12 Kid-Friendly Parks In North Vancouver

10 Kid-Friendly Parks In North Vancouver

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Looking for the best parks in North Vancouver to visit with kids? This is your place then, because I have the best North Vancouver parks all in one place, tried and tested on family adventures with my toddler.

Let me start with the fact that I love North Vancouver. It feels like home to me, even though we live in neighboring Burnaby. But sitting on the foothills of the North Shore mountains, North Vancouver has such a magnificent, calming vibe! As soon as you step into a park, you find yourself in a dense forest, surrounded by lush greenery, and you can likely hear the sound of a rushing creek.

id-Friendly Parks In North Vancouver: Panorama Park North Vancouver

Other great things to do in North Vancouver:

It offers countless hiking trails, but this time I’d like to show you that you don’t need to tackle longer trails to get the experience. There are many local parks offering short, easy trails that even small kids can complete. In addition, they also offer things that kids are excited about: water, cute wooden bridges and boardwalks, giant tree trunks to play hide-and-seek and large roots to make the terrain more adventurous.

Most of the parks in this post offer real hiking trails, just very short ones, so they are not stroller-friendly and not entirely flat. They are great introductions for future hikes, and also great alternatives to playgrounds if you’d like to spend time with your kid outdoors.

Panorama Park

id-Friendly Parks In North Vancouver: Panorama Park, Deep Cove

The most scenic oceanfront park not only in North Vancouver, but in the whole metropolitan area is Panorama Park in Deep Cove. It’s a hilly park with a large open grassy area that offers wonderful views of Indian Arm and the North Shore mountains. It also offers benches and picnic shelters, a BBQ area, a small playground and a beach.

But where to hike? Take the coastal walkway towards Deep Cove Park and explore the forest trails there. Find Parkside Beach in a tiny, hidden bay, where there’s also a small creek flowing into the ocean.

id-Friendly Parks In North Vancouver: Panorama Park

There’s also a boat launch area and kayak/canoe rentals in Panorama Park. If you visit with older kids, you can have a water adventure together. Deep Cove is one of the best places for kayaking in Canada, the water is very calm and the scenery is gorgeous!

Parking can be challenging though. The Panorama Park parking lot is very small, and parking is limited to 3 hours. You can also park in the Rockcliff Road parking lot, a few minutes walk away, or in the Myrtle Park lot, 10 minutes walk away, but both tend to fill up quickly on sunny weekends.

Cates Park

id-Friendly Parks In North Vancouver: Cates Park North Vancouver

Here’s another lovely coastal park with long sandy-pebbly beaches, large grassy lawns and a winding trail in the coastal forest. Even if you walk all the trails in Cates Park, it adds up to a few kilometers only, so definitely suitable for small adventurers.

There’s a boat launch where you can also rent a kayak in the summer, a large playground with two separate areas, one for younger and one for older kids, and you can find picnic tables on the grassy lawn. The concession stand is open in the summer, and lifeguards are also present on the beach in the summer months.

Cates Park, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

All in all, it’s a great place to spend a morning or afternoon, and there’s plenty of free parking lots inside the park. Some are time-limited (max 3 hours).

  • Washrooms: yes
  • Parking: several free parking lots
  • Length of trail: ~1.5 km of walking paths in the park
  • Playground: yes

Strathcona Lookout Park

Strathcona Lookout Park, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Strathcona Lookout Park is one you won’t find unless you look for it. It’s a small coastal park just off Strathcona Road in Deep Cove, and the much larger Myrtle Park is right behind it.

Strathcona Lookout Park has a few scenic benches and a small sandy-pebbly beach area. Paddlers and kayakers use it to access the water, but it’s a great, protected place for kids to play in the sand and splash water.

Strathcona Lookout Park, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Myrtle Park, Deep Cove Park and Panorama Park are all walking distance from this park, so you can combine visiting a few of them.

