Hiking In Lynn Valley And Lynn Canyon, North Vancouver

Hiking In Lynn Valley And Lynn Canyon, North Vancouver

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Vancouver is one of those cities that brings nature close, and you haven’t really seen it, if you haven’t been to the wonderful temperate rainforests of North Vancouver. And the most picturesque way to do it? Well, the most touristy way is a quick visit to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, but our favorite way is hiking in Lynn Valley and Lynn Canyon.

We’ve been living 15 minutes drive away from the North Vancouver rainforests, and have visited them countless times. This post was born from our love for them and to help you plan an unforgettable visit here. Because it’s impossible not to fall for the Lynn Valley hikes. In addition to the inspiration, we also included detailed hiking descriptions, Lynn Valley trail maps and parking suggestions in this post.

What makes the Lynn Valley trails so special?

The Lynn Valley hiking trails are not just usual forest trails, they are jaw-dropping! With lush green carpets of moss and fern, lichen hanging from the centuries-old cedar, fir or hemlock trees, rushing, crystal clear creeks and pretty waterfalls, these rainforests are truly out of a fairy tale. And there’s a trail for everyone here. Whether you’re looking for an easy stroll, an adventurous hike or a stroller-friendly path, hikes in Lynn Valley are not only spectacular, but diverse, too.

Lynn Canyon from Pipe Bridge, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Three parks connect with each other and provide maintained paths, information boards, picnic areas, parking lots and washrooms (toilets) in the area: Lynn Canyon Park, Lynn Headwaters Regional Park and Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve. They’re free to visit.

Lynn Creek, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

So let us show you our very favorite Lynn Canyon hikes:

Easily reachable Lynn Canyon Park trails

Lynn Canyon Park, North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

While the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park owns the longest suspension bridge in Vancouver, it can only be visited if you pay the (not very cheap) entrance fee. However, there’s a free suspension bridge in Lynn Canyon Park, swinging 50 meters above roaring Lynn Creek and offering fabulous views of Lynn Canyon. Not surprisingly, walking through it is included in the most popular Lynn Canyon Park hike.

Lynn Canyon Park is one of the best natural attractions in Vancouver, anyway. With Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, incredibly turquoise Lynn Creek, charming Twin Falls and Thirty Foot Pool, you really couldn’t ask for more from a city park. And you don’t even need to hike too much to see all of them, a few hours are enough to conveniently explore these sights. However, be prepared to climb a few hundred wooden stairs while completing this picturesque Lynn Canyon loop.

Lynn Canyon Park, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Both the Twin Falls and Thirty Foot Pool trails start from Lynn Canyon Cafe. The Twin Falls loop is about 45 minutes walk, the Thirty Foot Pool trail is about 40 minutes there and back, and you can easily connect the two, making a relatively easy, but one of a kind Lynn Canyon hike. The suspension bridge is included in both routes as it’s in the middle.

Twin Falls loop trail

Twin Falls, Lynn Canyon Park, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

The Twin Falls loop is the harder of the two popular Lynn Canyon hiking trails, because it involves a few hundred stairs. But as a hiking trail it’s easy, you don’t even need hiking boots on the well-established path (unless it’s pouring rain). It’s just not a flat forest walk, and certainly not wheelchair accessible.

The Twin Falls can be seen from the bridge above it (it’s not the suspension bridge, that’s upstream from Twin Falls), but for the best front view continue the trail downstream after crossing the bridge. Climb down to the bank of Lynn Creek on a steep detour (not marked on trail maps, but quite obvious once you’re there), and halfway down you’ll get your perfect view of Twin Falls (don’t climb over the fence, stay behind it). Then you’ll get impressed by the emerald water rushing through Lynn Canyon from up close when you reach the bank. Twin Falls can’t be seen from the bank though.

Lynn Canyon Park, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Hiking essentials
Trailhead: Lynn Canyon Cafe
Length: 1.2 km loop
Difficulty: medium (there are a few hundred wooden stairs to climb)
See the trail map here!

