A couple of weeks ago Marc and I explored another one of Vancouver’s beautiful parks, the Lighthouse park on Vancouver’s Western shore. This park used to be a military base, so it was protected from logging over the last century. This means it has some large old growth trees and plenty of wildlife. We found caterpillars, squirrels and even a couple of garter snakes. It is really easy to get to with public transport. Just hop onto the 250 bus from downtown Vancouver.
Our plan was to follow the trail around the edge of LightHouse Park from the Vancouver Trails website. You can find a good map of the park here. However we quickly went off-piste and made our own route because following the wilder Arbutus trail along the edge of the coast looked more fun. I don’t recommend our route if you want a quiet stroll. Even though there wasn’t much elevation gain, the trail was quite hard to follow; We had to use ropes to climb down some sections, and used tree branches to keep us steady on others.
We were rewarded with some gorgeous views back towards central Vancouver once we reached the shore. You can see the edge of the Cyprus Mountain area to the left (where I climbed Black Mountain). If you click on the photo below you can also see Stanley Park and central Vancouver in the far distance. It’s a pretty good view isn’t it!?
We liked this view so much that we made the most of it. We stopped for a snack and spent a while just looking out at the waves.
One of the cool things about Lighthouse Park is all the Arbutus trees. I had never noticed these trees before; Apparently you can only find them within a few kilometers of the coastline. It seems like they are moulting their bright orange bark, to show of super-smooth bark underneath. They also some in some pretty interesting, twisted, gnarled shapes.
We also had a really nice view of the headland where I work, at UBC. The distance from central Vancouver to work looks really impressive from out here. It doesn’t feel too bad when I cycle it, but Marc was impressed once he was able to see the entire length of my commute.
We kept walking along the edge of the coast for as long as we could, until we found the official path after Eagle Point.
Once we’d made it onto the main trail, it was far more easy going! The path is wide and very easy to follow. It also goes past lots of truly gorgeous old growth trees!
A few of the trees had areas where sap was dripping out from them, then hardening to form sparkly edges. I really love seeing these crystal trees! When I touched it, the sap was smooth and solid, rather than sticky. It must have oozed out a while ago, even though it looks like it is dripping.
We kept going through the forest. Now we were on the more normal route we saw quite a few other people, mostly families with small children. This is the perfect walk to show children the woodlands. The park is so large, that even with other people around, it still feels quiet and relaxing.
Our next mini detour was to Starboat cove. This is a pretty, sheltered cove that you need to climb over a large pile of driftwood to enter. I’m not sure what the massive metal trough-like thing is!? Maybe it’s a relic from when the military were stationed here.
We didn’t stay in the cove for too long. It is a lovely spot, but that meant there were lots of other people…so we kept wandering back into the quieter woodland, towards the lighthouse.
We found a very large patch of moss with a squirrel that was so intent on munching some leaves that he let me come over for a photo. Canadian squirrels are so loud! Normally you don’t actually see them, but you can hear them screaming obscenities as they ask you to leave their territory. Now I’m used to it, I don’t feel like I’ve been on a real hike in Vancouver unless I have been sworn at by a squirrel. For once, this little dude was quiet and cute.
You can’t walk right up to the lighthouse. That is the one section of the peninsula that is not open to the public. But you can get pretty close, and there are public loos near the lighthouse if you need them. I liked my photos from slightly further away, looking back at the lighthouse from the West Beach.
After seeing the lighthouse, we decided to keep walking around the outside of the peninsula just because the views are always gorgeous whenever we found ourselves looking out to the shore. There are plenty of possibilities for this section. Officially the path is called the Shore Pine Trail BUT there were quite a few smaller, more fun trails closer to the water, so we followed some of them.
We did one more detour on this side of Lighthouse Park; The Juniper Loop Trail. There were signs to Juniper point, as well as signs for the Juniper loop in all directions. This made for the most confusing sign posts of the day! We also found this really strange knob-of-tree! It was a wide, distorted and knobbly trunk that didn’t have any branches or leaves. It also didn’t seem to have any marks where previous branches have been removed. If you look carefully you can see Marc’s hands for scale. It was a very large, branch-less knob. What do you think could have caused it!?
Juniper Point was one of my favorite views from Lighthouse Park. The waves crashed onto the rocks around us and although it wasn’t quite late enough to count as “golden hour”, the lighting was gorgeous. We looked out over Mount Gardner on Bowen Island, and the pretty views of the Howe Sound.
We were also slightly jealous of whoever was sailing under the perfect blue sky! If you click on the photo, you can just about see the mountains of Vancouver Island in the distance. That is a whole other area that we need to explore!
The Lighthouse Park hike was a relaxing walk with pretty views and old growth forest. It is also very close to Vancouver and very easy to access. Our walk was about 9-10 km, but you could easily make it shorter by splitting the walk in half, or cutting off some of the detours. We loved it.