Living in Vancouver has its perks – hipster cafes, restaurants, bars and lively nightlife as well as close proximity to both the ocean and the mountains. However, sometimes we would love nothing more but to leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind us for a relaxing day away and today I am sharing with you just that. City escape, 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver that is going to have something to suit everyone’s taste. Lets go!
The place I am going to thoroughly rave about in this post is called Belcarra Regional Park. Technically right across the water from Deep Cove – if you have a kayak and you live around North or West Vancouver then this would be the perfect mode of transport for you; however if you are driving you need to follow the highway through Port Moody and Coquitlam to Belcarra.
In the summer time, you need to be there for as early as possible to get a parking spot. What do I mean by that? I’d aim to be there at 7.00am latest. This may sound extreme however a lot of families with children go there for the day and if you arrive around 9.00-10.00am you will not get a parking spot and will have to turn around. As this is a perfect spot to spend a full day, just get up early, get your parking spot and nap on the beach!
There is a pay parking in place, it’s $2.00 an hour or $12.00 for a full day. Please note, as parking is very limited, cars often park alongside the road leading into the park (especially in summer months). This means you may have to walk a kilometer or two before you actually reach the lake area, so bare that in mind in terms of carrying items down to your desired location.
There are number of things you can do in and around Belcarra Regional Park. Some of the things include: Hiking, Picnic, BBQ, Sports you can play on the grass such as volleyball, badminton, football; Swimming, water sports such as snorkeling, kayaking etc. and fishing.
The area is so peaceful (until families with children get there 😉 ) and offers variety of experiences depending on what you like to do with your time.
One tip I have is that there isn’t anywhere to purchase food or drink, therefore if you intend on spending the day there or going for a hike etc. I suggest you pack your own lunch or bring a cooler with food and snacks to last you for the day.
By the Water
If staying by the water is your thing, then I’d suggest going to White Pine Beach/Sasamat Lake Area for swimming and kayaking. Sasamat lake also offers areas for people to fish from if fishing is your forte. I am not sure how successful you would be fishing in the summer, given the volumes of people going there each weekend, however I will let you be the judge.
If relaxing and spending time with your loved ones is your jam, then staying by the picnic areas with long camping tables should do the trick. There is a huge dining area with number of long camping tables under a canopy where you can enjoy your bbq or homemade picnic. The shade also offers a nice retreat from the sun in the summer.
There is a large green area between the car park and the lake where you can lay out your blankets or as previously mentioned play sports.
If hiking or walking are your thing, then I have couple of suggestions for you one with a hidden reward at the end so keep on reading!
Sasamat Lake offers a very easy, flat loop around the lake mostly in the trees, along the water’s edge. This is perfect for those who would like to take a break from sitting around and/or wish to keep moving at an easy level. This type of a walk might be perfect for people with small children or elderly relatives. Majority of the walk is covered in the trees, therefore you are in the shade from the sun, however the trail continues along the water, so you get the nice views throughout. The loop takes about 45 minutes at a “regular” walking pace. You may also spot the fishermen on the connecting dock between the two edges of the lake.
If views and a bit of a workout are something you are after, then Belcarra Bluffs Hike will be just that. It’s a relatively short hike 5.5km out and back and majority of the hike is a scramble (up and down) along rocks and tree roots – great stretch for your calves!
The hike takes approximately 1.45h return and serves a beautiful view at the top of the park itself, the lake and you can even see the length of Barnet Marine Park across the water on a good day.
Hike with a Hidden Beach at the End
Finally, my absolute favorite hike near Vancouver – the famous hike with a hidden beach at the end. This hike is approximately 5km return and I’d classify it as easy. There are couple of places where you go up and down, however still considering this more of a “workout walk” than a scramble. If you are only starting out hiking or are not super active this hike should not be much of a problem for you.
I am not going to lie, I was hesitant to include this in my post as part of me wants to keep this hidden gem to myself, however I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t.
When I found out about this hike I immediately put it on my to-do list and completed it on a sunny day, to make sure I was able to jump into the water right after and oh my, was it a dream! Of course, this hike isn’t hidden on a map therefore there are people on the “hidden” beach when you get there, however not as many as in the park itself. The water is crystal clear and its such a refreshing reward after hiking in the hot sun.
Here, the vibe is completely different, calm and relaxing. You can actually lay down and just chill and not worry about the volume of people that come through the Belcarra Regional Park. A lot of people kayak directly to this beach rather than hike and a lot of people bring floaties and chill on the water. The name of this hike is Jug Island Beach Hike.
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