Turtle Power! Burnaby Lake Style


Cricket comes alive on the sports fields Photo: Rob Weiss

How far would you venture to discover Western Painted Turtles, a stunning wildlife sanctuary, a nature house, a cricket match, an equestrian centre, a rowing pavilion, miles of nature trails and a butterfly garden?  Rest assured, you do not have to travel far!  To my delight, Burnaby Lake Regional Park has it all.  Located in the heart of Burnaby, adjacent to the busy Trans Canada highway, lies a natural oasis and sports haven.


City skyline looms over the wetlands Photo: Rob Weiss

I was surprised to learn that Burnaby Lake is the largest lake in the lower mainland. With views of the North Shore Mountains and the Vancouver City skyline the park successfully balances urban living and the raw natural world.  Eager to explore, I set out on the 10 km Burnaby Lake hiking trail.  I was not alone.  The area is home to many species including ducks, geese, beaver, Western Painted Turtles, not to mention the odd fisherman, jogger and cricket enthusiast or two!  In fact, the Burnaby Sports Complex boasts five artificial turf fields, a 10,000 square foot Clubhouse and a TV announcing tower.  The Lake Loop trail is an easy walk, flat and well maintained.  One of the more popular areas in the park is Piper Spit.  Young and old alike gather here to observe the waterfowl and take in the sights and sounds of the wetland.  Youngsters will delight in feeding the birds, which is permitted at Piper Spit only.  Please be mindful that bread is unhealthy for the birds, feed them grain.


Lunch time at Piper Spit Photo: Rob Weiss

In 1973 the Canada Summer Games made Burnaby Lake home for the rowing competitions.  The rowing pavilion and recreational boat launch remain, but due to dense vegetation growth, large rowing events are no longer held here.  However, the area is still popular with local paddlers, despite times when the thick vegetation can be challenging for those who venture off the water course.


Paddling at Burnaby Lake Regional Park Photo: Rob Weiss

Although thrilled by the opportunity to view waterfowl, the highlight of my recent hike was the Western Painted Turtle habitat.  The endangered turtles make the park home and this area is one of two known nesting sites in the province.  These camera shy turtles are thought to be the last native freshwater turtles living in British Columbia and biologist and volunteers are working tirelessly to protect them. How extraordinary to share the trail, lake and park with these little beauties.   Well done!


Photo: Rob Weiss

Getting There:

Burnaby Lake Regional Park is located in Central Burnaby.  Numerous entrance points are situated around the lake.  The area is also easily accessible via Skytrain.

  • From Lougheed Highway westbound, turn south on Brighton Ave., west on Winston St. and south on Piper Ave.
  • From Lougheed Highway eastbound, take the Winston St. exit and turn south on Piper Ave.
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