Best Running Routes in Metro Vancouver
Nothing signals spring in BC like hordes of lycra-clad runners bounding across bridges and jogging through parks. If you're ready to trade your treadmill for an outdoor trail, here are a few of the best places to exercise your right to run
Image by Flickr / GlacierTim
Stanley Park's running man Harry Jerome spurs on the park's seawall runners
Whether you prefer running on paved roads through urban enclaves, or on pine-coned forest paths, you'll never have to see the same scenery twice in and around Vancouver, such is the abundance of its beautiful running routes.
The following year-round routes vary in length, intensity and view-worthiness, but they're all easy on your wallet, if not on your hamstrings. Plus they'll distract you from the pain of exercise by keeping your mind focused on the gorgeous surroundings.
1 of 8 — Stanley Park Seawall, Vancouver
Image by Flickr / thelastminute
Let the ocean breeze cool you down as you run around the seawall and take in the sights, like Siwash Rock, in the distance
Boasting views of Vancouver's downtown core and its nearby mountains, the seawall through Stanley Park is undoubtedly one of the most famous, and most beautiful, running routes in Vancouver.
Snaking along the edges of Stanley Park, the trail is roughly 8.8 km long, but offers several shortcut trails into the 27 km of forest paths within the park itself.
The seawall also consists entirely of flat terrain, making it fit for people of all running abilities. The ocean breeze will cool you down as you whip by landmarks like the Lions Gate Bridge, Siwash Rock, and running man Harry Jerome.
2 of 8 — Pacific Spirit Park, UBC, Vancouver
Image by Flickr / tris
Start your run on one of Pacific Spirit Park's tamer trails within the UBC Endowment Lands
If your preferred perfume is the delicious scent of deciduous and coniferous trees, then the 35 km of mixed-use trails that run throughout Pacific Spirit Park may become a permanent part of your running routine.
Isolated, and with a network of soft mulch paths, Pacific Spirit National Park is the perfect place to take in the natural flora and run like no one is watching.
3 of 8 — Jericho Beach to Spanish Banks, Vancouver
Image by Flickr / Katrina Bowman
Spanish Banks offers such beautiful views, it will make any run feel like a walk in the park
In terms of scenery, this beach-side route from Jericho Beach to Spanish Banks has it all. Whether you run along the sand, or on the mixture of paved and gravel paths that stretch between the two beaches, the Pacific Ocean, North Shore Mountains, and downtown core are all visible.
If you’re the type who needs visual distractions while running, you’ll enjoy spying on the beach volleyball games, ocean-waders and picnickers along the way. The route also has several washrooms and snack stands for emergencies.
4 of 8 — Brothers Creek Loop, North Shore
Image by Flickr / katietower
You'll want to tread carefully over the wooden pedestrian bridges along Brothers Creek Loop
With a 7-km loop that reaches an elevation of 350 metres, the Brothers Creek Loop is for those who are ready for some serious trail running.
The only route on this list with seasonal restrictions (April to November), this trail is often rugged, but complete with waterfalls, wooden pedestrian bridges, and towering trees such as the Candelabra Fir.
5 of 8 — John Hendry Park and Trout Lake Loop, East Vancouver
Image by Flickr / Junnn
The running loops encircling Trout Lake are like paths to pure tranquility
Another natural gem in the heart of the city, and located close to public transit stations, the park also boasts tennis courts, sports fields, playgrounds and concession stands, and is a great place to go for a run and have a picnic or swim afterward.
6 of 8 — Lions Gate Bridge, Vancouver
Image by Flickr / matt.mendick
The northbound entrance of the Lions Gate Bridge takes you straight toward the North Shore mountains
Connecting Stanley Park with North Vancouver, the Lions Gate Bridge is as stunning a structure as the views that it offers. Crossing northward on a clear day, you’ll feel like you’re running right into the North Shore Mountains, propelled along by the ocean air blowing from 111 metres below.
Beautiful by day and even more so by night when it's lit up with hundreds of twinkling bulbs, the bridge offers views of downtown, North Vancouver and Stanley Park.
7 of 8 — Mundy Park, Coquitlam
Image by Flickr / Sinéad McKeown
Go for a suburban run in Coquitlam's Mundy Park
An urban forest in the middle of Coquitlam, Mundy Park offers three main trails and is encircled by a 4-km outer perimeter loop. Beyond the main trails, there are also several smaller paths that branch out from the perimeter loop and into the surrounding neighbourhoods.
The entire environment encourages outdoor adventures, and is a great place to bring the kids, as it also features two lakes, a nine-hole frisbee golf course, lacrosse and baseball fields, and an outdoor swimming pool.
8 of 8 — Serpentine Wildlife Area, Surrey
Image by Flickr / WinstonWong*
Take a breather while you look for wildlife from one of Serpentine Wildlife Area's viewing towers
A 4-km system of gravel trails runs through the 71.3 hectares of land in Serpentine Wildlife Area, which is home to migrating birds and a variety of wildlife. Cyclists must stay on certain paths and pets must be kept on leashes at all times, making the area very runner-friendly.
There are also three elevated viewing towers dispersed along the paths that you can use to continue your workout upward, or, if you need a breather, to spot some of the 175 recorded bird species that are known to reside in the area while you catch your breath.