Thirty Foot Pool loop trail

Thirty Foot Pool, Lynn Canyon Park, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

The other well-known Lynn Canyon trail is north of the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. You can reach the Thirty Foot Pool by passing the suspension bridge, then hiking upstream along Lynn Creek. The pools have an incredible turquoise color, and there’s a large area that’s suitable for picnicking while admiring the pools. It’s a swimming hole, too, in the summer, but beware that the water is extremely cold even then.

You can return the same way, but we recommend continuing on the long stairway after the Thirty Foot Pool. The forest is spectacular, and you can have another great view of Lynn Canyon from the Pipe Bridge. You can cross the bridge and make it a loop, but we like returning on the same way as the trail is further from Lynn Creek on the other side, and a short section of the path is actually walking on Lynn Valley Road.

Thirty Foot Pool, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

The two Lynn Canyon trails, the one to Twin Falls and the one to Thirty Foot Pool, can be combined with each other, and also with other trails in the area.

Hiking essentials
Trailhead: Lynn Canyon Cafe
Length: 2 km return
Difficulty: easy (though there’s a longer stairway)
See the trail map here!

Ecology Centre

You can stop by the Ecology Centre when hiking in Lynn Canyon Park, it’s right next to Lynn Canyon Cafe and the visitor center. It offers exhibits about the flora and fauna of temperate rainforests, and educates you about environmental concerns. You can also get information about the trails here. Entrance is by donation.

Where to park your car?

Baden Powell Trail, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Lynn Canyon Park has a paid parking lot with a maximum 3 hours limit. It’s a few minutes walk from the Ecology Center and the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, and if you only spend an hour or two in the park, this might be your best option (if you find available spots).

But there are other options, too. Peters Road and Duval Road are also close to the suspension bridge, and you can park on the streets for free wherever it’s not prohibited. Parking signs tell you clearly whether parking is allowed, not allowed or allowed with permit only. You can also find free street parking on Lynn Valley Road.

Lynn Creek, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

If you’d do a longer loop trail which includes other Lynn Valley hikes, like Rice Lake or Norvan Falls, simply choose another parking lot and start your loop there. There’s Rice Lake parking lot, Lynn Headwaters Entrance parking lot, Cedar Mills Trail parking, Lillooet-Clearwells Trailhead parking or a small dirt parking lot where Lillooet Road crosses the Baden Powell Trail.

None of them have a time limit, but they don’t allow overnight parking, so make sure to leave before they close the gate for the day. Lynn Headwaters Entrance and Cedar Mills Trail parking lots belong to Lynn Headwater Regional Park, and they are paid parking lots in the summer season (from March until October).

Easy trails along Lynn Creek in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park

Varley Trail, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

North of Lynn Canyon Park, the Lynn Headwaters Regional Park gives access to the upper section of Lynn Creek and several challenging routes into the wilderness. First, let’s see the shorter creekside trails.

Why are they worth a visit? Because Lynn Creek and the rainforests are fabulous, and these trails are not nearly as busy as the ones in Lynn Canyon Park, but you can easily connect with them since the two parks are neighbors. They’re great introductions into hiking Lynn Valley.

Varley Trail, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Varley Trail loop (trail map here) is 3.5 km, easy and can be done in about an hour. You can connect it to the Thirty Foot Pool trail so that you see even more of Lynn Creek. Varley Trail is on the west bank of Lynn Creek and offers a few creekside access points. The Lynn Creek trail on the other side makes it a loop hike, but the forest is not as spectacular as on the west side. Start this loop from the Lynn Headwaters Entrance or the Cedar Mills Trail parking lots. They’re paid parking lots from March until October, free in the winter months.

Lynn Loop Trail is a 7.2 km loop in the rainforest with several river viewpoints (click here for the trail map). There’s a steeper section, but it’s still an easy trail overall. If you’d prefer staying close to Lynn Creek, continue on Cedars Mill Trail, it’s 8 km there and back – see it here. In any case, it’s best to start from Lynn Headwaters Entrance parking.

Half-day Lynn Valley hike in the rainforest to Norvan Falls

Norvan Falls, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

However, our favorite hike in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park is Norvan Falls. It’s not that short, but relatively easy, with only a few hundred meters elevation gain all the way, but with occasional steeper slopes, creek crossings or rugged terrain. It takes about half a day to hike to Norvan Falls and back.

