PHOTO ESSAY – Great Vancouver Hikes: A New Alternative to The Chief

UpperShannonFalls-67Everybody loves the Chief.  The iconic hike to the peak of the 700-metre-high granite monolith in Squamish offers some of the most astounding views in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor, if not the entire province.

There’s just one problem: Everybody loves the Chief.  On weekends and sunny days, the 11-kilometre roundtrip trail can feel like one long queue, with lines of people forming at critical junctures where the trail narrows.

There is, however, a brand new alternative offering similar views with fewer crowds: the Sea to Summit trail.  The route (which partly follows an older path called the Upper Shannon Falls trail) starts at Shannon Falls at the base of the mountain, then climbs for approximately four hours (around 9 kilometres) before reaching the new Sea to Sky Gondola facility at the summit.  Along the way, it winds past raging rivers, thundering waterfalls, moss-covered forest and dizzying viewpoints.  And the best part: For $10 you can ride the new gondola back down in a brisk five minutes, skipping the long hike back.

I checked out the Sea to Summit trail over the weekend.  Here’s a quick photo essay of what you’ll see along the way.  If you’re considering doing the hike, keep in mind that the trail has an intermediate difficulty level, with some steep sections.  The entire route is well marked with bright green Sea to Sky trail blazes.  More detailed information is available on the Sea to Sky Gondola website and on Vancouver Trails. Continue reading:
PHOTO ESSAY – Great Vancouver Hikes: A New Alternative to The Chief

Trendy Veggies: Yaletown Farmers Market Returns

Photo Credit: Yaletown Business Improvement Association | Flickr

Photo Credit: Yaletown Business Improvement Association | Flickr

It’s not the first place you’d expect to find a farm stand.

The Yaletown Farmers Market – nestled amid the trendy lofts, patio restaurants and upscale boutiques of the city’s brick warehouse district – is back.  After a successful debut last year, organizers decided to bring the market back for another run, offering hungry condo dwellers access to fresh local fruits, veggies and more.

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Trendy Veggies: Yaletown Farmers Market Returns

Great (under-the-radar) Vancouver Hikes: Norvan Falls

NorvanFalls-26Nature lovers in the city know that Lynn Canyon Park in North Vancouver is beautiful … but crowded.  On weekends, visitors queue up for a chance to cross the iconic suspension bridge and busy trails feel more like city sidewalks.

But just a few kilometres north at the Lynn Headwaters Regional Park is an entirely different experience: fewer people, more trails and scenery that’s no less gorgeous.

I checked out the area over the weekend on a hike to Norvan Falls.  At 12 kilometres roundtrip (about four-five hours of moderate-paced walking), the trail is a bit long but pays off with incredible river views and a pristine waterfall at the end.

Getting to Lynn Headwaters Regional Park requires following Lynn Valley Road all the way to the end of the line, where it turns Rice Lake Road, a narrow, winding lane that traces the course of the river.  After parking, I crossed a broad wooden bridge over Lynn Creek and reached the trailhead, where a large map shows the route to Norvan Falls and other destinations.

The first part of the trail immediately plunges into thick cedar forest.   Continue reading:
Great (under-the-radar) Vancouver Hikes: Norvan Falls

Veggies from Vancouver’s Urban Farms Coming to a Market Near You

Photo credit: Lisa Parker | Flickr

Photo credit: Lisa Parker | Flickr

Would you buy hyper-local fresh veggies out of a retrofitted shipping container?

That’s the plan proposed by Vancouver’s best known urban farm, Sole Food.  Over the past five years, the unique “street farm” initiative has transformed nearly 5 acres of vacant lots around Vancouver into thriving agricultural land. Now Sole Food is set to kick off a fundraising campaign to open its first retail locations.

The plan is to raise $100,000 to purchase and equip a metal shipping container to serve as a produce stand, according to an article by the Vancouver Sun’s Randy Shore.  The container would sit on a Sole Food farm at Main Street and Terminal Avenue, one of the busiest intersections in the city.  The funds would also be used to open a retail outlet inside the popular Granville Island Public Market.

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Veggies from Vancouver’s Urban Farms Coming to a Market Near You

Finding Zen (Literally) in Vancouver: Inside Nitobe Garden

Photo credit: Phillip Jeffrey | Flickr

Photo credit: Phillip Jeffrey | Flickr

Nature lovers know Vancouver has more than its share of exceptional parks and gardens, from 1,000-acre Stanley Park to the tiny .3-acre Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.  But there’s one garden that even the most dedicated of outdoor buffs tend to overlook: the Nitobe Memorial Garden on the University of British Columbia campus.

The 2.5-acre garden, tucked away near a set of campus dormitories, happens to be regarded as the best traditional Japanese garden in North America, and one of the finest in the world.

Inside the gates, the garden – a circular pathway around a small lake, all set in the B.C. coastal forest – doesn’t look like much, at least at first glance.  But on closer inspection (and with a little help from the handy brochure), it becomes clear that the traditional Zen garden has been meticulously designed, right down to every leaf and stone. Continue reading:
Finding Zen (Literally) in Vancouver: Inside Nitobe Garden