Mackenzie Fleming

Accessing the Outdoors: Car-Free

Mackenzie Fleming
Accessing the Outdoors: Car-Free

Residents of the Lower Mainland are beyond fortunate when it comes to outdoor access, we’re quite literally surrounded by nature. With acres of forest, ocean and mountains right at our doorstep, there’s always another trail to hike or a river to kayak across. Despite an abundance of provincial parks and marine reserves, without adequate transportation options, getting out into nature isn’t always a walk in the park. For those who prefer cycling over driving, lack access to a vehicle, or can’t drive at all, how can you get from foyer to forest? 

Luckily, we are also fortunate enough to have excellent public transportation infrastructure and a multitude of other sustainable, car-free transportation options. Where will you go next?


Not to toot our own horn, but if you want to get from the city to the mountains, to the forest or even out to do yoga, Parkbus is the way to go. With buses leaving from downtown and from MEC every weekend, there’s always a new adventure to choose from. We run routes to Joffre Lakes, Garibaldi Provincial Park, Golden Ears Provincial Park and Cypress, not to mention guided group hikes and activities like stargazing and waterfall exploration. As parking lots at many major trailheads feel more hectic every summer, and with gas prices going skyhigh, why drive when we can do it for you? Not to mention the sweet, sweet feeling of being able to plop yourself down after a long hike without having to lay a finger on a steering wheel. Take a nap, chat with fellow hikers or read a book, car-free hiking with Parkbus makes transit time relaxation time. The other benefits of riding one of our big yellow school buses out for a hike (aside from the major nostalgia vibes) is that Parkbus isn’t just transportation, it’s so much more than that. From community building to environmental stewardship, we’re facilitating connections and helping to make our world happier and healthier. Chances are you’ll leave a Parkbus trip with new friends, new perspectives, some great photos and perhaps even a few new blisters, but once you’ll go for a beer with your new pals, you’ll forget all about your footwear woes.

Photo by  Alex Barrera

Photo by Alex Barrera


It’s no surprise that cycling is a great way to get where you need to go- it’s efficient, healthy, traffic-transcending and low-carbon emitting. It’s also a great way to access outdoor activities near and- if you’re feeling up for it- far. Hop on the saddle and zip down to the SeaWall, where you can cruise along the water and stop at viewpoint, informational plaques and beaches. Or stretch your legs for a longer journey out to Barnston Island along the Central Valley Greenway. If elevation is your thing, cycling up Cypress or head up tp Grouse where you can finish your ride off with the Grouse Grind or the lesser-traveled BCMC trail. Feeling tired after all that activity? Rack your bike onto a bus heading down the mountain- Translink is 100% bike-friendly!

Photo by   Gabriel Santiago

Public Transportation

Speaking of Translink, public transportation is another fantastic way to get out into the wilderness, despite the perception that buses and SkyTrains are for city transport. While that may be true most of the time, a little research and your Compass card can get you out to the mountains faster than you think. Routes 210 and 228 from the SeaBus, as well as a handful of others, land you at one of our personal favourites: Lynn Headwaters Regional Park. This nature oasis boasts a (free!) suspension bridge , an interesting and informative ecology centre, and tons of hikes ranging in difficulty and length. Further South, route 144 gives you access to Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area where you can check out the mesmerizing eco-sculptures, go for a nature stroll, or summit Burnaby Mountain. Feeling like an seaside saunter? Take the 250 across Lions Gate Bridge and hop off at Lighthouse Park, originally known as Point Atkinson. Trails abound, walk through old growth forest, have a picnic on the rocks, or pack your rope and chalk, and go for a climb. The Baden Powell Trail is a great pick for transit travel, as it is not a loop. Take the 212 to Deep Cove and then finish your day on the 229 back to Lonsdale Quay. Of course you can swap routes if doing the trail in reverse. Whatever adventuring you’re keen to do, public transportation provides you with dafe, affordable options to outdoor locales near a far. 

Photo by   Aditya Chinchure

Other options might include booking a vehicle for a day trip with Modo, or accompanying another traveller going in the same direction through Poparide, a carpooling service. Talk a walk to the Pacific Spirit Regional Park, or maybe even use a combination of all of the above! Whatever your transit style, striving for sustainability through transportation is a key component to protecting safeguarding our shared planet. We love to explore the outdoors, so let’s make sure to protect it as well!