The route includes part of the Lynn Valley Loop and Cedar Mills Trails along Lynn Creek, then continues on Headwaters Trail. It means you’ll get all the beautiful river views and access points, an enchanted rainforest and 30 metres tall Norvan Falls at the end. You can even cross the creek to get closer to the waterfall if water levels are low enough.

Hiking essentials
Trailhead & parking: Lynn Headwaters Entrance parking
Length: 13.8 km return
Difficulty: easy
See the trail map here!

A leisurely stroll around Rice Lake in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve

Rice Lake, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Now here’s a place that feels so out in the wild, yet it’s easily accessible to everyone. If you use the Rice Lake parking lot at the top of Lillooet Road, then the trail to Rice Lake and the loop walk around the lake are wheelchair accessible all the way, including the pier that offers the best views of Rice Lake and the surrounding mountains. It makes this a nice walk for mums with a stroller, too.

Side note: it’s not an alpine lake. It’s lovely, but it’s in a different league. 🙂

Rice Lake loop hiking essentials
Trailhead & parking: Rice Lake parking lot
Length: 3.1 km loop
Difficulty: very easy
See the trail map here!

You can connect the Rice Lake loop trail with the Thirty Foot Pool and Twin Falls trails if you hike downstream along Lynn Creek, or the Varley Trail and other trails of the Lynn Headwaters Regional Park if you hike upstream. Or you can hike both upstream and downstream a bit to make a nice ~8 km loop in the area – as you see it on this trail map.

Magical rainforests of the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve

Hyannis Trail, Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Even though this park doesn’t include any section of Lynn Creek, its trails are connected to both Lynn Canyon Park and Lynn Headwaters Regional Park. It offers about 100 km of hiking and biking trails, mostly through old-growth rainforests that look absolutely stunning.

Our favorite rainforest walks are quite short and easy: the Mystery Creek & Hyannis loop (3.6 km loop, trail map here) and the Homestead Trail & Twin Bridges Trail loop (4.7 km loop, trail map here). They make you feel like being in a giant, quiet, green cathedral decorated with thick moss and lichen, pristine little creeks and rushing Seymour River. Any of the loops are suitable for beginner hikers and families with small kids, too. My 2.5 years old Tomi actually hiked both of these loop trails all the way (not on the same day).

Hyannis Trail, Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Full day hikes to explore the North Vancouver rainforests

In case you have a full day to experience Lynn Canyon, the creeks, lakes and rainforests that North Vancouver offers, you can start hiking in the morning and not stop until dusk comes (and the park gates close).

Lynn Canyon & Lynn Headwaters day hike

Lynn Creek, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

One of our suggestions for a day hike is a path that includes Twin Falls, Thirty Foot Pool, Rice Lake and Norvan Falls. It’s about 22 km and looks like this. If you start at Lynn Canyon Cafe and drive there, then park on the street on Lynn Valley Road or nearby, since the official Lynn Canyon Park lot has a 3 hours limit. You can also start from the Rice Lake parking lot, or any of the parking lots in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park. Lynn Headwaters has paid parking in the summer, but there’s no time limit (other than the gate closure at the end of the day).

Baden Powell Trail

Baden Powell Trail, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

This is a historic route that runs through all three parks and crosses the entire North Shore from Horseshoe Bay (in West Vancouver) to Deep Cove (in North Vancouver). It was constructed by the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides of Canada to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of British Columbia’s entry as a province into Canada. The full route is a 45.5 km point to point trail, but you can break it into sections. Like one piece from Deep Cove to Grouse Mountain via Lynn Canyon is a nice, challenging day hike.

Where to stay?

Exploring Downtown Vancouver is the most convenient when you book your accommodation downtown. But when it comes to exploring the North Shore, a charming creekside cabin or B&B in North Vancouver suits much better. It’s closer to the trails, and it treats you with that exact same serene atmosphere which belongs to this community.

This Riverfront Bed and Breakfast gets lots of praise for its wonderful location (right next to a river just like the name suggests), comfortable beds and delicious breakfast. The Secret Garden Treehouse is tucked in the woods, and it offers ocean views, a spacious outdoor patio and a treehouse. They are both excellent places to breath in the atmosphere that charms you in North Vancouver.

