- Difficulty Easy
- Time 4 hours
- Round-Trip 15km
- Elevation Gain 236 meters
- Season year-round
- Camping No
- From Vancouver 15 minutes
- Public Transit Yes
- Dog Friendly Yes
The Capilano Pacific Trail follows the Capilano River, the border of North and West Vancouver, from the sea up to Cleveland Dam where much of Vancouver's drinking water comes from. The route is 7.5km (2 hours) each way and passes a variety of terrain, including beaches, rocky shores, steep canyon cliffs, and dense west coast rain forest.
From Ambleside Beach, walk east and start the hike by going underneath the train bridge and following the paved path towards the Park Royal Shopping Mall. Continue along the backside of the mall to the end of the pavement and onto a gravel trail that follows the Capilano River and passes several residences and businesses. The trail passes under the Marine Drive bridges and then over a wooden bridge that crosses the mount of Brothers Creek. Stay to the right on the other side of the bridge as it passes another residential building and then onto a trail that follows the river side.
Watch for a sign pointing to the left for the Capilano Pacific Trail and go left up a dirt trail as it passes between several apartment buildings. This trail short trail will exit onto Keith Road at the intersection with 3rd Street. Go right along Keith Road, passing more apartments and houses for and the road will eventually pass underneath Highway #1 high above before continuing on a gravel road.
The gravel road comes to a gate with a wooden map board on the right that shows all the trails within the Capilano area. Walk past the gate and continue along the wide gravel route as it gradually climbs uphill. Eventually, you will see a fenced in area to your right and often people walking around the trails inside. This is the Capilano Suspension Bridge. At the end of this fenced area, go right onto a dirt trail that enters the forest and down the steps as it veers to the left. This section of the hike is scenic and feels as though you are miles away from an urban area.
Continue following the trail uphill as it passes over numerous wooden bridges with creeks below. To your right, there is a wooden viewing platform that gives a good glimpse of the steep slopes of the Capilano Canyon below. Back on the main trail and more thick forest, wooden bridges, and occasional glimpses of the river below.
At a 4-way intersection, go straight and a short distance later, the trail exits onto a wide gravel road. Go left and up the steep route and emerge from the forest onto Cleveland Dam. After taking in the views from the dam, continue across to the North Vancouver side and find a place in the park to have lunch.
You can either retrace your steps back down the route to Ambleside or take a bus from Capilano Road just beyond the parking lot back to Vancouver.