Great Bike Rides in and around Vancouver!
This Vancouver bike ride goes from Second Beach Pool to Prospect Point in Stanley Park, downtown Vancouver via an off-road trail in the Stanley Park Forest. For some of the finest Vancouver cycling, try the Prospect Point bike trail, an off-road trail in the heart of Vancouver’s Stanley Park. It goes from the car park at Second Beach Pool, all the way up to Prospect Point, the highest point in Stanley Park. There you can enjoy stunning views of North and West Vancouver across the Burrard Inlet.
Here is a map of the entire route, recorded with my Garmin Edge Touring (reviewed in depth here).
Related: Bike Rentals Vancouver: Where to Rent Bikes in Vancouver
Related: Vancouver Cycling: Great Bike Rides in and Around Vancouver
Overview of the Route
Route: Prospect Point Trail, Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC. Start at the parking lot next to Second Beach pool, cycle up the gentle hill to Prospect Point, and return
Surfaces: Mainly gravel
Distance: 5.5 km (3.4 miles) loop
Difficulty level: intermediate to advanced (quite a lot of uphill, gravel can be slippery if descending at speed, and it’s easy to get lost as the various trails are quite randomly signposted)
Type of bike required: any kind, but mountain bike, tricross or hybrid would be best
Safety level: very safe, completely off road
Suitable for: intermediate to advanced cyclists
Congestion: very quiet on weekdays, a bit busier on weekends, but it’s not a popular trail, so it is much quieter than the rest of Stanley Park
Average Joe Cyclist Rating: Gold Bike-Star for a nice challenging climb on the way up to Prospect Point; exhilarating descent (especially if you use the road to come down); and wonderful scenery and feeling like you are in the countryside, even though you are just a few minutes from downtown Vancouver. Vancouver cycling at its best!
The Prospect Point bike trail is right in the heart of Stanley Park in downtown Vancouver. Completely off road, this Vancouver cycling route will take you from the car park at Second Beach Pool in Stanley Park, all the way up to Prospect Point, the highest point in Stanley Park. There you will be able to enjoy stunning views of North and West Vancouver across the Burrard Inlet. At Prospect Point there many facilities, so you can also get a coffee, ice-cream, meal, beer, or souvenir. It’s a nice workout, and it’s wonderfully scenic, especially once you get to the top.
Strictly speaking there is no “Prospect Point Trail.” There is a route along various trails that eventually gets you to Prospect Point. The main actual trails you will cycle on are Bridle and Rawlings.
On the way up, enjoy the amazing experience of being in a forest, even though you are just minutes from the heart of downtown Vancouver. Of course, you can also choose to just walk up, and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of nature at a slower pace. This is truly a great Vancouver cycling experience.
Start from the Second Beach parking lot in Stanley Park. The entrance to the trail is just across the main road, via the pedestrian crossing.
Video of Prospect Point Trail in Stanley Park
Here’s a video that shows some parts of the trail, starting from the beginning and ending up at Prospect Point. I took this video with my helmet cam (see my review of the Vio Helmet cam, here). I have a much better camcorder now, my GoPro Hero (reviewed here).
How to Cycle the Prospect Point Trail in Stanley Park
Just a few feet along the trail, there is a sign post. Follow the one that points to Prospect Point (left). Although the sign says 2.5 km, the distance is almost 3 km.
Now try to follow the occasional signs for Prospect Point. Sometimes there are no signs when the cycle path diverges. At those points, just follow the path that looks like the primary path. For a lot of the time going up, the path stays close to the road, so that is another way to navigate – just keep bearing left so that you are close to the road on your left. Some of the time, the trail is called the Bridle Path, and sometimes it is called Rawlings, but as long as you are going up, you are still heading towards Prospect Point.
There is quite a lot of uphill, but also some flat and a little downhill. Once you get to the top, you can lock your bike up at the bike rack, and enjoy the spectacular view, a coffee, an ice-cream, a beer, or a meal. Or maybe buy a souvenir.
The main reward for getting to the top is the amazing views.
The lookout point at Prospect Point is called Lowden’s Lookout and is a legacy of Vancouver’s early shipping system: installed in 1910, it was originally the site of a signal station that guided ships through the First Narrows of the Burrard Inlet.
To come back down to the parking lot at Second Beach Pool, just retrace your route – or try to. You may notice that on the map at the top of this post, my route back was a bit different. The signage is fairly random, so it’s easy to get off track. However, as long as you are going downhill, you should be fine.
The gravel can get quite slippery when you pick up speed, so bear that in mind. An alternative is to use the road to come down the hill. This is fun and fast, but a different kind of experience – there are cars, and it’s not off-road.
No matter how you do this, this is Vancouver cycling at its finest!
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