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Exploring Nature in Burnaby, British Columbia via Urban Trails

Linda Crampton is a writer who lives in Greater Vancouver. She enjoys walking and likes to take photographs of her discoveries.

Looking along the Burnaby Mountain Urban Trail to Burrard Inlet

Looking along the Burnaby Mountain Urban Trail to Burrard Inlet

An Enjoyable Way to Explore Nature

Burnaby is a city in British Columbia, Canada. It adjoins Vancouver but has some great features of its own. It's a wonderful place for someone who needs to live in a city but also wants to stay in touch with nature. The city has a network of urban trails for walkers, runners, cyclists, inline skaters, and wheelchairs. To a large extent, these trails travel by natural areas, where there are many opportunities to observe nature. Some sections of the trails travel through a city environment, but even in these areas the trail is usually bordered by cultivated plants that attract birds and insects.

An access point to the Burnaby Mountain Urban Trail is located near my home. I travel along the trail almost every day in order to give my dog and myself some exercise, to explore nature, or to visit shopping centres that are close to the trail. In this article I'lł focus on the Burnaby Mountain Urban Trail and an extension that travels to the top of Burnaby Mountain via the Trans Canada Trail. The mountain offers beautiful views of Burrard Inlet and the surrounding areas. All of the photos in this article were taken by me.

A maple tree by an urban trail

A maple tree by an urban trail

What Is an Urban Trail?

As its name implies, an urban trail travels through a city. The ones in my area travel through suburban areas as well as urban ones and are paved with asphalt.

An urban trail isn't the same as a sidewalk. It's wider than a sidewalk in order to accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, and inline skaters at the same time. In addition, the designers try to make urban trails look attractive by adding items such as flower and plant borders, benches, and map displays. The trails may run parallel to a sidewalk, replace a sidewalk, or follow a different route from the sidewalks in the area.

Urban trails are enjoyable to explore. They're great for nervous cyclists or for a cycling family with young children who want to avoid vehicle traffic. In many parts of Burnaby they travel by useful places such as schools, libraries, recreation centres, and shopping centres. Urban trails also enable people to explore nature in a city. Two additional advantages of the trails are that they may encourage people to exercise and they may reduce travel by motorized vehicles.

Trees bordering the urban trail; the trail is on the right of the trees and a road is on the left

Trees bordering the urban trail; the trail is on the right of the trees and a road is on the left

Connections Between Routes

Travelling along urban trails offers wonderful possibilities. The Burnaby trail network connects to other trails in Vancouver, so an enthusiastic walker or cyclist can travel a long distance and explore a lot of interesting scenery by following the trails. Connections to other trail systems in neighbouring communities are being created.

Travellers will eventually be able to explore the whole of the GVRD (Greater Vancouver Regional District) by urban trail. The GVRD is made of Vancouver and the cities that adjoin it, including Burnaby. Its more modern name is Metro Vancouver, but the previous name (which I prefer) is still used. People can also explore Canada by following the trail system. The Burnaby urban trail network connects to the Trans Canada Trail, which travels across the country.

The Burnaby Mountain Urban Trail

The Burnaby Mountain Urban Trail travels around the base of Burnaby Mountain. When it reaches Hastings Street it connects to a pedestrian bridge that takes people to the other side of the street. Here the trail slopes downwards along Cliff Avenue towards Burrard Inlet.

The urban trail connects to the Trans Canada Trail on Hastings Street. This trail travels up and over Burnaby Mountain as well as in the opposite direction into Vancouver. The Trans Canada Trail travels across Canada and is said to be the longest trail in the world.

I'm lucky to live near the most picturesque section of the urban trail. Further to the east the trail passes though a light industrial area and the surroundings are not as attractive. The trail is still useful, though. It travels by a school and ends near a library, recreation centre, and shopping mall. It also passes near three SkyTrain stations. SkyTrain is a light rapid transit system that travels through Burnaby and Vancouver.

SkyTrain provides access to urban trails in both Burnaby and Vancouver, although sometimes a traveller needs to take a short walk from a train station to a trail. Bicycles are allowed on SkyTrain under certain conditions.

