I found a teeny slice of real wilderness in East Van, Renfrew Ravine Park. It is a long creek at the bottom of a ravine that somehow avoided being built over as East Van engulfed it. The wild area stretches for about 7-8 blocks where it is hard to believe you’re in the middle of a residential area! In 2018, the Vancouver Park Board and the Still Moon Arts Society worked together to make this area more accessible, building a staircase, boardwalk and replanting native trees, shrubs, and ferns along the ravine.
When I stumbled across the ravine, I didn’t know any of this. I was just looking for green areas and exploring them while we were staying close to home in social isolation. This is just one of the gorgeous Vancouver parks that I found over the last few months.
You can see one end of Still Creek just North of Renfrew Ravine Park, by the library in Renfrew Park. Once you’ve found this, you just need to cross the road at 22nd Avenue to make your way to the entrance of the Ravine.
At the North entrance to the Renfrew Ravine, there is a bench covered with moasics. As well as an intricate mosaic covering the floor. I guess this give you a clue that this is no ordinary park!
New steps down to Still Creek
The mosaics lead you a brand new wooden stairway that you can follow down into the wilderness. The sides of the ravine are very steep. This means once you’ve made it to the creek, you can’t hear the traffic so loudly and it’s easy to forget you are in the middle of Vancouver.
Renfrew Ravine boardwalk
The boardwalk is not very long, but it makes it very easy to access the bottom of the Renfrew ravine. In early spring the whole area gave off the pungent pong of skunk cabbages.
I am probably in the minority, but I really love seeing skunk cabbages. It’s partly because I loved the amaaazing patch of them near Revelstoke. I read that bears eat these plants in the spring because they act as a laxative, to unblock the bears fecal plug that clogs up their intestines while they sleep through winter. So, if you see skunk cabbages starting to flower, bears will be waking up, and it means spring is on the way.
Salmon returned to Still Creek
With the exception of here in the ravine, Still Creek is mostly covered up as it flows through some of Vancouver’s industrial areas to reach Burnaby Lake. Unfortunately pollution and garbage found it’s way into the creek, and killed off the wildlife for many, many years. However conservation efforts from local people have helped restore this habitat; So since 2012, wild Chum salmon have started to return to the creek!
I found a beautiful reflection written by Crecien Bencio for the Still Moon Arts Society about the salmon returning to Still Creek.
Renfrew Ravine poetry
Renfrew Ravine Renfrew Ravine
What colour are your beautiful leaves?
Are they purple? Are they yellow? Are they blue or green?
My leaves are green but don’t be so mean.
The route to Renfrew Ravine Park
There are a few other wonders on the walk to this part of East Van. For some reason, when I took Marc back to visit the ravine, we found a tree (close to Trout Lake) that seemed to grow shoes instead of fruits! Can you tell from the photo below? We spotted at least 15 pairs of shoes hanging from this tree. Why do people hang their shoes from trees and wires here!?
Access to Renfrew Ravine:
If you ever want to visit Renfrew Ravine from other parts of the city, you can follow the BC Parkway cycle/walking route that (roughly) follows the Expo SkyTrain Line. Or you can take the Sky Train to 29th Avenue Metro station.
I really enjoyed stumbling onto this slice of wilderness in East Van. It was even more fun to look up information about it and discover how this park is so well loved by the surrounding community. Please have a peek at the Still Moon Arts Society page if you’d like to find out more or get involved in their volunteer work.
If you’d like to visit Renfrew Ravine Park or Still Creek, click on the pins below to save them.