January’s Vancouver Hike of the Month: Pacific Spirit Regional Park

A woman walks along a trail in Pacific Spirit Regional Park in Vancouver

Photo: Taryn Eyton

Winter is a great time to explore nature close to home. This easy loop through the maze of trails at Pacific Spirit Park takes you past some giant trees, to a unique bog ecosystem, and to one of Vancouver’s remaining salmon spawning streams.

Safety First: 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.

Trail Info: Easy; 9 km loop; minimal elevation gain; 2.5 hours; Dogs allowed on leash on weekdays only

Getting There: By car from Vancouver, take West 16th Avenue west towards UBC. After passing Blanca Street, look for a driveway on your right leading to a gravel parking lot. Park here. There are washrooms in the park headquarters building if you need them.

You can also get to the park by bus. Take the 33 or 25 bus along West 16th Avenue. The bus stops right next to the parking lot.

The Trail: There are dozens of trails in Pacific Spirit Park so it’s easy to get turned around if you aren’t paying attention. There are maps and trail signs at most junctions, but it is best to bring a copy of the park map.

To begin your hike, walk back out of the parking lot and carefully cross West 16th Avenue. On the other side, follow the path to the left for a few steps, then take Cleveland Trail into the forest. At a T-junction, go left onto Nature Trail. A few minutes later, turn right onto Deer Fern Trail.

Looking up through the trees at Pacific Spirit Regional Park

Looking up through the trees at Pacific Spirit Regional Park. Photo: Mia Mackenzie/Unsplash

At another T-junction, turn left onto Huckleberry Trail. Stay on Huckleberry until it emerges from the trees at the corner of West 16th Avenue and Imperial Drive. Cross Imperial and walk through the grass towards the forest behind the running track. Pick up the Camosun Trail as it heads into the trees.

When you reach a clearing with a toilet, turn left and head down the stairs to visit the Camosun Bog. This unique ecosystem was nearly destroyed through infill and draining, but since 1996, the Camosun Bog Restoration Group has worked to reverse the damage. Follow the 300-metre-long boardwalk around the bog, pausing to read interpretive signs along the way. When you’ve finished your circuit, head back up the stairs to the clearing, then turn left to hike south on the Camosun Trail.

Boardwalk at Camosun Bog in Pacific Spirit Regional Park

Boardwalk around Camosun Bog. Photo: Camosun Bog Restoration Group

Turn right onto the Top Trail and hike west as it runs behind a group of houses. Cross Imperial Drive and follow the wide Imperial Trail for a few steps. Make your first right onto Sasamat Trail, then turn left a minute later onto Council Trail. Stay on Council as it meanders west through the forest, crossing many other trails. The trail also crosses Cutthroat Creek. This small stream is one of the few places in the City of Vancouver where Cutthroat Trout, Coho Salmon, and Chum Salmon still spawn.

Turn right onto the Sword Fern Trail. The narrow trail winds through some gorgeous sections of forest. Emerge onto West 16th Avenue and carefully cross the street. On the other side, pick up the Salish Trail heading north. In a few minutes, turn right onto the Lily of the Valley Trail which zigzags past some huge trees and lots of beautiful leaning Vine Maple Trees.

At a four-way intersection with the Newt Loop and Vine Maple Trails, turn right onto the Salal Trail. A short time later, turn right again on the Heron Trail and follow it under the powerlines. Turn left onto the Cleveland Trail and walk back to your starting point at the parking lot.

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