Walking in Vancouver – Capilano River

Walking in Vancouver – Capilano River

Capilano River regional parkMarc and I went on our fist explore outside of Vancouver. We had a beautiful walk through the huge trees of the Capilano River Regional Park. Then we did the most touristy thing so far – explore around the Capilano Suspension Bridge.

We took a bus from just outside our hotel, and within half an hour, we’d made it not just out of the city, but up to some mountains!! Our original plan was to walk up Grouse Mountain as we had heard that it can become very busy at weekends. But, alas, the route up the mountain was closed. A lady told us they were fixing things like fallen trees from the winter months to get things ready for all the climbers in spring. So, instead of walking up the mountain we decided to follow our feet (and google maps) to see what we could find. A little way down the from Grouse Mountain is Capilano River Regional Park, so to start with we went there. Our walk started with a pretty impressive view!

I think the two slightly spiky peaks covered in snow are called the Lions.  The closest mountain on the right is Grouse Mountain. I need to learn all the other mountain’s names as I am not sure about the mountains in the middle! The water is the Capilano river which is where just under half of Vancouver’s water comes from. We didn’t really know where we should go, so we chose a hopeful-looking path over the Cleveland Dam. There was plenty of water gushing over the dam. Some of the snow must have melted from the mountains recently. It was an awesome sound!

We found a signboard with a map, so took a bit of a tour around this gorgeous park. It is actually a temperate rain forest. This meant even on a sunny day, it felt a little humid. However the sun kept shining through the greenery to give us pretty views all around the forest. I have never seen so much hanging moss before! The moss doesn’t harm the trees; But it can suck in a huge amount of moisture, so it must become very heavy for the ancient trees that are really covered in moss! We met quite a few noisy little squirrel dudes. Although he is teeny, you should be able to spot one in the photo on the right:

The paths wound along next to the river, sometimes crossing it on pretty bridges. I loved the areas where massive trees must have fallen relatively recently so there would be a sudden clear patch with new saplings reaching up towards the light.  This would probably be a pleasant place to explore even in the rain as all these trees would be an excellent natural brolly.

I just LOVE how the bright sunlight filters through the trees.

The trees themselves were just enormous! It is hard to even fit them into photos as the trunks just seem to head on up for miles! This many trees also create some impressive webs of root systems.

Anyway, you can probably tell from all these photos of greenery that I had a blast exploring this forest! We only saw a couple of other people walking in the forest, although there were a few more people hanging around close to the river where the cold water cools the air.

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park:
We noticed that our walk had taken us close to the Capilano suspension bridge. This was on my list of cool touristy things to do, so we continued further down the hill to find it. This was a bit more of a pricey experience – $42.50 each! That was a bit of a shock after the stunning, and free walk we had just experienced. But neither of us is particularly afraid of heights, so it sounded fun to walk over such a high suspension bridge. Big tour groups seemed to arrive in waves, so we just explored really slowly and let the larger groups wander past until we had some space to actually look around.

You can’t really get a sense of how high (and wobbly) the bridge is from the photos above. It is 70m above the river and 137m across. It was really fun to walk over it!! You can get a better idea from these two piccies from further away:

In addition to the suspension bridge, the park was filled with walkways so you could explore the forest. It was a little more sanitised compared to our walk through the Capilano River Regional Park, but at least you don’t have to worry about tripping over tree roots. There were quite a few squirrels around here too. They were pretty shouty if anyone came close to their particular tree. I had no idea such cute little critters could be so loud! The squirrels in London parks are docile in comparison! There were totem poles to take photos of, duck ponds with posing ducks, and it as pretty cool to go under the main bridge.

My favourite part of the park was the tree-top walkways. Lots of people didn’t bother to climb up to these so they weren’t too busy. I loved having a squirrel’s-eye view of the world. These were also pretty wobbly but I loved every second of it!

This is the view of the tree-top walkway from below. It looks fun right!? The other photo is the largest tree in the park, the Grandma Capilano she is more than 500 years old and over 60m tall!

Back the other side of the suspension bridge, there was also a cliff top walk. The park rangers have built a walkway right onto the cliffs. So you can see the amazing tree growth out from the rocks while looking down at the river and up to the tree tops. Surprisingly, this was actually the most vertigo-inducing part. I tried leaning over the rails as far as I could to look down, and Marc became all nervous and asked me to step back. The walkway climbs up to the top of the cliff, so you get to look down at the pretty route you’ve just walked.

