52 Best Day Trips from Vancouver
April 24, 2008 · Print This Article
Welcome to the new face of Day Trips in the 21st century. When the first edition of Day Trips from Vancouver appeared almost two decades ago, it helped steer Lower Mainlanders in search of quick access to the neighbouring outdoors. What we’ve set out to accomplish with 52 Best Day Trips from Vancouver is to further refine the manner in which information is presented. Key data to help with decision-making now appears at the outset of each chapter. This will allow readers to quickly determine which destination best suits the amount of time at their disposal and the activities they most enjoy.
In the past 15 years, the number of both local parks and recreational interests has soared; the amount of leisure time many of us have to enjoy the outdoors has not kept pace. Thus it’s more imperative than ever that this time-honoured guide help readers become better organized and informed. With this in mind, distances to destinations appear at the opening of each chapter. These are calculated from the bridges that link Vancouver with the North Shore and Richmond, or from the city’s eastern boundary with Burnaby.
Readers will also be able to tell at a glance which activities are best suited to each destination. Since Day Trips from Vancouver first appeared, in-line skating, mountain biking, kayaking and snowboarding have grown steadily in popularity, as have the more gentle pastimes of birding and nature observation. Our purpose with this current edition is to provide readers with the most detailed descriptions of trails and pathways suited to each of these pursuits. For car-free city dwellers, detailed transit information, including telephone numbers and Web sites, is listed. Wherever suitable, wheelchair access is also noted at the beginning of each chapter.
Choosing which destinations to include was a difficult assignment. After all, there are hundreds of trails, lakes and picnic sites alone scattered throughout the Lower Mainland. The number of provincial, regional and municipal parks continues to grow. 52 Best Day Trips from Vancouver isn’t intended to be the most exhaustive guide to our region. It does aim to be the most comprehensive look at 19 provincial parks, 17 regional parks, 31 municipal parks and recreation trails, 5 conservation regions, 2 BC Hydro recreation sites, 2 Parks Canada national historic sites, 3 B.C. Forest Service interpretive forests, plus one outstanding county park in nearby Washington state for good measure. How did we decide? Simple. These are the places we return to time after time, season after season, and which reward us with new approaches and fresh prospects year after year.
Old Ladner predates the establishment of Vancouver by almost two decades. Walk the town’s core – about the size of Yaletown – and look for the imposing Leary home on Georgia Street, built in 1884. Pass the Delta Museum and Archives, housed in the restored Tudor-style former municipal hall erected in 1912. Marvel at its extensive front stairs, a signal of how high flood waters once rose here before a network of dikes bought peace of mind.
At best, Chisholm Street – Ladner’s two-block-long riverfront drive – yields only half a view of the scale on which heritage businesses, like Massey’s Marine Supply Store, were constructed. And zero perspective on the harbour itself. Which is why it pays to take to the water in order to truly appreciate structures like the Seven Seas Fish Plant whose massive wooden pilings surmount the harbour.
Of course, the height of the tide will also affect your perspective, as will the Fraser’s motion, particularly if you decide to be a little more adventurous and head out of the harbour to explore nearby Ladner Marsh or any of the dozen or so islands that grip the muddy South Arm in a loose choke hold where river meets ocean.
If you don’t own a kayak or a canoe, head for the little kiosk perched on the Elliott Street dock where you can arranges boat tours and paddle sport rentals with Kaymaran Adventure Tours. Racks of kayaks and canoes on a floating concrete dock moored to the pier attest to the flourishing appearance of a new breed of watercraft in Ladner. Under an arrangement with the Corporation of Delta, Kaymaran installed the dock and staircase in 2005, a move that greatly improves public access to the harbour. For hungry or thirsty paddlers, it sits in convenient proximity to two neighbouring watering holes as well – Speed’s Pub and Sharkey’s Seafood Bar & Grille (sharkeys.bc.ca) – whose walls are adorned with vintage photographs and memorabilia from Ladner’s fishing heydays when as many as 16 canneries operated locally.
The new dock on Ladner’s inner harbour isn’t the only place to launch and explore the wildlife-rich marshes and waterways on the South Arm. A skipping stone’s throw away on the north side of the harbour across from the municipal wharf sits Ladner Harbour Park, an expansive green space shaded by a towering cottonwood forest. Walking and running trails, a hard-packed beach, picnic tables and playground, plus a walkway with a raised viewing platform on the harbour, proves just as welcoming a way to experience the Fraser estuary, albeit in a more limited context. The park also provides a floating dock from which to launch, though it’s more challenging to access than the one beside the Elliott Street wharf.
No matter where you launch, there’s a jigsaw puzzle of small islands to explore once you leave the harbour and enter Ladner Reach. In all likelihood, the first time you put in here you’ll be content with a simple reconnaissance paddle through Ladner Marsh to test the waters. Once having reconnoitred for an hour or two, you’ll better appreciate the unique lay of the landscape. Each time you return you can sample more of the mystery. Low-slung islands blend into each other as the Fraser’s South Arm spreads its silty fingers among the deposits that its been making here over the past ten millennia since the most recent ice age.
One of the best times to adventure here is at slack high tide when with greater ease you can paddle through tall stands of reeds that ring many of the islands. The swish of the reeds as they brush your boat is a quieting sound. Relax and let the ocean cradle you as if you were one of the majestic mute swans which nest here and along with a host of wildlife call Ladner home.
For information on Kaymaran Adventure Tours, including tours and kayak, canoe and bike rentals, as well as membership in the Ladner Paddling Club, call 604-946-7507 or 604-946-5070, check the Web site kaymarantours.com, or stop by the Elliott Street Wharf or the Ladner Outdoor Store, 4860 Chisholm Street. For daily tide tables, check tides.gc.ca.
Ladner’s Pioneer May Days take place in late May. For a schedule of events, visit ladnermaydays.org. Ladner Village Market Days begin in June and continue on alternate Sundays through August.
The Delta Museum and Archives, 4858 Delta Street, 604-946-9322, is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.