Bus and Bike to Nature Places: Southlands, Vancouver

A bus-and-bike daytrip within Vancouver for birders and picnickers alike.

A bus-and-bike daytrip within Vancouver for birders and picnickers alike

Southlands is a semi-rural neighbourhood at the foot of Blenheim St. in the Point Grey area of Vancouver. It follows part of the north shore of the North Arm of the Fraser River among horse paddocks and stables.

The River Trail—a wide pathway for pedestrians, cyclists and horses—extends along the North Arm of the Fraser River, starting at the foot of Blenheim St. and extending about one kilometre west. The trail passes some houses, and beyond Carrington St., continues along the south side of the Point Grey Golf Course to the edge of the Musqueam Golf Course.

From there the path continues northward away from the river to Musqueam Park. There are plans to extend this River Trail in the future. Southlands also includes the City of Vancouver’s Deering Island Park. You can access it from the River Trail at Carrington St. by heading south across the bridge and turning right. The park encompasses the western tip of Deering Island with its tidal marsh, planted in 1989. The park is an excellent spot for picnicking, watching the river traffic and birding.

Lingby's Sedge to Deering Island

    Lingby’s sedge to Deering Island

Celtic Slough separates Deering Island from the mainland and is a good location for birding. Nest boxes for swallows have been placed on the banks of the slough. Great blue herons and the occasional green heron can be seen fishing, and migratory birds including raptors pass through. Look for a bald eagle’s nest in a tree at the foot of Blenheim.

A healthy tidal salt marsh dominated by Lyngby’s sedge lies off the western tip of Deering Island. Lyngby’s sedge, high in protein when young, is prime forage for geese during spring migration. This sedge is important for producing detritus, a food source for organisms upon which juvenile salmon feed. In July you can see the juvenile salmon migrating out to sea, possibly jumping, flopping and finning, usually during the early part of the run, particularly at the high-tide slack. As well, evercurious harbour seals swim in the Fraser River.

Brewer's blackbird babies / Mark Habdas

    Brewer’s blackbird babies

    (photo by Mark Habdas)

From Deering Island Park, you have unobstructed views of Iona Island in Richmond, and perhaps more distant views of the mountains on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. This view can provide an inspiring display during some evening sunsets.

Visit year-round, but especially in spring for the eulachon run and from summer to fall for the sockeye and pink salmon runs, when the gulls and bald eagles circle for fish.


To get to Southlands via public transit, with your bicycle:

Board the #49 Dunbar Loop/UBC bus and alight at the Blenheim St. and SW Marine Dr. stop. Then cycle 1.4 km south down Blenheim St. to the Fraser River. The River Trail starts on your right. Note also that Musqueam Park and Pacific Spirit Park are within cycling distance of the west end of the River Trail. Also, the River Trail continues for 1 km east of Blenheim St. along Celtic Ave.

Click here for the Google Map with directions



Parks and Nature Places Around Vancouver

Parks and Nature Places Around Vancouver

This is an excerpt from the book Parks and Nature Places Around Vancouver, by Nature Vancouver (Harbour Publishing, $24.95), edited by Alison Parkinson.

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