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Where to go trail running in Vancouver (without a car)

March 21, 2018

Found in Activities, Travel and places

Want to start trail running near Vancouver and don’t own a car? No problem. Check out these 7 beautiful trail running spots you can get to by transit or A-to-B car share options. Double-check the one-way car share parking zones before you go, in case they update the locations (and of course, two-way car shares are also an option).

Bring your favourite run buddy with you to hit the trails and remember to get set with the trail essentials for safety. A couple of useful resources include the North Shore Trail Map and the Vancouver Trail Running book.

1. Lighthouse Park

This West Van park is off the radar of many Vancouver runners, but it’s full of mossy old-growth forest and winding trails that pop you out to amazing ocean views… and yep, there’s a lighthouse. Keep an eye out for rock climbers on the cliffs at Juniper Point. There are lots of forks in the trail network to explore, so keep your phone handy or bring a map to plan a loop or two.

  • Transit to the trails: The 250 bus stop at Marine Drive and Beacon Lane is less than a 5-minute walk from the park trailheads.
  • Good to know: Washrooms are available. Off-leash dogs are allowed, as long as they’re under control. Find maps and more info on the Lighthouse Park site.

2. Pacific Spirit Regional Park

You like hills? This park has hills. You like huge trees? This park has huge trees. You like bogs? This park has a bog (and it’s likely cooler than you realize). Pacific Spirit is loaded with nature and more than 70km of trails. Multiple transit options along the park’s edges mean it’s a prime spot for a point-to-point route if you and your run crew are bussing.

  • Transit to the trails: Lots of options, depending on where you want to start and end. Buses run along SW Marine Drive, 16th Avenue, Chancellor Boulevard and University Boulevard.
  • Evo: Designated spots at UBC and the edge of the park along Blanca and Camosun are in the home zones for both.
  • Good to know: Washrooms are available. Dogs are allowed; some trails are off-leash while others are leash-required. Find maps and more info on the Pacific Spirit Regional Park site.

“It’s incredible how much mileage and elevation you can get in at Pacific Spirit and Stanley Park with a big network of loops and side trails. You can also add some technical elements with dodging dogs, children, and umbrellas.” – Kim M., MEC member

3. Stanley Park

A classic. I’m always surprised by the number of locals who’ve run the seawall around the park, but have never ventured into the park to run on the forested trails. Some of my favourites include a loop around Beaver Lake, especially when the waterlilies are blooming, or a zip down North Creek trail. You and your run buddy can’t go wrong with any of the marked routes and the park is surrounded by Park Drive, which is helpful if you’re still building your map reading skills.

  • Transit to the trails: The 19 bus goes to the bus loop in the park. You can take any bus that stops at Georgia and Denman, and warm up with a loop of Lost Lagoon before you hit up Cathedral, Rawlings or Tatlow trails near North Lagoon Drive.
  • Evo: The West End neighbourhood next to the park is a home area for both.
  • Good to know: Washrooms available. On-leash dogs allowed on the trails. Find maps and more info on the Stanley Park site.

4. Capilano River Regional Park

Capilano River Regional Park often gets overshadowed by the nearby North Shore mountains. But I’m always impressed with just how gnarly this little trail zone can be. The terrain is steep in sections and the maze of trails is a good practice for runners working on their navigation skills. Start near the main trailhead for a classic Cleveland Dam photo opp, or if you want a longer run (and a hill workout), start at Ambleside Park and climb the Capilano Pacific Trail – it lands you in smack dab in the middle of the park.

  • Transit to the trails: Buses run along Capilano Road and stop near the main park entrance near Clement Drive, and the south park entrance near Mt. Crown Road.
  • Good to know: Washrooms are available. Dogs are allowed; some trails are off-leash while others are leash-required. Find maps and more info on the Capilano River Regional Park site.

5. Hyannis Drive trailhead

Not an official park, but the Hyannis trailhead is a key transit-accessible starting point for tons of trail running routes on Mount Seymour. Head east or west along the Baden Powell Trail, or go north along Hyannis Trail to enter this popular network of North Shore trails. Most trails are multi-use (keep your ears open for mountain bikers) and many have cool wooden features or stonework, thanks to the dedicated team of trail builders on the Shore.

  • Transit to the trails: For the Hyannis Drive trailhead, the 214 bus stops at Berkley Ave and Hyannis Drive. You can grab the 214 bus from Phibbs Exchange.
  • Good to know: No washrooms available. Dogs are allowed on most trails, but there are some trails in Lower Seymour where dogs aren’t permitted. Find more info on the Lower Seymour site and maps on TrailForks.

“I love anything and everything on Seymour. Fabulous mountain bikers are constantly adding to an already amazing network of trails. Also, because I’m typically up at dawn, I’m not in anyone’s way.” – Kim M., MEC member

6. Lynn Headwaters

An excellent option to get to know the North Shore trails. Start at End of the Line General Store (tasty coffee and snacks make it a popular meeting spot) and head north on Rice Lake Road to Varley Trail. Varley follows the river and spits you out at Lynn Headwaters Park. Choose from the shorter Lynn Loop, or extend your run to the Third Debris Chute before you loop back. On a hot summer day, soak your feet in a shallow, calm section of the river as you return along the Varley Trail.

  • Transit: The 209, 210 and 228 buses all stop a short walk from End of the Line.
  • Good to know: Paying customers of End the Line may use their washroom (it’s a super nice bathroom). Dogs are allowed on the Lynn Loop, but some sections are leash-required. Find more info on the Lynn Headwaters Regional Park site.

7. Lower Seymour and Rice Lake

Another option on Seymour, but from a different trailhead than Hyannis. Plan a route that starts near the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre to incorporate the suspension bridge into your day. Rice Lake is a beginner-friendly trail running spot to include, and the Seymour Valley Trailway is fully paved for a unique road running experience surrounded by the forest. Want a good hill workout instead? Homestead Trail is a tough uphill to try.

  • Transit to the trails: The 227 bus stops at Peters Road and Duval Road, which is a 4-minute walk from the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre. You can grab the 227 bus from Phibbs Exchange. You could also start at End of the Line General Store – see notes in the Lynn Headwaters section above.
  • Good to know: Public washrooms are available at the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre. Dogs are allowed in some areas, but some sections are no dogs (like Rice Lake or the Seymour Valley Trailway) or are leash-required. Find maps and more info on the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve site.

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