7 Things to Do at Capilano River Regional Park

View of Second Canyon from Cleveland Dam in Capilano River Regional Park

View of Second Canyon from Cleveland Dam. Photo: Capilano River Regional Park

Located at the head of the Capilano River Canyon, Capilano River Regional Park straddles the boundary between North and West Vancouver. The park is home to giant trees, hiking trails, a deep river canyon, and an impressive dam. To help you plan your trip, here are the best things to do at Capilano River Regional Park.

Until further notice, in line with the public health order, non-essential travel into, within, and out of BC is not recommended. BC residents, let’s do our part by continuing to stay small and support local with your immediate household, in accordance with the latest guidelines.

 

How to Get to Capilano River Regional Park

By Car: There are two main entrances to the park. To reach both, take Capilano Road north from the Upper Levels Highway (Highway 1) in North Vancouver. Drive past the entrance to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, then turn left onto the narrow Capilano Park Road to reach the south entrance. There are several parking areas along the road and a large lot at the road’s end. To get to the north entrance, continue along Capilano Road for a few more minutes, then turn left into the parking lot near the intersection with Prospect Avenue.

By Bus: Take bus 232 from Phibbs Exchange, bus 236 from Lonsdale Quay, or bus 247 from downtown Vancouver to the Nancy Greene Way at Prospect Avenue stop, then walk across the street into the northern part of the park.

 

Tips for Visiting

  • The parking lots can fill up on sunny weekends. Go early or take transit.
  • Use the park map to find your way around.
  • Different parts of the park have different leash rules for dogs. Check the park map to see if you need a leash for the trail you plan to walk. As well, dogs are not allowed in the picnic area at the north end of the park.
  • Fires, alcohol, cannabis, camping, collecting plants, and smoking are not allowed.
  • There are toilets at the picnic area and near the fish hatchery. See the map for details.
  • Be safe in the park. AdventureSmart recommends bringing a backpack with essential safety and first aid gear on every hike. Check the forecast and pack extra clothing for the weather. Leave a trip plan so someone knows where you are going and when you will be back. Hiking is a little different during the pandemic. Read our tips for getting outdoors during COVID-19.

 

Go for a Hike

Capilano River Regional Park has 17 kilometres of forested trails. The short Coho Loop Trail is a popular option. It travels along the top of the river canyon and has great views. Heads up: The Capilano Pacific Trail is closed just south of the park due to a landslide. Use the park map to plan your hike.

 

Check out the Cleveland Dam

The 91-metre-high concrete Cleveland Dam holds back the waters of Capilano Lake, which stores drinking water for the Lower Mainland. From the picnic area at the north end of the park, you can walk across the top of the dam and peer straight down into the spillway. For a close-up view of the rushing waters at the bottom of the dam, take the Second Canyon Trail, which starts near the fish hatchery.

Looking down the spillway at the Cleveland Dam in North Vancouver

Looking down the spillway at the Cleveland Dam in North Vancouver. Photo: Adel Akbar/Unsplash

 

Watch the Kayakers

The Capilano River Canyon is one of the closest places to Vancouver to see whitewater kayakers. Head to one of the two bridges over the canyon and see if you can spy boaters playing in the rapids below. The Class IV whitewater is for experts only.

 

Go Fishing

The slippery rocks in the bottom of the canyon are a popular place for anglers. Make sure you have a freshwater fishing licence and watch out for rapidly rising water since the dam can release water at any time.

 

Walk Your Dog

If your pup likes to run off-leash, Capilano River Regional Park is a great place to go for a walk. The less popular trails are leash optional as long as your dog is under control and stays on the trail. Use the park map to see where leashes are required.

 

Have a Picnic

The north end of the park has a great picnic area. You’ll get a great view of Capilano Lake with the Lions behind it. It’s just a short walk to the upper Cleveland Dam viewpoint and the entrance to several trails. There’s also a covered picnic shelter lower down the canyon near the hatchery.

View of the Lions from the picnic area at Capilano River Regional Park near Vancouver

View of the Lions from the picnic area at Capilano River Regional Park near Vancouver. Photo: Kazutoshi Yoshimura

 

Visit Old Growth Trees

You can see many huge douglas fir and cedar trees as you hike through the park. But be sure to visit Grandpa Capilano on the Giant Fir Trail. Wind and age have broken off its top, but the base of the tree still measures an impressive 2.4 meters (8 feet) around.

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