Exploring Deep Cove, Vancouver
If you’re visiting Vancouver, but craving a taste of the great Canadian wilderness far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life, then why not make a trip to Deep Cove? Arriving in this quaint, peaceful community feels like landing in a completely different world, yet it lies within a mere 30 minutes’ drive from downtown Vancouver. Nestled at the head of the Burrard Inlet, Deep Cove and its surrounding area is home to some of the most spectacular and pristine wilderness in the Vancouver area, with mountains, forests, beaches, ocean and wildlife galore. Spend the day hiking scenic trails up to panoramic viewpoints or paddling through the sheltered waters of the breath-taking Indian Arm. Sample the delights of cosy bistros and trendy boutiques in the village itself, or simply enjoy a lazy beachside picnic in one of the numerous waterfront parks. Whatever your fancy, there’s simply no better quick getaway to rejuvenate the spirit!
Parks and trails
Deep Cove is situated on Canada’s southernmost glacial fjord, the Indian Arm, stretching over 20 km and encompassing steep slopes, mountain peaks, dense forests, grassy expanses and calm waters. Much of the area remains undeveloped and the unspoilt environment makes it the perfect haven for a vast array of exhilarating recreational pursuits. Here are some of our top destinations and activities for making the most of Deep Cove’s beautiful surrounds.
Quarry Rock Trail
This is undoubtedly one of the most popular trails in the North Vancouver area, easily accessible to novices whilst providing enough variation and interest to satisfy more seasoned hikers as well. The route forms part of the famed Baden Powell trail and gradually winds its way up a large rocky outcrop known as Quarry Rock. You’ll traverse small creeks, wooden bridges and steps and pass through densely wooded areas of Douglas Fir and Hemlock trees. It’s a relatively quick hike to the summit (a 3.8 km roundtrip), and at the top you’ll be met with spectacular views over the Indian Arm and the mountains around Belcarra. On a clear sunny day, it’s all too easy to spend a couple of hours lingering at the top, savouring a picnic, snapping photos and soaking up the gorgeous surrounds.
Baden Powell Trail
This rugged wilderness route stretches 41 km across the foothills of the North Shore, from the head of Burrard Inlet all the way to Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver. You may not feel up to tackling the entire route, but there are various entry points in the Deep Cove area, including Lynn Canyon Park, Seymour Park and Skyline Road, where you can enjoy short hikes on sections of the trail. The terrain can be quite challenging in parts, but you’ll be rewarded with beautiful forest surrounds, spectacular viewpoints, swimming beaches and plenty of waterfront vistas.
As the largest waterfront park in North Vancouver, Cates Park boasts endless opportunities for enjoying the great outdoors. A 6 km hiking trail leads through thriving temperate rainforest and past a handful of First Nation totem poles that point to the strong and longstanding native presence in the area. Stop at one of several attractive sandy beaches to relax, swim, beachcomb at low tide or just to enjoy the scenic surrounds. There are two large playgrounds and plenty of grassy areas that are perfect for kids. You’ll also find kayak rentals, tennis courts and a boat docking area. Cates Park is a great spot for alfresco eating, whether you fancy bringing your own picnic basket, cooking up a BBQ feast or grabbing a bite to eat from Wally’s Burgers nearby.
This tranquil park in downtown Deep Cove is the starting point for the Baden Powell Trail and Quarry Rock hike, but it’s also a worthwhile place to linger in itself, perfect for strolling, boating, swimming and picnicking. The park overlooks a picturesque bay and features an attractive beach, along with small boat access. There are waterfront trails where you can admire the beautiful setting, plenty of open spaces for picnicking and playing ball games, a recreation area for kids, seating areas, BBQ facilities, as well as adjacent shops, cafes and changing facilities. The park also plays host to an array of special seasonal events throughout the year, including the Penguin Plunge on New Year’s Day and live music concerts throughout the summer.
If you’re the athletic type, then be sure to stop by this large wide open park which features two ball diamonds, a soccer field, kid’s playground and myriad well-maintained trails suitable for walkers, runners and cyclists. There’s even a dedicated area for cardio, strength and flexibility training, along with yoga mats. Whatever your sport of choice, you’re guaranteed to find something to get the adrenaline-pumping here.