  • Washrooms: no (but there are washrooms in nearby Myrtle Park)
  • Parking: a few time-limited spots right in front of the park, but you can find free street parking nearby or use the parking lot in Myrtle Park
  • Length of trail: no trail, but a few benches and beach access
  • Playground: no (but there are two playground in Myrtle Park)

Hastings Creek Park

Hastings Creek Park, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Now, let’s leave the coast, because most of the pretty trails in North Vancouver are rainforest trails. Like the one in Hastings Creek Park.

It’s not a wide gravel walking path – like you would imagine a walk in a small park – , but a real trail in the forest, with ups and downs on the hilly terrain and with small bridges over the creek. With lots of mud after rainy days. You can access the creek at several places, which is always the most fun part of any hike for a kid. Mine also likes climbing stairs, and there’s plenty here. 

Though a series of stairs around the middle have been closed due to unstable slopes, you can bypass this section. The trail is accessible from both ends. There’s a small dirt parking area suitable for a few cars in the southern end of the park, but you can also park on the nearby streets.

It’s not a busy park, there’s no playground or any facilities, just the lovely trail along Hastings Creek in the rainforest. Inter River Park is close, continuing adventures in the Lynn Valley, and there’s a small playground in Arborlynn Park.

  • Washrooms: no
  • Parking: small dirt parking area or free on-street parking (on Arborlynn Drive)
  • Length of trail: 2.6 km there and back
  • Playground: no

Mahon Park

Mahon Park North Vancouver

Mahon Park offers many things: sports fields, grassy areas, a playground and a water park (the largest spray park in North Vancouver!), and a forested area with two creeks. Again, it’s not the stroller-friendly gravel “walkway in the park”, it’s a small network of delightful ravine trails with uphills and downhills, stairs and bridges.

Two of the ravine trails follow Wagg Creek, the third one follows Mission Creek, and they connect with each other, so you can plan your hiking path as you like, or just set your foot on the trail and wander around. Even though Mahon Park trails give the feeling of being in the wilderness, it doesn’t actually connect to the wilderness, but is surrounded by streets, so you can’t really get lost.

Mahon Park, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

You can access both creeks at some places, but in general the trails drop off steeply and some areas are even fenced for protection. Bridges are fenced, too, but the gaps under the crossbars are large enough that small kids can fall through, so watch them closely.

The playground and the spray park are accessible from Jones Avenue. That’s where you find the washroom facilities, as well.

The trails can be accessed from many streets around the park, and you can usually find plenty of parking available on the streets. Jones Ave offers the most parking spaces, but you find parking on 15th Street West or Wolfe Street, too. These two streets are good, because they are connected to the forest area, and you do need to find these connector trails, because the terrain is steep.

  • Washrooms: yes
  • Parking: Jones Ave or nearby residential streets
  • Length of trail: ~2 km of hiking trails in the park
  • Playground: yes

Mosquito Creek Park

Mosquito Creek Park, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Mosquito Creek runs through North Vancouver for a long while, and there’s a winding forest trail all along its western bank. But the most kid-friendly section is the southern area, between 17th Street West and William Griffin Park. This is about 1.5 km long, a wide, hard packed gravel path that’s suitable for strollers and bikes, too.

Right after starting the hike from the south, you’ll notice an opening in the fence and a parallel side trail. It’s a cute path with little ponds, wooden bridges and boardwalks. This section is not stroller-friendly, but it’s very short and so much fun for kids. It rejoins the main path that continues towards William Griffin Park.

Mosquito Creek Park, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

There are access points to Mosquito Creek along the way, and the large trees give good cover both from sun and rain. We’ve seen an incredible amount of snowdrops in this park in March. You’ll also meet many dogs here, it’s popular for off-leash dog walking.

You can start the trail from both ends. There’s no parking lot at the southern trailhead, but you can park on the street on 17th Street West and Fell Avenue. There’s also a large open area, a small playground and a portable toilet. To start the trail from the north, you can park in the parking lot at Delbrook Community Centre.

