The North Shore of Vancouver, British Columbia is the place to be if you enjoy the great outdoors. The small communities that dot the shoreline are tucked into urban wilderness, and parks are numerous. One such green space is the Capilano River Regional Park— home to the Cleveland Dam, scenic hiking trails, and a fish hatchery. Vancouver is a beautiful city, but when you want a break from downtown traffic, skyscrapers, and crowds, drive over the Lions Gate Bridge and in 30 minutes you’ll have a little more breathing room.
Cleveland Dam was built in 1954 and holds back the 670-acre man-made Capilano Lake, which provides drinking water for much of Greater Vancouver. A nice park with mountain views makes this a great picnic spot. Peer over the side and watch thousands of gallons of water thunder over the 300-foot spillway into narrow Capilano Canyon. Impressive!
A tour of the Capliano Salmon Hatchery is self-guided. Interpretive displays and signage do a good job so you can learn as little or as much as you want about Chinook, Coho, and Steelhead. Outdoor rearing ponds for salmon and trout are covered with netting to protect the juvenile fish from birds and river otter and mink. Be sure to visit the “Fishway” in the observation gallery. Here you can see how salmon climb the fish ladders by jumping from one pool to the next. It’s fun to watch. You’ll find yourself almost rooting for the salmon as each fights the current to get upstream.
You can easily spend a couple of hours hiking in Capilano River Regional Park. Hemlock and Fir trees shade a multitude of intersecting trails that begin/end near the fish hatchery. Some paths follow the Capilano River, so you’ll cross bridges, get wet from the blowing mist at a viewpoint for the Cleveland Dam spillway, and be amazed at the sheer rocky walls of Capilano Canyon.
IF YOU GO:
Capilano Salmon Hatchery
4500 Capilano Road, North Vancouver
Open 8:00 am – 8:00 pm in the summer; 8:00 am – 4:00 in the winter
Directions: Take Capilano Road exit from Highway #1 or North Vancouver exit off Lions Gate Bridge, then left up Capilano Road. Turn left on Capilano Park Road (watch for “Capilano River Regional Park” sign) and proceed a half mile to end of the road. Note: you cannot turn right onto Capilano Park Road from southbound Capilano Road.
Parking lot for Cleveland Dam is located nearby on Capilano Road, just north Montroyal Boulevard. FREE