B.C. has been blessed not only with spectacular opportunities for outdoor recreation, but also with several writers who do a great job guiding us to these destinations.
One of them is Stephen Hui, author of the recently released Best Hikes and Nature Walks With Kids In and Around Southwestern British Columbia. He shared some of his thoughts on this topic in a Q & A with the Straight.
Georgia Straight: Why did you decide to write Best Hikes and Nature Walks With Kids In and Around Southwestern British Columbia?
Stephen Hui: After writing 105 Hikes and Destination Hikes, I really wanted to do a guide to short hikes near Vancouver. I enjoy a lot of shorter hikes, especially in shoulder season. They don’t always have to be six- to 10-hour epics.
Then I started taking my son with me on hikes. We’d go slower, stop for every banana slug, rest on benches, and play in creeks. Getting to experience the trails with fresh eyes and ears gave me a wonderful new perspective on the trails.
GS: What are some of the benefits of taking a child on nature walks?
SH: First of all, it’s the perfect antidote for all that screen time. It’s a golden opportunity to create beautiful memories, expand their understanding of the world, and build self-confidence.
Nature walks engage all of the senses and have obvious benefits for mental and physical health. Plus, exploring the great outdoors is tons of fun!
GS: Can you recommend a hike for a parent who lives in Vancouver and who doesn’t have a car? Let’s say this parent has one child under the age of 10 and gets around by bike and public transit. Where should they go?
SH: One of my favourites is Killarney Lake on Bowen Island. As I note in the new book, you can catch an express bus from downtown to Horseshoe Bay and ride the ferry as foot passengers. The trailhead is just up the street from the dock.
This hike has everything for kids: a ferry ride, waterfall, fish ladder, hollow trees, boardwalks, beaver lodge, horse riders—and easy access to ice cream at the end. Two other rad transit-friendly hikes for kids include Jug Island Beach and Sasamat Lake in təmtəmíxʷtən/Belcarra Regional Park.
GS: What’s a good hike for parents who want to help their kids learn more about animals in the wild?
SH: Head to Capilano Canyon in North Vancouver during spawning season—March to April for steelhead trout, June to November for coho salmon, and October to November for chinook salmon. There’s plenty of birds in the forest—and a few giant old-growth trees, too. Beware of black bears, coyotes, and cougars!
GS: What are the most important safety tips for parents who take their kids into nature?
SH: Pack the 10 essentials and leave a trip plan with a responsible person—and include the kids as you do. Teach kids the four rules of AdventureSmart’s Hug a Tree and Survive program:
1. Tell an adult where you are going.
2. If you are lost, stay put.
3. Keep warm and dry.
4. Help searchers find you by answering their calls.
Hold on to young kids in steep terrain and around cliffs and swift water. Don’t approach or feed wildlife. Stay together!