That Adventurer is a Top 20 UK Travel Blog written by Hannah Kacary who seeks out adventure whereever she goes. Outdoor lover who left home in England for the Canadian outdoors & Vancouver. Travelling on a budget, always.
Our long weekend trip to BC’s Sunshine Coast was full of hiking and kayaking. The coastline is beautiful and one of the prettiest places we visited was Smuggler Cove Marine Park. We visited early in the morning and came across just a few other people. There were a few sailboats anchored in the cove and it was incredibly peaceful. As we were leaving it’d got much busier so if you’d like to visit I recommend getting up early!
About Smuggler Cove
Smuggler Cove is on the south side of the Sechelt Pennsula near to Secret Cove on the Lower Sunshine Coast. It’s a beautiful 185 hectare park and is super peaceful if you go early and a bit off-season (otherwise expect to come across lots of people on the trail!).
Smuggler Cove was once used during the prohibition period to hide alcohol from the authorities as they sailed it south to the US.
Hiking in Smuggler Cove Marine Park
Smuggler Cove Marine Park has a 4km trail that’s well signposted and easy to follow. Simply start in the small parking area. You’ll spot a sign to the right of the car park which heads into the forest. Soon you’ll come out at a wooden boardwalk with takes you over a marshy area.
You’ll then head towards the left and come to a gravel trail. From here there’s a second bridge and then another boardwalk.
Continue along the trail as you head through the forest and come to a junction. Turning left here takes you up to a viewpoint that looks over to Grant Island. Follow the trail back to where you left it and this time head right. This climbs uphill and you’ll be able to see the cove itself.
The path continues uphill and comes out at a rocky entrance to Smugger Cove. From here just follow the path round the park.
There are beautiful views of the Georgia Strait as well as of Thormanby Island. You’ll come across plenty of boards with history and information on them so pause to read these. Take a break on one of the benches around the park to soak up the morning quiet before returning back to the car park.
How to get to Smuggler Cove
From Vancouver catch the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Gibsons. Then follow the Sunshine Coast Highway for 42km and turn left at Brooks Road. It’s signposted and easy to find!
If there’s one thing you should do when visiting BC’s Sunshine Coast it’s to visit the Skookumchuck Narrows. Twice a day the waters become rapids which people kayak on. The rapids are huge and seriously impressive. You get to the rapid area after an easy hike through the forest.
About the Skookumchuck Narrows
The narrows form part of the Sechelt Provincial forest which covers over 123 hectares and has plenty of trails to explore.
The word “Skookumchuck” comes from a Chinook word meaning turbulent water or rapid torrent. Which makes total sense when you see what the Skookumchuck Narrows look like at the right tide.
Twice a day the tide changes and the flow of saltwater switches which reverses the direction and power of the water. Sometimes the water can reach 9ft in height!
The rapids are best viewed at peak low tide, where as the whirlpools are best seen at peak high tide.
Where to view the rapids and whirlpools from
There are two viewing points. The first looks out at the whirlpools from quite far away (North Point) and the second is Roland Point which is closest to the rapids themselves. This is where the kayakers launch from and where you’ll get the best view of them.
Hiking the Skookumchuck Narrows
The Skookumchuck rapids are an easy 4km hike away from the parking lot. It’s a pretty flat trail and will take you about an hour to walk.
The trail begins from a small car park area near Egmont. There are plenty of signs as you travel up the Sunshine Coast so you shouldn’t have any problem finding them!
Head down the gravel road and across a short bridge. After walking for 10-15 minutes you’ll come across a metal gate on your right with a sign that marks the beginning of the trail to Skookumchuck Narrows.
This tail takes you into the forest and is easy to follow.
You’ll come across Brown Lake and it’s here you’ll officially enter Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park.
The view from North Point is set on some rocks, higher up and looks across the narrow waterway. Hikers can sit on a single bench or along the rocks to enjoy the view. The area is surrounded by a fence to prevent anyone from venturing too near the dangerous whirlpools.
