coming down to Twin Falls There is a veritable maze of trails on the North Shore of Vancouver. Eventually I'll get to documenting more of them, but our initial focus is on three trails that you can find easily by first reaching Lyn Canyon Park in North Vancouver. This is a very popular tourist destination (providing for free what Capilano Canyon will provide at great expense), and easily reached from downtown by SeaBus and bus.

Here's a quick description of the trails that might help you decide between them:

Baden-Powell Trail: General notes

Twin FallsThe Baden-Powell trail was constructed by the Boy Scouts' organization in the 1960's (likely from existing trails) and currently extends across the North Shore of Vancouver from Deep Cove to Horseshoe Bay.

This is a varied and interesting trail, mostly in the woods but it crosses creeks and canyons and provides if you're lucky glimpses of deer, bear, and other critters. The whole trail is probably in the order of 50Km long (and is now being extended up Howe Sound) so the usual practice is to hike a section with each section providing enough up and down in a day for the average hiker. Visitors from flatter lands may be even more challenged!

There are a few blemishes. As the suburbs of North and West Vancouver extend further up the mountain they are beginning to intrude on parts on the trail. Proximity to "civilization" also means frequent use, leading to a well-worn and occasionally eroded trail: footing can be difficult in places. Mountain biking has added to the erosion problems.

Lyn Canyon to Deep Cove

This section provides as much interest and variety as any and it's easy to find. The Baden-Powell is one of the few trails in BC that is consistently named, marked (with the tell-tale "BP" tree marker), and signposted, and it would not be impossible to simply follow the signs from Lyn Canyon to Deep Cove.

However: there are sharp turns; other trails criss-cross the BP trail; the odd signpost goes missing. Given these points of potential confusion, here are more detailed notes to support the first time hiker on this trail, and especially anyone leading a group.

Distance/Elevation gain

Fall colors; west of the CreekThere are a number of points on the trail where signs provide the distance back to Lyn Valley and forward to Deep Cove. Unfortunately the sum changes; the median distance is probably 13Km. There is an official estimate of the elevation change for only one part of the hike and from that I have estimated the total "up" to be 500m and the "down" to be about 600m

Please note that distances and elevation gains recorded here are "close" but not necessarily accurate. If "1.5Km" begins to feel like 2km or 100m feels more like 50m or 200m you may actually be right; it might be simply a difference between your guess and mine. However, if "1.5km" begins to feel like 3Km you may now be lost.

  1. At Lyn Canyon park, cross the suspension bridge; take the right hand exit off the platform at the other side, and a right hand turn at the junction that quickly follows; follow the sign to Twin Falls and hike the short kilometre or so down to the Falls.
  2. After admiring the Falls, continue on the trail that proceeds along the same (East) side of Lyn Creek. This will pass through an interesting section of rainforest-like territory beside the creek, before turning away from the creek and climbing some steps; a further elevation gain of about 50m brings you to the top of a slope and a trail intersection (about 1Km from Twin Falls, or so the sign says but it may be a little more).
  3. Ignore the Lower Lyn Creek trail, which continues down along the creek, and turn sharp left to keep to the Baden-Powell trail. After another short kilometre, you arrive at a road. Cross the road, jogging left about 30m to rejoin the BP trail on the other side where an elaborate set of railings and ramps will help you take up the BP trail again at a right angle to the road. [* Note that the The District seems to be constantly erecting "Trail Closed" signs here when the trail is actually open. If you find these, it is up to you to decide whether to be a scofflaw and risk hoofing a kilometer in to find out whether you can get through. If you cross a bridge, you are through].
  4. Continue on this trail for about another kilometre, over the slight hill, over a pipeline, and down a route that increases in steepness (and slipperyness) until you arrive at the Seymour River. Cross the river and on the other side walk up about 50m and take a left on the trail heading off the end of Riverside Drive (on your right).
  5. Slow down a little here as you're looking out for your lunch spot. Approximately 75m from the turn, just after you've gone through a second bike-slowing gate, find an open area between the trees on your left hand side, overlooking the river valley. (Be willing to pass a couple of possible spots; the best one will be obvious).
  6. After lunch, continue briefly (less than 50m) on the trail you were on then take the right hand fork that should be again clearly marked as the BP trail.
  7. For another pleasant kilometre or so this trail winds up a creek bed between suburban backyards, until you reach Hyannis Road. Cross Hyannis and continue on the BP trail clearly visible on the other side.
  8. The 'burbs will continue for a short while but will gradually fade and you are now truly in the woods. For the first stretch there are misleading trails branching in and out but keep as low as you can and look for the BP signs. In particular, ignore, after crossing a small bridge, a trail leading away to the right; then after another hundred meters or so, a further trail heading away on the left. In both cases, the BP trail was well signposted at the time we came through.
  9. Approximately 2Km from Hyannis, you'll come to a T-junction with a trail crossing right to left. Turn left, again following the BP sign. Continue on this trail for 1-1.5 Km with the trail climbing very gradually. At a certain point, you will begin a more serious climb, amounting to perhaps 200-250m vertical gain. At the top, you'll arrive at an intersection first with the mountain biking "Severed Dick" trail then about 0.5Km further along, with the logging road-now-trail heading down. (And up. On this section of the mountain, the BP trail links, merges with, and crosses several other trails).
  10. Continue down the logging road/trail for about 2km. Ignore the mountain biking trails that occasionally come in from the right or head off on the left. At a certain point the trail you are on will take on a more cultured look, and the "Old Buck" trail will veer off to the right; for a short distance you are on a combined Old Buck/BP section. However, as you approach (wearily perhaps) a section where the trail apparently heads up you will be relieved to find that the Old Buck trail continues straight and you can take the turn to the right heading down.
  11. After another kilometre or so you'll come out on Mt. Seymour Road, heading up the mountain. Cross Mt. Seymour Road; you may wish to here take advantage of the toilets. You are now approximately 4Km from the end of the trail.
  12. Continue heading down on the BP trail until, after [the distance indicated on the map] you reach Indian River Road. The signs tell you as much, but turn left here, march along the road for about 0.5km until you pass under the power lines, and immediately find the BP trail heading down again on your right. Continue down here for about 0.5km more; you'll come out on a logging road passing left to right offering an alternate route to Deep Cove. But you'll cross the logging road, jog left for about 10m and continue down the trail.
  13. Within a few minutes from here, you'll arrive under the power lines. Avoid the temptation to stop and admire the view for you're only a minute from a better lookout. Continue directly across from where you emerged from the trees to find the continuation of the trail, sometimes a bit overgrown and difficult to see immediately. But after only about 15m, you'll begin a short descent of 20m and as you do so, you'll be able to see, 50m in front of you as you come down, the bluffs from which you can look out over Deep Cove.
  14. After (no doubt) stretching and watering here, come back off the bluffs to find the BP trail branching off left (where the route you came in on goes off to the right). You now have 1.9km to go. You still have perhaps 50m of up and down going over the several creeks along this trail, and then about 100m of steeper descent (stay left always) as you descend finally onto Panorama Drive only 2 minutes walk from downtown Deep Cove.
  15. If you're visiting, you can take a bus back into Vancouver from Deep Cove. It waits on a side street just off the main drag. Just ask a local where to find it. However, I thoroughly recommend a coffee and a doughnut or ice cream at any of the several pleasant cafes on the High Street first.

