Vancouver is one of the best livable cities in the world. It’s one of the best suitable living places according to its weather and natural surroundings. Vancouver combines several cities like Vancouver, North Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, New Westminster, and Surrey. Together it’s known as Metro Vancouver. Vancouver is famous mainly for its parks like Stanley Park, Queen Elizabeth Park, Capilano Park, Lynn Canyon Park, Pacific Spirit Regional Park, etc. But these parks are not the only attractions of this big metropolitan area. Vancouver is known for the reputation for conserving its nature and environment. So, you will see many parks in each corner of this enormous city. These parks are no less than one another. Today, I will talk about 10 underrated beautiful parks that you may not hear about before. The residents may know about these parks, but I think it will help tourists outside BC and Canada. This small arrangement will help you rearrange your bucket list if you plan to visit Vancouver, British Columbia.
Iona Beach Regional Park
If you want to explore the real ocean, then you must come here and visit this place. Vancouver is also known for its beaches, and among them, Kitsilano beach, English Bay beach, Jericho beach, Lorcano Beach, etc., are well renowned in the town. But these beaches are located on the shores of the sea channels, not on the main ocean’s shores. The ocean view is limited, and you will see the city’s existence on the other side from there. But you will see the unlimited view of the ocean, and you will notice none other than the deep sea on the other side. This park is located in Richmond near the Vancouver International Airport. From Vancouver downtown, it’s just 50 minutes drive away.
However, the beach here is not the main attraction of this place. The main attraction here is the Spirit Trail that runs through the heart of the sea. Yes, that’s what it would look like from a distance. The total length of this spirit trail is about 5 kilometers. This means that if you want to complete this trail, you have to walk a total of 10 kilometers to get there and back. This trail may take about two to two and a half hours to complete. You can also go cycling on this trail if you want. In that case, it will take much less time to cross the track, but for that, you have to bring your bicycle. But you shouldn’t feel bad walking here if you are a nature lover. The frosty wind blowing from the seashore will always fascinate you and keep you tireless. You may not believe your eyes as you walk along the trail. You can get the feeling of walking on water as you cross the narrow path that stretches into the ocean.
Looking at the whole trail with a drone camera, it would seem that a steep road running through the middle of the sea has finally merged into the middle of the ocean. There is a jetty at the very end of this trail where occasionally some ships and pleasure boats can be seen docking. This place is located right next to the airport, where you can also do a slight plane spotting if you want. To get here, you must first come to Iona Beach Regional Park. As soon as you cross the main gate, you will see a small green field, and you will see thousands of white ducks roaming freely. A short distance from there, you will see the trail road. In addition to this Spirit Trail, there are a few small beaches. From there, you can enjoy a lovely sunset view. There are also a few short-distance forest trails.
Located in North Vancouver, this park is right next to the seafront. There are no beaches in this park, but its walkway is built on the shore. So if you go out for a walk here in the afternoon, you will always see the sea waves game while walking. Here you can feel the splashes of seawater while walking on the walkway built upon the rock dam. You can walk and reach the dockyard if you want, where you will see more than a hundred pleasure boats docked line by line. These are mainly the yachts of rich locals. You will see many floating houses in this dockyard. These houses are leisure places for the affluent locals. Many of them live here permanently. The park has many benches to have a break while walking. It won’t be wrong to spend some lazy time sitting there at the side of the sea. Then you’ll see downtown on the south side and Vancouver Harbor, the city’s main seaport. There are many green fields on the other side of this park. To the east of the park is the Lonsdale Quay Ferry Terminal, where people travel from north to south via ferry crossings. Lonsdale Quay Mall is located next to the ferry terminal. You can do some shopping out there. Outside the mall, there are some restaurants and bars that are located right beside the seashore. It will not be wrong to have lunch or dinner at night from here.
Further east from here is the shipping yard where commercial ships used to anchor. But now, this yard is always crowded with visitors. Many hotels and restaurants have sprung up in that area. Occasionally some ships are seen arriving at the docks.
Burnaby Lake Regional Park
Located a short distance from the central suburb of Burnaby, this Burnaby Regional Park is not too far from the main city of Vancouver. It only takes half an hour by car or bus. The main attraction of the park is Burnaby Lake. It is spread over about one thousand acres. The area of this lake is located right in the middle of the park, which is about 770 acres. The lake is surrounded by dense jungle all around it. There is a separate trail for hiking in this forest which will take about 2 hours to complete. The jungle around the lake is so dense that some parts of the jungle trail are pitch dark.