The view from Roland Point is closer to the water and more open. There is not an obvious place to sit but plenty of space to enjoy the views of the rapids. You can get right next to the water but please ensure to not venture too close as the currents are very strong during the tidal changes.
After enjoying the views of the area, hike back along the trail in the direction you arrived, passing the junction and heading up the gradual hill through the forest. Pass Brown Lake and continue to enjoy the calmness and smells of the forest. Once back at the gravel road, follow it back towards the parking area as you cross back over the bridge and make the final few steps of your return.
Skookumchuck Narrows hike stats
Elevation: pretty much none
Best time to view the narrows
The best time to visit the narrows is documented in this tide schedule. You don’t need to be there at the precise time. There’s a 30 minute window each side.
When you get off the ferry at Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast one of the closest hikes is Soames Hill. This 2.6km loop, located in Shirley Macey Park, gives you great views across to the mainland and of Keats Island. It’s pretty easy to begin with but finishes with a lot of stairs.
The hike up to the top of Soames Hill is pretty similar to hiking Pender Hill in terms of difficulty. But, since they’re at opposite ends of the Lower Sunshine Coast the views are a bit different!
Hiking Soames Hill
There are several different spots for accessing the trail for Soames Hill.
Start at Bridgeman Road and walk past the yellow gate. Follow the yellow trail into the forest. The forest is full of moss and ferns as is typical of the beautiful west coast.
Watch for a sign at a junction and head left onto the green trail. The green trail then heads up some stairs and then turns into switchbacks as you climb up the hillside.
The trail begins to level out and you get to a junction. Turn right and follow the trail for a short while over to a viewpoint. This view looks out towards Keats Island. It’s a good place to take in the views, but the best are still to come!
Continue back to where you left the main trail and this time continue going up the steep trail. You’ll soon come to a final viewpoint that looks out towards Keats Island and the town of Gibsons.
Follow the trail back downhill the way you came, being careful as you step on the slippery rock.
If you’re travelling up the Sunshine Coast make sure you leave time for a couple of hikes. Pender Hill will only take about an hour in total and the views of Hotel Lake and beyond are well worth it.
Hiking to Pender Hill
From the parking area you’ll see a small trail and a sign which points you off up into the forest. The trail quickly begins to climb and becomes steeper and steeper. There are no trail markers but the trail is well trodden so it’s not hard to stick to.
You’ll then come across a split in the path. It doesn’t matter which route you take since they met up again very quickly. Follow the path continue hiking uphill. In a few minutes you’ll come out of the forest and find a large rock in front of you. This is the top of Pender Hill!
Up here there’s a bench to rest and take in the views.
However, walk past the peak and go downhill towards the left where you’ll get an incredible view of Hotel Lake. If you head towards the right then you’ll get views of the Georgia Strait.
Follow the path the way you came to make your way back downhill.
Pender Hill hike stats
Difficulty: Easy Time: about 1 hour
How to get to the Pender Hill trailhead
If you’re travelling down highway 101 then turn onto Garden Bay Road. Keep an eye out for the road to Irvings Landing and follow the road as you pass both Mixal and Hotel lakes.
Turn right onto Lee Road and continue uphill to the right. Here there’s a small cul-de-sac on the right with space to park.
The Sunshine Coast is surprisingly close to downtown Vancouver. Just a 40 minute ferry across from Horseshoe Bay and you’re on the Sunshine Coast where everything moves a little slower and there are lakes and provincial parks all over the place.
We spent our Easter weekend exploring the Sunshine Coast and I’m sure we’ll be back for more exploring since it’s so easy to get to from Vancouver.
Another bonus is that it’s not only quicker, but so much cheaper to get there than Vancouver Island. Win win!
If you’re planning a trip there, here’s what to do on the Sunshine Coast in BC.
