Lynn Headwaters is Metro Vancouver’s largest regional park, with over 40 km of hiking trails. Some of them are easy, while others are serious.
Lynn Headwaters Regional Park
Located in North Vancouver on the North Shore, Lynn Headwaters is a popular park that features a lot of nature to explore.
The park is an amazing place to visit any time of the year, or at least the lower parts are.
Like many of the North Shore parks, even when the trees are bare in other parts of Metro Vancouver, this place is still beautiful in the middle of winter. That being said, the trails are closed at higher elevations when there is snow.
Parking Lots at the Park
There are a couple of parking lots at Lynn Headwaters. There is one at the end of Lynn Valley Road, which is the main parking lot. There is also another one a little ways before that, which is a bit larger. Neither are very big, however.
Both parking lots fill up on busy days, especially the main lot at the end of the road. If you find a spot there on a sunny weekend, consider yourself lucky!
In the past parking has always been free. That has changed though in 2021. Beginning this year, you have to pay $2 an hour to park from March until the end of October. During the quieter months though, parking will still be free.
Trails at Lynn Canyon
There are a number of nice hiking trails at Lynn Headwaters. Some are flat and easy. Others are more challenging.
From the first parking lot – the larger one just off to the side of the road – there is a beautiful trail that takes you along the creek through the forest to the main parking lot area at the end of the road. The path is fairly flat, but does involve a few stairs and boardwalks through marshy parts of the forest. It’s a really nice trail.
From the main parking lot (which is quite small), there are outhouses and a bridge. After you cross the bridge you can turn right and go along the Lynn Loop Trail in one direction and eventually make your way back to the bridge in a loop. Or, starting off in the same direction, you can continue further and join the Lynn Headwaters Connector. The Connector goes all the way to the Lower Seymour Conservation Area. In turn, Lower Seymour connects with Rice Lake via the Rice Lake Loop Trail.
Again from the main parking lot, after crossing the bridge, instead of turning right and following the Lynn Loop Trail that way, you can turn left and follow it along the creek heading north. The first kilometre or two in this direction is nice and flat.
At the end of this part of the trail, heading north, there are a couple options. You can go along the Cedar Mills Trail, or you can stay on the Lynn Loop Trail and start hiking up the stairs. People who are just out for a leisurely stroll often just retrace their steps and walk back along the flat and easy path. People wanting more serious exercise tackle the stairs and head back to the start that way.
Lynn Headwaters Video
To give you an idea of what to expect at the park, check out the following video. As you can see when you watch it, the trails go through different kinds of terrain. There are boardwalks, stairs, bridges and gravel pathways. There is forest with varying kinds of vegetation, and there are several points where you can get close to the river.
Also as you’ll see in this video, many of the trails at Lynn Headwaters are fairly flat, which makes the park a nice place for leisurely hikes. There are steeper areas with steps you can climb too. You don’t have to do those parts though if you don’t want to.
The route taken in this video starts from near the first parking lot (so not the smaller one at the end of the road). From there we walked along the trails to the other parking lot where there are a couple of buildings and the bridge. We crossed the bridge, turned left and headed north along the trail on the east side of the river.
We did the Lynn Loop Trail which goes along the river and is fairly flat. That changes when you turn toward the Cedar Mills Trail which continues north. If you just want a pretty but flat and leisurely trail to walk along, you can turn around here and head back the way you came.
If you want to do the full Lynn Loop Trail you have to climb a fair few number of stairs and go up the hill. The trail then makes a loop back to the main parking lot at the end of Lynn Valley Road.
Tips and Advice
Below are some tips to help you make the most out of your visit to Lynn Headwaters.
TIP #1: The park usually closes at dusk, so be sure to leave before they lock the gate. Also, never leave your vehicle in the park overnight. If you do officials will assume that you are a hiker lost in the woods. This means the police will be called, and a Search and Rescue team will likely begin their hunt to find you.
TIP #2: If you go one of the more serious hikes, take good hiking shoes, appropriate clothing, and food and water with you. Also, make sure someone knows where you are heading for the day (other than just the people you are hiking with).
TIP #3: As well, be sure to register at the information board if you’re going on a serious hike. This is a place where you fill out a form with your name, contact details and where you are headed. You then put part of the form in the box when you start your hike, and the other part in the box upon your return (to signify that you made it back safely).
This signing in and out procedure is for your own safety. If you don’t return, or if you fail to put the second half of the form in the box at the end, you will be called (hopefully) and a search will begin if needed.
TIP #4: Some trails at Lynn Headwaters (including the Lower Lynn Loop, Cedars Mill and the connector trail between the park and the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve) are designated leash-optional. On most other trails dogs are permitted but must be kept on a leash.
Click Lynn Headwaters Info for more information about the park.
Click Lynn Headwaters Map for a map of the park.
To learn more about the surrounding region see our articles about North Vancouver and the North Shore.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Vancouver Parks & Nature
- Lower Mainland Hiking Trails
- Things to do on a Budget
- Outdoor Recreation in Metro Vancouver
- Camping in the Lower Mainland