Oh! The weather outside might be frightful and although the fire inside is delightful, it’s still time to collectively lace your family into sturdy outdoor footwear and hit the trails. Even the smallest family member can enjoy an outdoor adventure at this time of year.
PrepBefore stepping out, it’s a good idea to make sure that everyone has rain gear–jacket and pants if necessary–as well as good footwear. A neck warmer or scarf helps block out neck chills and drips, while a hat and gloves are optional for active small hikers. On reflection, it’s best to carry them anyway—just in case.
Packing some on-the-go snacks is also a smart move, either as bribes, rewards or to temporarily silence the gripes.
Add a camera for you or for the kids and have fun checking out the photos afterwards. Kids see things at a different level (quite literally) and you may be surprised by what they photograph. An ordinary hike turns into a nature expedition as a National Geographic photographer.
Another tip – aim for a hike with a destination, preferably a destination with eats.
North Road to UniverCity, Burnaby MountainThis strenuous hike up Burnaby Mountain from the end of old North Road fits the bill. In addition to being on your doorstep, packed with nature photo ops and ending with eats, the elevation gain can bring you out above the clouds. This is a good hike for gloomy days when an inversion has settled stubbornly over the inlet.
Beware – this hike is steep in sections, with loose gravel underfoot for the descent. It’s probably not suitable for toddlers unless you’re happy walking with them in a carrier (and you’re very fit).
The hike starts off at the northernmost end of North Road, just at the foot of the mountain. (Note: parking is a few minutes south of this point. Either walk up the road to start the route, or walk through the forest to join Powerline Trail immediately.) Just off the road is a little bike trails park with some interesting log bridges and rollers – if it’s empty, this is a good place for kids to run off some steam, but not too much. There’s quite a climb ahead.
A rough earth path snakes through the right of the bike park, joining the main trail at the top of a small slope. From here the going is easy underfoot as the level path is built of compacted cinder-type material. It’s flat enough to wheel or push a stroller if you’re feeling energetic.
Turn right onto the cinder path, Powerline Trail on the map, follow the contour and gain a little elevation as you head through forest. The path is quite wide here and there is clearcut either side. Don’t worry – you’ll be among trees soon. After a short walk the path joins the TransCanada Trail as it ascends from Barnet Highway. Take the left path up the slope, and past the entrance to Mel’s Trail branching off on the left. There’s a good map and information board here to let you know that you’re not hopelessly lost.From here, the route gets a little steeper and the path narrows among the trees. It’s still well marked and it’s easier to appreciate being in the forest here. Appreciate the little touches that living in a damp, temperate rainforest brings – many species of moss and lichens growing over rocks, tree trunks, branches and more. This is a great time to intrduce the kids to macro photography – each close-up view of a mossy landscape is like entering a new world. There are also some interesting geographical features as the small streams carve their way downhill alongside the path.
These frequent stops help with breathlessness as the climb gets steeper.
The final leg of the journey is the aptly named Cardiac Hill, a steep gravelly scramble up to the road. Take this left fork and head upwards until you come out beside University Drive East and East Campus Road, right on top of the mountain. From here, carefully make your way to the transit loop.
To the south of the transit hub you’ll find cafes, pizza joints, restaurants and even a Nestors grocery store. Refuel, and if your legs don’t recover, hop on a bus for the trip down. Buses connect with Skytrain at Production Way/ University, and the 97 B-line on North Road.
Points To Note
The Burnaby Mountain trails are dual use. In other words, look out for mountain bikers using the trails. On the wider trails you may even come across a horse and rider, so keep any eye out on the kids and family dog. Burnaby Mountain is also home to the usual local wildlife, including coyotes, bears and a family of cougars. Some of the terrain is steep – stay on the marked trails and heed the warning signs.
For more routes, check out this handy pdf map.