Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Burnaby Lake: Cottonwood Trail, Burnaby

Before we had a child, Burnaby Lake was one of the walks we did quite often. In fact, back when I used to be able to call myself a "runner" and keep a straight face, I used to hit this trail at least once a week. What's great about this trail is that simply by parking at a different lot, your experience can be different each and every visit. Overall the trail is 11 km long, so for our purposes, I'm chopping it into three distinct sections.

The first section is Cottonwood Trail stretching from the Burnaby Sports Complex to the Nature House at Piper Ave. The trail is quite popular with joggers, walkers and dogwalkers so expect to share a few friendly greetings along the way.

From Vancouver, take Highway 1 eastbound to Exit 32, Sprott Street. Travel along Sprott and at the first lights, turn left to cross over the highway overpass. At Kensington Avenue go straight and turn left at the stop sign. Immediately turn right into the parking lot by the sports fields. The trail starts along the edge of the sports fields beyond the Rugby Club.

This portion of the trail can also be accessed fairly easily on transit, either by bus or Skytrain (Sperling-Burnaby Lake station).

Running along the north side of the lake itself, the wide, flat trails take you under the shady cover of trees. The trail surface is mostly bark mulch and compact gravel with short sections of wooden bridges. Unfortunately, there aren't really any good looping options so it's just an in-and-out route. In spots the trail takes you straight out to water's edge or over bridges for beautiful views of the lake and plenty of opportunities to see what's in the water.

Any type of stroller can manage, however, the trail can get quite soft after a rainfall (it is on a bog after all). Strollers with smaller wheels may have a tougher time getting through the muck.

This stretch of trail is 2.6 km long so plan for about an hour for a return trip - longer if you take advantage of the viewing tower or the Nature House.

This section of the Burnaby Lake trail includes a couple of viewing points and the Nature House. There is a playground near the Burnaby Sports Complex as well as washrooms at both ends of the trail. Unfortunately, only the washrooms at the Nature House have a change table. There are a few picnic tables located behind the Nature House which would be an idyllic spot for a lunch break before heading back to the car. The Nature House itself is a great family-friendly feature in that it has some lots of interpretive displays for kids and parents to interact with as well as knowledgeable staff on hand to answer questions. Even small babies would enjoy a leisurely wheel around the gardens out front.

If you make it up the viewing tower, expect to see expansive views of the entire lake. If you're lucky, you may see some wildlife during your visit.

There is a swimming pool, ice rink, soccer fields and rugby fields at the west end of the lake.

There are no benches along the trail so don't plan on resting along the way. Bird feeding is permitted only at Piper Spit (near the Nature House). Dogs must be leashed. Take only photographs, leave only footprints (or stroller wheel impressions as the case may be).

View Burnaby Lake: Cottonwood Trail, Burnaby in a larger map

IMPORTANT: Any adventure in the outdoors carries a certain level of risk. The route information and maps contained in this blog are provided as rough guidelines only and are based on just one person's experience. Baby Meets Trail and its authors are not responsible for any harm that may occur while attempting one of the posted walks. We will, however, take credit if you have an excellent time!