There is a situation where the sun’s light cannot reach properly, and bears roam around in this forest. So walking alone for a while here can create fear in your mind. However, many people come here for hiking on the weekends. So if you want, you can join them at that time. Because if you go hiking in a group, fear will not work in your mind. Although the forest environment is thumping, the lake environment is very calm. There are many watching points along this lake, which look like a wooden bridge. Standing here, one can enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of the lake. If you don’t want to hike in the woods, there’s a watching point right next to the car parking lot in the park. From there, you can also rent a boat for kayaking. Many people are seen kayaking on this lake. Many people use kayaking to move from one side of the lake to the other. In this lake, you can see the free movement of Mallard ducks. There is a sports complex next to this regional park and a horse trail on the south side.
Burnaby Fraser Foreshore Park
Just a short distance from Southeast Marine Drive, Burnaby Fraser Foreshore Park is located beside Fraser River’s shore. Many parks have been built along the banks of the Fraser River. Riverfront Park, Gladstone Park, Gary Point Park, etc., are the parks among them. But the most beautiful one should be the Burnaby Fraser Foreshore Park. From this park, you will get the best Riverview in front of you. There are two trails in this park. If you follow the west trail, you will reach Riverfront Park or Gladstone park with a single hike. It may take a little bit more than an hour to complete.
The hiking track is very flat, and you will be able to explore three parks simultaneously within an hour. On the east trail, I don’t know how far it has gone. It might be gone through for the next 4 or 5 kilometers. I hadn’t explored that much, but I found a thing that might be interesting for you. It is an old railway bridge made of wood. I don’t think any trains are crossing this bridge anymore. But it could be an ideal place for photography or taking selfies. You will see that everyone is busy with walking or having some exercise in the central park area. You will get some gym equipment as well in the central green space. So, it may be an ideal place for having exercise in the afternoon. As well as, it’s not the wrong place to spend your weekend afternoon with your family. You will see some flower plants beside the entrance gate. You could go cycling on the trails of this park. If you want you can sit on the river bank and catch fish.
Burnaby Mountain Park
I’m still describing the beauties from Burnaby. Now I’ll take you to the mountains from the flatlands. Burnaby Mountain Park is the ideal place to feel the vibe of the mountains. It’s a beautiful park just a twenty-minute drive away from downtown; it offers scenic views, picnic areas, and hiking trails. This place is the best place to overview Vancouver’s city, especially at sunset, with a big and beautiful landscape area to discover and enjoy. In the daylight, you will see the snowy cliffs of North Vancouver’s mountains, which will give your mind some relaxation. This park has a network of 26 different trails covering an area of 576 hectares. Courses are ideal for mountain biking. Many people come here to do cycling here, and mountain biking is always thrilling and exciting for adventure lovers. You could hike in those trails as well. Hiking or cycling will not be easy here, and you must have the intermediate skills to do that. All the hiking trails go through a dense jungle, and this jungle is a sanctuary for bears. So it is better to go around in groups here. The main park is located at the top of the mountain. You could reach, thereby driving your car, but you have to start hiking from the starting point at North Road near the Coquitlam boundary if you want to hike up. The main hiking trail starts from the eastern edge of the Pipeline Trail along North Road and goes to the top of the mountain and back down, looping through several trails along the way. At the park on top of the hill, several viewpoints are offering some spectacular views.
In the park, you will see some tall wooden poles known as Kamui Mintara. It’s a Japanese word, and the meaning of it is the playground of God. There more than a dozen poles created by Japanese sculptors Nuburi Toko and his son, Shusei. These works of art commemorate the goodwill between Burnaby and its sister city kushiro, Japan. In 2015, Burnaby and Kushiro, Japan, celebrated the Golden Jubilee Anniversary of their relationship as sister cities. From that time, the portion of this park is known as Kushiro park. It is an excellent place for taking photos. There is a beautiful flower garden located inside the central park. In the summertime, it looks so amazing. There is a restaurant just beside the parking lot known as Burnaby Mountain Restaurant. I don’t know much about it because I found this restaurant closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, this place probably offers some of the best views in Metro Vancouver without spending too much effort. Worth visiting!