About BC’s Sunshine Coast
The Sunshine Coast runs for 180km and can be split into two parts. There’s the first part (the Lower Sunshine Coast) from Gibsons (where the ferry from Horseshoe Bay dock) to Earls Cove. This is the section we explored during our three day Easter weekend.
Then there’s the second part from Saltery Bay to Lund. The second half is perhaps even more quiet than the first since it requires a second ferry to get there.
Whilst the Sunshine Coast is part of the BC mainland you can’t drive there and must get a ferry or place. You could easily explore the whole of the Sunshine Coast in a three day weekend, we took things slower so that we could hike and kayak.
What to do on the Sunshine Coast
Hiking & outdoors activities on the Sunshine Coast
There is such much hiking to be done on the Sunshine Coast. Here are some of the best places for outdoors adventures.
Soames Hill is a popular, and relatively easy, hike right near where the ferry drops you off at Gibsons. The hikes starts off pretty flat but then you’ll come across several flights of stairs as you make your final climb up to Soames Hill. Here you’ll be greeted with incredible views of Howe Sound out to Bowen Island, Keats Island and the BC mainland.
Further north on the Sunshine Coast is Pender Hill. This is another relatively short and easy hike. From the summit you’ll be able to see out towards Vancouver Island but the best part of the view is looking down onto Hotel Lake.
Skookumchuck Narrows should be on everyone’s list of things to do on the Sunshine Coast. Twice a day the narrows turn into the perfect spot for kayakers to take on the rapids which sometimes exceed 9ft in height!
The water moves incredibly fast and it’s well worth making the easy, forested 4km out to this spot!
Kayaking on Sakinaw Lake
There’s an abundance of lakes to visit on the Sunshine Coast but one of our favourites ended up being Sakinaw Lake. We pushed our kayaks onto the lake and paddled around before finding a spot for a picnic.
There are many incredible houses along the shore and I imagine the lake gets pretty busy during summer. But, on Easter weekend we only saw two other people out on the lake.
Smugglers Cove Marine Park
Smugglers Cove Marine Park, so called because smugglers used to go through here during Prohibition, is absolutely beautiful.
Aim to get there early so that you have the park mostly to yourself. Walk around the park and take in the beautiful cove’s views and silence.
Swimming at Ruby Lake
Ruby Lake has a small beach area which makes it popular with people wanting to swim in lakes on the Sunshine Coast. It’s also incredibly beautiful at sunset. You’ll see why it’s called Ruby Lake anyway!
Drive slowly along the coast and pull in when you see ‘Beach Access’ signs
When we return to the Sunshine Coast I’m planning to drive slower and pull over at some of the numerous beach access points along the road. I bet there are some fantastic hidden gems!
Willow Point Beach Access
We found this spot when looking for somewhere to camp and ended up walking around this little sandbar. It’s not big by any means but it’s a beautiful place to watch the sunset!
Trail running & waterfall chasing at Cliff Gilker Park
On the last day of our stay I went for a run around Cliff Gilker Park. There are several short and easy trails through the park and so many waterfalls! It’s great fun to explore for an hour or so.
This beach is as you first come into Gibsons from the east. There’s a walkway along side it and it’s a good place to watch boats coming and going.
Mount Elphinstone Provincial Park
Mount Elphinstone is one of the highest peaks (1260m) on the lower Sunshine Coast. You climb up through second growth forest and are then greeted by views once you’re about three quarters of the way to the top. At the summit you can see all the way over to Vancouver on a clear day!
Food and drink on the Sunshine Coast
Gibsons Public Market
Gibsons Public Market is a little off the main road in Gibsons but worth visiting. It’s full of delicious foodie treats and also has an small aquarium on the upper floor too.
Gibsons Tapworks is a microbrewery that sells all kinds of ales and IPAs. They also hold plenty of events during the week to bring the local community together. There are trivia nights, live music evenings and on Tuesdays they’ll refill your growler for just $11!
Strait Coffee roast their own beans and serve them with delicious sandwiches, wraps and more at their cafe. Well worth stopping in for breakfast, lunch or both!
