Tucked away in the Seymour Valley, the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve is a bit of a hidden gem as it doesn’t have the crowds you’ll find at some other North Shore parks. With over 100 kilometers of trails open to hikers and bikers, picnic areas, a fish hatchery, and a lake, you’ll have to make a few visits to explore it all. Bring a copy of the park map to find your way.
Know Before You Go
The flat trail around Rice Lake is the most popular destination in the reserve, and for good reason. It’s a beautiful loop hike with benches to stop and enjoy the view. If you have a licence, you can fish off the dock on the east side. It has a stroller-friendly gravel surface that makes it a popular hike for kids. Plan to spend about an hour on the 3km loop.
Seymour Valley Trailway
The paved Seymour Valley Trailway stretches 12 kilometers up the Seymour River valley to the Seymour Dam. It’s open to bikers, in-line skaters and walkers, but closed to cars which makes it one of the North Shore’s best bike rides. Plan to spend 2 to 4 hours to bike the whole thing.
Bring your lunch to one of the picnic areas scattered throughout the reserve. There are a few picnic areas near the main parking lot and Rice Lake. But if you walk or bike down the Seymour Valley Trailway, don’t miss the Mid Valley picnic area. It has incredible views of the entire Seymour River Valley and the mountains to the east in Mount Seymour Provincial Park.
Seymour Falls Dam
Located at the end of the Seymour Valley Trailway, the 30-meter-high Seymour Falls Dam holds back the Seymour Reservoir. It supplies about one-third of Vancouver’s drinking water, so it isn’t open to the public. However, you can get a good look at the dam by taking a short spur trail up to a viewpoint near the end of the Trailway. Another great place to view the dam is from the middle of the Bear Island Bridge that crosses the Seymour River from the Old Growth Trail to the Spur 4 road.
Old Growth Trail
If you have biked or walked up the Seymour Valley Trailway, don’t miss detouring on to the Old Growth Trail just before the 10km marker. It’s a packed dirt and gravel trail but doesn’t have any technical features so it’s suitable for most bikes. It winds through some beautiful old growth cedar and douglas fir trees next to the Seymour River. The 2.5km trail takes about 30 minutes to walk or 15 minutes to ride.
Seymour Fish Hatchery
You’ll find the Seymour Fish Hatchery at the end of the Seymour Valley Trailway, just below the Seymour Falls Dam. It’s run by volunteers from the Seymour Salmonid Society. They raise Coho, Steelhead, Pink, and Chum salmon that historically would have migrated up the Seymour River before it was dammed. Check out their website for more info about visiting.
Spur 4 Road
If you’re up for some more adventurous bike riding, explore the gravel Spur 4 Road on the east side of the Seymour River. There are some sections with loose gravel and some steep hills, but it’s non-technical riding. It’s also much less busy than the Trailway. You can access Spur 4 Road by taking the Hydraulic Connector Trail just before the 6km mark on the Trailway. Another access option is to ride over the Bear Island Bridge at the end of the Old Growth Trail.
Circuit 8 Trail
If you’re new to mountain biking, try out the Circuit 8 Trail. It’s a series of loops through easy terrain. The highlight is a section of trail that passes directly through the trunk of a huge old-growth tree! If you don’t have a bike, you can walk this trail. Just be sure to step out of the way when bikers come speeding by.
Fisherman’s Trail and the New Twin Bridges Suspension Bridge
If you want a pleasant riverside walk, go for a hike on the Fisherman’s Trail. You can follow it upstream all the way to Spur 4 Bridge, then take the Hydraulic Connector Trail to make a loop with the Seymour Valley Trailway. Or head downstream and cross the Seymour River on the new Twin Bridges Suspension Bridge, then follow connecting trails into nearby Lynn Canyon Park. This route is called Two Canyon Loop and you can read more about it in this post about North Shore Hikes for Hot Days.
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.