You may have heard that outdoor retailer REI will be closed on Friday, November 27—a day that has become known as Black Friday. The American chain is encouraging their customers to opt for time outside in nature over visiting their stores and consuming—on the day named for putting retailers’ balance books into the black. The campaign is appropriately called #OptOutside.
Let’s face it, being outside makes our lives better! So what recreational activity are you going to do on that day (or weekend)? If you don’t know, here are five suggestions in Metro Vancouver:
- Trail Running at Brunswick Point—Late November weather can be pretty harsh. Where should you look for the best weather? Look south to Ladner, buddy! This is in the neighbourhood of Brunswick Point.
Roy Jantzen trail running at Brunswick Point. Photo courtesy Roy Jantzen
I know, most Vancouverites think anything south of Marine Drive is the hinterland. That is why you are likely to have this area to yourself on November 27—or share it only with local dog walkers. The dyke is flat and provides a 360-degree view of the North Shore Mountains, Vancouver Island, the San Juan Islands and Mt. Baker.
Directions: Take the Massey tunnel to Ladner Trunk Road and then to River Road to its end. The dyke trail heads south to Brunswick Point, then east past farms on your left to a gate at the four km mark. Return for an eight km run or continue past the gate, the train tracks and the road to Roberts Bank Coal Port Jetty. The trail continues on the other side until it meets the B.C. Ferries causeway (another 3.5 km). If you take transit, you will take the #620 to the ferry and start from that side. This could be a full 15 km run.
- Cycling at Point Roberts—A little further south from Ladner is Point Roberts, USA. It’s a great cycling loop.
Point Roberts border marker. Photo: Roy Jantzen
A highlight of this ride is the 49th Parallel and its history. Challenge yourself to do a little digging prior to your ride and understand how the border came to create this geopolitical oddity known as Point Roberts. If you find this fascinating, then dig just a little further and discover how the Pig War extended the International border through the Gulf and San Juan Islands.
Tuck your research into your panniers and pull it out at Lighthouse Park, Lily Point or Bay View and feed your inner history buff. Pack a picnic, as the views are stunning and you will want to sit awhile.
Directions: Don’t forget your passport to cross the border! Cross the border on your bike. Turn right on Mackenzie, right on Delano, left on Roosevelt to begin your loop of Point Roberts. Continue counter-clockwise around the peninsula. Print out a map before you leave and take it with you.
- Snowshoeing at Mt. Seymour—It’s a longshot to ensure there will be enough snow for snowshoeing on this weekend on Mt. Seymour. However, it is Metro Vancouver’s highest point accessible by road, so if there is snow anywhere, it’s there.
Winter sundown on Dog Mountain. Photo: Meg Mittelstedt
If there isn’t snow, then let’s call this a hike! The Dog Mountain lookout is, without a doubt, my favourite place to be on a clear sky day. The view is outstanding. The distance, terrain, and diversity of this snowshoe or hike are as close to being “just right” as any trail can offer. The best days are the ones that are crystal-clear, but that follow a snowfall—providing you with a soft, quiet walk amongst the old growth sub-alpine forest. No new snow means loud crunching, making it harder to hear your companions. This is a good place to look down on the hustle and bustle of busy-Vancouver-shoppers doing their ‘consuming thing,’ while you chill at this spectacular lookout.
Directions: Start at the Mount Seymour Trail kiosk, to the left of the Mystery Peak chairlift. Travel 50 metres up the main Mt. Seymour trail and make your first left where you will go over a small bridge. This is the start of a mostly undulating trail.
- Paddling in Deep Cove & Indian Arm—Bring your own or rent your craft in Deep Cove for a fall paddle to Jug Island. Indian Arm is a jewel in Greater Vancouver, but without access to a boat, it is difficult to experience.
Deep Cove. Photo: Roy Jantzen
So how do you explore this glacial fjord easily? If you are proficient on the water, then launch a rented boat from Deep Cove Canoe & Kayak. The business in the Cove has many options of gear, safety equipment and may even offer instruction on the weekend.
A short trip to Jug Island and the secluded beach facing it is a perfect introduction to this popular area. Access to water such as this must be one reason we live and play in a coastal city like Vancouver.
Directions: Follow the shoreline out of the Cove, cross in a straight line about one km across Indian Arm, then follow the shoreline north, where you round the tip to the right and see Jug Island in front of you. There is a beach to pull out on for a great picnic spot.
- Hiking in the Temperate Forest of Cypress Falls—This great winter hike takes you through a dense forest of old growth Western Red Cedar, Western Hemlock and Douglas fir. This moss-draped trail through moist, temperate forest is quintessential west coast and leads to two waterfalls. Many trees in this forest are 300 to 400 years old—a remnant of what the North Shore used to have from Deep Cove to Horseshoe Bay. The falls are nice, but the highlight of this hike is the old growth trees that you pass along the way.
L to R: Cap U instructors Rick Davies, Christy Dodds and Kim McLeod (with Chilco the dog). Photo: Kim McLeod
Directions: Take exit #4 off the upper levels highway and stay right on Woodgreen Drive in West Vancouver. Follow the road to Woodgreen Place and begin near the tennis courts. The forest trail is at the far end of the lot.
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For other great ideas for Metro Vancouver activities, check out Roy’s new book Active Vancouver: A Year-Round Guide to Outdoor Recreation in the City’s Natural Environments, published by Rocky Mountain Books.
- Dave Wooldridge: Outdoor Rec alum steers big canoe venture
- Chris Rhodes: The paddling academic
- Sandra Riches: Blazing trails in outdoor safety
- The trail collector