Five summer outings that you just can’t refuse
Summer’s on, the days are long and sunny, and you just want to get outside. You want the best summer ever, but typically, you have no money to speak of.
Lucky for you, amazing outdoor adventures await within a reasonable radius of the Lower Mainland, using either transit or carpool. There are too many to describe, but here are five suggestions that won’t let you down… or leave you down and out.
Hike The Chief
First thing’s first: If you haven’t done The Chief in Squamish, go do it. It’s in Stawamus Chief Provincial Park, which also boasts attractions such as Bridal Falls (a towering waterfall) and mountain-goat-like climbers on sheer rock walls.
I have done The Chief twice in my life and both times I couldn’t stop talking about the amazing view, especially because the colour of the water at the foot of Howe Sound is honestly worth the hike.
There are three ways to top The Chief. I am familiar with one that is “Grouse Grind-esque,” though slightly less intense, though some parts require some rope climbing. There are lots of cute dogs, and it’s good to do this hike in the morning because it gets busy with locals.
A highlight is the peanut-sized chipmunks at the top who will try to steal your trail mix. They are so quick!
Beach volleyball at Spanish Banks
If you have a volleyball net — or even if you don’t — head to Spanish Banks to play. Picture a blue-sky day, a slight breeze, and long sandy beaches near UBC. Someone is flying a kite nearby, portable barbecues are cooking, and it’s the best day ever.
There are a number of permanent wooden posts that are first-come, first-served. On a busy summer day, you may have to vie for two posts for your net, but it’s not impossible and people are often happy to have you join their game. It’s questionable whether you want to swim in the freezing Pacific, but I do, and it’s refreshing! There is usually enough parking if you play enough musical cars. Or, the bike trail links to the wide network of bike trails around the city.
[pullquote]”Lucky for you, amazing outdoor adventures await within a reasonable radius of the Lower Mainland.”[/pullquote]
Walk around Killarney Lake, Bowen Island
This one is great because it’s an island trip! From downtown Vancouver, hop a bus to Horseshoe Bay. Time it to catch the ferry to Snug Cove on Bowen Island as a foot passenger. From there, you are walking distance from your destination, Killarney Lake. Although you are practically no further than a Sasquatch step from Vancouver, you should feel miles away. This trip is great for a picnic lunch.
Bring your bathing suit for a dip in the ocean. I am sure the local pub would be happy to reward you for your hard work, too.
Hike through old growth forests at Echo Lake
Next up, I am dying to visit the Echo Lake old growth forests near Aggasiz. They’re about two hours driving from Vancouver city centre.
If you haven’t heard about Echo Lake, but you love lowland ancient rainforests and eagles, then I’m pleased to introduce you. Petitions to “Save Echo Lake” voice desire to ensure the forests are protected, and for good reason.
When the salmon run, the area is said to host the largest concentrations of bald eagles on the planet. After their sushi, the eagles roost in the old growth forests. For a chance to seriously restore the quality of oxygen in your lungs, this area sounds amazing. Why not sign a petition while you’re at it?
Note: Make sure you don’t end up at Echo Lake near Kamloops — use Google Maps!
[pullquote align=”right”]”Although you are practically no further than a Sasquatch step from Vancouver, you should feel miles away.”[/pullquote]
Bike to Steveston and Finn Slough
Ride your bike to Steveston fishing village on the south end of Richmond. The same dyke that keeps the arms of the Fraser from flooding the city offers an extremely flat, packed gravel bike route tracing north, west and south edges of Richmond.
You can throw bikes on the Canada Line and unload at Aberdeen station to start 50 metres away from the dyke. If you’re more industrious, bike over the Canada Line Bridge and follow a bike route all the way. Ride past the shiny Olympic Oval, spot the hovercraft base, and spy a floatplane taking off.
Count seals, old farmhouses, coyotes, red-winged blackbirds, and herons hiding in the marshland. Also, a million dollars if you find the cows that graze in the marshland. When you end up at Steveston, reward yourself with Timothy’s frozen yogurt.
Note: If you’re a keen biker, continue past Steveston to find the historical community called Finn Slough (pronounced sloo). A former fishing community, it is a cluster of small sheds and float-houses that sit on the Fraser River.