When I’m at home with my two girls during the day, I often think, “it would be great to get out into the forest right now!” If I’m on my own, though, I can be easily daunted by the idea of a real hike on a real mountain. What if someone gets hurt? However, I feel totally comfortable taking the girls to play and walk through the woods at kid-friendly Vancouver destination Cates Park. The very easy trail feels like walking through a proper forest and the park has all the amenities like bathrooms and a playground that makes it an easy family outing.
The Cates Park Hike
I kind of hesitate to call the trail at Cates Park a hike, because it’s smooth enough to bring a stroller, and short enough for a young child to walk all the way to the end and back. But it feels like a hike as we wander down the trail, looking at trees and undergrowth and a small stream that runs in a ditch along one side. The view across to Burnaby Mountain is beautiful, and makes me feel like I’m further away from the city than I really am. We saw a Pileated Woodpecker along the trail in Cates Park once, and we all stood silently watching until he flew away.
Cates Park History
Cates Park is also a historical site, both for the Tsleil-Waututh people who historically used the area that is now Cates Park as a summer home, and for English writer Malcolm Lowry, who lived in a shack near the beach part way along the trail. We usually stop by the giant anchor beside the main beach stairs to wonder at the size of ship that would need such a big anchor to hold it steady. My favourite part of Cates Park is the little beach near where Lowry’s shack was. Whether the tide is high or low, there’s always a little bit of sand and driftwood to play with there.
Kid-Friendly Vancouver Playground
Even if you’re not the type to enjoy a leisurely stroll through the forest, Cates Park is a great destination for a family outing. The playground was recently replaced in the past year or so, and there is something for everyone there – a big, tall climbing structure for older kids, a smaller one for the preschool crowd, and a small cedar longhouse and pretend war canoe for imaginary play.
There is a bathroom nearby, some picnic tables and a concession that is open during the summer months.
Children and adults alike benefit from unstructured time spent outdoors and Cates Park is the perfect place to get a dose of nature. Located just off Dollarton Highway, it’s easy to get to and easy to navigate while you’re there. Whether you stroll along the trail, relax and skip stones at the beach or play on the swings, Cates Park is an outdoor destination for all seasons.
Michelle Carchrae is often asking those important life questions: "who moved the scissors?", "how would you do that differently next time?" and "are you finished with the glitter glue?" Homeschooling two girls, ages 6 and 3, is her full time job. The rest of the time Michelle can be found blogging at The Parent Vortex, hiking in the forest or knitting and reading simultaneously. She recently published her first ebook, The Parenting Primer: A guide to positive parenting in the first six years, and moved to Bowen Island.