Vancouver Hidden Gem Alert: Seymour Demonstration Forest

Photo credit: Skip the Filler | Flickr

Photo credit: Skip the Filler | Flickr

It’s hard to believe that minutes from the noise and chaos of downtown Vancouver is an alternate, carbon-free civilization inhabited only by cyclists, rollerbladers and pedestrians.  But it’s no dream: It’s North Vancouver’s Seymour Demonstration Forest.

This 5,668-hectare park, formally known as the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve, is actually a bit difficult to find, which may explain why it’s stayed relatively off-the-radar all these years.  Google Maps isn’t much help (though searching “Rice Lake” will get you close).  Directions online sound a bit like an old treasure hunt:  “Head toward Capilano College and drive straight past the main gate to the campus. Keep right on driving, past the riding stables and cemetery.”

But it’s worth hunting down.  You’ll know you’re on the right path when you start hitting speed bumps every 50 metres.  The road makes its way through thick forest and past a mysterious-looking building called the LSCR Waste Stream Diversion Facility before dead-ending at a gravel parking lot.  Here, you’ll notice every single car has a bike rack mounted on it.

This is because the main draw of the park is the Seymour Valley Trailway: a 10-kilometre-long paved path that threads its way through one of the most gorgeous – and bike-friendly – stretches of forest in the area.  Over the weekend, I hopped on my bike and explored the trail for the first time. Continue reading:
Vancouver Hidden Gem Alert: Seymour Demonstration Forest

Bike-Seeing the Vancouver Waterfront

English Bay Classic

 
When it comes to spectacular waterfronts, Vancouver ranks with the world’s great cities. Throughout downtown, busy streets dead-end at beaches and waterside parks, offering postcard-worthy views of the ocean and snowcapped mountains.

Vancouver’s waterfront also happens to be uniquely accessible. A 14-mile seawall – a broad ocean-side promenade dating back to 1917 – extends uninterrupted for nearly its entire length. And one of the best ways to experience the seawall is on two wheels.

Dozens of shops throughout the city rent bicycles by the hour. Meanwhile, a unique bike-sharing program to be unveiled in 2014 means there will always be a set of wheels nearby. It’s possible to bike the entire seawall in one go or to explore different sections one-at-a-time. Here’s a quick preview of what to expect:

Continue reading:
Bike-Seeing the Vancouver Waterfront

Bike the West Dyke Trail to Steveston Village

Photo credit: YVRBCbro | Flickr

With all the great weather we’ve been experiencing in Vancouver lately, it’s lucky there is an abundance of outdoor activities to do in the Lower Mainland. One of my favourite things to do every summer is visit Steveston Village in Richmond. Steveston is a historic fishing community in Richmond and is popular for its restaurants, shopping, and quaint, historic character. Vancouverites flock to Steveston to buy fresh seafood, sample fish and chips, browse the eclectic shops, and experience the small-town feel.

But did you know you can reach Steveston by bike? The West Dyke Trail goes along the Richmond Dyke and is a beautiful, serene trail that leads to the South Dyke into Steveston. The scenery is spectacular, featuring panoramic views of the ocean, and it is not uncommon to see wildlife such as geese, herons, and turtles along the trail. The trail is quite flat, making it ideal for cyclists of all levels. Continue reading:
Bike the West Dyke Trail to Steveston Village

Vancouver ‘burbs: Colony Farm Park in Coquitlam

Photo credit: jiwiz.com

The gritty stretch of Highway 1 heading east of Vancouver rarely features on sightseeing lists.  Downtown’s waterfront and majestic mountain vistas give way to suburban sprawl: rows of tract housing, congested freeways and industrial zones that speak to the city’s blue-collar roots.  But sandwiched in the midst of all this is an oft-overlooked bit of natural splendor: the Colony Farm Regional Park in Coquitlam, about a 40-minute drive southeast of the city.

Now, Colony Farm is no Stanley Park.  It has no waterfront or old growth forests or anything like that.  But it’s remarkable precisely because it’s a lush, intact piece of nature hemmed in on all sides by major highways, housing developments and even a pair of psychiatric hospitals.   I stopped by on a recent weekend and explored the park by bike.

Continue reading:
Vancouver ‘burbs: Colony Farm Park in Coquitlam

Celebrate Seasons of Cycling and Good Cheer at VACC’s Bike Downtown Stations

VACC volunteer chatting up with cyclists at Dunsmuir separated  bike lane. 2010

VACC volunteer chatting up with cyclists at Dunsmuir separated bike lane.

To celebrate with cyclists, wannabe cyclists and supportive local businesses along with new bike lanes and other cycling achievements this year, the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition (VACC) is hosting a few temporary downtown bike stations for the public.  Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition is a non-profit organization.

Continue reading:
Celebrate Seasons of Cycling and Good Cheer at VACC’s Bike Downtown Stations