Writer-broadcaster Jack Christie is one of Canada’s most trusted sources onÂ travel, recreation and sport. And he did a quick Q & A on hiking with kids in Vancouver, BC. We should consider ourselves very lucky!
As the outdoors columnist with Vancouver’s Georgia Straight newspaperÂ (Canada’s largest circulation weekly) since 1986, he has filed over 500Â reports, many of which are posted on line atÂ straight.com.Â Jack, along with his partner in creativity, photographer Louise Christie, isÂ the best-selling author of a series of 17 adventure guides, including 52 Best Day Trips from Vancouver, The Whistler Book: All-Season Outdoor Guide and Best Weekend Getaways from Vancouver: Favourite Trips and Overnight Destinations (Greystone Guides).
Does he have kids? “Louise and I have two grown boys who are now enthusiastically making theirÂ way in the world on their own two feet as well as by bike, skis, snowboards,Â and motorcycles,” Christie says, with characteristic aplomb.
Let’s see what Jack says about hiking with kids in and around Vancouver, BC.
1. Is there a kid-friendly hike within Vancouver’s city limits thatÂ you recommend? What do you like about it?
Based on our family’s experience, a “kid-friendly hike” is an oxymoron. OurÂ kids told us they didn’t “get” hiking until they were 14+ teenagers. StickÂ to walks and let kids decide how far they want to go and what they want toÂ see and do.
In Vancouver, visit Queen Elizabeth Park, second largest next toÂ Stanley Park with far fewer visitors, great views, neat little hiding placesÂ dotted among spectacular gardens, good picnic spots, with a big dancingÂ fountain on top in which kids can frolic on hot days. (Note: Photo at right is the view from Queen Elizabeth Park)
2. Is there a hike within 45 minutes of downtown Vancouver, that’s good for families with toddlers? A spot accessibleÂ by public transportation?
By transit: North Vancouver’s Maplewood Flats Conservation Area (run by the Wild Bird Trust of BC) on DollartonÂ Road. You’ll find a gentle loop trail, great spot for wild birds, a small beach, views ofÂ the inner harbour. (Read a lovely description of a visit to Maplewood Flats with children on the Outdoor Vancouver blog)
(Consult 52 Best Day Trips from Vancouver for details on both locations)
3. Can you recommend a similar hike (near downtown Vancouver)Â that’s good for elementary-age kids — children who can go a littleÂ further without complaint?
Port Moody’s Rocky Point Park offers an ocean side approach along theÂ Shoreline Trail which touches on five pocket parks. In summer, good swimmingÂ both at a beach or freshwater pool and water playground for kids to coolÂ down in. Bonus: Great fish & chips at Pajo’s kiosk in the park, a must-visitÂ to reward non-complaining kids.(Consult 52 Best Day Trips from Vancouver
for complete details)
4. How about tweens and teens who can go as far as an adult? Do you have a recommendation for a close-to-downtown hike that’sÂ still a bit challenging?
Metro Vancouver’s sprawling Pacific Spirit Regional Park. Pacific Spirit Regional Park’s Wreck Beach stretches for 5 kilometres (3Â miles) and can be accessed from a variety of trails numbered 1-7. Trail 6Â leads to the section informally known as “Coney Island” where the majorityÂ of clothing-optional folks hang out.
The Trail 4 approach that I recommendÂ is naturally removed from the main action by a mile of rocky headlands andÂ very family-friendly.Â Trail 4 starts with a 300-step staircase directly behind the UBC Museum of Anthropology and leadsÂ along a cobble-and-sand beach to twin gun towers, graffiti-plastered relicsÂ from World War 2. Lots of driftwood to picnic on, panoramic views of the mouth ofÂ the harbour and the Strait of Georgia. My kids loved the wild side of this section ofÂ beach.
If families are really turned off by the sight of an occasionalÂ bare bum, try downhillÂ along Northwest Marine Drive at the park’s Acadia Beach, next to the city’s Spanish Bank West Beach. They’ll find picnic tables and washrooms andÂ a leafy, gentler approach to Wreck Beach where a colony of blue herons stalkÂ smelt beside net-casting fishers.
(Read a lyrical description of Wreck Beach on Jack Christie’s website)
5. What’s your favorite family-friendly hike between Vancouver and Whistler? What doÂ you like about it? Who is it good for — which ages?
The Sea to Sky Trail, specifically the new stretch between Brandywine Falls Provincial Park and Whistler. One of the best-built, multi-use trails in theÂ region. Starts with a stunning waterfall and leads beside the CheakamusÂ River. (View the video posted at www.jackchristie.com and consult The Whistler Book: All-Season Outdoor Guide for details)
6. Do you have a gentle, family-friendly hike recommendation in or around Whistler, BC?
The gentle Cheakamus Lake Trail in Garibaldi Provincial Park at the southÂ end of Whistler leads through a spectacular forest to a stunningÂ turquoise-hued lake at the foot of Whistler Mountain, or the multi-use TinÂ Pants Trail in Whistler’s Lost Lake Park with its twig-furniture benches andÂ grand views of the mountains on all sidesÂ (Consult The Whistler Book: All-Season Outdoor Guide for details on both).