The greater Vancouver area offers a wealth of parks and trails. Last fall, we discovered Belcarra Regional Park, located just east of Port Moody. The girls and I hiked the Admiralty Point Trail there with my mom and her dog Frodo when they came to visit us. This trail offers an easy, scenic walk along the coastline that all us (including the dog) thoroughly enjoyed.
We started a hike with a picnic at the trail head. There’s a parking lot and large green space there with picnic tables, benches, washrooms, squirrels and geese, and a view of Burrard Inlet. From there, we found the trail sign for Admiralty Point Trail, near the kayak shed, and headed out as fast as Frodo could pull us. I was pregnant with Pearl then and carried Jade in the Ergo for much of the hike.
The trail wove up and down, over roots and rocks, beside the coast and mostly in the trees. We caught glimpses of the ocean through the trees. The girls had fun clambering up and down—somehow trails with a bit of a challenge like that keep them more interested than wide, flat trails. Frodo kept my mom and I turning circles as he ran to the left and then the right and then the left again.
There were a couple viewpoints along the trail, where the girls had fun climbing around on the rocks and Mom and I admired the ocean view. Then we kept walking, searching for Admiralty Point. There were trail signs and markers along the way and other hikers who smiled and nodded at the girls.
Admiralty Point itself was worth the hike (about an hour) there and back. It’s a spit of rock jutting out into the ocean, and from a distance it looks like it has a sandy beach in its middle. The white beach makes a sharp contrast to the black rock on either side of it.
When I stepped down onto the beach, I realized it was actually shells, not sand. The entire beach is tiny, crushed shells—some the side of seeds and others as small as sand particles. There were blue and black shells mixes among the white shells, and even when I tried to dig into them, all I found was shells. It amazed me.
The girls clambered over the end of the spit, finding purple starfish in the waters. Frodo took off running when Mom let him off the leash, and went zipping back and forth over the rocks and into the water. I took pictures and stared out at the water, trying to figure out what direction I was looking. Just a few days later, we saw a news report that someone hiking there had seen a whale in the inlet.
I’m not sure whether we were there at high tide or low tide. There were tide pools on the top of the rock, which the girls checked out, so perhaps the water gets higher and the point isn’t accessible at certain times. It was definitely a neat place to explore (carefully—the rocks were sharp and we didn’t want to damage the flora and fauna) and admire the variety of coastal life.
On the return trip, we stopped at a beach to explore more. I found a couple crab shells, but before I could show them to the girls, Frodo ate them. He found an old bouy, which he dragged happily along for a while. There were beautiful old trees overhanging the beach, a set of stone stairs down to it, and other washed up treasures to discover and wonder at.
Belcarra Regional Park is a huge park with quite a few other trails. We made an afternoon there, but you could easily spend a day or several days hiking around. For more information about Admiralty Point Trail (and other points of interest along the way), check out the Vancouver Trails website.
Admiralty Point Trail is not stroller friendly, so if you have kids who can’t hike for a few kilometers, I recommend using a baby carrier like the Ergo.
UPDATE: We hiked this trail again as a family one summer afternoon, and discovered that we need to check tide charts before heading out! When we arrived at Admiralty Point, we found only a rocky lookout… the lovely white shell beach that the girls were so eager to play on was under about three feet of water. Maple Beach (not far away) was also just a narrow strip of rocky beach, where the girls were able to hunt for shells, but we couldn’t explore the tide pools. Jade (then age 4) complained all the way back about the fact that she didn’t get to play on the white shell beach. Now we know that the tide rises quite a bit and that we need to check it before we head out for a hike!