Out on the water
Locals will tell you that the best way to experience Deep Cove is out on the water. The village is situated on a beautiful bay surrounded on all sides by spectacular mountain and forest scenery. The area is also dotted with secluded beaches, dozens of alluring islands and plenty of native wildlife, including eagles, sea stars and seals.
There’s no better way to appreciate this amazing natural setting than by gliding through the bay’s sheltered waters in a kayak, canoe or on a stand-up paddle board. Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak offer rentals right on the beach, boasting one of the largest fleets in Canada that keeps the area bustling throughout the summer. If you’re a newbie, you can sign-up for individual or group lessons. They also run a highly-recommended range of guided day and weekend excursions around the Indian Arm. The three-hour Deep Cove Explorer is especially popular, providing a relaxed tour of the area’s most stunning landmarks, complete with local insight into the area’s history and ecology. Large groups can also be accommodated, and upon request you can arrange to enjoy a sumptuous BBQ lunch on one of the nearby islands.
When you’ve exhausted the endless opportunities for enjoying the outdoors, you’ll discover that Deep Cove offers its fair share of indoor attractions as well. Water sports enthusiasts will love browsing the Deep Cove Outdoors retail store, which is open year-round and packed full of specialty gear and clothing relating to kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, and skiing.
In the heart of the village, there are several quality boutiques that are great places to pick up a gift or a few mementos of your visit. LaLa’s offers shoppers a diverse selection of fashion-forward merchandise, from aromatic soaps and funky stationary to gourmet food products, jewellery and one-of-a-kind accessories. Room 6, Ahoy and Sunnyside, all located along the main thoroughfare, are locally-run stores that offer a host of carefully-curated trendy products.
The community also runs a Cultural Centre, where you’ll find the Deep Cove Heritage Society, along with a small-stage theatre, Seymour Art gallery and a gift shop. Art lovers should also stop by the Artemic gallery to admire the work of local artists and residents, much of which draws inspiration from the stunning scenic surrounds of Deep Cove.
The food scene
Whatever your foodie preferences, Deep Cove is home to a wonderful array of eating options, ranging from freshly made pizzas and ethical eats, to fine dining and highly acclaimed doughnuts.
Deep Cove Pizza serve up a delicious range of pizzas made with freshly baked dough, quality cheeses, fine Italian cured meats and hand-picked herbs. For more comforting European fare, try Nektar’s Pizza & Greek Food on Mount Seymour Road or buy a take-out from Deep Cove Fish & Chips and enjoy it whilst admiring the view over the bay.
Deep Cove is also home to several cosy cafes serving up innovative menus packed with fresh, organic and locally-sourced produce. Bluhouse market & café is a real haven for veggie, vegan and gluten-free dining. Café Orso offers amazing coffee, breakfast items and meat and cheese boards. Whilst the family-run Village Table is a popular community hangout featuring a fantastic brunch menu, along with an enticing selection of sandwiches, tacos, burgers and sharing platters.
For something extra special, check out the award-winning Arms Reach Bistro. Voted among the top 100 outdoor restaurants in Canada in 2016, its incredible food and wine list, impeccable service, not to mention the beautiful views out across the tranquil bay are bound to impress.
Also well worth checking out is Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers. After a long day of hiking, treat yourself to a tour of the brewery tasting room for a chance to sample their distinctive award-winning craft beers. They also offer a selection of tantalising snacks, a friendly ambience and occasional live music nights.
Finally, don’t leave without dropping by Honey Doughnuts & Goodies. This renowned spot is continually busy with locals and visitors alike, all eager to get their hands on the yummy sugary goodness of their famous hand-made honey doughnuts.
Whilst Deep Cove has something to offer everyone, its fantastic trails and spectacular vistas mean its first and foremost renowned for its scenic hiking. If you’re an enthusiastic hiker interested in discovering more top walking destinations in the province be sure to check out our guide to hiking in British Columbia.
More to explore in and around Vancouver