The trail continues after William Griffin Park, all the way up to Montroyal Boulevard, and even further. However, as you hike north, the path becomes more uphill and narrow. The section north of Montroyal Boulevard is not maintained at all, and I wouldn’t recommend it with small kids, as there are some very steep sections with rope support.

  • Washrooms: yes (portable toilet at the southern trailhead)
  • Parking: street parking
  • Length of trail: ~1.4 km one-way (see the trail map here)
  • Playground: yes

Heywood Park

Heywood Park, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Heywood Pak has a small trail system that follows MacKay Creek and goes through a dense coastal rainforest and a floodplain. The 1.7 km loop trail is delightful, with some ups and downs, stairs and boardwalks, and several creek access points. It’s not stroller-friendly, and bikes are not allowed either. It’s a real hiking trail – an easy one for the most part, but there are a few narrow, steeper sections where I held my toddler’s hand.

The small parking lot is at the southern end of the park, accessible from Hamilton Avenue. You also find washrooms and a small playground there, after crossing the first bridge. Even though the playground is small, it has a special attraction: a zipline! The layout is quite airy, with swings, slides and a large sandbox. There’s also a nice sandy area by the bank of MacKay Creek which is perfect for water play.

Heywood Park, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

To start the loop trail, don’t cross this first bridge, but continue to the second one. Cross that and hike along the western bank of MacKay Creek, then finish the loop on the eastern bank after crossing the third bridge.

Hunter Park

Hunter Park North Vancouver

This is one of those small parks that’s known by the locals only, but entering it makes you feel like being transported from the quiet residential streets into the wilderness. Hastings Creek crosses the park, and there are walking paths on both banks, along with several bridges and crossing points.

I haven’t found any online trail map where the trails of Hunter Park are properly marked, so I can’t give you a link. But it’s not a park where you can get lost, and I’ll tell you the most useful things. Like yes, you can make a loop, the paths on the two sides of the creek do connect. You can even hike further to Princess Park, but the connector trail is steep and narrow. It might be okay in dry conditions, but we rather didn’t attempt it on an icy winter day.

You can access the trails in Hunter Park from the surrounding residential streets: Chaucer Avenue, Milton Avenue, Tennyson Crescent or Hendecourt Road. These are the streets where you can park on the street, as well, as there’s no dedicated parking lot for Hunter Park. There’s no facilities either.

Nearby Princess Park has washrooms (in the summer only) and a playground. You either hike there or drive there, because walking on the streets takes a long time – just look at the map to see the network of streets to see why (and imagine a hilly terrain).

  • Washrooms: no
  • Parking: street parking
  • Length of trail: ~2 km of hiking trails in the park
  • Playground: no

Moodyville Park

Moodyville, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Moodyville Park is another barely known gem, enjoyed mostly by the people who live in that neighborhood. The two main attractions are the Spirit Trail and a brand new, impressive playground with two zip lines, several slides, swings and climbing structures.

The Spirit Trail is a greenway that aims to connect Horseshoe Bay and Deep Cove. Unlike the Baden Powell Trail, it’s an accessible path and a waterfront-oriented route that suits pedestrians, bikers, skaters and people with mobility aids. A section of this trail runs through Moodyville Park, featuring some public art pieces. Believe it or not, you find a suspension bridge here, too! The ravine connector trail is accessed from Saint Davids Avenue and takes you to the Moodyville ravine area, via stairs and a suspension bridge.

Parking is challenging though. Most residential streets surrounding the park and the tiny parking lot of Moodyville Park are restricted to a 1-hour parking limit, except for the weekend. You can try to park further away and walk there.

  • Washrooms: yes
  • Parking: limited
  • Length of trail: ~1 km of hiking trails in the park
  • Playground: yes

Cleveland Park

Cleveland Dam, Capilano River Regional Park, North Vancouver, Canada

What makes Cleveland Park truly impressive is the views of Capilano Lake and Cleveland Dam. Kids can run around on the huge grassy hillside, and you can tackle the trails of neighboring Capilano River Regional Park.