The Wobbly Canoe in Davis Bay
The Wobbly Canoe is a bit of a renowned stop on the lower Sunshine Coast. They serve locally sourced food along with craft beers and they do it well. Pop in for classics and sharing plates.
The Basted Baker in Sechelt
A super popular breakfast and brunch spot, The Basted Baker makes delicious eggs Benedict on biscuits (not the English version of a biscuit!). Get there early to get a seat!
The Bricker Cider Company
If you’re more of a cider lover than a beer lover then head over to The Bricker Cider Company. They make some delicious sounding ciders such as Peaches & Cream and Cherry.
Unfortunately they were closed when we wanted to visit but I’m sure we’ll go there someday soon!
Mad Park Bistro
We stopped here for lunch on our drive back down to Gibsons and loved the relaxed atmosphere of Mad Park Bistro. We had the dragon bowl and the pasta and both were delicious!
Sunset drinks at Lighthouse Marine Pub
There aren’t many places that can beat the view from the terrace of the Lighthouse Marine Pub. It’s the ideal spot to watch the sun setting with a drink!
Persephone Brewing in Gibsons have a great reputation for beer in Vancouver. Their brewing is on a working farm and there’s plenty of space to sit outside with your growler and eat some fresh baked pizza from their pizza oven. Or, if you’re after a tasting flight, sit indoors and play some games with friends.
How to get to the Sunshine Coast from Vancouver
The easiest and cheapest way is to take the ferry from Horseshoe Bay. BC Ferries depart from Horseshoe Bay throughout the day, every day and the crossing takes just 40 minutes.
Book in advance online (especially if you’re planning to visit the Sunshine Coast on a long weekend).
Add my Sunshine Coast recommendations to your Google Maps App!
The bears are waking up from hibernation as we speak. And, after months of sleeping they’re pretty skinny and hungry. The Grouse Mountain bears woke up a few weeks ago and those in the wild are beginning to be seen out and about too. Whilst most bears stay away from humans, it’s a good idea to be prepared and know what to do should you encounter a bear in the wild. Here are a few tips on how to stay bear safe in the backcountry.
Why it’s important to know how to act around bears
Apart from the obvious (avoiding bear attacks) there are several reasons why it’s important to stay bear safe. The more we know how to live with bears, the less chance they have of becoming accustomed to humans. This avoids both humans and bears being harmed.
If you live in Vancouver, you live in bear country. The mountains, forest, parks and even housing areas are perfect for curious bears searching for food.
Bears move from place to place in search of food. That’s one of the many reasons that the ‘Leave No Trace’ principals are so important. If you leave rubbish and food scraps behind bears move in. This can lead to the closure of trails and beautiful places (like Keyhole hot springs) and deaths (both you and the bears).
What type of bear will I see?
The areas surrounding Vancouver are home to both black bears and grizzly bears.
It’s more likely that you’ll come across a black bear than a grizzle bear. Grizzly bears tend to stay further away in the wilderness than black bears. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll never see one. Especially if you’re hiking and camping in the backcountry away from the more popular trails.
Grizzly bears: Grizzly bears are the bigger of the two and arguably the more dangerous. Male grizzly bears can grow to be between 180kg and 360kg (so huge!).
Black bears: In comparison, black bears are a bit smaller. An average adult male will probably be around 110kg.
We saw a couple of black bears in Washington State but from the relative safety of our van Elvis. It was amazing to see them out in the wild but I’m not in any rush to come across them whilst out hiking.
How to limit the chances of a bear encounter whilst adventuring
There are several things to do to keep bear safe whilst our hiking and exploring the Canadian wilderness. Here are a few tips that will help keep the bears at bay.
Make Noise: Make noise such as clapping, singing or talking to your fellow hikers. Bears will generally avoid humans so let them know you’re there by being loud.
