If you are seeking a cheap place to take your family for a day of fun-filled activities in nature’s splendor, then you should make a point of going to Lynn Canyon Park.
Peering over the edge of the swaying suspension bridge, you are suddenly overcome with a sense of elation as you stare over 150 feet down to Lynn Creek’s tranquil stream of turquoise as it tumbles over one of the waterfalls into a chaotic mass of foamy, violent bubbles. For many of the park’s frequent visitors, this exciting experience alone is reason enough to visit Lynn Canyon Park.
And yet, the park – located a mere half hour from downtown Vancouver by car and accessible by public transport– offers many other activities for the entire family day beyond the guaranteed thrill offered by the bridge. Whether it’s hiking, swimming, a healthy dose of fresh air or a simply a lovely spot for a picnic, locals and tourists alike have been enjoying the natural beauty of the park all year-round since it opened in 1912.
And now for the best part about Lynn Canyon Park: everything is free – including the parking!
Lynn Canyon’s main attraction remains the allure of the suspension bridge. Built privately in 1912, it overlooks a canyon slowly carved by hundreds of years of Lynn Creek’s ceaseless flow. And even though it was built close to a century ago, it is secure a way as any to be suspended hundreds of feet above water. It does tend to get overcrowded on weekends and holidays however, so it is advisable to arrive early in order to enjoy the experience in relative peace.
For serious hikers traveling across the entire North Shore on the Baden-Powell trail, the Lynn Canyon portion is a mere section of their journey. Yet, you need not be a serious hiker by any means to enjoy the Park’s numerous trails.
The most common loop, which begins after crossing the suspension bridge, is an hour long loop which makes its way to Twin Falls – where yet another bridge along with spectacular view of a pair of waterfalls can be enjoyed – and then back around to the main entrance.
Beware, there are some steep inclines and stairs involved which could prove tiresome for young children or elderly folks. Also, it can be tricky for even the most seasoned hiker during the winter season due to the slickness of the stairs. One thing that is certain, at over 250 hectares in size, you will not run out of hiking options.
30 Foot Pool
A 10-minute walk from the bridge will bring you to 30 Foot Pool, a deep circle of clear water with a horseshoe enclosing. Its isolation from the surrounding streams trickling down the small waterfalls make for an easy moment’s peace in the morning. It’s also a great place to go for a dip when Vancouver’s weather actually acts like summer.
On a hot summer day, it’s the most popular spot for swimming and picnicking. Be warned that even though it may be hot outside, the water temperature stemming from higher altitudes remains frigid all year round. What may be refreshing to some, may downright suicidal for others, so just be sure you are aware of your own comfort level or you might be in for a real shock to the system!
If you’re lucky, you can spot wildlife living their daily lives. They can be shy, but it puts a smile on your face when you see a squirrel nibbling on some food, far away from the suburban noise. Even better is seeing the little critter’s reaction to their new visitor of the woods.
Time for a Picnic
Once you have sufficiently built up a considerable hunger from your hike or swim, there are several trails leading towards the river’s edge near Twin Falls which offer a tranquil setting and plenty of daytime sunshine for a picnic. And if you are kicking yourself because you forgot your lunch, not to worry, you always grab a bite to eat at the Lynn Canyon Cafe before heading off to your next Vancouver adventure.
Finally, if you are curious about any of the flora and fauna around you, it is recommended checking in at the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre to see if there are any programs offered that day. In addition to providing visitors with a vast bank of local information, the Ecology Centre also sells souvenirs to bring back for family and friends.
Tours are made for schools, and those wanting to give their kids a bit of an education as they explore the paths around the canyon. A tour guide isn’t necessary, as your own two feet can be enough to see the vast array of 100-year-old trees and landmarks, conveniently labelled on plaques close by.
Whether you visit Lynn Canyon Park for the exhilarating experience of the suspension bridge, to spend several serene hours hiking in a unique rainforest environment, or to cool off in the 30 Foot Pool on a hot summer’s day, you will not regret experiencing North Vancouver’s cheapest destinations for family fun.
How To Get There
By car, the Trans-Canada Highway #1 into North Vancouver will bring you to exit 19 named Lynn Valley Road. Drive north-east and turn off onto Peters Road and drive east until you find the parking lot.
By public transport from Vancouver, take the Seabus across to Lonsdale Quay. Buses 228 and 229 from Lonsdale Quay will transport you to the park via the Peters Road stop.