Caulfeild Park is a small but beautiful spot in West Vancouver. It has hiking trails, amazing views, a rugged coastline and sandy beach areas.
This article describes the park, the surrounding residential neighbourhood and nearby Stearman Beach.
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Caulfeild Park and Stearman Beach
Caulfeild Park is one of the best-kept secrets on Vancouver’s North Shore. It’s stunningly beautiful, but not so well known. It’s also not the most accessible. The park is a bit out of the way, there is no main entrance, and parking is very limited.
The park itself is very simple. Don’t expect a concession stand, lifeguards, public change rooms or a children’s playground. Expect just beautiful scenery and nature.
Caulfeild Park is unique in a number of ways. It’s in a wealthy residential neighbourhood. Houses in the area are impressive! There are homes right on the waterfront near the park. For ones in the immediate area, however, between the mansions and the ocean, is the park. Homes in the neighbourhood are massive. Most though are half-hidden away in the foliage.
The streets in the area are tiny and narrow. Some of them are just one-way. There is bus transportation to the region, but most people drive. Parking though is extremely limited, with most spots just here and there at the side of the road. There are a few parking lots in different places, but they range from having about three parking spots up to just seven.
The park is long and narrow. It stretches along West Vancouver’s coastline, from the Point Atkinson Tide Gauge Station to near Stearman Beach. There aren’t many places that offer a nicer view of the ocean and Vancouver (in the distance).
Located close to Lighthouse Park, Caulfeild is easy to overlook. Due to the proximity of the two places, and the less famous spot’s lack of parking, the latter venue is rarely busy. Consequently, it’s a good place to visit for a peaceful stroll through the forest or some time at the beach.
Where is Caulfeild Park?
If driving west along Marine Drive, you’ll turn down Piccadilly South and then either Dogwood Lane or The Highway (both of which are tiny little roads).
This part of West Vancouver is hilly, and the roads wind all over the place. If you don’t know the area, GPS can be invaluable, especially when going to or from the park to the Trans-Canada Highway.
The Point Atkinson Tide Gauge Station is at the far western end of Caulfeild Park. There you’ll find a public wharf and the start of the walking trails. At low tide the beach in the area is rocky. Parking is primarily along the narrow street.
At the far eastern end of the park (but outside the park itself) is Stearman Beach. Access to it is via Stearman Avenue and Ross Crescent. You’ll find a small parking lot near the entrance to the beach, but with just seven or so spots. There is another tiny parking lot at the end of Ross Crescent, with another couple of spaces. There is also a bit of street parking scattered here and there around the area.
Between the Point Atkinson Tide Gauge Station and Stearman Beach are trails, forests, rocky coastlines and a couple of sandy beach areas.
Note: Parking is a challenge. Don’t expect to find a spot anywhere on a hot sunny weekend. Even on a non-sunny weekday in the summer, there might be times when you don’t find a spot. If going with friends, carpool if you can.
Caulfeild Park Trails
The trail network at the park is less than 2 km long (one way). Hikers walking fast can go from one end to the other in about half an hour. If you take your time, sit on a bench or a rock from time to time, and enjoy the view, you’ll be there longer. Take your swimsuit, a picnic and your camera, and you could be there all afternoon.
You don’t have to be a serious hiker to walk the trails at Caulfeild Park. They aren’t very difficult. That being said, the terrain is rugged in parts, and there is a good number of stairs. It’s not ideal for older folks, or people with bad knees or balance issues. The park is also anything but wheelchair accessible, and some rocky areas can get slippery when wet. Kids especially will enjoy the variety of terrain (unless they don’t like stairs).
The trails at Caulfeild Park are interesting. There are stairs going down to the water in some spots. You go down, look around, and then walk back up. There are rocky areas you can explore in places at the waterfront, and sandy areas at low tide. There are stairs made out of stones, gravel trails, small bridges and paths through the forest. Most of the park is in the trees, so there is lots of shade, which makes it nice on hot days.
Stearman Beach and Caulfeild Beaches
Stearman Beach is a nice place surrounded by Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous-style mansions. It’s a mostly rocky beach, but with a couple of sandy spots. When the tide is way out, it’s rocky for a long ways! There are also logs to sit on up near the shore.
When the tide is at its highest, the only bit of sandy beach along the entire Caulfeild Park coastline is at Stearman Beach, and it’s just a nice bit of sand. At low tide, however, you’ll find a couple of sandy beaches interspersed with rugged, rocky areas all the way from one end of the park to the other.
Stearman Beach is near Caulfeild Park, but not in it. There are a small number of private residences between the two. You can walk from one spot to the other along the waterfront at low tide. At high tide, however, you have to walk along Marine Drive for a bit.
To get to the beach you can walk all the way along Marine Drive to Stearman Avenue, which is a ways away, and then a block down Ross Crescent. Or, if you look closely, there is a half-hidden, unmarked staircase along Marine Drive that leads to a public path that goes to the waterfront. It makes for a nice shortcut if you can find it.
It’s Caulfeild, not Caulfield
Many people assume the park is spelled “Caulfield,” with the standard spelling of “field,” but it’s not. The park is named after Francis Caulfeild who was an immigrant from England.
Francis Caulfeild bought the land at the end of the 19th century with the hope of establishing a community in the area. Other British immigrants soon joined him, bought land from Caulfeild, and built houses close to the waterfront.
Caulfeild’s legacy continues to live on. The park and surrounding area bear his name, with its unique spelling, still to this day. Caulfeild is one of the most beautiful places to live in West Vancouver, and one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in all of Canada.
Tips and Advice
Below are some tips to help you make the most out of your visit to the area.
TIP #1: Remember to take your swim gear in the summer, but change into it before you arrive. The park is a popular place for a dip in the ocean, especially on hot sunny days. Just remember that the water is quite cold year-round and there are no lifeguards. There are also no changing rooms.
TIP #2: Dogs are allowed on the trails when on a leash. You can go for a nice afternoon stroll with your furry little friends as long as you keep them under control. Dogs are not, however, permitted on the beaches.
TIP #3: Try to go when the tide is out. At very high tide, there is no beach to speak of. There is just forest, then maybe a little bit of rock, and then water. To see what the tide will be like at different times, see the website tide-forecast.com.
TIP #4: If you can’t find a place to leave your car, consider exploring someplace else close by. Lighthouse Park is less than 2.5 km away, and Whytecliff Park is just a 15-minute drive. These other two places are very popular and their parking lots also fill up. They do though at least have reasonably large parking lots, as well as world-class scenery of their own.
TIP #5: There are a couple of outhouses at the park, but that’s about it for amenities. And the outhouses are kind of hidden along the trail and so easy to miss. Consequently, go to the washroom before you visit if you can.
TIP #6: If planning to spend time at Stearman Beach, and want to walk in the ocean, take water shoes or flip flops. It’s a rocky beach with millions of small stones. There aren’t barnacles on the rocks close to shore, but there are further out.
TIP #7: The water at Stearman beach is shallow for a long ways out. So it’s nice at low tide, and not deep for kids when the tide is higher. Because it’s so shallow though, it’s not an easy place to swim at.
For more information about the park see the District of West Vancouver‘s website.
Other parks and places of interest in the area include Lighthouse Park, Whytecliff Park and Horseshoe Bay (the last of which is where you’ll find the BC Ferries Terminal connecting the North Shore with Vancouver Island).
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Lower Mainland Parks and Nature
- Vancouver on a Budget
- The A to Z’s of Vancouver
- West Vancouver Restaurants
- North Vancouver Hotels
- Downtown Vancouver Hotels