After having lived in the area for over a year, I can say without a doubt that Capilano River Regional Park is one of the best places to hike with toddlers on Vancouver’s North Shore. Before we moved to Vancouver’s North Shore last year, I knew all about the Grouse Grind & Gondola. I knew that I absolutely needed to visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge. And, with a bit of research on the area, I also knew about the beautiful views of Capilano Lake at the Cleveland Dam. BUT, I had never heard about the absolutely stunning park that lies literally right in between all of the North Shore’s biggest attractions.
Once we moved into the area, we started to hear about how amazing Capilano River Regional Park is for young families.
SO, when I say that I take my kids for a ‘hike’, I use that term very loosely. What I really mean is a baby/toddler/preschooler friendly hike. My kids are currently 1, 2.5 and 4.5 years old. So, for the sake of my sanity, I still prefer to take our double jogging stroller pretty much everywhere we go. And it is ENTIRELY possible to experience the stunning natural sites of Capilano River Regional Park even with my giant stroller (and band of tiny humans) in tow.
Toddler-Friendly Routes & Activities
One of our favourite stroller-friendly (and toddler/preschooler friendly!) routes in the park starts at the Capilano Salmon Hatchery. We head across the beautiful bridge just behind the picnic area, and then turn right and take the Second Canyon Trail to the viewpoint at the bottom of the dam. The whole route is very accessible with a good jogging/trail stroller. And, at less than a kilometer out and back, the hike is an easy length for even the littlest legs.
The views of the river from the bridge and along the trail are stunning. And there is so much for little ones to see and do along the way. Some of my kids’ faves are:
- Stomping in the many little streams that flow down through the forest and under the trail. Pro-Tip: Have everyone wear their rain boots & rain pants. Or, bring a spare set of shoes & clothes for when you get back to the car!;
- Spotting spider webs & watching the spiders working in them;
- Discovering the huge roots that grow right up out of the ground or the new baby trees growing up out of old stumps, and;
- Climbing on the huge rocks and logs that lay alongside the trail.
Opportunities for Learning
The cherry on top of this already fun and scenic trail is definitely the viewpoint at the bottom of the dam. The force of the water pouring over the dam is incredibly impressive. And the views of the canyon that have been carved out by the river are definitely instagram worthy. But what I really love about this spot are the placards with great information about the wildlife, history and geology of the area. My curious 4 year old was super interested to hear about how the canyon was formed. He also enjoyed learning about the different types of fish in the river & the history of the hatchery.
A Calm, Peaceful Urban Escape
The moment I enter Capilano River Regional Park, I’m always hit by an overwhelming feeling of calm. Even though this area sees plenty of visitors, the forest is peaceful, still and quiet, except for the sound of the rushing river. There are tons of small waterfalls & trickling streams throughout the park that give the feeling of a zen Japanese garden. And the massive fir trees along this route are awe-inspiring.
The calming power of nature is palpable in this park and it works its magic on our family every time. We often choose to end our hike by heading to the viewpoint at Cable Pool, just south of the bridge. There’s a bench at the viewpoint where we sit and have a snack, listening to the sound of the river and talking about all of the amazing things we saw on our hike that day. This is also a popular fishing spot and my kids love to watch the fishermen and fisherwomen try their luck.
Something for Everyone
I honestly can’t say enough good things about Capilano River Regional Park. The Second Canyon Trail is a stunning hike for toddlers on Vancouver’s North Shore. And the route that I described above is just one of many family friendly trails in the park.
If your family is up for a longer, more challenging route, I’d highly recommend heading to the Second Canyon viewpoint and then carrying on up to the top of the Dam to get a view of Capilano Lake.
It is possible to do this entire route with a stroller by sticking to the main wide gravel service road. Or, if you don’t need a stroller friendly route, then take the awe-inspiring Giant Fir Trail. What makes the trek up to the top of the dam challenging is a steep uphill climb the whole way there. Luckily, on the way home, it is all downhill… great for tiny legs at the end of a long day of walking!
If you are looking for a great hike with toddlers on Vancouver’s North Shore, this is the place for you. For more information about Capilano River Regional Park, click here.
For other great stroller-friendly trails on Vancouver’s North Shore, click here.
Have you visited Capilano River Regional Park? Planning a visit and have a question about the Park? We would love to hear from you! Please leave us a comment below or contact us! Happy Hiking!!