Barely a week goes by that Richard Walton doesn’t set foot on the Baden-Powell Centennial Trail, a path favoured by North Shore locals that stretches all the way from Deep Cove on the eastern edge of North Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay at the opposite end of West Vancouver.
He actually helped carve the trail. “I worked on sections of it, probably 40 years ago,” Walton said in a phone interview.
Walton, the mayor of the District of North Vancouver, described the trail as “gnarly”, marked by rocks and large roots that maintain a feel of the deep temperate rainforest. But he added that the North Vancouver stretch is still a great pick for novices.
“The whole North Van section from Capilano River to Deep Cove is easy for family,” he said, adding that children under seven are probably too young. “A lot of sections are relatively flat.”
Upon arriving where the Baden-Powell connects with the base of Grouse Mountain, hikers looking for more can continue up the Grouse Grind. Or they can call it a day.
The Baden-Powell is also a convenient hiking option for people who don’t own a car. The region’s public-transit system has bus stops at the bottom of Grouse Mountain, at the trail’s pit stop in Lynn Canyon, and at the trail’s easternmost starting point in Deep Cove.
The 12-kilometre hike from Deep Cove to Lynn Canyon is roughly five hours one way. The stretch from Lynn Canyon to Grouse Mountain is about the same. The entire 48 kilometres, which winds from Deep Cove to Horseshoe Bay, is too long to walk in a single day, but that doesn’t stop some people.
On July 9, the Baden-Powell will be taken over by the Knee Knackering North Shore Trail Run, a contest that sees many of its runners complete the entire trail in less than five hours.
In a telephone interview, the race’s director, Kelsy Trigg, said the event is obviously more challenging than the sort of stroll one can take through the trail’s North Vancouver sections. But she added that the run does attract a wide demographic. (She also noted that while the race's top athletes finish in under five hours, the average participant's time is closer to seven hours.)
“It’s for anybody who wants to set themselves a big goal and is willing to put the work in,” she told the Straight. “We have people who are late teens who have done it, and our oldest entrant is over 70.”
Registration for 2016 closed in January. But the race, now in its 28th year, will return in 2017.
“It’s really much more accessible than lots of people would guess,” she said. “But I warn people: Knee Knacker gets in your blood.”