Vancouver’s landscapes are a playground for adventure seekers, and at the heart of it lies the world of canyoning. As we ventured into this world, we unraveled the ropes that would make every descent into these canyons extraordinary.
Join us in exploring Vancouver‘s canyoning destinations and discover the essential safety tips that will elevate your adventure.
What Canyoning is Like in Vancouver
Canyoning in the Vancouver area, particularly North and West Vancouver, allows for a close connection with nature and a thrilling adventure through diverse terrains and unique weather patterns.
In North Vancouver, you’ll find yourself exploring canyons adorned with stunning waterfalls and deep pools, creating the perfect setup for rappelling and the occasional daring jump.
The lush forests enveloping these canyons offer a refreshing escape from the daily grind.
But hey, it’s Vancouver, so just be ready for a bit of rain. North Vancouver’s weather can be a bit unpredictable, with mild, wet winters and warm, sunny summers.
Now, hop across to West Vancouver, you’ll be in for a whole different thrill. Here, it’s all about navigating narrow canyons, cooling off in crystal-clear and refreshing pools, and tackling impressive waterfalls.
The rugged terrain, especially around the rivers and creeks, offers more challenging opportunities.
The weather is pretty much a mirror image of North Vancouver, which means more rain. Winters remain mild, and summers are pretty pleasant.
There are more canyoning adventures in other corners of the Greater Vancouver region like Squamish, Whistler, and the Fraser Valley.
Since these spots also sit on the same southwestern coast of British Columbia, like North and West Van, the terrain in these areas also comes with a unique mix of rainforests, rugged Coast Mountains, canyons, and rivers that have carved out deep canyons and gorges, and coastal areas.
The weather is similarly (and quite expectedly) unpredictable in these areas. You can be greeted by rain, clouds, and sunshine all in a single day.
So whether you’re an adventure junkie or just looking to reconnect with the outdoors, Vancouver and its neighbors have your canyoning fix, no matter the weather.
Canyoning in North and West Vancouver
Let’s kick things off with a big safety reminder. Unfortunately, there have been some tragic incidents related to cliff jumping in Lynn Creek, so be sure to make informed decisions as you plan your visit .
Lynn Creek is a small drainage that is conveniently located between two other popular North Vancouver rivers, the Capilano and the Seymour Canyon, both in terms of location and difficulty level.
The put in spot at Lynn Creek is at Lynn Canyon Park, a free-access municipal park to the east of the Upper Lynn District, and the take out is at Bridgeman Park just south of the Keith Road bridge.
Keep an eye out for the visual staff gauge at the take out point. When it hits the orange marker on the upper gauge, that’s your cue to exercise caution, as the current can be fast and challenging to manage, especially in the event of a swim or wood obstructions.
Some people use the Twin Falls as a put-in, but it’s safer to just use the trail downstream on the river’s left side for an easier entry point below the falls.
As much as we love some good thrills, let’s be honest – cliff jumping and rapidly changing water levels are kind of a big deal, as in life-and-death big. Even rescuers find it challenging to respond to cases from the Lynn Canyon because of the landscape.
There are plenty of signs and warnings around to make sure you keep yourself safe and sound. In this case, we highly recommend following the safety guidelines.
You can still have a blast hiking the trails, taking a dip when the water is just right, and enjoying the breathtaking beauty of Lynn Canyon. The 30 Foot Pool, can be accessed from the Baden Powell Trail and in turn, has a stairwell access to the canyon.
Cypress Creek, located in Cypress Provincial Park, is an easily accessible canyon that typically requires 4-6 hours to explore.
At moderate-low water levels, it’s rated as v3a3II, and during early to mid-season, it steps up to v3a4II. It’s an excellent choice for beginners, with its four rappels and several short jumps.
To reach Cypress Creek, start from the dirt parking lot on Woodgreen Place. The trail leads through woods, a quarry road, and an old logging road.
You’ll eventually reach a vegetated rock outcropping overlooking the creek. To your right, you’ll find the drop-in point, complete with fixed lines to assist canyoners in descending to the creek.
The initial part offers two rappels and a few 5-foot jumps, which provide beginners with valuable practice.
Advanced canyoners can choose to skip Rappel 1 (40 ft) and Rappel 2 (70 ft) by heading over to Rappel 3 (60 ft) and Rappel 4 (100 ft), all equipped with bolts Down Canyon Left.
Rappel 3 is often considered the most beautiful in the canyon, and you may stay on the side of the flow or go right into it. Rappel 4, on the other hand, places you directly in the flow.
If you carry on for 15 minutes down the creek, you’ll reach a 12 foot jump. You can rappel this, but taking the plunge provides a more climactic experience.
Brothers Creek is a creek flowing from a lake up in Cypress Provincial Park and ending way down at the Capilano River in West Vancouver. Vancouver’s North Shore recognizes it as one of the places to canyoneer in.
Brothers Creek is more known for its pretty scenery and features several hiking trails, including the Brothers Creek Loop and the Brothers Creek Trail.
The Brothers Creek Trail stands out with its gradual elevation gain from start to finish, ensuring a relatively moderate challenge. While the trail leads uphill, it features some mildly challenging sections as it winds through a beautiful ravine.
Significantly, the creek runs alongside a substantial portion of the trail, rendering it a potential locale for canyoning adventures.
The proximity to the creek offers opportunities for rappelling, swimming, and various canyoning activities within this picturesque natural setting, making it an alluring destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
Tips when Canyoning in Vancouver
- Put your safety first. Always, always assess the conditions and risks associated with the canyon before proceeding. Check weather forecasts, water levels, and trail difficulty levels before heading out.
- Bring emergency communication devices. Check if there’s reception in the spot you chose, and bring a fully charge phone if there is. If there’s none, make sure that you have signaling equipment like a whistle or flare.
- Ensure proper physical fitness. Canyoning can be physically demanding, requiring strength and endurance. Stay in good physical shape to navigate the challenges of the canyon comfortably, incorporating regular exercise and flexibility training into your routine.
- Engage within your capability. Canyoneers should have the skills and experience to handle challenging terrain. Training in rappelling, knot tying, swimming, and basic first aid is crucial. If you’re new to canyoning, consider guided tours with experienced instructors.
- Use appropriate gear. Equip yourself with essential canyoning gear, including a harness, helmet, wetsuit, canyoning-specific shoes, and personal flotation devices when necessary. Ropes, carabiners, slings, and descenders are vital for rappelling.
- Carry essential first aid supplies. In case of minor injuries or emergencies, have a basic first aid kit with you. It should include bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any personal medications you might need.
- Know the route. Familiarize yourself with the canyon’s route and potential exit points. Understand the technical requirements, including the length and difficulty of rappels, jumps, and swims.
- Maintain clear communication with your group. Use hand signals and establish an emergency plan, ensuring that everyone is on the same page. Practice the plan beforehand to enhance coordination.
- Leave no trace: Respect the environment by adhering to Leave No Trace principles. Avoid littering, and be mindful of the flora and fauna in the area. Canyon ecosystems are often fragile.