Cascade Falls Regional Park by Mary Ann Bell
By Mary Ann Bell
Suspension bridges. You either love them or you don’t! For some, the thought of crossing a swinging bridge, suspended hundreds of feet in the air, is exhilarating. While others either cross as quickly as possible, or consider the merits of staying put.
When one thinks of suspension bridges in British Columbia, the mind instantly goes to the world-famous Capilano Suspension Bridge, but did you know that there are in fact, many suspension footbridges in the Vancouver, Coast & Mountains region? Each bridge is awesome in it’s own right and each has it’s own unique features that make it special.
The granddaddy of suspension bridges in the region, North Vancouver’s Capilano Suspension Bridge has been welcoming visitors since 1889 when George Grant McKay suspended a footbridge of hemp rope and cedar planks across Capilano Canyon. The bridge has come a long way since then and is now arguably Vancouver’s most recognizable visitor attraction. When crossing the bridge it’s not uncommon to see kayakers in the river below, or an eagle perched in a tree watching the spawning salmon. And, there’s so much more than just the bridge. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is home to a myriad of attractions including Treetops Adventure, 7 suspended footbridges (more suspension bridges) offering views 100 feet above the forest floor, and the Cliffwalk, a cantilevered walkway that clings to the granite cliff high above Capilano Canyon.
Located in Cascade Falls Regional Park just northeast of Mission, this newly built suspension bridge is suspended 20 metres above Cascade Creek, and spans 35 metres. The main attraction, besides the bridge, is the spectacular Cascade Falls, which drops almost 30 metres into a large emerald pool. The hike from the parking lot to the falls, and the suspension bridge, is a quick one and there are wooden platforms, in addition to the suspension bridge, for getting up close and personal with the falls. After a heavy rainfall a lot of water drops over Cascade Falls and mist from the falls is known to soak it’s fair share of hikers.
Also located in North Vancouver is the much-loved Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. Although not as long, or as high as the Capilano Suspension Bridge, the Lynn Canyon bridge is narrow and much “bouncier” when walking across, especially when it’s busy. The bridge spans spectacular Lynn Canyon and provides views of the raging river and waterfalls. Although many simply cross the bridge and return to the parking lot, the real beauty of this bridge is the access it provides to the many amazing hiking trails beyond. Head left after you cross the bridge and within minutes you come to 30-foot pool a popular summer swimming spot. Or head to the right and enjoy a peaceful walk along the trail and boardwalks to Twin Falls Bridge, a short bridge over 2 raging waterfalls.
Squamish is home to another relatively new addition to the suspension bridges in the region, and this one definitely has the most spectacular view of all! The Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge is accessed via the new Sea to Sky Gondola. Located at the top station of the gondola, the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge connects the Spirit Trail and Spirit Viewing Platform to the Summit Lodge. The bridge is about 100 metres long and seems to hang thousands of metres above the ground. The views of the backcountry and the turquoise waters of Howe Sound are truly breathtaking. The Sea to Sky Gondola is a 10-minute ride and once at the summit you have access to a variety of hiking trails (for all abilities), a selection of viewing platforms and a restaurant with the best view in town.
“The Old Suspension Bridge” in Lillooet is different than the others in this list in that it was originally built as a vehicle bridge. Constructed in 1913 to replace a winch ferry that crossed the Fraser River, the bridge is a true suspension bridge of steel cables and wood with ‘dead men’ (cable ends) embedded in the rocky banks of the Fraser. The bridge was restored in 2003 and is now used exclusively by pedestrians … and bats! Bat houses were installed as part of the restoration project and at dusk, visitors are treated to a bat aerial acrobatics show. If you have the time, do “the bridges”, a 10-kilometre loop along the river, taking in both the Old Bridge and the “new” Bridge of the 23 Camels. The views of the rugged canyon and the mighty Fraser River are truly breathtaking.
Tucked away in the UBC Botanical Garden, in Vancouver, is the Greenheart Canopy Walkway. Suspended high above the forest floor this series of aerial walkways and platforms provides an up-close and personal look at Vancouver’s coastal temperate rainforest. The highest walkway is about 20m (50 feet) above the ground and visitors are welcome to explore at their own pace or as part of a guided tour.
Published: July 21, 2016
As a tourism marketer and community manager for some of British Columbia’s most spectacular destinations, Mary Ann Bell spends her days writing, tweeting and posting! When she’s not online, Mary Ann can be found exploring Vancouver’s North Shore trails with her family and her camera, and trying new restaurants in the hunt for the best taco in Metro Vancouver.