Vancouver is consistently voted as one of the best cities in the world to live in. And it’s no wonder. Vancouver has everything. But one thing they have that many cities lack is an easy access to nature. With the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other, there is always something available for a nature enthusiast. Right in the city is the famous Stanley Park, with loads of activities on offer, but for those wanting to get a little further from the city there is always Capilano and Grouse Mountain.
Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain are two very different attractions, but I have grouped them together because of their position. They are literally right next to each other. If you just walk a little further up the hill from the Capilano Suspension Bridge, you will be at the parking lot for Grouse Mountain and the departure point of the cable car.
Capilano park offers a great introduction to the natural features of the Vancouver area. It offers a nature experience from a perspective most of us never get an opportunity to discover. The main features of the park are the suspension bridge, tree top adventure and cliff walk. As you enter the park you immediately come into the totem park. A board walk takes you past several aboriginal totem poles along a winding boardwalk. As you come to the end of the boardwalk, you will find the start of the suspension bridge and the start of the cliff walk. The cliff walk is a semi circle boardwalk which is literally suspended from the cliff face. The board walk has sections which are see through, adding to the thrill. The end of the cliff walk brings you back out to the same area and you can then head onto the suspension bridge.
The suspension bridge is 137 m long and is suspended 70 m from the rushing torrent of the Capilano river. From the bridge you can get spectacular views of the Capilano river, the forest and grouse mountain. On the other side of the bridge is the living forest boardwalks and the tree top adventure. The living forest walk is a peaceful walk through the rainforest, which takes you past trout ponds and informational signs about the ecology of the area. If you want a little more adventure in the forest hike, you should head to the tree top adventure.
The tree top adventure consists of several suspension bridges and viewing platforms which are suspended high up in the trees above the ground level living forest walk. The platforms and bridges are attached to the old growth trees using a compression system, which means that no bolts or nails are required, and therefore not damaging the trees. Some of the platforms reach as high as 30 m into the canopy.
Tip: If you are traveling with young children make sure you bring your child carrier as strollers are not permitted, and you will be required to carry your child at waist level throughout the attraction for safety reasons. Believe me, you will get very tired arms after a while.
Admission for adults if $31.95 with reduced rates for seniors, students, youth and children. Children under 6 are free. If you are a BC resident you can get an annual pass for the same price as a single admission.
Grouse Mountain has been a loved getaway for Vancouverites for decades. The mountain is a veritable nature wonderland for anyone of any fitness level, during any season. In winter there is skiing and snow showing, in summer there is Paragliding. Year round there are the mountain ziplines, helicopter rides, the Grizzly bears, the interpretive center and of course the fantastic hiking.
There are two ways to get up Grouse Mountain. There is the ambitious hike, called the Grouse Grind, which takes on average two hours. Or there is the less sweaty option – the cable car. We opted for the cable car route and arrived on the top of the mountain cool and calm. We visited in October before the ski season, so for a bit of adrenaline, Dan went zip lining. There are five zip lines on Grouse Mountain (3 operate in the winter), each getting higher and faster than the last. I of course, like to stay on the ground, so I went to the cafe instead.
And speaking of cafe, there is a fantastic restaurant on Grouse Mountain with spectacular views and good local beers. Get the nachos – they are massive.
One of Dan’s highlights on Grouse Mountain was seeing the Grizzly Bears. The two Grizzly Bears; Grinder and Coola, were orphaned as cubs and brought to this refuge. I know that some people don’t like seeing animals in captivity, but these two bears would not have survived if they had not been rescued, the the refuge on Grouse Mountain is much larger and more natural than any you will find in a zoo or similar.
Admission prices depend on the season and what activities you would like to do. Check the website for up to date info.
Getting to Capilano and Grouse Mountain
It’s super easy to get to Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain by public transportation. There is a free shuttle that starts at Canada Place, visits several downtown locations and hotels, and terminates at Capilano Suspension Bridge. From there it is only a short walk up to the start of Grouse Mountain. Look for the shuttle time table here. If you have your own transport, you can also drive there. There is plenty of public parking available in the area.
We would like to thank Destination BC for providing admission to the attractions listed above