Walking? Sixty-five feet up in the air? When we were invited to tour the Greenheart TreeWalk at the UBC Botanical Garden, I was a bit nervous. I have a fear of heights, and the thought of being that high up, walking on very bouncy, see-through metal bridges attached to large Douglas Firs didn’t thrill me at first.
But, I am an adventurous mom. With enthusiastic family in tow, we proceeded to introduce ourselves to our guide for the 45 minute, 308-metre Greenheart TreeWalk tour in UBC’s beautiful Botanical Garden.
The UBC Greenheart TreeWalk Experience
The UBC Greenheart TreeWalk is located on the campus of the University of British Columbia’s beautiful Botanical Garden. It’s about a 10-15 minute drive from downtown Vancouver and is also accessible by public transit. Tickets can be purchased at the UBC Botanical Garden.
We opted for a guided tour of the Greenheart TreeWalk, and met our naturalist at the entrance to the TreeWalk. The structure begins out fairly low to the ground, where a gentle incline slowly brings you above the ferns and small trees. The view of the forest as we walked higher was beautiful and illuminating. Unless you’re a bird or climbing animal, you don’t see this unique tree canopy viewpoint often, if ever.
Our guide pointed out many special forest features that you don’t notice or see from the ground. These include the special licorice ferns (so-called because they taste like licorice) that only grow midway up mature Fir trees. Or the bright, chartreuse green seed pods of maple trees that can be boiled to make a tea for drinking.
The metal walkway is quite bouncy, and may take some getting used to if you have younger kids. My youngest child could only cross when everyone else had finished to minimize the bounciness, and our guide was kind and encouraging at all times. I’m sure he wasn’t the first to experience such fears.
The highest point of the canopy tour is the 65-foot watchtower. Here you can just peek through the canopy to catch a glimpse of the mouth of the Fraser River and Georgia Straight. On the green forest floor, the fast growing alders jockey for sunlight amongst hundred year-old hemlocks. These remain in the forest, unlogged due to their brittle wood quality. Evidence of bird activity is audible, and signs of woodpeckers can be found at every dead tree trunk.
The Greenheart TreeWalk operates April 1 – October 31. Drop-in tours are limited to 18 people and are approximately 1 hour long. Group bookings must be made in advance. Please review the Greenheart TreeWalk tour experience hereand complete the booking request form to request a tour. Guided tours are booked for a minimum of 10 participants. We highly recommend that groups of over 15 book a guided tour.
Tips for enjoying the Greenheart TreeWalk
- Both hands must be free to hold onto the canopy guide ropes
- Small children must be either able to walk on their own or be carried in an approved child backpack or carrier
- Strollers, walkers or wheelchairs are not permitted on the walkway
- No jumping, running, or excessive swaying of the bridges
- Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult
- Closed-toe shoes are highly recommended
- Allow for about one hour to complete the Greenheart TreeWalk
When to Visit the Greenheart TreeWalk
The Greenheart TreeWalk operates April 1 – October 31. The UBC Botanical Garden is beautiful at any time of year, but springtime is especially busy for nature. All manner of creatures of interest to children and adults alike are active in the forest. IN particular, you’ll see field mice, many species of birds and insects, and pollinating bees.
The Garden has many pathways that meander through the Asian and Alpine gardens, as well as the second-growth forest, and they are all wheelchair and stroller-friendly.
Disclosure: The travelling mom thanks the UBC Botanical Garden and the Greenheart TreeWalk for their generosity in making our visit possible.
Have you visited the Greenheart TreeWalk at UBC Botanical Garden? Share your comment below.