If you asked me what was the no. 1 reason why I decided to try full-time RV living, I would choose: “to have a more active lifestyle.” I am very much aware of old age creeping up on me, and I want to do as much as I can to fend it off. And as science has proved, exercise is a miracle cure to keep deadly age-related illnesses at bay. Plus, exercise is fun! I am always at my happiest when I am active. When you’re riding a bike or hiking in nature, it is almost impossible to fret about your job, or worry about money. You are just immersed in enjoying the moment! Maggie says this was her primary motivation as well.
So, after our first two months of full-time RV living, I am very happy to say that it is working! We are doing way more biking and hiking than we were doing living in a condo in a busy city. This month, we are staying at the Anmore RV Park in British Columbia, Canada.
We are enjoying a whole lot of biking and hiking in the pristinely beautiful natural surroundings. This post is about some of the hiking and biking you can enjoy if you come and visit this RV Park. It is close to Vancouver, but at a high elevation outside the city, where the air is clean. It is right next to Buntzen Lake, and we have instant access to a stunning variety of hiking and biking trails all around us.
Getting Up Early – Not to Go to Work, but to Have Fun!
Right now, we are having some very hot days – so hot that it is hard to exercise. Plus, the heat draws thousands of people to Buntzen Lake, so it is not much fun to be there over the weekend. However, we found a workaround for this – we get up at the crack of dawn and enjoy hiking or biking in the crisp morning air, with almost no one around. Especially when we venture onto some of the restricted, gravel roads.
The only drawback is that we have to do a lot of singing, because there has been a lot of bear activity in the area lately – including a large bear who was chasing people into the lake at White Pine Beach, in Port Moody’s Belcarra Park, so he could steal their food. Luckily, he now seems to have left the area voluntarily. But we are still doing a lot of yelling and singing on our rides, because we do not want to come around a corner and surprise a bear.
Some of the trails prohibit bikes, to protect you and other people. And also, to protect the natural environment. Of course, we always respect these prohibitions.
Hiking Trails in the Buntzen Lake Area Near Anmore RV Park
There are numerous hiking trails near Anmore RV Park, ranging from really easy to extremely difficult. You can read a full listing of the trails here. One of the most popular hiking trails goes from the gates of the park to the main recreational area, South Beach. The trail is about 3 km (1.9 miles) long, one way. This is a map of the hike. We started at the Anmore RV Park, which is just a very short distance up the road from the entrance to Buntzen Lake Park.
At one point the trail crosses the lake, and here you will a floating bridge that commands splendid views.
Here is a very short video I took to show the view from the floating bridge. It also shows how beautifully quiet it is in this area.
The trail that goes to the beach is easy to walk, apart from one fairly steep hill. However, there are many trails in the area that are not safe for beginners. The Halvor Lunden trail has this ominous warning sign posted. Needless to say, we decided not to hike this one! However, highly skilled and well prepared hikers would no doubt enjoy it.
Biking Trails in the Buntzen Lake Area Near Anmore RV Park
Some of the hiking trials can also be biked. I was planning to bike the Academy Trail, but changed my mind after Maggie and I hiked it.
Here is a map of the hike we did along this trail. We started at Anmore RV Park. If you are not staying there, you can start it at the entrance to the Buntzen Park, just to the right of Sunnyside Road.
The reason we decided not to bike the Academy Trail is simply that it is too challenging for our skill level. There are numerous technical challenges – such as loose gravel, loose rocks, and tree roots. If you are a skilled mountain biker, it would be a lot of fun. For the rest of us … it is a beautiful hike.
Recreation at Buntzen Lake
Buntzen Lake is maintained by BC Hydro, because it is an active hydroelectric reservoir (it was once Vancouver’s main electricity source). In fact, the lake is named after the first general manager of the BC Electric Co., Johannes Buntzen. BC Hydro does a great job of maintaining the area for recreational use. In the summer, you will find thousands of people picnicking, barbecuing, swimming, and paddling at the south beach.
We watched a young couple launch their inflatable Intex Challenger K2 kayak, and set off across the lake with their beagle. We just bought two of the smaller version, the Challenger K1 kayak. These kayaks are incredible value at under $100, and we are looking forward to trying kayaking next week. We plan to go early on a mid-week day, so that there are not a lot of people to see us – as we suspect we may be pretty comical the first time we try kayaking!
