The places you need to go near Vancouver to immerse yourself in nature

Oct 29 2018, 10:00 pm

Sometimes you just need a break from the bustling city life that is Vancouver, and there is nothing more rejuvenating than getting out into the great outdoors.

There are no more excuses for hiding away in your home now that the colder months are upon us, when there are so many beautiful places around British Columbia to explore and immerse yourself in nature.

We’ve compiled a list of the best spots of varying distance from Vancouver that offer a true paradise from the urban jungle of downtown Vancouver – whether you are looking for a short hike or a longer weekend escape, you’ll be sure to find something that grasps your interest.

Some of these trails may require caution, particularly in wet conditions. For your own safety, please make sure you are well prepared before heading out on your next adventure. Information on how to prepare for your trip and stay safe whilst out hiking is available from North Shore Rescue and AdventureSmart.

Van Dusen Botanical Garden


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What: If you need a quick escape into greenery, Van Dusen Botanical Garden is one of your options. An oasis right in the heart of Vancouver, there are over 7,500 plant species to view – there is no better place to pack a picnic and get lost in a book. It is also a spectacular spot to view the fall leaves in all their glory.

Where: Oak Street, Vancouver.

Get there: A 10-minute drive from downtown Vancouver.

Gabriola Island


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What: Gabriola Island is home to some of the most serene and naturally formed cliffs and rock formations. Check out the Malaspina Galleries, which are a series of rocks along the coast that have been eroded over the years by surf, winter storms, and frost – giving the feeling of walking beneath a frozen wave.

Where: Nanaimo, Vancouver Island.

Get there: A 3-hour trip from downtown Vancouver.

Stanley Park


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What: An oasis right in the midst of the urban landscape of Vancouver, Stanley Park is one of the best spots to enjoy the beautiful scenic views of water, mountains, and majestic trees along the renowned Stanley Park Seawall. Not only is it easily accessible for those who have a busy lifestyle, but there are endless things to do – walking, cycling, or even rollerblading.

Where: Vancouver.

Get there: A 5-minute drive from downtown Vancouver.

Capilano Suspension Bridge


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What: The wobbly bridge is a Vancouver landmark, but there are plenty of areas to explore in the park that will let you experience the culture and nature of Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. Head to the Treetops Adventure for a mid-level view of the thriving coastal rainforest of 1,300 year old Douglas Fir trees.

Where: North Vancouver.

Get there: A 20-minute drive from downtown Vancouver.

Seal Bay Nature Park


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What: One and a half times the size of Stanley Park, Seal Bay Nature Park is a treasure-trove of biodiversity and treasured wildlife habitat. You can see many rare plant communities and fauna here – amongst a variety of trails you can hike, with many leading down to a beautiful rocky beach.

Where: Courtenay, Vancouver Island.

Get there: Approximately a 4-hour trip from downtown Vancouver.

Cathedral Grove Provincial Park


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What: If you are looking for a true escape into nature, you must visit the Cathedral Grove in Porn Alberni at least once. With some of the oldest Douglas Fir trees – some up to 800 years old – it is a true adventure into the beauty Vancouver Island possesses.

Where: Port Alberni, Vancouver Island

Get there: Approximately a 3.5-hour trip from Vancouver

Pacific Rim National Park


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What: Perched on the most westerly coast of British Columbia, the Pacific Rim National Park is where majestic mountains and lush rainforests reach the ocean. One of the most thrilling things to do this time of year is watch storms from the shoreline. Take a weekend trip out to the area, where you can be surrounded by all aspects of nature.

Where: Tofino

Get there: Approximately a 5.5-hour drive (and ferry) from downtown Vancouver.

Velodrome Trail


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What: The Velodrome Trail is also known as Burnaby’s version of the Grouse Grind – and will satisfy those who want to get a workout whilst getting a great view. More than 500 steps will lead you to a trail that reaches several viewpoints that look out over the Indian Arm and Burrard Inlet.

Where: Starts on Barnet Highway on the north side of Burnaby Mountain

Get there: A 30-minute drive from Downtown Vancouver

Lynn Loop


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What: Lynn Headwaters Regional Park has many trails that offer an escape from the city life, truly engulfing you in the beautiful nature British Columbia has to offer. Lynn Loop is one of the shorter trails and takes you through the forest before looping back along the rushing water of Lynn Creek. For a leisurely, peaceful hike through the forest, take this trail.

Where: Lynn Headwaters Regional Park located on Lynn Valley Road in North Vancouver

Get there: A 30-minute drive from Downtown Vancouver

Gold Creek Falls


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What: This short walk through the rainforest will lead you to Gold Creek Falls in Golden Ears Provincial Park. Wander through moss-covered trails, and reach a spectacular view of the falls from both above and below.

Where: Trail starts and ends at the last parking lot on Golden Ears Parkway near Alouette Lake in Maple Ridge.

Get there: A 1.5-hour drive from downtown Vancouver.

Crystal Falls


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What: The scenic falls located in Coquitlam are easily accessible on a short trail, running along the Upper Coquitlam River. Immerse yourself in a moss-covered forest, pass by several tiny streams along the trail, and be sure to have your camera ready for when you reach the waterfall.

Where: The trail begins at an unmarked trailhead on Karley Crescent, where it meets Shaughnessy Street, in Coquitlam.

Get there: A 45-minute drive from downtown Vancouver.

Audrey LimAudrey Lim

+ Vancouverites
+ Great Outdoors