30 September 2017

Capilano Suspension Bridge & Capilano River Regional Park , Vancouver

On our 4th day in Vancouver we decided to head out and visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge park. It was one of the only things we spent money on during our time there and unfortunately it was a tiny little bit of a let down - for a few reasons! All in all I am glad we went, the scenery and views were amazing but it is a bit of a tourist trap. We paid about 45 CA$ each and it was just too much in my opinion for what it was. The main reasoning behind this is that straight after our visit we walked 10-15 minutes up the road to the Capilano River Regional Park which is a free park with loads of hiking trails, which was much more enjoyable. 

I will list the pros and cons of the Capilano Suspension Bridge on this post, before going into details about the Capilano River Regional Park. Enjoy!

There are 3 different 'attractions' at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park: The Bridge, The Cliff Walk, and The Treetops. It took us about 2 hours to cover the whole park. 

I would describe the park as very commercial - everything has been set-up to give visitors a safe, guided visit, which in my opinion left little room for adventure. I may sound a bit brutal here but it was hard to overlook the many visitors who looked at everything through their cameras. It was such a contrast to the wilderness that it was hard to ignore. Such is the nature of a tourist hot-spot, so if you are thinking of going just expect alot of selfies and a bit of waiting as people get that perfect shot. 

On a positive note, the park was very informative and offered some incredible views of the area. The treetop adventure offered stunning views and put in to perspective the sheer grandeur of the trees. It is quite high up as you can imagine, so I wouldn't recommend doing it (or any of the park) if you're not too fond of heights. You have to keep in mind that to get to the treetop walk you need to cross the very wobbly suspension bridge. The cliff walk, a very narrow bridge, also offers beautiful views. You also need to keep in mind that some trees shield your view and it is very narrow, meaning that you can't stop and take pictures mid-bridge. 

With all that being said, it is still a great opportunity for families with young kids to see the landscape in a safe environment without having to worry about cliff edges or the risk of running into bears. Each walk was different from the last and offered a different perspective on the area. The views from all of them were incredible and I'll never forget crossing that unnerving bridge. I just don't think it was worth that money when amazing views were to be found only 15 mins away for free (and with hardly any people!). The shuttle service was great - informative drivers and kind staff, free travel there and back to Downtown Vancouver.

(One thing I did really love: the veggie burger I had at the park. It was one of the BEST I have ever had and I would kill for one right now!)

Now that we've covered the Suspension Bridge, let's discuss the awe-inspiring beauty that is the Capilano River Regional Park. We walked out of the first park at around 1:30pm and I was a little moody, fed up about the number of tourists and how we couldn't exactly take our time exploring some of the areas (the walkways on the Cliff Edge were too small to overtake people on, so we all had to keep going). I knew there was a Regional Park nearby and I was determined to do a bit of hiking in the wilderness, despite the warnings about wild animals. I used the free WiFi to quickly mark the route we had to walk to the entrance of the park (between 10-15 mins along a main road), and we were off. 

From the off-set we knew we were about to experience something completely different to the park: there were signs everywhere warning us about the presence of bears and coyotes. The charming  untamed wilderness came at us from all sides: the rocky terrain, the tallest trees I have ever seen, and the sharp cliff edges - we'd wandered straight into a fairy-tale. 

I must admit, I couldn't relax for the first 15-20 minutes. I was convinced a bear was going to block our path and attack us (lol) so I spent the entire time scanning the surrounding trees and feeling my heart-somersault when a bear-shaped bush came into view. We passed a couple of people along this trail, many of whom were walking their dogs. I began to relax a little more at that point!

We wanted to document the park as much (and as best) as we could but also take the time to see it all with our own eyes. Every corner was more beautiful than the last.

There were a few trails to choose from, both walking and cycling. We decided to stick to one which wouldn't take too long (due to my fear of getting stranded somewhere after night has fallen). We decided to follow the Pipeline Trail all the way up to the Second Canyon Trail. After that we circled back and explored the Coho Loop. I believe we spent about 3 hours in the park but we would happily have explored more of it had we had the extra time. Many of the trails were very steep, we struggled walking back up despite being reasonably fit and healthy so that's definitely something to keep in mind. I wouldn't recommend it for anyone who has trouble walking long distances or walking rocky terrain. 

(I have included a map at the end of this post for those who are curious!)

When we were walking the Coho Loop we noticed a small path which led down some steps in between some overgrown bushes. It was definitely a path, though one which has been forgotten and become a little wild with the passage of time. We decided to follow it anyway. We carefully made our way down steep steps until there was nothing more but mud. We turned a couple of corners and found ourselves next to a sort of ledge just metres above the water, which looked out onto the edge of the river.

I have to stress that we were being extremely careful. This isn't somewhere to muck around in or have kids running free - there are alot of steep drops straight down onto rocks below. I have to admit this view was worth the risk. We didn't dare go any closer, we simply knelt down and watched the river for a good 15 minutes or so. It was such a peaceful, quiet corner. The trees were more dense and we weren't as high up, so we could see the clear water below even better. Definitely worth taking the forgotten stairs, it lead us to such a beautiful treasure. 

We stumbled on to this natural stairway as we explored a wild path off the cliff edge on our way out of the park. It was so breathtakingly beautiful, something straight out of Lord of the Rings. The hill was steep, a mixture of roots and rock, forcing me onto all fours for the first time during our hiking expedition. Of course we had to climb all the way to the top to see what was on the other side before we circled back onto the Pipeline Trail. It remains one of my favourite memories from this day. We absolutely wanted to explore the great outdoors whilst we were in Vancouver and we went to the perfect place. It was the perfect experience for first-timers.

I absolutely loved this park. It was beautiful, exciting, utterly different to what we've ever experienced before. It awoke our sense of adventure, it took us back to when we were kids and plunged us straight into our favourite stories. I'm longing to feel the bark of the old trees on my fingertips once more, to breathe in the clean, fresh air, and hear the rushing water of Capilano River. We miss you Vancouver!

By the time this has been published, Summer & I will have begun our Kiwi Experience Bus Tour! We're quite tired after only 3 days in New Zealand, not yet recovered from how much walking we have put our bodies through and the lack of fresh vegetables and sleep. We've been posting quite a lot on our Instagrams if any of you are interested in daily updates! 


Hope you're all having a great week, thanks for reading!
Holly x


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