Burrard Inlet

The pedestrian bridge over Hasting Street leads to a new section of the urban trail that slopes downwards to Burrard Inlet. The slope means that a climb is required for the return journey, but it's worth it. The end of the trail (or the start, depending on one's perspective) offers a wonderful view of the inlet.

Burrard Inlet is a coastal fjord leading eastwards from the Strait of Georgia. The Strait of Georgia separates mainland British Columbia from Vancouver Island. British Columbia's capital city, Victoria, is located on the island.

Burrard Inlet separates Vancouver and Burnaby (which is located to the east of Vancouver) from the North Shore Mountains and the cities of West Vancouver and North Vancouver. Bridges connect the two sides of the inlet. The inlet is a busy place. There's nearly always something interesting to see on the water. The Port of Vancouver is located beside the inlet.

Safety Concerns for Travellers

If you'd like to travel further instead of back tracking once you've seen the inlet, you could take a connecting route to another trail. The connector is on the right as you head downhill. The trail at the end of the connector in turn leads to ones in the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area. This group of trails is more isolated than the urban trail, however, and should probably be explored with a human or canine companion.

Most of the Burnaby Mountain Urban Trail is bordered on one side by nature or cultivated plants and on the other side by a road. Three sections are bounded on both sides by cultivated plants and nature, but the back gardens of residences are located on the other side of the borders. Windows of the residences overlook the fence at the edge of the plant zone beside the trail. In one short section, however, the trees and undergrowth bordering the trail are so dense that the residences are obscured.

People of a wide range of ages and of both genders travel on their own and in groups along the entire trail, as I frequently do. It's a popular route. Though I've never heard of any problems, I don't walk along the sections of the trail that aren't bordered by a road at night. These sections don't have street lamps, except by the trail entrance shown above.

The start of the walking and cycling path up Burnaby Mountain

The start of the walking and cycling path up Burnaby Mountain

The Trans Canada Trail and Burnaby Mountain

Burnaby Mountain can be reached from the urban trail by joining the Trans Canada Trail on Hastings Street. At first, the "trail" is simply a sidewalk and a wide road. Soon a major road that goes up the mountain to Simon Fraser University branches off from Hastings Street. Hastings Street continues by some residences for a short distance and then quietly enters the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area. The street officially ends in the park at the top of the mountain.

When Hastings Street/The Trans Canada trail starts to climb Burnaby Mountain, it travels through an isolated area, as shown in the photo below. This should be kept in mind if someone doesn't have a travel companion. It's a pleasant route to follow if safety is considered, though. A pedestrian trail though the forest soon branches off from the main trail. Travelling along the forest trail with my dog is my favourite way to climb the mountain.

Since the route to the park is uphill, the walk or cycle provides good exercise. Some people might find it easier to take a bus to Simon Fraser University, which is next to the conservation area, or to drive along Centennial Way to the Burnaby Mountain Park parking lot.

The Trans Canada Trail as it starts its journey up the mountain

The Trans Canada Trail as it starts its journey up the mountain

The trail name has officially been changed to "The Great Trail" now that the route is more-or-less finished. I prefer the former name. It's on all the trail signs in my area.

Facts About the Trans Canada or Great Trail

The construction of the Trans Canada Trail was started in 1992, which was Canada's 125th birthday. It's about 24,000 kilometres long and stretches from the west coast of Canada to the east coast. In addition, a branch extends up into the Arctic.

Officially, the trail was completed in 2017, which was Canada's 150th birthday. Even the organizers admit that some sections need improvements, however. The connection between different parts of the country is complete, but not the trail itself. In some places, the "trail" is the shoulder of a road, for example. Some of the trail sections that have been truly finished are lovely based on what I've seen, but the potential dangers of the shoulder situation need to be solved.

A rose in the Burnaby Mountain Park rose garden

A rose in the Burnaby Mountain Park rose garden

The Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area

Burnaby Mountain is 370 metres high. This is low compared to the nearby North Shore Mountains, but Burnaby Mountain is high enough to collect snow in winter when there's no snow at its base. The mountain is forested, apart from an area set aside for Simon Fraser University and another area for Burnaby Mountain Park. Trails lead through the forest and are fun to explore.

