Lighthouse Park, West Vancouver | Things to do & see
Lighthouse Park is the most beautiful park in Greater Vancouver that incorporates history, scenic views, thick vegetation, and outdoor leisure pursuits.
Home to the oldest and largest Douglas Fir trees in Greater Vancouver, Lighthouse Park is a household name for the locals to bring their dogs on the hike, have a picnic, swim off the rocky shore, and gaze up at the gorgeous sunset view over Burrard Inlet.
Read on to find out more about what to do and essential tips before visiting Lighthouse Park!
Where Is Lighthouse Park Located?
Lighthouse Park is perched on the headland of West Vancouver. The exact address of the park is 4902 Beacon Ln, West Vancouver. To get there, follow Marine Drive in North Vancouver onto Beacon Lane and keep going until you see the parking lot sign.
If you take a bus from downtown Vancouver, get on bus no. 250 Horseshoe Bay, get off at the Beacon Lane – Marine Drive stop and walk along Beacon Lane into the park.
Why Is Lighthouse Park So Popular?
With Point Atkinson Lighthouse built in 1912 serving as the beacon, Lighthouse Park has the last standing first-growth Douglas Fir trees in Greater Vancouver. This is where you wanna take on a scenic hike with a rewarding view at the end of the trail to wrap up your day.
People know of Lighthouse Park as a natural paradise, so much so that it’s often known as an ideal example of West Coast vegetation.
Whizzing through this largest uncut rainforest in the Lower Mainland guarantees a distinctive experience you cannot find elsewhere. Even if all you need is a lazy day chilling around, just head out to the shore or go to Starboat Cove and hang out with the ever crashing waves, swim, watch birds, and go picnicking.
Top 5 Things to Do and See at Lighthouse Park
1. Visit the Point Atkinson Lighthouse
Deemed as the national historic site of Canada, Point Atkinson Lighthouse is perched on a beautiful headland with multiple different viewpoints along a short trail from the parking lot.
Point Atkinson Lighthouse is one of the most photographed destinations across Vancouver thanks to the gorgeous outer approach to Burrard Inlet. While it’s technically restricted from entering the lighthouse, you can still take on a 10-minute walk up the steep terrain from the parking lot to the rocky bluff and enjoy the view.
2. Conquer the Extensive Network of Hiking Trails
While the lighthouse itself is the claim to fame of the namesake park, it would be a mistake if you forget to explore the hiking trails swathing around.
Hiking the park is one of the most popular activities around Point Atkinson. Most of the trails are moderate with different elevation gains and estimated completion times. Regardless of what it is, all the trails in this suburban escape let you wind through the remnants of an old-growth forest before opening to a rocky outcrop looking over the water from the lighthouse.
Before actually getting your feet on any of the trails, please make sure that you don’t have any resistance against cliffs, steep terrain, and dense forest. Look out for the weather the day you go out and have fun! Take with you a route pamphlet at the information board at the parking lot before starting the trail.
3. Go Picnicking with a View
Along the waterfront, there are bluffs and beaches to put a tarp down to enjoy a picnic in the beautiful surroundings. We specifically love to get our friends to Starboat Cove just 15 minutes east of the lighthouse.
You’ll see a sign for a steep path that finally takes you to the beach area. Starboat Cove is specifically beautiful when the tide is out and the air is crisp. That’s when the view seems to extend forever from the Lions Gate Bridge to the University of British Columbia to Vancouver Island.
4. Watch Birds
Now you don’t have to travel further afield to watch birds anymore! Lighthouse Park is a fascinating place to spot diving cormorants, soaring eagles, Yellow-rumped, Townsend’s, and Wilson’s Warblers gathering near the rocks on the west side of the lighthouse.
If lucky, you’ll see Surf Scoters forming into large rafts around the lighthouse all the way to Kloochman Park before leaving for their breeding grounds on high Arctic lakes and rivers.
5. Go Diving and Swimming
There’s a dive site right at the southern tip of the headland. This is a great place to game up your diving skill as there would be current to contend with in this exposed diving site.
Before you venture out, make sure to keep a close eye on the tide tables! Wait until you reach the entry point to put your dive suit on.
Aside from the diving opportunity, you can plunge in the sea from anywhere outside of the rocky parts. Juniper Point at the park’s west end is one of the best corners to enjoy the waves.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Lighthouse Park?
Generally speaking, Lighthouse Park is great to visit year-round. Our favorite time to go there in the day is during sunset. If the view is everything you’re after, then early fall until late spring would be the best time to go.
Weather-wise, you wanna check out if it’s clear the day you hike. Plus, don’t stay in the forest too late or you might struggle on the return journey. The tide is another factor to reckon with if you wanna swim or hang around right on the shore.
In terms of parking, get there early if that’s the weekend or on a sunny day between late May and early September as the park fills up quickly during those times.
What to Know Before Visiting Lighthouse Park?
Due to the vast amount of trails, make sure to have a map with you to avoid taking the wrong turn!
Dogs are allowed both on-leash and off-leash to Lighthouse Park.
Bring a bear bell or air horn with you in case you encounter large animals.
Parking at Lighthouse Park is not the end of the world but it’s challenging sometimes because the park is popular.
The trails are rough with rocky terrains around the steep uphill sections leading up to the lighthouse or down to the beach, so make sure to have good walking shoes!
The park isn’t a stroller or wheelchair-friendly place.
Don’t leave valuables in your car because occasional problems with break-ins do happen.
Parking at Lighthouse Park
The small parking lot at Lighthouse Park is free. It opens at 6:30 am and closes at 10 pm daily or when full. It’s about a minute walking away from the public washroom.
How Long is the Lighthouse Park Trail?
All the trails around Lighthouse Park accumulate into a 5.8-kilometer network with an average elevation of 270 meters.
Are There Bears in Lighthouse Park?
Yes, bears occasionally appear in and around Lighthouse Park. But since the place is popular with people, bears mostly stay away.
Can You Swim at Lighthouse Park?
You can swim around the area of Juniper Point at the park’s west end. This is also a great place for picnicking and catching the sunset.