Looking back over the summer, it seems like some of the best days we had were actually in September. The day Crystal and I decided to hike the Baden Powell trail from Deep Cove to Lynn Canyon (Sunday, Sept. 11/11) was definitely one of them. The weather was perfect for hiking – nice and sunny but not quite as hot as some of our hikes in August.
Trail Condition: 3/5 Most of the trail is well-maintained, but there are a few sections of exposed rock and/or roots that might be difficult for people without sturdy footwear.
Challenge: 3/5 The beginning and end of the trail feature some fairly steep portions but the middle is mostly downhill.
Scenery: 4/5 The views on this section of the Baden Powell are definitely better than the Lynn Canyon to Grouse portion and there is a similar amount of variety in terrain.
Crowds: 2/5 Maybe not quite as crowded as the Grind, there were still quite a few other hikers on this trail. In particular, the first section (known as the Quarry Rock trail) and the last section (Lynn Canyon Park) were very busy.
I based our trip on the information I found on the Vancouver Trails site here. I had done the Quarry Rock portion of the trail a few times many years ago, but we were going to be using transit rather than driving this time, so I was glad to have some guidance regarding transit directions.
Since the beginning and end of the trail are fairly far apart, transit seems like a more convenient option even if we had a car.
We followed the directions on Vancouver Trails and took the Seabus over to Lonsdale Quay. There was a sign of things to come when we missed the Seabus by a few minutes and had to wait half an hour for the next one.
Once at Lonsdale Quay, the directions indicated that we should be looking for the 229 bus. The 229 does, indeed, go to Phibbs Exchange, but it’s worth noting that the 239 Phibbs Exchange is also a good (if not better) option. We found this out when we asked a bus driver and he pointed to the departing 239 – another 15 minutes of waiting that could have been avoided.
There was another 20 minute wait at Phibbs Exchange for the 212 bus, which brought us directly to Deep Cove. All told, we spent about an hour waiting for transit, so a trip that could have been completed in about 40-45 minutes took nearly two hours. We’ll definitely plan better next time.
The bus dropped us off across the street from the park in Deep Cove. We stopped to take a few pictures and use the washrooms before walking up to the trail. The first marker on the Baden Powell as a whole (or the last, depending on your perspective) is near the middle of the park. We followed the paved path up to Panorama Road and followed it for a minute or two, and we nearly walked right past the driveway that leads to the trailhead.
The trail began with a short series of steps and then there was a section of exposed roots. I guess this part of the trail (known to the locals as Quarry Rock) gets used so often that, combined with erosion from water, only the rocks and tough old tree roots are left.
Unsurprisingly for such a nice day, there were a lot of people (and a lot of friendly dogs) on this part of the trail. Like most of the Baden Powell, the trip up to Quarry Rock is a lot of up and down and we crossed many small valleys and dried up creeks. There were a few steep portions, but nothing too challenging.
We reached Quarry Rock after about 40 minutes and stopped for a quick lunch. We had planned to go further before eating, but the delays in getting to the trail had us way off schedule. There were about a dozen other people with the same idea, but the area has more than enough room. We found a nice mossy spot in the shade and dug in to the pepperoni, cheese and mixed nuts we brought for trail rations.
After lunch I shot a quick video from the top of Quarry Rock and then we moved out.
A few minutes after Quarry Rock we came to a large clearing near a power-line tower. There is a pretty cool view from underneath it, and there is plenty of evidence of people enjoying that view with fire and tasty beverages. There are several trails leading out of the clearing and the description on Vancouver Trails is a bit hard to follow, so I made a quick video that should help future hikers make the right choice. (Note: this video showcases my most recently acquired video editing skill: Voice Over! Oooh! Aaah!)
Not long after the clearing, we reached Indian River Drive. Apparently this paved road is considered part of the Baden Powell and we walked along it for several minutes until we found the next section of trail. This portion is shared with mountain bikers and it is probably the most challenging part of the entire hike. In particular, there is a long stretch of exposed rock that would be difficult without good hiking boots.
We paused at the highest point of the exposed rock section and ate some apples and the rest of our mixed nuts.
From there, the trail started a gradual descent that went on for a couple of hours – nearly half the total distance covered by the hike. During this time we traversed terrain ranging from exposed rock to wooden boardwalks over swamp. At about the half way point of the hike, we crossed Mount Seymour Parkway. Crystal said the outhouses there were the nicest she’d ever used.
At what I would assume must be the lowest point in the middle portion of the trail is a nice home beside a fast-running river (the Seymour River, I believe). After descending for such a long time, we began the inevitable climb back up toward Lynn Canyon park. There were several long sets of stairs, beginning on the riverbank opposite the house. Beside the first set of stairs we saw a big pipe coming out of the cliff face. We saw the same pipe several more times along the ascent. Apparently it was once a very important part of the water supply system for downtown Vancouver. Not sure if it still is or not.
As we got closer to Lynn Canyon, there were many other trails criss-crossing with the Baden Powell, but we managed to stay on track easily by following the familiar orange triangle markers.
We took our third, and final, break on the beautiful rocky beach just downriver from the Lynn Canyon bridges. After gathering our strength, we made the final ascent past the tourists and into the park via several long flights of wooden stairs. A Legolas (or Orlando Bloom) fan left an inspiring message on a tree stump along the way. I’m not sure if everyone will appreciate it as much as I did, but it definitely got a laugh out of us.
In total, the hike took a little over four hours, including stops for lunch and for a nice break on the riverbank when we got into the park.
We boarded the 229 bus just outside Lynn Canyon Park for a 15 minute trip down to the Seabus and back downtown. If I had a choice, I’d definitely choose to have all my return trips be smooth and, aside from the crowded bus, this one presented no problems.
Items of Note
It’s hard to say, but I think hiking the trail in this direction is slightly easier. The beginning and ending of the hike are fairly intense this way, but the uphill portion would be much more prolonged in the other direction. In any case, the trail is rated for year-round hiking, so hopefully I’ll have a chance to find out soon.
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