The park is known for its wonderful views of Vancouver, Burnaby, and the Burrard inlet. It also contains a beautiful rose garden and an impressive sculpture. The sculpture is known as Kamui Mintara, or Playground of the Gods. It was created by sculptors from Kushiro, which is Burnaby's sister city in Japan. Burnaby Mountain Park also contains a restaurant, a children's playground, and an open area covered in grass. People like to relax, admire the view, or eat a picnic on the grass. The park is a popular area for kite fliers.

Burnaby Mountain Park

A trikke is a three-wheeled vehicle that looks something like a non-motorized scooter. The rider propels the trikke by shifting their body weight. The video below shows the Burnaby Mountain Urban Trail as well as trikkes in action.

Exploring the Burnaby Mountain Urban Trail

Since walking, nature study, and photography are three of my favourite activities, I'm very lucky to live where I do. I can travel a short distance along my local urban trail, walk (or cycle) into other parts of Burnaby or into Vancouver along trails, or follow the Trans Canada Trail up Burnaby Mountain. I get exercise and see beautiful and interesting scenery at the same time. That's a great combination.

© 2013 Linda Crampton

Comments

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 14, 2015:

Thank you very much, Kristen. I appreciate your comment and vote!

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on April 14, 2015:

Alicia, this was another beautiful hub about British Columbia. Lovely photos and nice travelogue descriptions about this bike trail. I never heard of Burrard Inlet and sounds lovely to visit someday. Voted up for beautiful!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 03, 2015:

How wonderful to have a fifteen mile trail near your home, Patricia! Florida is one place that I've wanted to visit for a long time. I would love to see its wildlife and plants in person. Thank you very much for sending the angels!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on January 03, 2015:

What a treasure to have this accessible and to allow a walk in nature's beauty.

We have many trails in Florida some of them considered urban. We have one that begins here in my little town and winds into a larger town about 15 miles beyond. I enjoy walking on it very much but it is so secluded that it is important to have a partner walk along with me I do enjoy it each time I go

When I get to BC I will find this spot!!! That is one of my goals to travel there one day soon.

Angels are on the way ps

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on September 27, 2013:

Thanks, DDE. It's fun to explore the trail. The walk provides lots of opportunities for taking interesting photos, too.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 27, 2013:

An adventurous life indeed and such a wonderful experience to have

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 14, 2013:

Thank you, Dianna. I appreciate your visit and comment.

Dianna Mendez on August 14, 2013:

I only wish I could take advantage of this trail. Very nicely done and written.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 03, 2013:

Thank you very much, vespawoolf! I appreciate your visit and comment. Maybe one day I'll make it to Peru!

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on August 03, 2013:

We paid a short visit to Vancouver a few years ago and hope to return someday soon! What a gorgeous city, and these photos testify to that fact. I'd love to ride a bike through Burnaby and then fly a kite. : ) Ah....I just wish I could be there right now. Thank you for sharing!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 03, 2013:

Thank you very much for the offer, Deb!

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on August 02, 2013:

Let me know when you want to come, and I will take you around my lake.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 02, 2013:

Hi, Deb. I enjoy exploring the urban trails in my area, but I'd like to visit the Boomer Lake trail, too. Thanks for the visit.

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on August 02, 2013:

This area isn't large enough for trails like you have, but there is a 5 km walkpath around Boomer Lake. Bus service runs 5 days a week, but not everywhere, which is better than nothing. You're in a much larger area than I am, but all things considered, it isn't too bad here.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 02, 2013:

Hi, Elias. I do feel feel lucky that I live here! It's a lovely area. Thank you for the visit and the comment.

Elias Zanetti from Athens, Greece on August 02, 2013:

Wonderful place and a beautiful tour to Burnaby. The combination of of urban lifestyle and nature is quite nice and you should fell really lucky you in such a nice city.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 01, 2013:

Thank you very much for the comment, MPG Narratives. I appreciate the vote and the pin!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 01, 2013:

Hi, Suhail. There are grocery stores and washrooms close to some parts of the trail, but people have to leave the trail to get to them. The photo of the shopping centre (which includes a grocery store) was taken from the trail. The access point shown in my photos has two water fountains, one for humans and one for dogs! Thank you very much for the votes. Suhail.

