Friday, August 29, 2014
Last updated: 21 hours ago
August 21, 2014, 12:36pm PDT

Places to Be: Lynn Canyon

By Jack Hauen
Photos Mackenzie Walker / The Ubyssey

Photos Mackenzie Walker / The Ubyssey

I practically lived in this place growing up.

Lynn Canyon is the giant temperate rainforest in upper Lynn Valley, North Vancouver. The main attraction to the place is the second-best suspension bridge in North Van — which doesn’t exactly sound like a slogan that would draw throngs of tourists, but every summer the forest is packed with camera flashes and inappropriate hiking footwear.

The canyon boasts a staggering natural beauty just minutes from a residential road. Nonthreatening hiking trails are perfect for beginners, with clearly defined routes and an abundance of signage to guide those new to the area, while heavily forested sections are easily traversed by experienced canyoners.

The suspension bridge for which the canyon is so well-known is a long, swaying, sky-high length of steel cable and wood stretching over the canyon itself. Built in 1912, the bridge still has that rickety feeling that can make even the most seasoned crossers feel a dip in their stomach when they get to the middle. More so if someone jumps. Once you work up the courage to make the journey, take a look over the edge to prove you’re a real adventurer, or take a selfie to prove it to everyone on Facebook. A tip when you cross: use the handrails, but you don’t need to put a death grip on them. Even in wet weather, the reverse indentation and wooden planks under your feet will make sure you won’t slip.

On the other side, follow the trail (or your heart) to the 30-foot pool, or simply “30 Foot,” if you want to sound like you know your stuff. A favourite among locals, this picturesque cliff jumping spot is perfect for hot summer days. A relaxed and friendly atmosphere is guaranteed during the warm season, since everyone’s just happy to be outside without a rain jacket. Swing by anytime the sun’s out to join in the fun.

lynn canyon web

For a longer but still leisurely hike, take the route to Lynn Headwaters and end up at Rice Lake, which once served as the source of drinking water for North Shore residents, but now exists primarily as a wildlife refuge. The trails to the Headwaters are easily accessible from the canyon and meander along the river, making for an obvious picnic/hike combo. Once you get to Rice Lake, you can head out onto the dock to fish, if you were smart enough to bring your rod. The lake is stocked with plenty of easily catchable rainbow trout in the spring and autumn, so that’s your best bet for catching something you can tell your friends was, like, this big.

If your aim is a day spent free from the bustle of a popular tourist destination in the summer, Twin Falls is a less popular area for visitors, so you can expect to spend a quieter time enjoying a spectacular view of the falls. Head right after you cross the suspension bridge from the main entrance, or turn right past the Lynn Canyon Café to access it from the other side. Take a picnic here for a lovely afternoon. Take a date for an even lovelier afternoon.

The canyon’s hikes are easy enough for beginners, but lengthy enough to satisfy outdoor enthusiasts. The best views are accessible to anyone willing to walk for 30 minutes, and they pay off in a spectacular way. The forest is just outside a residential neighbourhood, but feels like stepping back a thousand years. Wherever you end up, be it on one of the designated trails, or further into the rough, Lynn Canyon is a beautiful place to spend a couple hours or an entire day.

Don’t take my word for it; Lynn Canyon is TripAdvisor’s #1 thing to do in North Vancouver.