A Day Trip to Lighthouse Park, West Vancouver

Lighthouse Park is one of Metro Vancouver's most popular family destinations for hiking, and picnics and exploring west coast tide pools. (via thetravellingmom.ca)

This Mother’s Day, my family has decided to forgo the fancy brunch and lunch plans.

This decision was made easier by the fact that every restaurant my poor husband called (last night) was of course full to bursting with reservations previously booked a week or more ago in honour of mom’s’ one day (morning?) break from cooking.

Rather than wallow in self-pity over a lack of eggs benedict this Sunday, I suggested revisiting an old friend – Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver – and that we would bring our own food to enjoy after a lovely hike to the seaside. I didn’t volunteer to cook (it is supposed to be my one day off, isn’t it?), but rather suggested a lovely picnic of store-bought items and treats from the local bakery.

Lighthouse Park is one of Metro Vancouver's most popular family destinations for hiking, and picnics and exploring west coast tide pools. (via thetravellingmom.ca)

A beautiful view of downtown Vancouver from the Park

This idea excited both of us, as it would be cheaper than going out to eat, would involve one of our favourite forest hikes, and as my husband would visit my favourite cheese shop for something “extra special.” That, plus the promise of some “extra special” chocolate, meant our plan was set.

Lighthouse Park is a hidden jewel. In 1792, Captain George Vancouver charted and named the land where Lighthouse Park sits. He called the promontory Point Atkinson, the name it still retains today. The existing lighthouse was built in 1912 and serves as a landmark that can be viewed from several vantage points within the Park, and from the water as well.

Lighthouse Park is one of Metro Vancouver's most popular family destinations for hiking, and picnics and exploring west coast tide pools. (via thetravellingmom.ca)

The forest trails wind their way throughout Lighthouse Park

The hike from the parking lot to the Lighthouse is an easy 10-minutes, or a 5-minute run downhill with my children. The Park is home to an awe-inspiring and fragile old growth forest. It’s worth stopping to examine old stumps and admire the size of the Douglas fir and red cedar tree trunks. We are all amazed to realize that all of Vancouver was once covered by such giant and majestic trees.

We have a couple of favourite picnic spots at Lighthouse Park. One of the best is found near the base of the Lighthouse itself. We set up our picnic area on the massive boulders and enjoy the spectacular view of Burrard Inlet, Vancouver, and Vancouver Island. The kids are always fascinated by the ocean traffic of kayaks, sailboats, ferries and cargo ships, and get a thrill when a sailor returns a wave.

If we and the kids can wait a little longer for our lunch, we continue hiking westward and break at one of the viewpoints overlooking Howe Sound and Bowen Island. Some locations have benches, but again, the boulders are an inviting choice. There are several trail options to make our way back to the parking lot, and many of them are uphill and can be strenuous if you’re not used to it.

We always linger at Lighthouse Park and I’m sure we will again this visit. There is so much wonderful nature to enjoy and explore that the opportunity to slow down and smell the sea air and forest is a thing to savour. Just like our delicious picnic.

[travellingmom tip: Lighthouse Park is easily accessible by car off of Marine Drive, via Beacon Lane in West Vancouver. As you travel westward along Marine Drive, the road begins to narrow and become more windy after the neighbourhoods of Ambleside and Dundarave. There is a wooden sign marking the Park turn-off onto Beacon Lane, where you continue down through a residential area until you reach the Park’s parking lot. Be prepared for a variety of trail conditions and temperature changes by the ocean where it can be windy.]

Photo Credits: C. Laroye

Do you have a favorite park for a family day trip hike? Share your comment below.

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