There are two traditional destinations in West Vancouver that can be combined to enjoy a new hiking experience. Ambleside Park has a fantastic park and beach experience. Combining surf, sandy beaches, off leash dog park, concession stand, picnic areas, ball fields and skateboard park, Ambleside offers something for everyone.
Leading off to the east from the seawalk and beach area is the Capilano Pacific Trail which follows the Capilano River all the way to the Cleveland Dam and salmon fish hatchery. After the first phase of this trail, you find yourself skirting the south side of the venerable Park Royal shopping centre, Canada's oldest shopping plaza.
For a change of pace, exit the trail at the first sight of the plaza and head west into Park Royal Village. This village is the newest, award-winning shopping area in the greater Vancouver area. After walking the main street and visiting the Village square, where the lighthouse is located, head north and cross the pedestrian overpass over Marine Drive. You will find yourself in front of the parking garage for Park Royal Towers. Head up the east side of the garage and continue up the winding driveway turning right to reach Keith Road.
Now look at the heavily-wooded area directly across Keith Road. You will see the entrance to the trail just slightly east of where you emerge. In a moment you will find yourself among tall lodgepole pines, cedars and hemlock with sunlight barely reaching the ground through the lush canopy. Heading straight up the trail, you will eventually emerge on a residential street. Head west past the first driveway on the north side and find the entrance to the trail continuation. This section snakes past several residences but is heavily treed with more lush undergrowth. The roots and deadfall from the last segment are replaced with rock and bush.
Eventually you will emerge on another residential laneway. Head north for half block on 10th Street to Equimalt. Here you will see stairs leading north across the street. This section of the trail through Leyland Park is the most civilized with many stairs and wide graveled trails. There is a rest area and viewpoint about halfway up this section. Continue on to the final stairway and emerge on another residential street. Head east for one block and pause to enjoy the view across Capilano Canyon to Grouse Mountain before turning left to head north for 2 blocks. Here you reach Sentinel Crescent leading up to the right. At the end of this Crescent, you reach the summit of the trail. For a complete photo tour of the trail, visit my album on Webshots.
Returning presents a number of interesting choices. A favourite is to exit Sentinel and head north then east to the dead-end where you can pick up The Village Walk and return south to Park Royal Village North. Another choice is to continue east until you reach the Capilano Pacific Trail and return south to Ambleside Beach.
(I actually stumbled upon this trail from the 6th floor of my condo in Park Royal Towers when I was searching for a convenient cardio exercise path. Some of the pictures in the Webshots album show the section of trail on our property.)
Capilano Pacific Trail
To access the trail from Ambleside Beach, you head east past the pond and along the waterfront seawalk, where you will find yourself on the banks of the Capilano River. You can follow this trail, officially known as the Capilano Pacific Trail, all the way up the Capilano Canyon to the Capilano Suspension Bridge and the Cleveland Dam, or you can branch off into West Vancouver proper, whose streets offer some pleasant strolls, parks and viewpoints, thoughtfully marked by 'Village Walk' signs.
Other references for West Vancouver: 1) Capilano Pacific Trail, 2) Ambleside Beach and Park, and 3) Wikipedia article on West Vancouver.
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