Hike down to the Second Canyon Viewpoint Trail for views of the dam from below, then continue to the Coho loop which offers pretty views of Capilano River. It’s more than 3 km altogether though, and the terrain has some steep downhills (which are steep uphills on your way back). Since it’s not stroller-friendly terrain, be prepared to carry younger toddlers, or drive to the Coho Loop parking area separately. In this case, you avoid most of the elevation gain.

If you cross the road from the Cleveland Park parking lot, you can get to the sport fields, and there’s a small playground, as well.

  • Washrooms: yes
  • Parking: Cleveland Park parking lot
  • Length of trail: it depends on your choice
  • Playground: yes

Capilano River Regional Park

Capilano River Regional Park, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

So Capilano River Regional Park is not far from Cleveland Park, it’s just a bit further downstream of it on the Capilano River. It has its own parking area at Capilano River Hatchery, which is an exciting place to watch the salmon run in fall, and learn about salmon species at their free exhibition.

Capilano River Regional Park, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

The Coho Loop is the most popular trail, and this 1.1 km loop is ideal for families: two scenic bridges with canyon views and majestic old-growth rainforest on the way. It’s definitely not stroller-friendly terrain, and there’s some elevation change. However, the stairs and large roots make it exciting for kids. You’ll forget you’re still in an urban area on this trail.

Harborview Park

Harborview Park, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Now this is really “just a walk in the park”. It’s a flat, wide, gravel path that’s suitable even for strollers, and the full length of Harborview Park is about 800 meters, along Lynn Creek. It’s in the middle of an industrial area, so you definitely won’t feel out in the wild here. But this is where Lynn Creek meets the ocean, and this small patch of nature is here, because the estuary has been restored and is now home to many seabirds.

The metal observation deck at the end offers distant views of Vancouver and the North Shore mountains. My son was also deeply interested in all the metal stuff that was stored within the fenced area and all the machines working on the other side of Lynn Creek.

You can get down to Lynn Creek at some places, and you can also walk to Lynnmouth Park via the underpass under the railway tracks (another thing that my son liked very much). Otherwise Lynnmouth Park is quite small, and there’s no underpass below busy Main Street to the northern section of the park.

  • Washrooms: no
  • Parking: yes
  • Length of trail: ~800 m one-way
  • Playground: no

+1: Park & Tilford Gardens

Tilford Gardens, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Harborview Park was actually a random discovery, because the reason we visited that area of North Vancouver was the Park & Tilford Gardens which is only a few minutes drive away from Harborview Park.

This garden was created in 1962 by the head of the Tilford Distilleries so that employees have a nice place to eat their lunch. After the company closed its site in North Vancouver, the gardens fell into despair. By today the industrial area turned into the Park & Tilford Shopping Centre, and the redesigned gardens are open to the public for free. This fact makes this botanic garden one of a kind in Canada.

Tilford Gardens, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Eight themed gardens connect to each other, including an oriental garden, native garden, rose garden and magnolia garden. This latter was the reason we visited. Blooming magnolias and rhododendrons create a fairy tale little corner in the park in late April-early May. The oriental garden is also very special, with bamboo and Japanese maple, an arched bridge over a goldfish pond and the Moon Gate.

No, it’s certainly not like the VanDusen Botanical Garden or the Butchart Gardens near Victoria, it’s much smaller, but such a pretty place to spend an hour or two. 

General useful info about parking

Some of these parks have their own parking lots, and some of those lots have a time limit, varying between 1 and 4 hours. A few hours are enough to enjoy these parks, but in case you plan a longer picnic there, make sure you either keep the time limit, or park on the streets.

In general you are allowed to park on the street, unless otherwise posted. If streets have time-limited parking or allow parking with a permit only, that’s clearly posted, so just pay attention to the street signs. Keep general parking rules and be respectful of residents.