We're on Capilano Suspension bridgeSo, that is our failure day, when we attempted to  climb a mountain, but got distracted by a forest. After all this we wandered back to the bus stop, and were back downtown within half an hour. Amazing eh!?

This final photo was my attempt to show how huge the trees are, by taking a vertical panorama. I didn’t want to leave it in the middle of the post in case people hate scrolling this far!!



36 thoughts on “Walking in Vancouver – Capilano River

  1. How incredible to have all this just a 30 minute bus ride away! The treetop walkways look very impressive, they’d be my favourite bit too. Great pictures.

  2. This hike has become one of our easy go-to hikes for the winter. Always a pleasant wander. I watched a fisherman land a salmon longer than his legs in the canyon last autumn 🙂

    Yes, the twin peaks are the Lions, which the local First Nations people called the Twin Sisters.

      1. Definitely! Looked like a good few meals worth of food! I think it was a coho salmon, which are good on the barbecue…

    1. Thanks James! We saw that, but I don’t think we’ll be able to do it until we have some proof of our new address.

  3. Oh my God, this just looks amazing. So beautiful. I can’t believe how old (and big) those trees are. And love the little squirrel. You’re going to do some fantastic walks in Canada. Nice to see your first one x

    1. Thank you!! I have a feeling we are going to get very soggy on some of these future walks…but I’m excited anyway!

  4. This is a lovely area and we just love to go their and be out in the forest. Hope you will enjoy the hike up Grouse and all the other lovely areas in and around Vancouver. It’s the best ever place to be. ♥ it

    1. Yes! We still didn’t go up Grouse but yesterday we climbed Mt Seymour in the snow! It was so, so pretty!

        1. I love that about Vancouver – I’m not a golfer either, but it’s really nice to be able to go from a snowy mountain summit to a barbecue on the beach in the same day

            1. Hope you had sunscreen! 🙂 I was hiking Mt Harvey on Saturday and I was very glad of the snow! Just wait until you experience an inversion in January. Snowshoeing in a T-shirt? It can happen!

              1. I did have sun screen, but I was totally exhausted afterwards. My friend told me that always happens when you’re out in the snow.

                I had to google inversion! I’d never even heard of it!

  5. Fantastic fairyland photos! So gorgeous! You are pretty brave to cross that bridge, my fear of heights would have kept me off.

    1. We both thought our mums wouldn’t have made it. I actually LOVE looking down from high places so it wasn’t actually brave for me. The only wobbly moment was up in the cliff walk!

    1. YES!! There are similar ones in the UK (I went in one near Northampton and one in Kew gardens) but I really like this because it is right in the trees!

  6. I also trekked the forest and went on the Capilano bridge afterwards, but it was a rainy day so it was not having too much fun as you guys did. These trees are tall and huge, and I also love the bright sunlight piercing through the trees and listen to the birds singing on the top.

    1. Thanks for reading!

      I hope you get to go back one day when it’s not pouring. It must be totally different in the rain! I’m sure I’ll have some soggy days too!

      1. Thanks for sharing your trip on a sunny day! It makes me want to go back in the summer. It was a bit difficult to walk in the forest in the rain, but I am glad I experienced rainy Vancouver.

  7. Thanks for sharing this amazing walk! Was there a fee to enter this place? I loved the view of the blue snowcapped mountain it’s so picturesque. Also the suspension bridge views are amazing! How long was it?

    1. The first half of the walk is all free, so the snow-capped mountain view is a total bargain.

      The Capilano bridge park is the pricey part – $42.50 per person. The bridge itself is 137m long and reeeeally high over the river! We’ve been here for almost 5 months now, but this is still the most touristy thing we did!

  8. I LOVED this post. We paid the money and did the bridge and cliff walk in the absolutely pouring rain this past June before our cruise to Alaska. And I would not have missed it for the world. Absolutely gorgeous and though pricey for the three of us, worth every penny. I am sure in your many other walks around Vancouver the rain forest is less, gosh–travelled, shall we say? But this section of the world is just plain amazing and I loved re-living it in your post.

    1. Yaaaaay! What a shame that you saw it in the rain…but to be fair, I still quite like it when it’s wet – all that moss looks amaaaazing!

      It wasn’t last June when you came was it? If so, we might have been there at the same time! <3

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