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Granville Island to Coal Harbour via Stanley Park

A trail through Vancouver's natural, urban and gourmet highlights.
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 11.8 miles
Duration: Full day
Family Friendly

Overview :  A Vancouver local once explained to me why he had originally come to the city for a two-week holiday but had never gone home.

"In... more »

Tips:  The Stanley Park Ecology Society (see link in 'other resources') has an office at the southern end of Lost Lagoon, and they are a... more »

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Points of Interest

I'm using this as the trail head because, if you do this guide in the opposite direction, its bar is an excellent place to reward yourself while enjoying dockside views down False Creek.

It's also a good accommodation option. The rooms have had a makeover in recent years and while it's still not the best hotel in Vancouver, it could be regarded... More

This place is foodie heaven and where to stock up for a picnic lunch in Stanley Park. You'll find everything from blueberries to goats cheese in the dozens of regular stalls. Open every day from 9am to 7pm, but the earlier the better to beat the crowds.

Continue around the island's shore path as you leave the market for the best boating views, or... More

Just one more foodie (kind of) option before we get to the walk's natural highlights. This microbrewery has been doing its own thing since the '80s and it succeeds for good reason.

It's a very worthwhile alternative for the end-of-walk reward if you do this trail in reverse. The bar has a good atmosphere but lacks the views of the Granville... More

4. Vancouver city skyline views

The path that skirts down the south side of False Creek provides an instant reminder of why Vancouver always scores near the top of those 'best city to live in the world' surveys.

You'll be walking through pleasant foreshore parkland (with fantastic colors in autumn) with city skyline views above the harboured boats. The only bit of graffiti I... More

5. Vancouver ferries

They appear more like bathtubs than boats, so your designer sailing gear is going to look a little over the top on these vessels. But they cross False Creek to various stops every few minutes so they are a convenient and fun way to see the city from the water.

For this trail, I'm suggesting you board at Stamps Landing and get off at the Aquatic... More

6. Tree atop the Eugenia Place building

Parts of Stanley Park might look like virgin rainforest, but the reality is that even the most mature sections have regrown since the area was logged in the 1860s. A tree growing on the roof terrace of the 17-storey Eugenia Place building marks how tall the original forest would be today.

Office of the Stanley Park Ecological Society (see 'tips').

8. Seawall path

The popular Seawall trail fills with walkers, joggers, cyclists and rollerbladers most days, but those on wheels get their own path so things remain fairly relaxed. It's popular for good reasons - the beaches and coastal scenery on the west side of the park, and the views of North Vancouver and distant mountains when you trek the path on the... More

9. Wildflowers and wild birds

On the inland trails you'll see fewer people and more wildlife. If you're doing this walk in summer months, you'll come across large sections of colorful wildflowers when the forest clears. Another common sight is bald eagles and crows fighting their territorial battles.

10. Beaver Lake

This wetland area is a perfect spot to break out that Granville Market picnic if it has survived this long. The lake is carpeted with water lilies and is home to a range of water birds including mallards and wood ducks. Don't expect to see beavers - the lake was named after the SS Beaver which was shipwrecked off the northern coast of Stanley Park... More

After viewing the Stanley Park wildlife in the wild, it might feel slightly strange to see their aquatic cousins in captivity. But it is the park's main attraction, with more than a million visitors a year coming to see its Beluga whales, seals, beavers and another 600 or so species.

Open 9am - 7pm daily. Adults $27, discounts $21, kids $17.

12. Brockton Cricket Club

For international visitors, perhaps the only thing more surprising than discovering Stanley Park has beaches is that it has a cricket pitch.

It's tempting to think of this as a historical legacy from a time when Canada was one of the British pink bits on the map, but apparently the thwack of leather upon willow is heard regularly here. It's also... More

13. Totem poles

No trip to Stanley Park would be complete without a stroll past these dramatic artworks, even if most are replicas. One is by the Haida art legend Bill Reid (who also did the killer whale sculpture outside the aquarium).

14. City views across Coal Harbour

The final leg of this trail towards Coal Harbour is a photo opportunity a minute. You may have thought that False Creek filled your quota of marinas with city backdrops, but think again.

Coal Harbour is arguably the most visually stunning part of Vancouver - and that's saying something in this city. Finish your walk with a drink at one of the harbour's bar/restaurants (or sit on the grass at Harbour Green Park) while watching the float planes landing in front of you. To your left is Stanley Park, to your right is the modernist... More