8 Ways to Get Outdoors at UBC

People walk on an elevated bridge at the Greenheart Treewalk at the UBC Botanical Garden in Vancouver

Greenheart Treewalk, UBC Botanical Garden. Photo: Tourism Vancouver / Destination Canada (CTC) / Asymetric/Jason Van Bruggen

The University of British Columbia (UBC) has a gorgeous campus, surrounded by forest and ocean. You don’t have to be a student to enjoy fun outdoor activities like biking and hiking. You can also explore historical sites, gardens, and more.


Explore WWII History

During World War II, the UBC was home to the Point Grey Battery. Giant guns were stationed atop the bluffs and tall searchlight towers were positioned along the beaches. Today you can visit the former gun emplacements behind the Museum of Anthropology. The graffiti-covered searchlight towers along Tower Beach are also worth checking out.

Graffiti-covered WWII era tower in Pacific Spirit Park

Graffiti-covered WWII era tower. Photo: Taryn Eyton/HappiestOutdoors.ca


Hit the Beach

With its location at the end of the Point Grey peninsula, UBC is surrounded by beaches. You can enjoy the wide expanses of sand at low tide at Spanish Banks Beach. Or take the steep Trail 4 down to rocky Tower Beach to marvel at the WWII searchlight emplacements. Open-minded beach-goers can also head down the stairs at Trail 6 to Wreck Beach, Vancouver’s only clothing-optional beach.

Paddleboarder at Spanish Banks Beach in Vancouver

Paddleboarder at Spanish Banks Beach. Photo: Tourism Vancouver / Hubert Kang


Visit a Garden

The UBC Campus is home to several spectacular gardens. The highlight is the huge UBC Botanical Garden, which opened in 1916. For a more intimate experience, head to the smaller Nitobe Memorial Garden, considered one of the best traditional Japanese Gardens outside of Japan. Or visit the Rose Garden at the north end of campus for incredible blooms along with views of the ocean and North Shore Mountains.

The tea house at Nitobe Memorial Garden at UBC in Vancouver

Nitobe Memorial Garden. Photo: Dai Nguyen/Unsplash


Go for a Hike or Trail Run

The maze of trails at Pacific Spirit Park winds past huge trees, a unique bog, and a salmon spawning stream. With over 55 km of trails in the park, there is lots to explore. To see the highlights, follow step-by-step directions for our recommended 9 km loop route.

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

Hiking in Pacific Spirit Regional Park. Photo: Taryn Eyton/HappiestOutdoors.ca


Brave the Greenheart TreeWalk

Stroll through the forest canopy high above the ground on a series of suspended platforms and bridges at the Greenheart Tree Walk at UBC Botanical Garden. The walkway hangs from 100-year-old Douglas firs, cedars, and grand firs. You can explore at your own pace or book a guided tour to learn more about the forest ecosystem.


Try Forest Bathing

Forest bathing is a Japanese form of nature therapy, which includes slow, meditative walking, or simply sitting in a serene spot. Pacific Spirit Regional Park at UBC is one of the best places to try forest bathing in Vancouver.

A close up of a hemlock branch in Mount Seymour Provincial Park

Enjoy the beauty of the forest at Pacific Spirit Regional Park. Photo: Julien Kettmann/Unsplash


Go For a Bike Ride

The quiet roads and bike lanes make UBC one of the most popular places to go road biking in Vancouver. A popular loop runs around the perimeter of campus from Kitsilano on Northwest Marine Drive, then back east on West 16th Avenue. Bikes are also permitted on most of the trails in Pacific Spirit Regional Park. Many of the paths are wide gravel, suitable for most bikes, but some are rougher and muddier. Use the park map to see which trails are bikeable. If you don’t have a bike, you can rent one through HOPR, UBC’s bike share program.

Biking the trails of Pacific Spirit Park

Biking the trails of Pacific Spirit Park. Photo: Taryn Eyton/HappiestOutdoors.ca


Take Your Dog for an Adventure

The forests of Pacific Spirit Regional Park at UBC are very dog-friendly. Many of the trails are leash-optional, so it’s a great place to hike with your pup. Use the park map to find out which trails and areas allow dogs and whether a leash is required.

A dog carries a large stick on a forested hiking trail

Photo: Jamie Street/Unsplash

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