The Capilano Pacific Trail is an easy, year-round hike along the Capilano River, gently sloping upwards for 8 km through west coast rainforest. You’ll pass through a variety of terrain, past steep canyon cliffs and over wooden bridges, with various viewing spots along the way.
The trail starts in Ambleside Park, a sandy, windy beach looking out onto English Bay. There are bathrooms here and a concession, and during the summer you can go swimming. It’s a few minutes from Park Royal and transit accessible.
To get onto the trail, follow the SeaWalk toward the river. You’ll pass briefly through an urban area before getting back into the forest. From there the trail is wide and clear, with very little roots or rocks, but as you get closer to the top, the trail gets wilder, with tall trees and ferns. In the right light, it can be quite magical.
The upper portion connects with other trails and you can follow signs to the salmon hatchery, where you see salmon at various life stages.
The trail ends in Cleveland River Regional Park, with an impressive view of the Lions over Cleveland Lake and you can stand atop the 90 meter high Cleveland Dam. During snow-melt season, the spillway roars with water rushing down to the canyon below.
One of the special things about this hike is that it’s transit accessible from both ends. My suggestion is start at the bottom and then have a nice swim at Ambleside when you come back down.