Maria Giunta from Sydney, Australia on August 01, 2013:

You certainly live in a beautiful part of Canada. This hub is beautiful, I've voted it up and pinned. Thanks for sharing your part of the world with us.

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on August 01, 2013:

Now this is an ideal trail for K2 and us. Nicely covered with some excellent photography.

I am guessing that since the trail passes through sub-urban areas, water, washroom, and groceries are available in the immediate vicinity.

Voted up and awesome!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 01, 2013:

Hi, Bill. Yes, I am lucky. I am so happy the Burnaby and the surrounding cities have decided to create these trails! Thank you for the vote and the shares.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 01, 2013:

Thank you for the visit and the comment, drbj. Yes, the urban trail is a very nice place to walk!

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on August 01, 2013:

Hi Linda. You are indeed a lucky lady to live where you do. What a beautiful area. It's great to see communities creating these trails for walkers, runners, bikers, etc. Certainly looks like an area that would be right up my alley. Love the photos. Voted up, shared, pinned, etc..

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 01, 2013:

Hi, Vicki. Sechelt is a beautiful area! If I wasn't living in Burnaby I would love to live there. Thank you for the kind comment.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 01, 2013:

Thanks for the comment, Eddy. I hope that you have a wonderful day as well!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 01, 2013:

Hi, mylindaelliot. Yes, walking is a great way to see and appreciate places! Thanks for the visit.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on August 01, 2013:

An urban trail? What a pleasant place to walk. Thanks for the intro, Alicia, and you're always beautiful photos.

Vickiw on August 01, 2013:

Hello Alicia, this is great showcasing of a lovely area. I live in Sechelt now - another amazing area! Love your pictures, and your description is accurate and lovely!

Eiddwen from Wales on August 01, 2013:

A wonderful hub Alicia and thank you for sharing. Have a great day.

Eddy.

mylindaelliott from Louisiana on July 31, 2013:

It sounds and looks gorgeous. I used to walk a lot but not any more. If you walk around you can see the most beautiful places.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 31, 2013:

Thank you, Gail. I appreciate the votes. Yes, Canada is a beautiful country. I'm happy to live here!

Gail Meyers from Johnson County, Kansas on July 31, 2013:

Thanks for sharing so many beautiful pictures of Burnaby, BC. I have never been to Canada and I had no idea it is so beautiful.

Voted up and beautiful!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 31, 2013:

Thank you, Tom. The part of the trail near my house is certainly a beautiful place to walk. There are lots of photo opportunities along the trail, too!

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on July 31, 2013:

Hi my friend sound like and looks like a very beautiful and peaceful place to walk or bike. Loved all the beautiful photos to .

Vote up and more !!! Sharing !

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 31, 2013:

Hi, True Blue Tips. Thank you very much for the comment! The weather has been great lately. Blue skies look so much nicer in photographs than white or grey ones!

True Blue Tips on July 31, 2013:

I live in Vancouver so I was thrilled to see this post on our beautiful area. The pictures are great and since our weather is especially wonderful this summer I'm sure more people will be enjoying these trails.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 31, 2013:

Thank you very much for the comment, the vote and the blessings, Faith. Thank you for coming back to share the hub, too! I appreciate it.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on July 31, 2013:

It went through now!

Faith Reaper from southern USA on July 31, 2013:

Thank you for taking us on a lovely tour here and sharing your wonderful photographs. Very beautiful area indeed!

Voted up ++++ and sharing

Well I am trying to share but it keeps saying "whoops" so I will return.

Blessings,Faith Reaper

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 30, 2013:

Thank you, Martin. I appreciate your visit and comment!

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on July 30, 2013:

Thank you for this wonderful tour.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 30, 2013:

Thank you very much for the comment, brenda12lynette!

brenda12lynette from Utah on July 30, 2013:

This trail looks amazing! Your pictures are beautiful!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 30, 2013:

Thanks for the visit and for commenting, Bill. Yes, I'm happy to say that I do live in a beautiful area!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 30, 2013:

You live in some beautiful country, Alicia. Thank goodness more people don't know about it. LOL