“British Columbia is heaven. It trembles within me and pains with its wonder as when a child is first awakened to the song of the earth at home. Only the hills are bigger, the torrents are bigger, the sea is here, and the sky is as vast.”
Overstatement? Let’s go with artistic license. In 1926, after co-founding the Group of Seven, the painter Fred Varley moved to what’s now Rice Lake Road in North Vancouver’s Lynn Valley and, like many of us non-native British Columbians, was awed by the province’s natural beauty in a way someone who grew up surrounded by it couldn’t possibly be.
Today, the Varley Trail connects two of the most beautiful hikes in a region full of the most beautiful hikes, a region that makes you wonder why images of heaven aren’t always snapshots of the mountains and forests and waters of British Columbia, and only be half-ashamed at that kind of hyperbole.
Day 1: Lynn Headwaters Regional Park
Lynn Loop/Headwaters/Cedars Mill Trails
The pouring rain didn’t diminish the beauty of the forested trek with misty glimpses of the surrounding mountains. It did muddy the shoes considerably, though. The Headwaters Trail part of this loop, the only one of the bunch considered Intermediate rather than Easy on the maps, crosses a few little debris torrents, but when you’re already soaked what does a little water and mud underfoot matter?
Day 2: Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve
Varley Trail/Rice Lake Loop
Several weeks later in almost-sunshine came part two, following the Varley Trail from the Lynn Loop Trail into the less rugged — but still remote-feeling — Rice Lake area.