Let’s move from the east and go to the west. Lighthouse park should be the main attraction of West Vancouver. The whole of West Vancouver itself is a beautiful part of Metro Vancouver, and it is located on the edge of the ocean. If you want to explore the edge of the sea, this is an ideal place for you. Lighthouse Park is approximately 75 hectares in size. The park is a biologically rich and unique resource and is an example of a remaining old-growth coastal forest in the Lower Mainland. The water around Lighthouse Park is a Rockfish Protection Area. The trails in Lighthouse Park are all relatively short and appeal to people of varying fitness levels. A functioning lighthouse has remained at this National Historic Site since the 1870s.
See it for yourself, and become part of its history. You have to take either the Trans-Canadian Highway-1 or the West Vancouver Marine drive road to reach here. I will suggest you take the Marine drive road. Driving there will be a fantastic experience if you are a new visitor to the town. The experience of driving on this road will be great, like going in a hilly rural environment. You could reach the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal through this road as well. When you arrive in front of the entrance gate, you will find a giant map board beside it. Just take a view of this map, and it will make your hiking significantly easier.
Hiking here is not too hard. But there is a bit of climbing. It’s not difficult, though. There are several viewpoints in this park. You could cover all the views through a single hike. For that, you have to walk through a loop trail. It’s a loop trail because you have to start your journey from a particular track and return to your spot through a different route. After crossing the entrance gate, You have to follow the Beacon trail. After the end of the Beacon trail, you will be able to explore East Beach. You have to cross a small path to get to the beach, but it won’t be difficult for you. After that, you have to start your throughway following the Valley trail. After crossing the trail, you will arrive at the next viewpoint. After a little bit of exploring, you have to follow the Valley of the Giant’s trail. Crossing this trail could be difficult for you, but it’s not so tough. You need to hike up from the downhill, and you need to climb up few big rocks in the way and return to the park’s entrance gate. The whole loop trail will take around 2 hours to complete. All the viewpoints will show you the same senescence, but you won’t feel boring. You will get the feel of exploring the coastal areas of Southeast Asia. For exploring the edge of the ocean, you need to climb up to the big coastal side rocks. It will be so adventurous, and you will be able to see some beautiful views. Exploring the ocean sitting on the big rock at the edge of the coast could give some beautiful moments of your life. You could do whatever you want, like taking pictures, enjoying the sunset, fishing, or shouting loud with your joy standing upon the edge of the rock. But diving or jumping from the rock or swimming might not be a good idea. It looked too dangerous for me. You will also get the feel of exploring the tropical forest while hiking on different trails. The forest could give you a spooky feeling, but it’s not too much like Burnaby Lake Park. There is no existence of wild animals here. But this forest used to be a sanctuary for different birds. Many of these species have already extinct, and all others are on the verge of extinction. So, we should be more careful and protective towards conserving the environment surrounding us.
It is a tiny cliff-side park with access to the beach and scuba diving sites. Beautiful panoramic views of Howe Sound and Bowen Island can be found here, as well as grassy areas and picnic sites. Around the corner from Horseshoe Bay is this fairly secluded (by Vancouver terms) ‘park’ that has free parking and immediate and easy access to promontories overlooking Bowen Island and Vancouver Island in the distance. It also has an excellent shingle beach with the inevitable BC lumber washed up and its resident harbor seals. The Bay is great for swimming and is edged by rocks leading to a tidal island. Located at the end of the West Vancouver Marine Drive road, this park is great for those seeking quiet and solitude. The best part of this park is Whytecliffe Islet which becomes a peninsula at low tide. If you are about to explore the islet, you must know about the tides’ timing. On the top of this islet, you will get a fantastic 360-degree view. But climbing up the big rocky islet won’t be such an easy task. It would help if you were extra careful while hiking the rocky trail. Sometimes, the rocks become too slippery. At the top of this rocky islet cliff, you will also see the endless ocean in your south, and you will be able to explore the edge of the ocean like the Lighthouse park. You will get a wonderful view of Grouse Mountain on your north if the weather is not too cloudy. The small rocky beach before the islet will provide you a perfect time and some beautiful views as well. The salty breeze from the other side will blow your mind. On a sunny day, it’s an ideal place to hang around. This park has a lovely grassy area for picnics with benches. You will see some beautiful mature trees and shrubs to stroll around. There is a playground for the children as well. Overall, it’s a lovely place to take short hikes and relax. Well worth the visit if you’re by yourself or with a group.