Wear a bear bell: Attach a small bear bell to your backpack to let bears know you’re around.
Watch for fresh bear signs: Keep an eye out for fresh bear scat, tracks, scratches on trees, smashed logs and overturned boulders. These are signs that there are bears in the area so up the volume of your conversation.
Keep your dog on a leash or nearby
Avoid wearing headphones: Keep your wits about you and avoid wearing headphones so you can hear what’s going on around you.
Avoid wearing strong perfumes
Hike as part of a group
Be alert where bears may not be able to see, hear or smell you: this includes areas such as switchbacks, near water or when the wind is at your face
What to pack to stay bear safe while in the backcountry
The following items can help should you encounter a bear
Even if you do come across a bear while out hiking, it’s important to remember to stay calm. Bear attacks are uncommon. Here are a few things you should do when encountering a bear.
Stand still and quickly asses the situation.
Speak to the bear in a calm, firm voice but avoid direct eye contact. This helps to identify you as human. If the bear hasn’t become habituated to humans, this should be enough for them to turn around and leave.
If the bear isn’t approaching you then back away slowly while facing him as you speak.
DO NOT run. This may trigger the bear into chasing you.
Get your bear spray ready and know how to use it (see below).
DO NOT try and climb a tree. Bears are excellent (and fast) climbers!
If a black bear approaches
Stand your ground and make a lot of noise. Black bears often bluff when attacking. If you show them you mean business, they may just lose interest.
If the black bear actually attacks, fight back. Use anything and everything as a weapon. This could be rocks, sticks, fists, bear spray or your teeth. Aim your blows on the bear’s face; particularly at the eyes and snout. When a black bear sees that their victim is willing to fight to the death, they’ll usually just give up
If a grizzly bear approaches:
If the bear charges you, stand your ground (you will not be able to outrun it).
If the grizzly charges to within 25 feet of where you’re standing, use your spray.
If the animal makes contact, curl up into a ball on your side, or lie flat on your stomach. Try not to panic; remain as quiet as possible until the attack ends. Grizzly bears will stop attacking when they feel there’s no longer a threat. If they think you’re dead, they won’t think you’re threatening.
Be sure the bear has left the area before getting up to seek help. Grizzly bears are known to hang around to see if their victim gets back up.
How to use bear spray properly
Even if you’ve remembered to buy and take bear spray with you on your hike it’s no use if you don’t know how to use it. Practice using your bear spray before (even if just a .5 second spray) so you feel confident should you come across a bear. This should include knowing exactly how to get it out of your bag. It’s no good it being at the bottom of your backpack! You can buy holsters to put your bear spray in for easy access along with bear spray that doesn’t contain the pepper which is useful for practicing.
If a bear is charging, you should begin spraying when it gets within 12m/40ft. This way the bear will run into the fog. If there is a strong wind it may be better to wait until the bear is a little closer.
Aim for the bears face or create a cloud that the bear has to run through to get to you.
REMEMBER: Bear attacks are extremely rare so don’t let them ruing your face. However, it’s good to be prepared to help you stay bear safe!
Getaway from Vancouver for a day with this spring road trip itinerary. This is the rote I followed on a Sunday road trip with a friend. There are additional ideas at the bottom of this post for more things to do in the Fraser Valley if you’d like to spend a little longer there.
About the Fraser Valley
The Fraser Valley is just one hour east of Vancouver. The valley encompasses the towns of Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack. It also stretches towards Hope. Getting to the Fraser Valley is super easy and there is so much to do when you’re there.
On this particular road trip, we made the most of the sunshine and stuck to outdoors activities. Read on to find out where we went on our Fraser Valley road trip.
Fraser Valley day trip itinerary
8am: Leave Vancouver
Leave Vancouver stopping for a Timmie’s on the way out. This wouldn’t be a Canadian road trip without one! Although I’ve yet to meet a Canadian who admits to liking Tim Hortons despite them always being packed!
Head east on HWY1/TransCanada.
