Camping and Kayaking at Porteau Cove

Susannah and I love camping. We also love kayaking. Unfortunately these days we don’t get to do either very often. We had a camping trip planned for Spring but had to cancel at the last minute. Then it was summer and all the campgrounds were booked up. Finally, after the September long weekend, we got the opportunity to go camping for 5 nights at Porteau Cove Provincial Park.

Porteau Cove is our favourite local camping spot. It’s only a 45 minute drive from Vancouver which means if we have to pop back to the city we can. It’s also located at the edge of a Marine Park and has great wildlife viewing.

The Park has 60 sites – 44 drive-in and 16 walk-in. We’ve stayed at several different sites and definitely have our favourites. We were stoked to be able to book one of the best sites in the walk-in campground. We like it because it’s at the end of the campground so only has one neighbour. There’s also an additional area next to the designated site that we can spread out in.

Our little campsite

Surprisingly, the walk-in campground was not busy. Almost every day the entire walk-in area cleared out and we had it to ourselves for a few hours before a few new campers moved in.

An empty campground is rare in BC

Almost to ourselves anyway…

This Stellar Jay was very cheeky

The weather was a mixed bag and while it rained quite a lot, we were treated to some fantastic sunny and even hot periods between storms. We were able to get out on the water quite a bit and paddle around the Coast.

The perspective you get from the water is completely different from the view from the beach and you can feel like you are the only people there.

Kayaking is good for marine mammal watching.

Can you spot the seal?

As well as accessing unknown beaches.

The campground is very long so if you walk from one end to the other you’ll be treated to some great views down Howe Sound and with the ever changing weather it’ll look very different each time. The misty BC look is one of my favourites.

Susannah in her happy place

Once or twice a day a train runs along the adjacent train tracks and it’s super noisy, but apart from that we found our September camping trip to be quite quiet. We spent time exploring, beach combing and watching the world go by.

A rock display left by one beach comber
Looking very Autumnal

There was a film crew working on the water and at the dock which was entertaining to watch. This boat sped in and out delivering people and gear to the set on the water.

Porteau Cove and the view of Anvil Island will always a very special place for us. We hope to visit again soon.

Hiking Quarry Rock in Deep Cove

The Quarry Rock hike in Deep Cove, North Vancouver, is super popular with both locals and tourists. It’s a 3.8km round trip walk, takes between 1-2 hours, has an elevation gain of 100m, and offers fantastic views from the top.

Starting at Deep Cove, follow the signs for the Baden Powell Trail. Once you enter the forest be prepared to begin the stair master as much of the elevation gain seems to occur in the first part of this hike. After several sets of stairs, the trail becomes a bit more natural with a maze of tree roots to navigate (watch your footing!) and several ups and downs through the forest.

Stay on the trail until you reach a fork. Go right and you’ll have reached Quarry Rock. Climb up and enjoy the view! It’s cool to be able to look down on Deep Cove and see just how high you’ve climbed.

Before heading back, walk a few minutes further along the Baden Powell Trail towards the power pylon. Once you reach it, climb the rock and you’ll get another awesome view further down Indian Arm.


I found the challenge of this hike to be catching my breath going up – take lots of short stops if you need to. If you are a beginner hiker,  not particularly fit, or an older person starting out, this will be a fairly good uphill hike for you but be prepared for the conditions. The trail is open year round but can get very snowy and cold in winter. Even in summer, be prepared.  I found the pounding on my knees going back down to be noticeable – a stick would help. Having said that, there were young and old hiking at many different speeds and there were also a few runners so this trail is pretty good for anybody. It’s very dog-friendly as well.

Deep Cove is extremely popular and even on a weekday outside of the school holidays, we found it difficult to get parking so I’d recommend going early in the day or taking transit. The trail was super busy as well, so it’s not a hike to do if you are looking for some quiet time. I’m not a fan of crowds or busy trails but the views at the top made it totally worthwhile.

Have you hiked to Quarry Rock? Gone further along the trail? Let us know what you thought.

Hiking Capilano Canyon from Cleveland Dam

This 2.6km hike in the Capilano Canyon is great if you want a nice walk, nothing too tricky and/or something that is dog-friendly. The trail begins at the Capilano dam and is a circuit so can be done either clockwise or anti-clockwise. Bear in mind, both ways you’ll head downhill first which will mean some uphill on the way back. The elevation gain is only 100m and the trail is good so it’s not too challenging. There are also a few cross trails if you want something even shorter.

The Cleveland Dam, at the head of the Capilano River in North Vancouver, supplies much of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland’s drinking water. When the dam’s gates are open it’s super exciting to stand on the bridge above and see and hear the torrent of water rushing down the spillway into the river.

To do the hike anti-clockwise, cross the bridge and look for the Upper Shinglebolt Trail. Follow it until you reach a fork in the trail and then turn left. From that point, follow the trail a short way to the Pipe bridge and head across. This part of the trail follows the river so you’ll be treated to some great views no matter what the weather.

On the East side of the river, look for the Coho Loop Trail to the left. Follow it until you reach the salmon hatchery interpretive centre. There are some really cool displays at the center where you can see and learn about the life cycle of salmon. Check out the fish ladders where, depending on the season, you may even see salmon jumping as they head upstream to spawn.

After you leave the hatchery, look for the Palisades Trail to the left. Follow it back up until you hit the service road and then continue up the road until you find yourself back at the dam.

The round trip takes between 1 and 2 hours depending on your speed and how long you spend at the hatchery. I could watch fish jump for hours so I would allow extra time for that. There is a parking lot by the reservoir and the park can also be reached by transit. I highly recommended the Cleveland Dam-hatchery loop as a good starter hike or a regular walk. It’s locally popular so can be quite busy but the people you meet are friendly.

Check out a trail map here.