Things to know before you visit

How to access the parks?

Lynn Creek, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

You can reach them by public transport, but it’s quicker by car. Once you’re out of Vancouver Downtown, public transport is not that frequent and convenient, and getting (free) parking is usually manageable, so we visit North Vancouver by car.

However, parking lots can fill up quickly on good weather days, especially on weekends. Some parking lots have time limits (max. 2 or 3 hours), and some of them are pay parking lots. You can opt to park on the street in North Vancouver, just make sure it’s allowed. Some streets are only for parking with permit, or one side of the street is with permit, the other is for everyone. These things are posted clearly everywhere, so pay attention to the signs. You find tips where the best parking place is for the specific trails in the post.

Bear safety

Hyannis Trail, Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

What?! Inside the city? Yes. Vancouver is a fascinating city with wildlife, like coyotes and bears. We haven’t met any of them so far, and it’s not that surprising, because most of these trails are busy, and wild animals avoid humans if they can. Also, they are the most active at dusk and down, so make sure you finish your hikes before darkness falls.

However, bears and other wild animals can get attracted to an area if they get used to finding food there. So make sure to use the provided trash bins for all of your waste, including any kind of food waste. These bins can all be closed in a way that animals can’t access the food inside them. By not leaving food in the outdoors and not feeding any wildlife you protect both yourselves and your fellow hikers, and the animals.

Rice Lake, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

In case you do encounter a bear, stay calm and don’t run. Don’t turn your back on the bear, give them space, speak in a calm voice and slowly back away. You can carry bear spray as a last resort, but bears rarely attack humans. They’re usually more afraid of you than you’re of them. 🙂

Which is the best time of the year to visit?

Lynn Canyon Park, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

You can hike these trails year-round. They’re usually snow free, except for a few weeks in December or January when you can enjoy a snowy rainforest with half-frozen waterfalls. Microspikes come handy if the trails are icy. This short snowy period is an exception though, most of these trails are located at such elevation which doesn’t usually get snow. But since rainforests are evergreen, it’s beautiful to hike here in the winter months, too.

Baden Powell Trail, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

With that said, keep in mind that Vancouver is the rainiest between November and March. And you can expect a few rainy days any time of the year during your visit. There’s a reason temperate rainforests thrive here, after all. But don’t let rain scare you away from exploring these trails. Dense forest trails are actually one of the best options on a rainy day.

What to wear hiking in the summer?

Hiking pants, preferably zip-off pants: mornings and evenings are chilly, so you’ll be happy to wear long sleeve pants, but it’s very practical if you can simply zip the sleeves off in the hottest part of the day, or when hiking uphill. Columbia offers affordable, practical and durable models both for women and men.

Waterproof hiking boots: appropriate footwear is very important to have an enjoyable and safe hike. We recommend wearing hiking boots that provide good traction. Waterproofness is also important, because weather in BC is quite rainy for most of the year, and melting snow makes lots of trails muddy well into the summer. Dry feet are key for a happy hike. This Columbia Newton Ridge Plus is a great option for women, and the Newton Ridge Plus II for men.

Long sleeve hiking top: you can wear a lightweight, long sleeve top with sun protection as a standalone wear on high mountain trails (it never gets too hot up there, but the sun will be harsh on your skin on clear days), or you can use it as an additional layer when it gets chilly in the morning or evening at lower elevations. This BALEAF top for women offers UPF 50+ protection, and NAVISKIN has a long sleeve T-shirt with UPF 50+ protection for men.

T-shirt: moisture-wicking and quick-drying technical T-shirts are the best for hiking on a hot day. Here’s a great model for women, and here’s one for men.

Hiking socks: merino wool blends are moisture-wicking and breathable, they keep your feet cozy either when temperatures are warm or cold.

Waterproof rain jacket: a lightweight, easily packable rain jacket should always be in your backpack, just in case. You don’t want to get caught unprepared in a sudden storm. Columbia jackets are affordable and effective for the average hiker, here you find them for women and for men.