Stop 1: Tulips of the Valley in Chilliwack
Your first stop on this Fraser Valley road trip is the Tulips of the Valley tulip festival just outside of Chilliwack. The festival is currently on until 6th May so get there quick!
Getting here early is best as it’s a pretty popular stop in Spring.
After taking in the beautiful blooms at the Chilliwack Tulips festival, rejoin HWY1 eastbound for 27km/19 minutes.
Bridal Veil Falls sit in a provincial park with a picnic area and some woodland trails. The trail to the falls takes only about 15 minutes and it’s worthwhile to see these impressive falls. You’ll definitely see why it’s called Bridal Veil!
There is a small wooded platfrom from which you can view the falls from. You can also climb the rocky terrain to get closer to the fall. If you do this, be careful as it’s very slippy.
Exit: 135 Bridal Falls Rd.
Stop 3: The Ladner Creek Trestle
Get back on HWY1 eastbound towards Hope and then join BC-5 Northbound. Stop off for lunch on the way to the Ladner Creek Trestle, or stop somewhere scenic if you’ve brought a picnic with you!
The Ladner Creek Trestle involves a short, but steep, hike. The old railway bridge is pretty unusual (although there are others in BC). I think they look awesome!
Exit: 202/Portia then take the U-turn route (full instructions here).
Stop 4: The Othello Tunnels
The last stop of the day on this Fraser Valley Road trip is the Othello Tunnels. The Othello Tunnels are just 15 minutes away heading back west on BC5 towards Hope and Vancouver.
The Othello Tunnels, like the Ladner Creek Trestle, also form part of the Kettle Valley Railway. These incredible tunnels go right trough the Coquihalla Canyon and are vey impressive. There are two short hiking routes you can take to see the tunnels.
Check out my blog post about the Othello Tunnels here.
Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get outside. Sure, it can be harder to motivate yourself but there are some great hikes in and around Vancouver that are perfect for rainy days. One of these rainy day hikes is the hike out to the Big Cedar and Kennedy Falls in North Vancouver. Since you’re in amongst the trees you stay relatively dry and it doesn’t matter if it’s misty as you’ll still be able to see the waterfall!
About the Big Cedar & Kennedy Falls Trail
The trail to the Big Cedar and Kennedy Falls is up on Vancouver’s North Shore on Mount Fromme. Once you get to the trailhead you’ll realise that you’re in mountain biking land. Chances are the car park will be full of pickups and mountain bikers will be popping out of the forests here and there.
On this trail you’ll come across an absolutely massive, 600+ year old red cedar tree. At this point you can turn around or you can continue on to Kennedy Falls. When we hiked this trail in March it was pretty quiet and we only saw a few people. I imagine it’s a bit busier in the summer but it’s still one of the quieter trails on the North Shore.
The trail is accessible all year round but expect some snow during winter. In mid-March there was still quite a bit of snow in places but it’s still hikeable with good shoes.
Hiking to the Big Cedar & Kennedy Falls
The trail to Big Cedar is quite rough and there are lots of roots and a few creek crossings to navigate. That’s what makes it fun! Make sure to keep an eye out for ribbons and trail markers up on the trees so as not to loose your way.
There’s a big parking lot up at the trail head now but this was closed when we visited in March. You can park along the road but make sure you’re not parked by one of the many no parking signs.
To the Big Cedar
Take the trail that leads into the forest (where you’ll likely see many people pushing their mountain bikes). Walk this trail for about 500m and you’ll come to a switchback. There is a gravel trail that drops down to your right which is marked as the Cedar Tree Trail. Follow this trail as it crosses a little bridge and keep an eye out for the trail markers from here on in.
You’ll soon come across the first creek crossing and pass through the forest onto a rocky path. The trail is quite flat but there are a few steep up and down sections. A rope has been put in place in one part to help you navigate down a rock.
After about 1.5 hours you’ll come to the Big Cedar Tree. This was one of the only trees not to be logged in the area and is guessed at being 600 years old.
