Vancouver is more than just a active metropolis. There's plenty of outdoor adventures and hiking opportunities available either within the city limits or just a short drive away.
Vancouver is ideal for immersing yourself in nature. And with the sheer variety of state parks, hiking trails and accessible outdoor accommodations for families, it's one of the easier cities to find routes and pathways that will cater to everyone's interests. So get your hiking gear ready and get your family up and moving with these select family friendly Vancouver hiking trails.
1) Queen Elizabeth Park
For a park that's got a ton of outdoor variety while not being too far away from metropolis civilisation, Queen Elizabeth Park is widely considered one of the more accommodating areas for families that typically avoid nature. Located right in the heart of Vancouver, Queen Elizabeth Park is not an opportunity to become totally immersed within the great outdoors, but it specialises in providing more variety amid its evergreen scenery.
Strolling through the more than 50 hectares of terrain will offer families a chance to take in countless of serene quarries with mini waterfalls, and plenty of shaded pathways accumulated from the 3,000-plus trees situated on the grounds.
If the walking makes the kids restless, take them to the touring art exhibits or even opt for a rousing game of tennis in the park's recreational facilities. Be sure to visit the Bloedel Floral Conservatory to see plenty of rare and exotic plants, and definitely take a family photo from the spectacular view that overlooks the downtown Vancouver skyline.
2) Stanley Park
Stanley Park is essentially the most alluring attraction when it comes to family friendly parks in Vancouver, primarily due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the Vancouver Harbour. It's not the most naturally secluded park in Vancouver, but it's certainly packed with plenty of inviting outdoor activities on top of dozens of nature trails.
There are more than 27 kilometres of hiking trails, and while the mountainous and coastline scenery is always brilliant, what's even better for families are the smoothly paved pathways, perfect for any stroller-constricted members of your hiking party. In addition to the hiking, you can entertain the kids either with a day at the beach, a trip along the Stanley Park Miniature Train or tour the famous totem pole collection.
After your family has conquered all the hiking trails, take everyone out to dinner at The Fish House, a seafood restaurant located in Stanley Park that was awarded a Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor for its scrumptious lunch, dinner and brunch menus. Or take a breather at the Stanley Park Pavilion, where a 200-seat patio offers you a chance to rest aching muscles by enjoying a refreshing beverage in The Tea Room lounge.
3) Cypress Provincial Park
While Stanley and Queen Elizabeth Park are excellent options for family friendly hiking, their close proximity to downtown Vancouver sort of diminishes the true wilderness experience. A trip to Cypress Provincial Park is a little more of a getaway, while only being a 30-kilometre drive away from downtown Vancouver.
When it comes to finding the right hiking trail for your family, Cypress Provincial Park has plenty of variety. The Yew Lake Trail is an excellent trail for beginning hikers that's only 2 kilometres long, but still goes through forests and lakeside beaches. If you want a more scenic trail, the Black Mountain Loop twists through vibrant meadows and fields, providing travellers with excellent views of the Black Mountain Side for a trip that generally takes 90 minutes to complete.
If you're around during the winter time, Cypress Provincial Park has plenty of quality trails available for snowshoeing or cross-country hiking. The Burfield Forest Trail is where to go for any first-time snowshoers in your family.
4) Maplewood Flats Conservation Area
Any avid bird watchers in your family will need to make the trip out to the Maplewood Flats Conservation Area, located roughly 2 kilometers east of the Second Narrows Bridge in northern Vancouver. Here, families will find more than 120 hectares of preserved land that is well-known for its abundance in wildlife.
There are more than 230 different species of birds that have been spotted in the area, and an available 3 kilometres of hiking trails to try and spot them all. If you're interested in getting your family more educated and involved in bird watching, groups can attend the first two Saturdays of the month to participate in free bird watching walks led by professional tour guides.
5) Pacific Spirit Regional Park
Whether you have a team of youngsters in your travelling group or a few feisty teenagers tagging along, Pacific Spirit Regional Park offers quality hiking trails that can accommodate all types of parties. Located right next to the University of British Columbia campus, this park provides patrons with a variety of trails, such as patrolling through more than 874 hectares of evergreen forests, sandy beaches or wildlife-friendly marsh.
All in all, there are 73 kilometres of hiking trails, meaning that if your kids are down for a hiking adventure, you've certainly found the right place. Each path is individually numbered, and if you take the trek down Trail No. 6, you'll eventually wind up at Wreck Beach, an ideal resting or splashing ground. This park is also extremely animal-friendly, with dogs being encouraged to accompany your journey and horseback riding lessons also available.
