Over 1 million people visit Pacific Spirit Park every year, and there are literally hundreds of ways one might choose to enjoy the natural beauty of the outdoors. Below are only some of the ways we see visitors making use of park space on a daily basis.
Walking in Pacific Spirit Park can make you forget that you live in one of the largest urban area in the country. Huge cedars tower overhead and native plants, like salal and salmonberry, grow along the trails. This little piece of Pacific rainforest is a reminder of what the landscape of much of the Lower Mainland looked like centuries ago.
If you’ve never been in the park before, the parking lot at the former location of the Park Centre along 16th Avenue is a good place to start. From there you can follow Cleveland trail north or south into the forest.
If you go south you will have the choice of several trails, like Nature, Hemlock or Deer Fern. A pleasant loop in that area is to follow Cleveland until Nature. Turn right on Nature, then right on Hemlock, then right on Council and right again on Swordfern. Swordfern will take you back to 16th Avenue just west of the Park Centre. Another right onto the Sherry Sakamoto trail (see Vancouver History, April 23, 1989) brings you back to the parking lot.
The area of the Park just north of the Park Centre is slightly smaller, but there are still several trail options including Heron, Lily of the Valley and Nature.
Another entrance into the Park is from Spanish Banks beach. You can enter Spanish trail from Northwest Marine Drive. You can also follow the foreshore right around to the Booming grounds. Following Marine Drive around the point, you will find several trails down to Wreck Beach.
And a walk not to be missed is the Camosun Bog boardwalk at 19th Avenue and Crown. A dedicated group of volunteers has restores this rare ecosystem. A 180m boardwark with interpretive signage makes this a great trip for kids.
Pacific Spirit Park has numerous trails for running, whether you are out for a leisurely jog or training for your next marathon.
South of 16th Avenue, Imperial and Long Trail are wide and well-suited to those running in a group, or with trail-ready jogging strollers. Or, avoid the masses by taking some of the narrower trails, like Swordfern, Huckleberry and Council, which take you deep into the forest.
You can also enter the Park along Blanca Street. The pretty Lily of the Valley trail joins up with Cleveland trail take you close to the main gates of the University of British Columbia campus.
For those looking for water views, a run up and down the steps leading to Wreck Beach at Trail 6 can give you some great anaerobic training. It’s best to avoid this route on busy summer days, as there will be dozens of people using the steps. But on a clear winter morning you may have the beach to yourself!
When running in the Park, remember to stick to trails, take sufficient water, and tell people where you are going. Consult a map before going and plan your route—the Park is large and there’s nothing worse than running out of steam when you’re still a few kilometres from home.
Remember trail etiquette, and remember to yield to horses, and walkers who may not be able to move out of your way. Cyclists should yield to runners.
With 763 hectares of land and 73km of mostly off-leash trails, Pacific Spirit Regional Park is a dog walker’s paradise. That is why there are an estimated 360,000 dog visits annually.
The entire park was off-leash prior to 2002. Due to a few conflicts with walkers, bikers and equestrians, the Metro Vancouver introduced a Dog Management Program. This program was created through public consultation where many options were examined.
There still remains an element of our community which believes that the entire park should be on-leash. Please remember this when you walk your dog in this spectacular setting. Ensuring that we continue to be able to enjoy this wonderful resource requires some amount of responsibility.
- Pick up after your dog. No one likes to be confronted with dog droppings on the trails.
- Respect on-leash and no dog trails. There are fines for non-compliance.
- Keep your dogs under control and leash them if they are aggressive to others. This is a wonderful place for dogs to play and socialize. If your dogs do not interact well with others then please be responsible in the handling of your dogs.
- Maximum of 3 dogs per handler, with one leash and collar for each dog.
- Leash your dogs when horses approach. Horses can be easily spooked, posing a danger to the rider and your dogs.
- Do not let your dogs run through marked streams. Disturbing the silt in the streams can harm aquatic animals.
Canine etiquette guidelines are posted at major trail heads.
Commercial dog walkers require a Metro Vancouver Commercial Use Permit. For more information, contact the Metro Vancouver Parks West Area Office at 604-224-5739.
The increasing number of dog visits is putting pressure on the Park’s ecosystem. If we all act responsibly we can be sure to have this wonderful place stay off-leash well into the future.
Enjoying the Beach
Pacific Spirit Park includes almost 8 km of beach around the tip of Point Grey peninsula. The many “personalities” of this beach offer different attractions for different people.
This 7.8 kilometers long wilderness-like beach, which follows a promontory below an emerald-green forested, 200-foot high, cliff system weathered to beauty akin the White cliffs of Dover, is Canada’s first and largest, legal, clothing-optional beach. Over 500,000 visitors from around the world have visited the beach and on a peak summer’s day, over 14,000 visitors enjoy the tranquil beauty of this most beautiful of Vancouver’s beaches.
Whatever one needs from Wreck Beach—soothing silence and the opportunity to view abundant wildlife, a carnival atmosphere, or replenishment of one’s soul—is for the seeking depending on what section or “personality” of the beach one chooses. Even in the busy central area one has many options. Whether one just wants to chill out for a day at the beach, jam with the wonderful diversified beach musicians, play Majong, play dice at one of the beach “casinos”, watch the aerial acrobatics of the eagles versus the seagulls, challenge other volleyball players, or just engage in lively social exchanges, Wreck Beach is the place. Here, without artifice, one is judged only by the wattage of one’s smiles. Without clothing, it doesn’t matter what one’s occupation is. One just is!
Vendors’ Row lies at the back of the Trail 6 beach and offers such wonders as exotic paraeos from Asia and the South Seas to exquisite hand-crafted jewelry and glass boxes. One can also find a plethora of fabulous fresh foods from Patrick’s mouthwatering Greek dishes and Lucy’s Peruvian empanadas, to Norman’s burgers, Abduhl’s sandwiches, Freddie’s Mexican tacos, and Brent and Barbara’s fresh fries. Discussions regarding the application of stringent new health guidelines will determine whether these services will be allowed to continue.