Staycation In British Columbia

Explore B.C. this summer with these local social distancing friendly travel favourites

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Harrison Lake
Campbell Lake Trail, overlooking Harrison Lake, B.C. Photo: Graham Osborne

Summer is long from over and British Columbians can enjoy endless outdoor activities. Discover your province by doing a staycation and revisit some favourite gems or try new activities you may not have had a chance to explore yet.

1. Harrison Hot Springs

This local gem is about 1.5 hours from Vancouver making it an ideal day trip location. Or you could make it a weekend getaway exploring outdoor activities such as hiking, running and biking trails for all ages and abilities. 

“The Harrison River Valley consists of Harrison Mills, Agassiz, and Harrison Hot Springs,” says Stephanie Gallamore with Tourism Harrison. “With magnificent mountains, mighty rivers, rich soil, and rejuvenating lakes, this area is an eco-tourism haven – and the perfect place to enjoy natural hot springs, hiking, biking, forest bathing, and canoeing and kayaking.”

Challenge yourself to numerous hiking trails ranging in difficulty, or enjoy a walk in the forest and do some forest bathing with Ya Doma Nature and Forest Therapy. 

Here are a few popular hiking trails to check out when you visit:

  • Spirit Trail
    This is a short, easy 20-minute level walk. What makes it special is that several dozen of the cedar trees along the trail are decorated with dozens of masks made by a local artist. 
  • Spirit Trail/Bridle Trail Loop
    Moderate two-hour walk through Lower Bear Mountain consisting of forest, wetlands, and cliffs. This closed-loop is home to a variety of wildlife.
  • Bear Mountain
    Not for the faint of heart! This 18 km, seven-hour hike, east of Harrison Lake, leads you past several small waterfalls and breathtaking views of the Fraser Valley, Fraser River, and the Cheam Mountain Range.

2. Whistler

Mary Zinck, manager of Travel media with Tourism Whistler suggested a variety of activities for BC natives to check out this summer.

“Whistler has a host of summer offerings that you can select from – everything from multiple types of biking, hiking, stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, to lakeside lounging,” said Zinck. “In addition, there are activities that are available year round such as ziplining the Vallea Lumina, Peak 2 Peak sightseeing, the Audain Art Museum or Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre for those rainy days and bobsleigh – yes there’s a summer and winter option!

In this COVID-19 world, it’s key for potential visitors to research and plan ahead; reservations can help avoid disappointment and tickets for sightseeing are being purchased online.

“A new tool that’s been created to assist visitors with planning is Whistler’s Doors Open Directory,” Zinck explains. View the directory online by visiting www.whistler.com/doors-open/.

Grouse Grind
The 2.9 km Grouse Grind is a popular workout spot for obvious reasons. Photo: Laurence Cymet / Flickr

3. Grouse Mountain, North Vancouver

Try hiking or running up the Grouse Grind which is a 2.9 km trail up the mountain. It is a popular workout for all levels of abilities. Once you are up there, enjoy some relaxation and take the gondola down. And if you’re not afraid of heights and enjoy speedy descents, there are zipline options.

There are also 45-minute guided Eco Walks where you can learn about Grouse Mountain history and more. 

Sea to Sky Gondola
The Sea to Sky Gondola provides spectacular mountain views. Photo: Tourism Squamish / Explore Squamish

4. Sea to Sky Ride Gondola, Squamish

Take the 10 minute scenic gondola up to the summit to do some hiking, dare to cross the Sky Pilot 100-metre suspension bridge or try the Squamish Via Ferrata [similar to the Norquay Via Ferrata described in the Banff section.] 

To get your body moving after your ride up the mountain, try one of these short hiking trails located near the gondola:

  • The Panorama Trail – 1.6 km route suitable for all levels.
    This route can easily be completed in under 60 minutes. The trail takes you through through coastal forest, Alaskan blueberry bushes and to the Chief Overlook viewing platform where you’ll want a camera to capture the spectacular view.
  • Wonderland Lake Loop – 1.6 km return.
    This is a true nature trail and takes 30 – 60 minutes. You’ll pass alpine meadows, granite bluffs and explore the boardwalk around Wonderland Lake.
Big Tree Trail Tofino
Walking the Big Tree Trail in Meares Island Tribal Park. Photo: Noel Hendrickson / Tofino Tourism

5. Tofino & Ucluelet

Travellers come here from around the world to enjoy the sandy beaches, old growth forests, surfing, whale watching, camping and other outdoor activities. This area, which encompasses Pacific Rim National Park, is also home to many excellent hiking and walking trails that allow you to experience both healing forests and dramatic seascapes. Here are a couple of scenic trails to explore:

Ucluelet
The spectacular scenery of the winding Wild Pacific Trail located near Ucluelet, B.C. Photo: Andreina Schoeberlein / Flickr
  • Tonquin Beach Trail, Tofino – 3 km plus 800 metres of boardwalk and stairs leading from Tonquin Beach to Tonquin Beach Road.
    A moderate gravel trail offering beautiful views of Clayoquot Sound. It meanders through beautiful old growth forest to Tonquin Beach, Third Beach and Middle Beach. Some sections of the trail are steep and there is a series of stairs to climb. The Tofino District website explains “… there are many points of interest and view platforms along the trail including a lookout with stunning panoramic views of Templar Channel, Wickaninnish Island and the wreck site of The Tonquin. Third Beach, at low tide provides a small, sandy picket of beach perfect for quiet reflection. Beyond Third Beach is Middle Beach. This trail makes a lovely family outing for both visitors and residents.”
  • Wild Pacific Trail, Ucluelet –  2.6 km plus an option to add more distance.
    This easy, pedestrian-only trail showcases the west coast’s spectacular scenery as it winds its way along the edge of reefs where shipwrecks, whales and scenic views abound. It’s a perfect destination for families, storm and bird watchers, and hikers. Wheelchair access is available at the lighthouse area.

    The Wild Pacific website explains that “The trail can be walked in two main sections. Section one is a loop starting near the lighthouse (overlooking the Broken Group Islands of Pacific Rim National Park). Section two extends 5 km north from Big Beach Park. Then you can leave the wind-sculpted coastline to visit the largest trees in the area at Ancient Cedars grove. Breathe in the heady scent of a stand of trees over 800 years old!”
    Lighthouse Loop – ( 2.6 km) plus Terrace Beach Interpretive Trail (.5 km one way)
    Big Beach to Rocky Bluffs – (5 km one way) plus Ancient Cedars Trail (1 km loop)

6. Deer Lake, Burnaby

This one is in my own backyard! I often run the Deer Lake Loop. It offers different paths or routes from 3.5 km to 1.7 km. Deer Lake Rentals offers pedal boats and canoes so you can spend an afternoon on the lake.

Kitsilano Pool
Kitsilano Pool is Vancouver’s only saltwater swimming pool. Photo: Jeff Hitchcock / Flickr

7. Outdoor Pools, Vancouver

Kitsilano, New Brighton and Second Beach outdoor pools are now open for some fun splashing in the sun. All three are heated and require an online ticket purchase the day before swimming.

Located on the water’s edge, Kitsilano is the city’s only saltwater swimming pool. It is also close to cafes and other amenities. Second Beach is also located on the water near Stanley Park’s forests, trails and beaches. New Brighton is situated in Vancouver’s Sunrise neighbourhood.


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