Walking through the streets of downtown Vancouver, I often look up at the flying birds above me as they coast in-between the towering buildings and imagine what they must see. What a view, I think to myself, as they sail past me towards the ocean.
I wanted to experience a bird’s view of the city, but I knew it was unlikely I’d suddenly grow wings and coast above the skyline myself. So, I found another way to get an eagle-eyed perspective of Vancouver.
Perched on the peaks in West Vancouver is Eagle Bluffs. The original trail begins along Marine Drive halfway between Horseshoe Bay and Lighthouse Park. However, there’s a newer and easier route, starting at the base of Cypress Mountain ski area. This is the trail I chose for my eagle-eyed adventure. Instead of a grueling 19 kilometres, it’s only eight kilometres and can be completed in four to five hours.
The start of the trail is to the left of the chair lift closest to the ski lodge. Following the route to Black Mountain, the trail takes you through several turns within the trees before climbing a steep incline with a series of switchbacks. About 10 minutes in, I was already huffing and puffing, passing hikers on their descent who had woken up much earlier than me to complete the trail.
I consider myself a slightly above average hiker. I’ve managed to conquer advanced trails in the past but always break into a sweat even on the simplest of routes. Eagle Bluff’s wasn’t an exception.
Eventually the switchbacks died down and the trail flattened out, making it into a more comfortable walk. Thanks to the quick elevation gain I was already rewarded with views from the Cypress Mountain Valley behind me.
Many of the trails I trek around Vancouver wind through the woods for a long time before being presented with a grand view at the very end. However, Eagle Bluffs is different. Only a few minutes in and I was met with beautiful views. As I continued climbing, I found several small lakes and colourful ponds that glittered under the sunlight and featured stunning shades of turquoise and blue.
After roughly two hours I came across Yew Lake. In complete isolation, I paused here to appreciate the sheer silence of the woods. The occasional songbird and rustle of leaves was all I could hear. It was a stark contrast to the usual continuous stream of noise in downtown Vancouver. Even though I was only a 40-minute drive away from the city, I felt as though I was deep in the woods.
Although Yew Lake is the most popular along this trail, there are several small lakes that are accessible in this area, including Cabin Lake, Owen Lake and Cougar Lake. All varying in size and depth, I was amazed to see each one sporting a different colour: deep royal blue, soft mossy green.
Back on the trail, a series of boardwalks led over muddy sections and marshes as I continued to follow the signs for the summit. At this point I began to wonder when I would reach the summit, as I was already a few hours into the hike. Before I could doubt much longer, the trees began to clear and I caught a glimpse of the crystal blue sky.
It was an unbelievably clear day on the summit. I soaked in the spectacular view of Vancouver on my left and Vancouver Island ahead. The sea and sky met, blending into each other, broken apart only by the deep green landscape of Bowen Island. My late start caused me to have the entire summit to myself, so I basked in the sunshine, accompanied only by greedy chipmunks looking to steal my lunch. I surveyed the city with an eagle's eye, perched high above the busy city below.
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