Whether you’re a weekend warrior or just want some fresh air, Vancouver is a green city with plenty of potential for outdoor activities
Sports and outdoor activities in Vancouver
Vancouverites have a passion for outdoor activities. High fashion in the city is waterproof Gor-Tex and warm fleece. If you need gear for excursions, stop by the main branch of Vancouver-based Mountain Equipment Co-op. Locals joke that the $5 membership card is a Vancouverite’s proof of local citizenship.
In the winter, Vancouverites on the hunt for ski slopes look north to three mountains: Cypress, Grouse and Seymour mountains. Each is about half an hour from Downtown and offers spectacular views over the city. All provide terrain for skiing, boarding and snowshoeing and, thanks to floodlights, runs are open until around 10pm seven days a week during the main season. For more options, take the Sea-to-Sky Highway to Vancouver’s 2010 Olympics co-host Whistler, which offers world-class skiing just 100 km (60 miles) to the north.
Fitness junkies can test their mettle by tackling the Grouse Grind. Known colloquially as ‘Mother Nature’s Stairmaster’, it’s essentially an uphill path built largely from wooden steps, which precipitously gains 853 m (2800 ft) over 2.9 km (1.8 miles) on its course up Grouse Mountain. It takes the average person some 90 minutes to reach the top, but what goes up must come down and many weekend warriors opt to ride the Skyride gondola back. Passing nearby, the Baden-Powell Trail winds about 48 km from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove. Cutting through thick temperate rainforests, a section of the trail passes the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, a free alternative to the more heavily advertised Capilano Suspension Bridge.
In summer, swimmers should head to the open-air saltwater pool in Kitsilano (open only from May to September). It’s essentially a public infinity pool – except that at 137 m in length it qualifies as the longest outdoor pool in Canada, and at $6 a swim it’s much cheaper than swish hotel versions. At the tip of West Point Grey, below the University, Vancouver’s infamous nudist beach, Wreck Beach, offers panoramic ocean views and even the occasional bald eagle. But with half a million visitors making the pilgrimage every year, don’t expect privacy on a hot summer’s day.
Capilano Suspension Bridge 3735 Capilano Road. 604 985-7474. Admission $32.95.
Grouse Grind Follow Capilano Road 5km to the parking lot at the base of Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver.
Kitsilano Pool 2305 Cornwall Avenue. 604 731-0011. Admission $6.
Lynn Canyon Park Follow Lynn Valley Road in North Vancouver and turn right onto Peters Road.
Mountain Equipment Co-op 130 West Broadway. 604 872-7858.
Wreck Beach Follow Trail 6 below UBC along northwest Marine Drive to the beach.