Service Access Roads around Buntzen Lake
Because BC Hydro needs to access all areas around the lake with trucks, they maintain numerous service roads. Most of these are closed off to public vehicles. However, the great thing about bikes is that there are few restrictions that can keep you out. Unlike with a car, you can just pick your bike up and lift it over a fence. Or push it through a turnstile. Or, as we have done a couple of times, slide it under a gate.
The service roads are mainly gravel, can be very steep, and often are very bumpy. However, the great thing about restricted service roads is that there are almost no cars on them! For this reason, riding along service roads in the early morning has been the most fun we have had at Buntzen Lake.
Bike Ride from Anmore RV Park to North Beach
This is a ride we did yesterday, all the way from Anmore RV Park to North Beach. We started off on the paved road to Buntzen Lake, and then went onto the service road shown in the photo above.
Part of this route is along the main access road to the lake, but most of it is along a very quiet service road (cue the singing!) Here is a video I made of the entire ride. Of course, I have edited it to be a lot shorter than the real-life ride, which took about 40 minutes:
Once you get to North Beach, you are at an absolutely beautiful nature spot. There are a few picnic benches there. However, you cannot go there by car, so the only people who can picnic there are those who are willing to hike or bike all the way, or those who arrive by kayak or canoe. So, it is a perfect place to enjoy a completely quiet and private picnic breakfast, if you can get up early enough!
If you decide to do this ride, bear in mind that there are some very steep hills. The first time we did it we were on regular bikes, and had to turn back before we reached North Beach. This time we took electric bikes. It was still a workout, especially the very steep and very long hill that you get to just after you get onto the service road. I was leaning forward onto my handlebars to ensure I did not flip backwards! But we had such a good time, and we made it to North beach. The view of Buntzen Lake from North Beach in the early morning is awesome, with thousands of trees reflected on the lake. I took this photo from the small floating jetty.
Strangely, even though the lake is glacier-fed, it was very warm, so we took a swim. The thousands of baby trout were a little too friendly, but other than that, it was a lot of fun!
And here is a very short video of me swimming in the lake, just to prove that I also did it!
Afterwards, we also went to check out the suspension bridge which is just to the right of the beach.
Walking across the Suspension Beach is kind of breathtaking in the early morning. It is a very basic bridge, and there is a sign warning that no more than 4 people should be on it at one time. Which did set me to wondering – 4 people weighing how much? If that means 4 people weighing 90 pounds each, we might be in trouble! Luckily, the bridge held just fine. And as it is only a few feet above the lake, we would no doubt have survived if it had collapsed!
Accessing the Trails in the Buntzen Lake Area
Of course, the easiest way would be to stay at the Anmore RV Park. However, the trails are also very accessible from Vancouver. For example, you can drive out and park in the parking lots at Buntzen Lake. However, on hot weekends, you had best get there before about 9.30 a.m. Once the parking is full, they close the gates. Alternatively, a lot of people bike up Sunnyside Road to access the lake. However, that is really only for extremely fit people, or people on ebikes. Sunnyside Road is all uphill, at times reaching 9 to 12% grades. At one point, it briefly hits 13%! So, it is not recommended unless you are an elite athlete, or have a powerful ebike. Also, the road is narrow with no shoulder, no bike lane, and no sidewalk. So you need to be a skilled and confident cyclist as well.
Another way to get there is with the no. 182 shuttle bus from Moody Central Skytrain station. This will get you to the gates of Buntzen Lake, from which you can access the trails. If you are planning to bike, these little buses will take a maximum of two bikes. They run every 30 minutes, and are very pleasant to travel in, with comfortable seats, air conditioning, and friendly drivers. There is also a no. 179 shuttle bus that will take you all the way to the lake itself – see Translink for schedules.
Bottom Line on Hiking and Biking Near the Anmore RV Park in the Buntzen Lake Area
You could easily spend the whole summer exploring the trails in this area, whether on a bike or on your feet. This makes staying at the Anmore RV Park a very attractive proposition for people wanting to get a lot of exercise in beautiful surroundings. We highly recommend it!