Vancouver North Shore Bird Trail

May 15, 2024 | Tags: ,

The BC Bird Trail: Vancouver North Shore

Matthew Massa @thismattexists


Situated right on the Pacific Flyway, The BC Bird Trail is home to a vast array of North America’s best birdwatching opportunities. 


The BC Bird Trail is a network of birding trails and locations across British Columbia, designed to showcase the province’s diverse bird species and habitats. Each trail varies in length and is designed to be accessible for birdwatchers of all levels, from short hikes to multi day excursions.


I set out on a 2-day adventure on Vancouver’s North Shore to experience some of the BC Bird Trail for myself! Not only was I rewarded with the unforgettable experiences of spotting magnificent birds, but it also enriched me with a deeper appreciation for the region’s rich cultural heritage and natural beauty.


North Vancouver’s culture is deeply rooted in ancient history. It’s the traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. These First Nations have lived in the area for thousands of years, with their culture, traditions, and stewardship of the land and waters shaping the cultural landscape.


Grouse Mountain


My 2-Day North Vancouver BC Bird Trail Itinerary


My first stop on the BC Bird Trail: Grouse Mountain

I kicked off my adventure with a visit to Grouse Mountain for some light snowshoeing. Grouse Mountain is considered a birding hotspot with great opportunities (depending on the time of year) to see Eagles, Ravens, Owls, Hummingbirds, Canadian Jays, Grouse, and much more. Not only does Grouse Mountain offer great bird watching opportunities, it also has a variety of First Nations art and culture to admire. Snowshoeing some of the local Grouse trails was a great way to experience a unique mix of birding opportunities, and get a glimpse of unique first nations art.


Second Stop: Raptors Ridge at Capilano Suspension Bridge

A short drive from Grouse Mountain will bring you to the iconic Capilano Suspension Bridge, one of Vancouver’s most celebrated attractions. Spanning 450 feet, the bridge offers breathtaking views of the surrounding lush forest and the Capilano River below.


As you explore the park, make sure to visit Raptors Ridge, an educational area dedicated to teaching visitors about the fascinating world of raptors, owls, hawks, and falcons. Surrounded by majestic trees, Raptors Ridge provides an intimate experience with these magnificent birds of prey, while also offering insights into the rich First Nations culture of the area.


The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is beautifully integrated into the natural landscape, providing a seamless and immersive experience for visitors. For the best experience,I would suggest planning your visit in the early morning to avoid large crowds, and to get a good chance of seeing the stunning sight of low-hanging clouds drifting through the park, creating a magical atmosphere perfect for capturing incredible photographs!


Raptors Ridge


Pit Stop: Copperpenny Distilling

Not a birding hotspot, but since I was in the area I knew I had to check out Copperpenny Distilling Co., a local craft distillery! It is conveniently located a mere 10-minute drive from the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver’s North Shore. Offering a unique experience, the distillery features in-house crafted spirits made with locally sourced ingredients. Among their specialties is the distinctive oyster shell gin, which I highly recommend! The Copperpenny team consistently experiments with seasonal spirits, such as their Spring cherry blossom gin, ensuring a fresh and engaging experience for visitors.


Copperpenny Distilling Co.


Check into Seaside Hotel, North Vancouver

Nestled in the heart of North Vancouver’s vibrant birdwatching scene, the Seaside Hotel is a luxurious 4-star retreat just a 3-minute walk  from Copperpenny Distilling Co. This elegant hotel offers a perfect home base for those seeking to explore the area’s numerous birding hotspots. Its prime location in the center of North Vancouver’s attractions, coupled with the abundance of local restaurants within walking distance, makes it an ideal choice for a memorable stay.


During my visit, I enjoyed a delicious dinner at La Cerveceria Astilleros, located just across the street from the hotel. Their mouthwatering tacos and warm ambiance created an unforgettable dining experience.


The Next Day: Maple Flats Conservation Area

After a restful sleep at the Seaside Hotel, I drove about 25 minutes to Maple Flats Conservation Area. Maple Flats Conservation Area is managed by the Wild Bird Trust of British Columbia and is situated within the traditional and unceded territory of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. Although I didn’t see any first nations art or culture while exploring the area, it’s always important to explore these areas with respect.


This conservation area offers a diverse range of habitats, including a 96-hectare intertidal area composed of mudflats and salt marsh, as well as a 30-hectare upland area featuring deciduous and mixed forest, rough grassland, and freshwater marsh habitats. I found myself seeing the most bird activity within the interior rough grassland. I was able to get some pretty good shots of Blue Herons, Mallards, and even a falcon. 


Over 250 species of birds have been observed in Maplewood Flats to date, making it a significant location for birdwatching and conservation. The area is open to the public for self-guided tours and individual bird watching, with a 5km trail network that is wheelchair accessible.


Maplewood Flats


Last stop: Lynn Canyon Park

One of the most scenic spots on the BC Bird Trail in Vancouver’s North Shore! Lynn Canyon Park is part of the Lower Mainland’s Pacific Flyway, making it an important stopover for migratory birds. The temperate rainforest and the Lynn Creek ecosystem provide ideal environments for many bird species to thrive. In fact there are over 90 species of birds that can be found here! Lynn Canyon offers birders a “bird checklist” Although I didn’t get to check many off on my short visit, it was definitely a highlight exploring the park’s stunning natural pools.


Lynn Canyon


Exploring The BC Bird Trail on Vancouver’s North Shore is not only a journey through breathtaking landscapes and diverse bird species but also a unique opportunity to experience and appreciate the rich First Nations culture of the area. From the ancient forests of Grouse Mountain to the iconic Capilano Suspension Bridge, and from the serene Maple Flats Conservation Area to the vibrant Lynn Canyon, each stop along the trail offers a glimpse into the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the region. I can’t wait to head back and see how this unique slice of Vancouver changes with each season.


Blog written by: Matthew Massa // @thismattexists


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