Capilano Canyon

April 4, 2013

Capilano River Regional Park (aka Capilano Canyon) is one of the outdoor gems of the Metro Vancouver area. It’s accessible all year, it’s trails are hiked by all ages, and it’s the closest to the city where you can enjoy a west coast style rainforest within a scenic, rugged canyon setting.

The Capilano River has always been an important landmark on the North Shore, serving as the border between North and West Vancouver and emptying into Burrard Inlet next to the Lions Gate Bridge. The reservoir created by Cleveland Dam is one of three drinking water sources for the residents of Vancouver. Its water is supplied from the spring and summer snow melt of several local mountains, including Grouse Mountain and as far back as the Lions.

The Capilano Salmon Hatchery

The entrance to the Capilano Salmon Hatchery

The Capilano River Salmon Hatchery is another very important feature of the area. The hatchery was built to preserve the annual salmon run after Cleveland Dam blocked the route of returning fish. The hatchery is open to the public year-round and the viewing area offers a great opportunity to see fish jumping up the fish ladders, particularly in the early fall during the return of the Chinook and Coho salmon.

The park is best accessed from the North Vancouver side of the Capilano River by either parking at the Salmon Hatchery or further north at Cleveland Dam. The park is accessible by transit by either busses #232, #236, or #247 but visitors should check the Translink website for schedules.

A view of the Capilano River below

A view of the Capilano River along one of the hiking trails.

The network of hiking trails offers a variety of routes but the best is to plan a loop where you will cross both Cleveland Dam and the Pipeline Bridge further down river. This loop should give you the best views of the canyon, pass the hatchery and Cleveland Dam, and also pass through the forested area on the West Vancouver side. Another hiking option is to walk the Capilano Pacific Trail from Ambleside all the way to Cleveland Dam. The hiking trails are used by everyone, from families to trail runners to dog walkers.

Hiking in Capilano Canyon on a foggy, rainy day in December

A foggy, rainy day in December. Capilano Canyon can be hiked anytime of year.

Metro Vancouver operates Capilano River Regional Park and they have also created a series of videos to showcase things to do and see. This video gives you a better view of what to expect when visiting the park and how to get there.

Have you been to Capilano Regional Park? What was your experience?

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