Gary Point Park
Let’s go back to Richmond again. Gary Point Park is located right beside the Richmond Fishermen Wharf. The main attraction here is the estuary. Here the Fraser River ends and merges into the ocean. The park is a perfect place to have a picnic with friends. Some crowds can be noticed here on holidays. Many people are seen partying in open spaces beside the river shore. It is an ideal place for having a Barb Q party. Many people buy fishes of a different kind from the Fishermen Wharf and make them Barb Q in the park. Most of them carry out their Barb Q stoves from their home. There is a big open field in the middle of the park where many people can be seen flying colorful kites of different sizes. The wind speed is slightly higher than usual on the river banks, so many people come here to fly kites. There is a watchpoint here to get a closer look at the river’s estuary and the sea. As I mentioned earlier, the park is located very close to the Fishermen Wharf, known as Steveston Fisherman Wharf. This fisherman’s wharf is a river jetty where many fishing boats are docked, and from there, the fishermen sell their collected fish to the people. This jetty is open to the public from 9 am to 6 pm every day, but it is better to be there in advance if you want to buy fresh fishes. Because all the fishes are sold here very quickly, you will find many souvenir shops and various seafood restaurants on the other side of this jetty. The entire river valley area has many shops and cafes around it. At the usual time, this area always looks overcrowded.
Crab Park at Portside
It’s a beautiful tiny little park located at the Northern end of Main Street. It’s so close to the Vancouver Port. That’s why it’s also known as Portside Park. There is nothing so much special here. You will find everything is so tiny here. There is a remote little walking track, a tiny beach, a tiny wooden dock, a small playground for the children, and a small green area. So, this could be its specialty. The wooden pier here used to be a fishing dock before. People used to catch crabs from here, but this dock is not functional right now, and fishing here is also prohibited. But you will get some beautiful views from here. On your west, you will get a great idea of Canada Place. Right on the opposite side of the dock, you will have the beautiful sceneries of the mountain located in North Vancouver. This is the ideal place for your dogs. Dogs are allowed to be unleashed here, and they can play around freely. The tiny little beach looks nice in the summer, but it seems like a black sand beach during the winter. This place is not far away from downtown Vancouver. Since it is very close to the downtown office area, everyone comes here for an evening break to have some quiet time. Many people take a light evening walk here after office and then leave for home in the afternoon.
Capilano River Regional Park
Let’s go to North Vancouver this time. This park is not far from the Capilano suspension bridge park. You will be able to see the source of the Capilano River here. It is a beautiful place and a very pleasant stop on the way to Grouse Mountain. There are many trails you will be able to find out in this park. There are exactly ten trails, if I’m not wrong. All the trails are pro-level trails. So, you have to hike a lot. You won’t be able to explore all the trails in a single day. There are some famous trails like Baden Powell Trail, Pacific trails, start from this park. Trails are not the main attractions here. The two main attractions here are Salmon Hatchery and Cleveland Dam. This hatchery is a preservation place for salmon fishes. Here, you can learn about and see fish develop from eggs to the juvenile stage when they are released to the river in spring. It’s a colourful and fascinating process. But you can’t visit the hatchery now due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another attraction is Cleveland Dam, and it is a 91-meter high concrete dam at the head of the Capilano River. It was built in 1954, blocks Capilano Lake, which supplies fresh drinking water to the Lower Mainland. The Dam sits atop the Capilano River Regional Park. Capilano Lake and the peaks of the mountains provide a spectacular view. The water flow from the Dam is fantastic to watch. There are two entrances. One is the Park Road entrance, and another one is the Nanct Greene Way entrance. If you are using the Park Road entrance, you have to hike a lot to reach the Cleveland Dam. It’s not so far away from the Nancy Greene Way entrance. After passing the Nancy Greene Way entrance, you will see a big green field. You will see the far mountains from there with a very clear view. There is a picnic spot and a Barb q zone located beside it.
That’s all for today’s arrangement. The parks mentioned above are truly underrated, but those are the hidden gems of this vast metropolitan region for sure. I’m still searching for more hidden gems. I will inform all of you if I can find anything.
So, travel more & be happy. Always remember that your mobility is your freedom.
Picture Source – Self Captured Pictures.