not so pretty parts of a city – keeps it real!
I love a greenway especially if you can cycle on it. I’m enjoying all your hikes in Vancouver vicariously. I feel as if I know the city better.
Thanks for sharing! I have also been taking plenty of walks to get outside and explore parts of my neighborhood that i haven’t seen yet. Can’t wait until we can safely take walks like these with our friends and family!
Looks like a wonderful place to take a stroll these days. I find the greenery so relaxing!
Great stroll along this beautiful path. We cycled it last summer and then continued down to Steveston…really nice ride!
Oooh nice! How long did it take to cycle to Steveston? Maybe I should consider that next!? I have not cycled for longer than 2 hours so far this year as I need to wait for my bottom to re-acclimatize to the saddle. It’s so painful when I start cycling each year!
I can’t recall exactly but it was a nice ride and you can always take a long break over fish n’chips in Steveston. Perhaps you already know about the Let’s Go Biking website. It has lots of great biking trails in and Vancouver, including the Vancouver-Steveston route. https://www.letsgobiking.net/advanced/144-vancouver-to-steveston/
Oooh I didn’t know about that! Thank you soooo much!
I’ve just been using the cycle map that city hall gives out!
I love this idea! The next time I make it up to Vancouver, I am absolutely following this guide for my daily walks. Thank you!
I wouldn’t have been able to do that 20 km. Round trip. 8.7 km is already too much for me!
This looks like such a beautiful and simple walk. If I’m ever in the area then I’ll check it out
I’m so glad that the city and the railway company came to an agreement – the Arbutus greenway is such a nice way to get across the city. Such an easy bike ride too. I’ve definitely noticed that it’s busier at the moment too – we’ve actually avoided walking it for the most part as I got fed up playing the “will they or won’t they move aside” game. 🙂