LivingTravelLighthouse Park, Vancouver: The Complete Guide

Lighthouse Park, Vancouver: The Complete Guide

An iconic part of the West Vancouver shoreline, Lighthouse Park is home to the picturesque (and essential) Point Atkinson Lighthouse, which marks the point where Burrard’s inlet meets Howe Sound. Here, among 75 hectares (185 acres) of temperate rainforest, you’ll find hiking trails that lead to superlative views of downtown Vancouver, Point Gray / UBC, and Howe Sound.


Since the 1870s, the lighthouse has been protecting sailors from the rocky shoreline where the Burrard Inlet meets Howe Sound. In 1881, the area surrounding the park was reserved as a dark area behind the lighthouse, and since 1994, the Point Atkinson Lighthouse has been designated a National Historic Site.

Point Atkinson was named by Captain George Vancouver in 1792 when surveying the south coast of BC. There has been a lighthouse at the point since 1874, their first job was to protect Vancouver’s lucrative maritime trade by making sure all ships had a safe harbor.

In 1912, the current structure, a six-sided tower with buttresses, was built with reinforced concrete to help protect it against possible invasion. During World War II, searchlights and weapons emplacements were added to the lighthouse to help further protect the coastline.

What to see and do there

Look out for the last of the first-growing West Vancouver Douglas Firs, as well as fragrant western red cedar and western hemlock. These old trees are believed to be around 500 years old and can grow up to 200 feet (60 meters). Take the Valley of the Giants trail to Eagle Point to see these majestic beauties.

It’s only a 10 minute walk downhill along Beacon Lane to the Lighthouse Viewpoint, but it’s uphill on the way back, so be sure to leave some energy to get back up. Most people come to hike the trails or have a picnic on one of the beaches or rocky outcrops; just be careful stepping on and make sure you don’t leave traces of rubbish as it could attract wildlife or cause damage to the environment.

Trails lead to viewpoints found on rocks jutting out into the ocean and while the views are exceptional it can be a bit slippery on a wet day or a bit crowded on a sunny day so be careful when drinking that selfie

Dogs are allowed on some trails (and some are leashed), but check the restrictions before taking your four-legged friend on a hike. And watch out for off-leash dogs running around, as some parts of the trails are quite narrow and over-enthusiastic pups can show up around corners and surprise hikers.

Climbers also hit the granite cliffs in summer and climb some of the 12 climbing routes in the park. Although the cliffs are not exceptionally high, it is advisable to try climbing here only if you have experience or are with a qualified guide.

Things to know

Well-style toilets can be found near the parking lot and fresh drinking water (for humans and pets) can be found near the lighthouse, but it’s still best to drink water and wear proper footwear when walking in the park. There is a direct trail to the lighthouse that is well maintained, but many of the other trails cover rocky terrain with slopes, cliffs, and downhill sections with uneven paths through thick forest.

Lighthouse Park is free and open year round. The gates are closed at dusk and camping is not allowed inside the park. Wildlife frequent the area, so be sure to pack up any trash you create and obey any warning signs about conservation areas or bear sightings.

Get there

Drive on Marine Drive towards Horseshoe Bay, turn left onto Beacon Lane and follow the signs to Lighthouse Park. There is a free parking lot at the trailhead that gets very crowded at peak times between May and September. Go here out of season or in the middle of the week if you expect to find a space easily.

Transit users can take the # 250 Horseshoe Bay bus (not the Express) to the Beacon Lane stop, and then it’s just a short walk through a residential area to the parking lot and trailhead. Buses run regularly to Granville Station, downtown Vancouver and beyond. The ride itself is a scenic drive through the forests of Stanley Park, across the Lions Gate Bridge and along scenic Marine Drive, with panoramic views back to Vancouver and Howe Sound.

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