Stanley Park Mystery – The Case of the Incredible Shrinking Lake


Beaver Lake Photo: Rob Weiss

Almost everyone loves a mystery, and what could be more mysterious than a disappearing lake?  Vanishing lake, you ask?  Yes, it is true.  Stanley Park is home to Beaver Lake, Vancouver’s incredible shrinking lake. Clue Hunters, interested in cracking the case, will need to venture off the seawall and head deep in to the forest to explore the inner wonders of Stanley Park.  Granted, the stunning views of mountains, sky and ocean along the famous seawall are difficult to leave behind, but an “off-trip” to explore Beaver Lake is worth the short detour. My favourite access point to the lake is via a stone gateway beneath Stanley Park drive.  I feel like I am entering a whole new world when I pass under the gateway, hike along the Ravine Trail adjacent to the salmon bearing Beaver Creek and emerge into the lush rain forest featuring cedar, fir and hemlock trees.


Trail Entrance Photo: Rob Weiss

The trail circling Beaver Lake is only one kilometer long, yet Stanley Park packs a lot of punch into this short walk.  Nature enthusiasts will enjoy the self guided tour, complete with viewing platforms and informative signage.  This exquisite urban wilderness comes complete with a myriad of insects, Great Blue Heron, squirrels, a wide variety of waterfowl and of course, Beaver.


Beaver Lake Photo: Rob Weiss

During my recent outing, as I approached the lake, I noticed the forest canopy opening. Soon I was standing beside what appeared to be a shallow pond.  Immediately, I was captivated by the water lilies, which covered much of the lake’s surface.  Intrigued at the thought of the lake shrinking, I decided to learn more.  Interpretive signage along the route explained that forest lakes naturally have a short lifespan as they evolve from lake to marsh and eventually to meadow.  Scientists attest to the fact that this process can take thousands of years, but the water lilies introduced in 1937, that I found so beautiful, are in fact contributing to the rapid change at Beaver Lake.


Beaver Lake Photo: Rob Weiss

Like all great mysteries, I discovered there is a twist.  Recognizing the popularity and ecological importance of Beaver Lake the Vancouver Park Board is coming to the rescue!  The Stanley Park Ecological Action Plan, making the restoration of Beaver Lake a priority has been approved.  Case closed.

Getting There:

There are several access points to Beaver Lake.  Plan your day and your route using the Stanley Park Trail Map or checkout the Rungo app for voice directions on your phone.  This trail is wheelchair accessible.

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