One of the places I have wanted to go since almost the beginning of when I got here, is Lighthouse Park. The kilometer squared park is situated on West Vancouver and comprises of nearly 20 different routes to explore. Although called a park, Lighthouse Park is more of a forest than park. There are Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock and Western Redcedar trees towering overhead, the trails are pretty rocky, and the songs of different birds echoe around like you’re in the middle of nowhere.
After making my way from Downtown Vancouver, taking the 250 bus towards Horseshoe Bay, I got off at Beacon Lane. Getting off the bus I wondered if I had gotten off at the right place as there was no obvious sign for the park and all I was surrounded by was country lanes that reminded me very much of growing up in Cornwall, UK.
Thankfully there were a couple of ladies who also got off the bus at the same time and looked dressed for walking so I decided to follow them as they set off on a march down the road. After a few hundred yards my hopeful followings were rewarded as I caught glimpse of the Lighthouse Park welcoming board.
From entering the park I made my way hrough the car park and picked up a map before setting off on my way. I’d already decided before coming here I was going to go to see the lighthouse, afterall it was how the park got its name. I set off on the Beacon Lane Trail, which is the most direct route to the lighthouse viewpoint.
Aside from getting me to my initial destination quicker it also had the added benefit of washrooms en route. FYI when they say washroom they mean toilet and toilet paper in what can only be described as a hut reminiscent of toilet houses people used to have in their gardens before it became common for indoor bathrooms. They are definitely clean enough but a hand santiser spray might be a nice addition to them as there is no sink to wash your hands.
Anyway off down the trail I go and quickly I became very grateful I had my walking boots on because the trail became pretty steep. Word of warning for people with children, if they need pushing around in a stroller be prepared to push it up some pretty hefty hills. Also some of the routes will be out of bounds as there is no way you’ll get a stroller up them due to the rockiness. If you can carry children on your back that’s great or better still if they can walk themselves then all the better.
Quite quickly into the walk I started to get lost in the songs of the different birds. I would also catch the odd squirrel making a run for it, face stuffed with whatever yummy bits they’d found to take back to their nests. Going through the park there are a number of boards telling you about the flaura, fauna, birds and animals that call this park home. Sadly the number has declined somewhat over the years but the array of wildlife is still impressive.
At the bottom of the Beacon Lane Trail you end up at a driveway to a house. At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking you have taken a wrong turn but fear not there is a byway sign on the wall that lets you know it is okay to enter. Walking into the driveway it literally is walking into someone’s house, albeit a very nice house. At the bottom of the drive you turn the corner and there she is, the lighthouse in all her glory. Unfortunately, you can’t go all the way up to it and walk around the base but the view you get is still pretty impressive. There is also a second viewing platform to see the lighthouse from so you get a pretty good overall view of her.
After exiting the driveway, and topping my water bottle up at one of the water fountains dotted around the park, I set off on the East Beach Trail. As the name suggests it does lead to a beach, although it’s somewhat of a rocky trek down to it. Personally, I wasn’t feeling the need to go actually on to the beach but I did take 10 minutes to enjoy the view and take a few photos. The views are spectacular from here. You can see two tidal currents running into each other, container ships moored across the bay, and the best bit, the whole of Vancouver’s Downtown, including Stanley Park and the Lions Gate Bridge that connects Downtown Vancouver to North and West Vancouver.
Once done soaking in the view I was all geared up for another trail. This time I decided I wanted to take in the western part of the park and so I set off on the Severn Sisters Trail.
Along the way there are numerous other trails coming off it but I decided to keep going as I wasn’t feeling the love for some of the trails that looked pretty steep and rocky. About halfway up, and after plenty of huffing and puffing I decided to catch my breathe and stop for some more water.
While my head was burried reading the map and the information about the park I heard rustling coming from behind me and off to the right. After a minute or so a rather large racoon going about his daily business emerged from behind the trees. He walked past me not more than 5 feet away and he seemed perfectly happy by my presence.
Over the next few minutes I watched as he wandered off down the path. I really enjoyed watching him in his natural habitat. Racoons aren’t particularly uncommon in Vancouver but it’s only the third time I have seen one out of a zoo so I was quite happy to have been there for this little guys passing through.
About another 10 minutes of walking and I was at the next decision making point, whether to take the Juniper Point Trail or just take the tail end of Juniper Loop and head back to the beginning . I already knew from coming into the park that this loop ends up right at the beginning of the car park so I knew I had pretty much gotten back to the beginning so I decided to take the trail off to Juniper Point. When I got to Juniper Point I was not disappointed by the views.
At the point you can see all the way across to Bowen Island, as well as Horseshoe Bay and Vancouver Island. The views are stunning and made the walk down the rocky path all the worthwhile. The trek back up was less favourable but there wasn’t much choice in going back the way I had come.
From Juniper Point I decided to make my way back to the car park and conclude my trip to Lighthouse Park. I could have easily gone back along several of the trails and taken different routes or gone off to the Eastern side of the park but I decided my walking was done for the day, especially as I am planning to go to my first lake tomorrow!
Overall Lighthouse Park was a great experience. The walk was challenging enough to get a good sweat on, the views were pretty spectacular and there is definitely plenty left to go back and explore again. I would certainly recommend you go and check it out, just keep in mind what I mentioned earlier if you have small children.