Burnaby Mountain Park is a lovely place to visit. It offers wonderful views of the ocean as well as other attractions. The park overlooks Burrard Inlet and Indian Arm in one direction and the cities of Burnaby and Vancouver in the other. I always feel as though I’m on top of the world when I visit it on a clear day.
Burnaby Mountain is around 370 metres (1,214 feet) high. It’s located in the northeastern part of Burnaby. It’s dwarfed by the Coast Mountains on the other side of Burrard Inlet. On the other hand, its smaller elevation make it quicker and easier to climb while still giving the climber a good workout. A trail for both walkers and cyclists travels up the mountain. The mountain is a great place to study nature as well as exercise.
Getting to the Park
The park is located at the top of the mountain near Simon Fraser University. People can travel up the mountain by car or bus instead of by walking or cycling. The park has a parking lot for visitors. The bus stops at the university. A short walk from the bus stop will take a visitor to the park.
It might be a good idea to walk to the park with someone if you don’t drive (or walk with your dog, as I do). The main part of the park and its parking lot are open and popular areas that almost always have other visitors, but the treed and forested trails leading to and from the park are more secluded.
An Overview of the Park’s Attractions
The views are not the only attraction in the park. The park has a restaurant (as well as a public washroom located behind the restaurant). A rose garden is in bloom in summer. Even when the flowers aren’t blooming, the landscaped area is pleasant to sit in. “Playground of the Gods” is an interesting and impressive sculpture. In summer, an eco-sculpture can also be admired.
Hang gliders sometimes take off from the park. In winter, people have great fun tobogganing down a grassy slope, though they are officially discouraged from doing this. The mountain often has snow when the communities at its base don’t.
The park has picnic tables and a playground for children. The trails into the forest that lead away from the park are interesting for walkers, runners, and mountain bikers to explore. The forested area of the mountain (the largest section) is known as the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area. Simply sitting on a bench or on the large grassy area in the park and contemplating the view is enjoyable and very often relaxing.
Kamui Mintara or Playground of the Gods
Kamui Mintara is a sculpture consisting of a collection of carved wooden poles. The sculpture was carved in 1989 and was created by Nuburi Toko and his son Shusei Toko of the Ainu culture. The Ainu are an indigenous people of the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan and historically of some Russian islands as well. The sculptors live (or did when the sculpture was created) in Kushiro, Burnaby’s sister city in Japan.
The figures on the sculpture are significant. The animals represent the gods as they existed when they created the world. The Ainu are shown in relationship to the gods and nature. British Columbian animals are used to depict the deities, including an owl, an orca, a bear, and a salmon. The sculpture occupies quite a large area and is interesting to explore.
From summer to early fall, eco-sculptures can be seen at various locations around Burnaby. Most of them represent animals that can be found in the province. One of them is always placed in Burnaby Mountain Park.
The sculptures have a mesh-like frame of metal that is stuffed with soil and then covered with porous landscape fabric. (The frame is shown in the young crane in the photo above.) Holes are created in the fabric and small plants are placed in them. The plants are used to depict the hair, fur, feathers, and scales of the animals.
As might be imagined, the process of creating an eco-sculpture can be labour intensive. Each year, the public is invited to help place the plants in some of the sculptures. There always seems to be plenty of volunteers.
For several years, an eco-sculpture of a pair of very tall tancho cranes was present in Burnaby Mountain Park. The real-life birds live in Japan. For the last few years, sandhill cranes have been shown instead. These birds are seen in British Columbia. The sculptures are often moved to different parts of the city from one year to the next, so there is no guarantee that a particular sculpture will be seen in a particular location.
The Great Trail or the Trans Canada Trail
The trail that goes up and over the mountain and through the park is part of the Great Trail. Many people still call the path by its former name of the Trans Canada Trail, which I prefer. I think the latter name is awesome because it conveys the idea that the trail enables pedestrians and cyclists to travel across the entire country.
The trail was started in 1992, which was Canada’s 125th birthday. It currently extends over 24,000 km or 15,000 miles. The path was said to be finished in 2017, the year of country’s 150th birthday. In reality, it’s still being created. While it’s true that there is a continuous route for walkers across almost the entire country, some sections of the “trail” are simply shoulders of highways. The organization that created the trail is still working on replacing these areas with off-road paths. They depend on the efforts of local communities for much of their work.
The trail travels across the southern part of Canada. In the western part of the country, however, a branch travels to the north. Islands are located off the west and east coast of the country. (There’s a map of Canada on the homepage of this site.) In these areas, the trail requires travel by a boat of some kind.
I think a visit to Burnaby Mountain Park and its surroundings is very worthwhile for visitors to the Greater Vancouver area. Fortunately, I live quite near to the park and am able to visit it often. The climb up the mountain is good exercise for me and my dog. There are lots of benches in the park for me and other visitors to rest if necessary.
A visit to the park is always enjoyable, but it’s most interesting when the views are clear. It’s fun to try to identify familiar places from on top of the mountain and to watch the activity in the inlet. Binoculars are useful, but the view can be appreciated without them.