Hiking the Capilano Pacific Trail

The day started with this smoky view of Vancouver from the North Shore. In fact, this was our view over breakfast most days. I sat eating hash browns, eggs and toast while watching footage of the BC wildfires on the news. Sad start to a post, but true.

View over misty shoreline

We followed the North Shore Spirit Trail from Lonsdale Quay, along the waters edge. Our mission was to follow the trail and walk to Whole Foods at Park Royal South, pick up an amazing hiking lunch and join the Capilano Pacific Trail from there.

Wooden houses on water

Grey wooden church
Sun casting orange light

Busy road

Unfortunately, the scenic part of the Spirit Trail came to an abrupt end shortly after the ship works. We managed to rejoin it but had to spend a fair amount of time walking along roads like the one above. Not the end of the world but it wasn’t quite what we were expecting.

Our biggest problem was the humidity. By the time we reached at Whole Foods, we’d already walked 10,000 steps and were very sweaty. Thankfully they had a fountain and we were able to set off again with full water bottles.

Footpath signpost

The light day that was pretty spectacular. You’ll notice these photos have an orange tinge which is especially strong when the sun pokes through the clouds. It’s the effect of the smoke in the air – blue light is dispersed and red/orange light makes its way through to the ground. The next photo doesn’t capture it that well, but the water running through the river looked more like liquid copper.

Golden light on water

Orange light on dirt trail

More of that lovely light I mentioned!

Orange light on dirt trail

Tall trees

Wooden viewing platform

We found a great spot to sit and refuel. The cookies were begging to be let out of the bag (no, really) so it seemed like a good time to take a break.

Legs up on a bench

Just look at this view over the river! At that point, I suggested we claim the land as our own and live there. I’m pretty sure you would have felt the same if you stood in this spot.

Trees and view over creek

Misty view over lake
Cleveland Dam

After hiking for a while longer, we finally made it to Cleveland Dam. Smoke hid most of the mountain views it was beautiful nonetheless. The mountain on the right (photo below) is Grouse Mountain — which is where we hiked the BCMC trail the next day.

Cleveland Dam
Box of salad
Lunch (spot the sprout!)
View into dam
Cleveland Dam

Cliff and green water

We stumbled upon a salmon hatchery on our way down. Salmon is my favourite fish; I felt a bit uneasy about looking them in the eye. Especially as I’d enjoyed a plate of sockeye salmon the night before.

Salmon in water
Capilano Salmon Hatchery

From there we joined the Coho Loop and picked up the Pipeline Trail.

Wooden steps

Moss hanging from tree branch

Moss and dirt hiking trail

Pouring water on head
Cooling off

Originally, we’d planned to take a longer route home but we were struggling with the heat so we decided to pick up the bus a bit earlier — there’s a bus stop back to North Vancouver on Capilano Road. A shorter journey home mean’t we had some water to spare… which went on our heads 🙂

Travel notes — public transport to the Capilano Pacific Trail

From central Vancouver:

  • Take the train to Waterfront.
  • Then board the SeaBus to Lonsdale Quay (North Vancouver) — the entrance is in Waterfront station so it’s easy to find. The journey across the water takes around 12 mins and leaves every 15 mins.
  • Take the 239 bus from Lonsdale Quay to Capilano U and get off at Park Royal South.
  • The trail is a short walk away from there.

For the journey back, follow the Pipeline Trail to Capilano Street and catch a bus from there.

A single use Compass day pass ($10) will cover all of the travel above.

4 comments on “Hiking the Capilano Pacific Trail

  1. This post makes me want to go back to Vancouver and explore more of the trails, like you did. 🙂 Beautiful photos!

    • Gemma Evans

      Thanks Siobhan 🙂 I’d love to go back some day… there is still so much I want to explore there.

  2. I can’t express how much I miss Vancouver! That smoky view, lake, etc. are just awesome.

    • Gemma Evans

      I absolutely loved it and can see why you miss it so much. After 2 weeks, I started to feel quite a home in the mountains (my dream place to live!).

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