To Kennedy Falls
To continue from here to the falls you head northward and climb up hill. The route winds through the forest and then opens up and passes through an old landslide. Continue down through the rocky section and then up and over a small mound to where you can see Kennedy Falls just up to the left.
Follow the same route you came to make your way back. After a few hours you’ll probably start seeing the mountain bikers again and you’ll know you’re back in the right place!
Difficulty: Moderate; uneven terrain
Time: 3-4 hours
Distance from Vancouver: About 30 minutes by car. Also accessible by bus
Another place on my BC bucket list that exists solely in my head and grows everyday, were the Othello Tunnels. The Othello Tunnels are just north of Hope (about 1.5 hours east of Vancouver) and combined perfectly with the Chilliwack Tulip Festival and the Ladner Creek Trestle.
Thom and I had driven past them before. First in October on our way to Penticton and the Okanagan, and then again over Christmas on our way to Revelstoke. However, the trail had been closed for winter both times.
On a recent and spontaneous road trip with a friend we stopped off at the Othello Tunnels since most of the snow had gone.
About the Othello Tunnels
The Othello Tunnels form part of the Coquihalla Canyon Recreation Area. They’re in a scenic area of the Cascade Mountains and while exploring the tunnels you’ll see a beautiful river canyon and forest.
The tunnels were created in the early 1900s when it was decided that a railway was needed to connect the Kootenay region with the coast. This railway became known as the Kettle Valley Railway which, whilst no longer in use, is still a popular hiking and cycling route.
The trickiest part of the railway was the Coquihalla gorge. It was decided that a straight line of tunnels could be dug through the rock creating what we know today as the Othello Tunnels.
The chief engineer, McCulloch, was a fan of Shakespeare and so many of the stations along the railway were named after Shakespeare’s characters. The tunnels in the Coquihalla Canyon were near the Othello station – thus, Othello Tunnels.
Once finished the railway ran between Vancouver and Nelson but was plagued with snow and rockslides. On November 23, 1959, a washout was reported and was considered too large to fix. The railway was abandoned in July of 1961 and the tunnels and surrounding area became a provincial park in 1998.
Hiking to the Othello Tunnels
There are a couple of different hiking routes you can do once you get to the parking lot for the Othello Tunnels. You can either take a short 2.8km hike to the end of the tunnels and back. Or, you can take the tunnel loop hike which is about 5.5km.
Since we tacked a visit to the Othello Tunnels on to a pretty jam packed day, we opted for the shorter 2.8km hike to the end of the four tunnels and back.
From the parking lot, follow the signs ‘To the tunnels’ alongside the Coquihalla River. Before long you’ll see the first tunnel. Walking through this tunnel plunges you into darkness for a while. You’ll then come outside for a short while before the second tunnel.
After leaving the second tunnel you’ll cross a bridge. Here you can see the roaring Coquihalla River below. Tunnel 3 sees you cross another bridge before heading through tunnel #4 where the trail ends.
Othello Tunnels hiking stats
Time: 1 hour
Distance from Vancouver: About 2 hours
Longer Othello Tunnels hike
From the parking lot, head north west and follow signs that say ‘Tunnels Loop’. The longer loop hike takes you up through some beautiful forest and ends with the Othello Tunnels. Most visitors to the Othello Tunnels take the shorter hike, so the loop route is a good way to escape crowds and explore more of the surrounding area.
Longer hike stats
Time: 1-2 hours
Distance from Vancouver: About 2 hours
How to get to the Othello Tunnels from Vancouver
From Vancouver take exit #183 Othello Road on the Coquihalla Highway. Once you’ve taken the exit the road follows underneath the highway and continues west along Othello Road. Follow this road for about 3km and bear left onto Tunnel Road signposted ‘Coquihalla Provincial Park’.
