Have you biked the Spirit Trail yet? I recently spent a beautiful, sunny afternoon exploring it on two wheels. It’s a greenway that spans the width of the North Shore. Eventually, the Spirit Trail will stretch all the way from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove.
The Spirit Trail is a partnership between West Vancouver, the City of North Vancouver, the District of North Vancouver, the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, and the Squamish First Nation. The trail passes through all those jurisdictions, but it also incorporates their history and culture too. Make sure to stop at the numerous public art pieces and historical info signs (to learn more about public art in North Vancouver, visit our webpage). They really help connect you with the spirit of the North Shore as you ride the trail. In the Squamish language, the trail is called Shewalh Stelmexw (Sha-woth Stol-molth), which means “People’s Path”. Pretty fitting if you ask me!
Right now the main completed portion of the Spirit Trail runs from Ambleside Park to Park & Tilford Gardens. Wherever possible the path stays near the ocean. For the most part, the trail is separated from traffic. That makes it fun and safe for cyclists of all abilities, as well as runners, walkers, in-line skaters and people with mobility aids. It’s also almost entirely flat too! The entire route has lots of directional signage so it’s easy to stay on the right track. Look for the circular designs on the ground and the official Spirit Trail logo everywhere.
There is so much to see along the trail and so many great places to stop for a break. Here’s a broad overview of the highlights along each section of the trail.
Ambleside Park: Follow the trail through the centre of the park, then around behind Park Royal Mall. Don’t miss the steel First Nations sculpture on the west side of the park.
Welch Street path and Welch Park: After crossing the bridge over the Capilano River, the Spirit Trail continues on a wide path next to Welch Street. It travels across Squamish Nation land, then through tree-lined Welch Park.
Harbourside Overpass (pictured left): Climb up the curving ramps of the Harbourside Overpass. Pause at the top for a breather on the fun curved benches.
Kingsmill Walk: Loop around the auto mall area on Kingsmill Walk. This seaside path has amazing views of Vancouver. Dog lovers rejoice: there’s also a fenced off-leash area!
Mosquito Creek Marina: Next comes one of the most interesting parts: the trail actually dips down below sea level to pass under a boat lift. Pause at the bottom to look through the porthole into the ocean!
Squamish Nation Waterfront Greenway: The next section travels through Squamish Nation land past some float homes. Look for Squamish art on the seating areas and Squamish artist Wade Baker’s beautiful steel and carved red cedar arch called “Gateway to Ancient Wisdom”.
Lonsdale Quay: Head into the Lonsdale Quay (pictured left) for a snack, lunch or some shopping. Or just sit outside with a coffee and enjoy the views.
The Shipyards: Past the Quay, check out the newly redeveloped Shipyards neighbourhood. Don’t miss a stroll out along the pier for great views. There are also lots of information plaques in the area to help explain the history of North Vancouver’s long history of shipbuilding.
Moodyville: Above Low Level Road the Spirit Trail heads into Moodyville Park. Watch for signs along the path about the history of Moodyville, a company town that grew up around a sawmill. Slow down as you bike to read the inscriptions on the rocks as part of the Murmuring Crows art project. Be sure to park your bike and take a detour down the pedestrian path to visit the new suspension bridge over the ravine.
Distance: Up to 13 km one way
Difficulty: Easy and mostly flat with low traffic
Cycling Time: 45 min-2 hours
Start Points: Ambleside Park or Park & Tilford Gardens
Maps: City of North Vancouver website
Taryn Eyton is a Vancouver-based hiker, adventure traveller and blogger. You can find her on the trails of Vancouver’s North Shore on weeknights and camping in the backcountry of Southwestern B.C. on weekends. Follow Taryn’s adventures at HappiestOutdoors.ca.