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“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 Trail

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?

Rain and mud are the least of your worries, actually
Somewhere along the Lynn Loop Trail

Misty mountains from Cedar Mills Trail
The Grouse-area mountains

If rain stopped Vancouverites from going outside, we’d be mole people

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.

Where Lynn Loop and Varley Trail meet
Varley Trail – In memory of Andrew Koch, lest we forget the power of nature

Lynn Creek from a bridge

Rice Lake toward Mount Seymour

Rice Lake