Updated on August 11, 2016
Vancouver: Exploring a Christmas tree rainforest
Our plan was to gather iconic shots of the city but when the crew handed me a brochure describing the Greater Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains, well, as you can imagine, that changed everything.
Craig drove, I navigated. From downtown Vancouver, we zipped across iconic Stanley Park, then the expansive Lions Gate Bridge and then soared like eagles to the base of Grouse Mountain. Visitors were boarding a scenic aerial tramway ride to the summit, daredevils stood on the roof of the ride for a heart-stopping experience.
Locals agree that at over 4,000 feet in altitude, the commute is the best chance to see an unobstructed 360-degree view of the city. Other options include the hiking trail known as the Grouse Grind as well as a helicopter sightseeing adventure. Unfortunately, at the hour we arrived, low-lying clouds heavily blanketed most of the panorama, so, instead, we made our way back a winding road to Cleveland Dam.
Built in 1954, the Dam sits atop the the man-made Capilano Lake that provides fresh drinking water to millions. Several short hikes and trails lead to amazing views of the spillway.
Should you recognize the Dam, it and the reservoir and river have had cameos in a few dozen entertainment features: Smallville, Supernatural, The 6th Day and more.
After tempting vertigo looking out over the Dam, we parked a little bit further down the road to take in a Vancouver landmark: the Capilano Suspension Bridge at Capilano Canyon. Based on the crowds queued up on an early Monday morning, it was no surprise to learn that this is one of Canada’s most popular attractions.
The best part about this trail adventure are the Douglas-Firs, trees that I tried to grow unsuccessfully in my backyard because of a destructive beetle infestation.
In the wild, they can reach over 200 feet tall and live for nearly 1,000 years. Their massive canopy allows protection for flora and fauna underneath to thrive. Pest management must be really, really vigilant to protect this vulnerable evergreen.