6) John Hendry Park
Your kids and your dog will rejoice with a trip to John Hendry Park, located in East Vancouver and surrounding Trout Lake. While this area is certainly not as shrouded in wilderness as some of the other parks on the list, it's extremely close proximity to downtown and wide variety of activities certainly make it a quick getaway from the fast-paced city.
The place is full of outdoor activities, and when it comes to hiking, John Hendry Park features a serene 1.2-kilometre hiking trail that wraps its way around Trout Lake, essentially the epicentre of the park grounds. The trail is an excellent place to take in the tranquilness of the lake and catch great views of the mountainous backdrop, but there's also an overwhelming variety of recreation all ages can engage in.
If you do spend some time here, consider spending a few hours in the recently renovated ice rink that was created in the park for the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. You can also let the dog run loose with a 26,000-square-metre off-leash area near the northern area of Trout Lake.
7) Rocky Point Park
This quaint park is located just 25 kilometres east of Vancouver, and is generally aimed at hikers looking for trails closer to the shorelines. Rocky Point Park also features a connecting trail that intertwines with the world's largest network of recreational hiking trails, the Trans Canada Trail. This iconic pathway leads all the way from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean coasts through the country, linking more than 1,000 communities together, including Port Moody, the home of Rocky Point Park. With most of the trail featuring wooden tracks, it's an extremely accessible trail for hiking families' younger members.
Groups can also walk along the Alfred Howe Greenway, which features a quick 2 kilometre trail bursting with one photo opportunity after another. Of course, once you're done trekking through the shrouds of trees and ferns, take the youngsters for a much-needed treat at the nearby Rocky Point Ice Cream and Cafe, the place to go for flavours ranging from pumpkin spice latte to orange tiger tail! Port Moody is also a lovely little city in British Columbia if you're looking to take the family out shopping or stop at the Mackin House Museum to learn more about the area's history.
8) Ambleside Park
This West Vancouver oasis is an excellent combination of gorgeous beaches paired with nearby hiking trails. It's a relatively small park with only roughly 24 hectares to explore, so it's certainly geared toward families with littler ones. However, that doesn't mean that Ambleside Park is lacking anything in the scenery department. Heading down the 1.2-kilometre Seawalk will eventually bring you to an elegant duck pond, perfect for spending an afternoon feeding all the ducks with your tykes. If you're around during the spring and summer, this duck pond is an excellent way to catch a glimpse of a rare Green Heron before they migrate downwards along the Pacific coast.
Ambleside Park is also your source for planning a lovely outdoor picnic, as there are plenty of resting stops and benches that even provide viewpoints for local landmarks such as the Lions Gate Bridge. If the kids get restless along the trail, let them loose at either the surrounding skate park, basketball courts, baseball diamonds or the sandy terrain of Sandy Beach.
9) Lynn Headwaters Regional Park
For families in dire need of taking in the rich outdoor environment of Vancouver, a trip to Lynn Headwaters Regional Park is certainly an invitation to introduce yourselves to the city's scenic ambiance. For starters, there's a ton of diversity in terms of the difficulty of the trails at this park.
Families with younger members should stick to the Varley Trail, a 3-kilometre pathway that's mostly flat, with a few boardwalks and stairs for more accessible hiking. Near the end of the trail, you'll encounter the Lynn Headwaters bridge as well as the BC Mills House, where you can head in for more information regarding the history and wildlife facts of the park.
If your family is up to the challenge, head down the Norvan Falls trail, a 7-kilometre hike that eventually drops you right off at Norvan Creek, home to a scenic cascade and a hill overlooking the rest of the park.
For the restless teens of the group, Lynn Headwaters Regional Park also has plenty of slightly paved backcountry trails, however, it's strongly recommended for experienced hikers only.
10) Brandywine Falls Provincial Park
Last, and anything but least, one of the most tranquil areas to explore on this list resides at Brandywine Falls Provincial Park. The park's total size is 420 hectares, and it offers families multiple options to engage on a trail that matches both the intensity and scenic environment of their preference.
If you visit, you must trek along the Sea to Sky Trail, a 1.5-kilometre hike across the Whistler Bungee bridge, which rests right over the raging Cheakamus River. After peering out at all the rapids, take another journey along the Lava Lake Trail, a 2.7-kilometre hike guides you over the Brandywine Creek. Of course, the real pinnacle of Brandywine Falls Provincial Park is witnessing the cascade that gives the park its name.
Brandywine Falls is a stunning 70-metre waterfall, and all it takes to get to this natural spectacle is a 15-minute hike down the Brandywine Falls Trail. The park itself is a 100-kilometre drive north of Vancouver, but is worth the trip if your family is serious about hiking along the Canadian wilderness.