Get Off the Beaten Path in Stanley Park

A beaver swimming amongst reeds

Beaver. Photo: Svetozar Cenisev/Unsplash

Tourists and locals flock to Stanley Park to enjoy famous landmarks like the Seawall, the Vancouver Aquarium, and the totem poles. But Stanley Park has lots of hidden gems waiting to be discovered if you get off the beaten path.


Walk the Forest Trails

Stanley Park’s interior is home to 27 kilometres of gorgeous trails. They wind through the forest past towering cedar, fir, and hemlock trees. Don’t miss the pretty boardwalk section on the Cathedral Trail.

Exploring the forest trails of Stanley Park

Exploring the forest trails of Stanley Park. Photo: Destination Vancouver/Coast Mountain Photography


Enjoy the View at Siwash Rock Lookout

If you’ve walked the Seawall, you’ve gone past Siwash Rock, a rock pillar just offshore. For an even better view of the rock, hike the Siwash Rock Trail from Merilees Trail. It ends at a beautiful lookout point. The viewing platform is actually an old searchlight mounting point from WWII.


Find the Two Spirits Carving

While Stanley Park is full of lots of public art, not all of it is official. In the late 1990s, an unknown artist carved a face into a huge stump. You can find the slightly eerie piece on the Rawlings Trail near Second Beach.


Look for Beavers

For decades, Stanley Park’s Beaver Lake didn’t live up to its name. But in 2008 a lone beaver rectified that, building a lodge in the lily pad-choked waters of the lake. Today, beavers still live at Beaver Lake and Lost Lagoon is also home to another family of the aquatic rodents. The best time of day to see them is near dawn and dusk.


Visit the 9 O’Clock Gun

If you listen closely, you’ll hear a boom echo across Vancouver’s skies each evening at 9 p.m. You’re hearing the 9 O’Clock Gun, a historic naval cannon located on the east side of Stanley Park. For over 100 years, it has been fired each night as a time signal so locals and visiting ships could set their watches. If you visit when the gun fires, you’ll see a brief flash of light and lots of smoke.

9 O'Clock gun firing

9 O’Clock gun firing. Photo: Claude.Schneider, used under CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Learn About Ecology at the Stanley Park Nature House

Head to the southeast corner of Lost Lagoon to visit the Stanley Park Nature House, open on weekends. Inside you’ll find interactive displays and lots of wildlife specimens you can touch. Volunteers and staff can answer your questions about plants, animals, and nature.


Visit the Indigenous Village Site of X̱wáýx̱way

Today the Lumberman’s Arch north of the Vancouver Aquarium is a grassy slope with a large log arch. However, for thousands of years, it was the site of X̱wáýx̱way, an Indigenous village home to Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-watuth people. When European colonizers arrived, they forced the Indigenous people out, demolishing the village in the 1880s to make way for Park Drive. If you visit the site today, imagine what it would have looked like in the 1800s when it included a big house that measured 60 meters long and housed about 100 people.

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