Everyone loves a good cherry blossom, right? When the trees start to turn pink and you finally get a glimpse of the summer to come it makes you forget about all those dark winter days and endless rain. Vancouver loves the cherry blossom season so much that there’s even a whole Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival! If you want to find out where to get that instagram picture of the cherry blossom in Vancouver, then keep on reading for everything you need to know about the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.
What is the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival
The festival is effectively a celebration of spring and pretty blossom. In Vancouver there are around 40,000 cherry blossom trees so you’re bound to spot some around the city without even trying!
When is the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival?
The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival takes place from March until mid-April – basically from when the trees start to bloom until they no longer are.
The official Cherry Blossom Festival takes places from March 30th to April 23rd which just means there’s some extra events (apart from spotting cherry blossom) going on during this time.
How can I find the cherry blossoms in bloom
There are several ways to find the best cherry blossom during the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.
Just go for a walk around our beautiful city and you’re bound to stumble upon some cherry blossoms.
Check the festival website
Alternatively, you can check the “Blooming Now” map which is kept up to date by the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. This is a great place to check if you’re taking your cherry blossom hunt to the next level.
Use social media
You could also keep an eye on social media and see where your fellow instagrammers are posting their cherry blossom pictures from.
Where are the best places to spot cherry blossom in Vancouver?
It depends on the year as to where the best cherry blossom is. However there are certain areas of Vancouver where you’re more likely to be impressed by cherry blossoms than others. Here are some top picks for spotting cherry blossom in Vancouver.
End of Howe by Ancora restaurant and the Yacht Club downtown
Hamilton Street near the Vancouver Public Library
Seabreeze between Hornby and Howe
Beach & Thurlow
David Lam Park
Marinaside and Davie (by the houses on the seawall)
Burrard Skytrain Station
Waterfront Plaza by 200 Granville
Coal Harbour, Waterfront
Robson Street (side streets west of Thurlow)
W 4th Avenue (Cornwall Avenue and Yew Street)
The West End up and down Gilford Street
VanDusen Botanical Garden
Queen Elizabeth Park
What happens during the Vancouver Cherry Blossom?
There are several different events that take place during the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival to celebrate Spring and the blooming of these beautiful trees. For the 2018 Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival you can expect the following events.
Cherry Jam Downtown
The festival opens with the free Cherry Jam at Burrard Skytrain station from 12pm – 1:30pm on April 5th. The Cherry Jam features local musicians, dancers and poets reading the winners of the Haiku Invitational.
Bike The Blossoms
This free cycling events takes place on 28th April from 11am – 1pm and begins at Trout Lake. The bicycle route changes every year but is usually just over 10km long and you’ll spot plenty of blossom along the way!
This year you’ll also be able to get some advice on anti-bike-theft measures to make it harder to have your bicycle taken from you, and easier to get back!
Sign your waiver in advance online, otherwise go along at 10am to get it signed on the day. You may also print your waiver here and bring it on the day of the event: Click here
Spring Lights Illumination
Head down to Queen Elizabeth Park as the sunsets for this free Spring Lights Illumination event on 14th April as part of the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.
Queen Elizabeth Park will be illuminated with projections and mult icoloured lanterns. If you’re a keen photographer then you’ll be pleased to know that the light show has been set up to minimise obstructed views. Pack a picnic (pray for good weather), and have a great time!
The Big Picnic
Between 12pm – 3pm on 14th April you’ll be able to join in on a big community picnic at Queen Elizabeth Park. It’s the perfect place to enjoy the cherry blossoms as Queen Elizabeth Park is full of them!
The Cherry Blossom Festival provides a free, interconnecting Petal Mat which you and your new friends can sit upon.
If you forgot to swing by the shops on the way over, then you can grab some lunch from the Tacofino truck that’ll be on site.
There will also be extra activities taking place including; walking meditation, Kabuki face-painting, dancing, singing, huge jenga, ultimate frisbee and even a free yoga class between 12:30 – 1:15pm!
Will you be heading to the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival?