Among other stellar attributes, such as championing mountain biking on the North Shore, the late Richard Juryn was known as “a family guy who always spoke of creating a trail that would get the whole family out into nature”. When he was contacted by the Georgia Straight, that was the recollection of Graham Knell, trail and habitat coordinator with the District of North Vancouver. In late 2007, shortly after Juryn drowned while kayaking in Howe Sound, an outpouring of goodwill from family, friends, and officials representing a quilt of North Shore jurisdictions resulted in instantaneous action to create a trail in his memory.
“It just happened,” recalled Robin Harvey, administrator of the Richard Juryn Memorial Trail Fund. “I was shocked. It happened so fast. Everyone was motivated.” Harvey discovered that, thanks to Juryn’s encouragement, Metro Vancouver already had plans to develop a beginner-to-intermediate-level mountain-bike trail in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve. “I didn’t realize he’d already started a conversation with Metro. Everyone he’d talked to wanted to do this in his honour because he’d put so much into developing cycling on the North Shore.”
In June 2008, hundreds of volunteers turned out for a community day to do what North Shore riders of all persuasions do best: build recreational trails of the highest standard, a skill so esteemed that it plays a central role in Capilano University’s mountain-bike-operations certificate course. “Richard was looking down on us to get this done,” said Harvey. “It’s the sum of his vision: a simple trail he could ride with his family. That’s what we tried to maintain. And it’s just the beginning. There’s an opportunity to connect with the waterfront Spirit Trail linking all the jurisdictions on the North Shore from Deep Cove to Horseshoe Bay and eventually from there north on the Sea to Sky Trail.”
Harvey credited Heidi Hickey, operations foreperson for the LSCR, with integrating the memorial trail into the larger framework of routes that spiral out across a mountainous and heavily forested domain 14 times the size of Stanley Park. “The Juryn family was the driving support for the trail,” Hickey related. “Years ago, Richard organized the first North Shore High School Bike Championship in the woods around Camp Brick. The area was underutilized and easily accessible. With the creation of his trail, there’s now a great loop that ties in with other routes, such as the Circuit 8 John Thompson Trail, which spirals off the Seymour Valley Trailway.”
Making sense of the labyrinthine possibilities that present themselves in the LSCR for cyclists, walkers, runners, in-line skaters, skateboarders, and equestrians requires some diligent field research spread over numerous visits. Spring is the time to begin sussing out the LSCR with an eye to warmer weather ahead. Although generally well-signed, the memorial trail is not necessarily the best place to begin. When the Straight visited recently, it appeared that some sections were still works in progress. Knell highlighted the trail’s greatest attribute. While walking it recently, he saw a father teaching his two young sons how to ride. “Richard would have loved that.”
Here’s an alternate suggestion: head to the Rice Lake Gate, the LSCR’s main entrance. Pick up a map and begin exploring the smooth-surfaced Seymour Valley Trailway, which rolls and dips 10 kilometres north to the Seymour Falls Dam. That’s a daunting roundtrip for small or inexperienced legs. When visiting with children or adults who may not have spent much time on a bike, make an easygoing loop by riding the first two kilometres to the forested Balloon Picnic Site, one of several strategically placed rest areas along the way. From there, make your way back past Rice Lake and you’ll have experienced arguably one of the finest urban-wilderness outings on offer anywhere.
The farther toward the dam you explore, the greater the rewards. As the trailway nears the falls, visit the Old Growth Trail, which zigzags through a grove of towering Sitka spruce, a must-see. Pair that eye-popping detour with a short ride along the Coho Trail to the first of many deep pools that form as the Seymour River flows along on its way to Burrard Inlet. Aside from a brief uphill pump, the return trip offers some exhilarating downhill portions, a pleasant surprise. Enjoy the ride. Richard would.
Access: The Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve lies seven kilometres north of the Ironworkers Memorial (Second Narrows) Bridge. The main entrance is at the north end of Lillooet Road–Seymour Mainline Road, reached by taking the Mount Seymour Parkway (Exit 22) off Highway 1/99. A green Metro Vancouver Parks sign at the intersection of the Parkway and Lillooet Road points straight ahead on Lillooet to the LSCR. Follow Lillooet past Capilano University and through a cemetery. The Richard Juryn Memorial Trail enters the LSCR beside a yellow gate and small parking area, beyond which the road leads four kilometres to the main gate and the start of the Seymour Valley Trailway. For information on the LSCR, including detailed trail maps, visit www.metrovancouver.org/services/parks_lscr/lscr/Pages/default.aspx. The Richard Juryn Memorial Trail may also be accessed at the District of North Vancouver’s Inter-River Park at the junction of Lillooet Road and Premier Street beside Lynn Creek. A map of the Richard Juryn Memorial Trail is posted at www.richardjuryntrails.com/ as well as at its entrances in Inter-River Park and the LSCR.