Deep Cove: hike to the bluffs

For those with less time...or inclination for strenuous exercise...the out-and-back hike from Deep Cove to the Bluffs is a pleasant afternoon wander. It's about a 4km walk with an up and down of about 400ft total—200ft of that in the first 15 minutes and the rest in the occasional up and down to cross creeks both there and back.

Take the bus (or car) out to Deep Cove and head North along Panorama Drive, with the park on your right. At the very end of the park, look for a gap between the houses on your left, leading up a flight of stairs. There's your hike. Simply follow this trail out to the bluffs, enjoy lunch, and head back, making sure you keep left at any confusing intersections (there is one faint trail leading further on just as you should be starting your descent to the road at the end.) At the other end, if you actually walk under the power lines you've gone too far...but not too far. Follow the notes above.

Lyn Creek Trail

[This is the trail on the map to the right that is below the suspension bridge]. Follow the directions in the Deep Cove notes above for the beginning of the trail from the suspension bridge for a long the point where you finish your climb to the top of a slope and find yourself at a signposted intersection. The Baden-Powell is a sharp left (to Deep Cove above); you instead take what seems to be the continuation of the trail you were on. Just keep the creek somewhere to your right and plunge ahead. Don't worry about the many branches on this trail: they all link up again in short order. After a couple of kilometers, several minor drops, and a boardwalk, you'll arrive at the end of St. Denis (gravel) Road. (Don't worry if you don't the St. Denis sign; I've never seen it). It's a favourite place for dog walkers so you'll know it when you see it. Continue on St. D for a kilometer and then take the bridge, on your right, over Lyn Creek, bearing left as you come of the bridge. Follow this trail around for another kilometer or so until you pass first under the highway, and then under Keith Road and turn sharp right into Bridgeman Park. A short distance along Keith Road you take catch a bus back into Vancouver.

Lyn Headwaters Walk

[The trail on the map to the right that is above the suspension bridge]. Cross the suspension bridge, turn right off the platform, then take the left hand alternative (to Rice Lake) at the T junction (only 50m further on). Climb the hill and follow the trail—trying as hard as you can to avert your eyes from the mammoth eyesore of the new purification plant barfing itself up out of the ground—until you come out onto a slip road with a small park opposite. Head through the park following the signs to Rice Lake until you are on the gravel road. Now you can turn off the road onto the Rice Lake loop (there are actually two exits to your right) and do the 3km walk around the lake. It is very pleasant and might be enough for your day.

Or you can keep going along the road for about 2km. You'll pass a turn-up to Lyn Peak and to other destinations along here. (The adventurous might try the loop trail along that route). Keep on the gravel road with Lyn Creek now on your left until you come to a busy intersection with maps and a route leading off back on your left, that crosses the creek. You are now in Lyn Headwaters.

Cross the creek; go through the park, and cross the parking lot immediately outside the entrance. Immediately on your left as you leave the parking lot is the beginning of the so-called "Varley trail". This is a delightful boardwalked trail that will follow the creek for a kilometer or so. It will eventually (after a short climb) emerge beside some houses on a road. Take the road for only less than 100m and look for the Pipe Bridge back across the creek on your left. Cross the bridge and look immediately for a trail leading off on your right. Take this trail for 100m or so until it merges with the main trail (take the right hand turn); descend some steps to find yourself at "30 foot pool". You're almost back at the suspension bridge now and a short 500m wander along the creek will find you back on the platform with the return over the suspension bridge on your right.