Ambleside Centennial Seawalk

Quick Facts:

  • AllTrails link: Ambleside Centennial Seawalk
  • Difficulty: easy, stroller friendly
  • Traffic: quite busy on weekends
  • Facilities: flush toilets at multiple parks along the walk. Great playgrounds at Ambleside and John Lawson Park. Restaurant options. Water access.
  • View: panoramic views of Lions Gate Bridge, Stanley Park, and Burrard Inlet.
  • Overall score: 7/10. (-1 for the interruption of walking path between Ambleside Pier and Millennium Park).

West Vancouver has a nice stretch of ocean-front walking trail that starts at Park Royal Center from the east, connects to Ambleside Park, Millennium Park, John Lawson Park, and Centennial Seawalk, and ends at Dundarave Beach to the west.

The whole walk is 8.5km out and back. Although it’s much shorter than Vancouver’s Seawall (which is hard to beat; at 28km, the Seawall is the longest uninterrupted waterfront path in the world), it features great views of the Lions Gate Bridge, Stanley Park, and Burrard Inlet and packs in more fun for toddlers in a short distance. Also, the section between Ambleside to Dundarave Beach isn’t shared with bikes or many dog walkers.

We have done the stretch between Park Royal to Ambleside a couple of times, but we weren’t fans of the heavy traffic of unleashed dogs that use the dog beach at the eastern end of Ambleside Park. So today we started at the western end of Ambleside Park where the playground is, following this 5km path on AllTrails.

Pro tip: start with a toddler’s favorite lunch for maximum chance of successful afternoon.

The playground had a lot of different equipments, and it wasn’t too busy even on a Saturday. We sampled some of them.

We also noticed some cute little dining huts at the Boatshed Restaurant, where a single party sits at an enclosed little green house for maximum social distancing.

The Boatshed at Ambleside.

Leaving Ambleside Park, we walked a short section of Spirit Trail.

Spirit Trail. View of the ocean blocked by Hollyburn Saling Club.

The Spirit Trail is planned to be a biking path that links Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove near the shore. I’m not certain if it would have great views of the ocean though, as many sections that are complete near Ambleside Park follow the railway track rather than shoreline, with its ocean views blocked by buildings, parking lots, and park structures.

Past the sailing club, we arrived at the Ambleside Pier and there was a small dock where I could launch a paddleboard. There’s also an old boat ramp as an option.

Continuing east, we had to walk through a parking lot which was not the most pleasant. Alternatively we could cross the railway track and roads and walk a block on the sidewalk of Bellevue Ave.

Thankfully, soon we rejoined that waterfront path.

Millennium Park.

John Lawson Park featured another great playground. Junior was most absorbed by a rock climbing ramp and slide.

Still thinking about my future paddleboarding plans, I scouted out John Lawson Park for a potential landing. The beach here is somewhat rocky and unfriendly compared with Ambleside. If pressed, I think I could make it work though.

Beach at John Lawson Park. View of Lions Gate Bridge.

Immediately after John Lawson Park, the Centennial Seawalk starts.

To our surprise, the Seawalk is closed to bikers, skaters, and dogs! We had to read the sign a few times to make sure we didn’t make a mistake, because the Vancouver Seawall is basically full of bikers, skaters and dogs. We wouldn’t complain though. Their absence made for a more pleasant walking experience especially for toddlers.

Another surprising temporary rule was added for COVID-19: No joggers on weekends after 10am!

I am guessing this is because they didn’t want to have joggers weaving through walkers when the Seawall is busier. I thought this was a little excessive, and we did see a jogger today. We joked that the police could identify the jogger even if he stopped, because he was sweaty wearing shorts.

Another very unique and what I could only imagine as infuriating feature of the Seawalk for dog owners is that they put in a little fence between 19th Street and 24th Street. Wedged between the fence and the adjacent train track is a tiny little path where a dog could walk. No dogs allowed in other portions of the Seawalk.

A frustrated dog owner posted this review on AllTrails: “They have to walk alongside behind a fence which means using a leash is impossible. The trail behind the fence is covered in dog feces and has no gates and train tracks on the other side. It’s the most bizarre set up and definitely not the best dog walk experience. 0/10”

I agree with this assessment. It’s very difficult for an owner to walk with the dog behind the fence (and probably very embarrassing) so the rule to “pick up after your dog” when they use the dog run is impractical. Having a dog walk right next to an active train track with no escape also seemed quite cruel. If I were a dog owner, I would just avoid this and use one of the many other options available nearby.

For human walkers though, the Seawalk was great!

The paved, flat Seawalk was only about 1.5km one way, so we arrived at Dundarave Beach very quickly.

Dundarave Pier.

The pier and beach at Dundarave would be quite easy to launch or pull out a paddleboard. What’s more, parking is free here for 4 hours and quite close to the launch site. A paddle plan is forming…

We retraced our steps and admired the ocean front properties of West Vancouver.

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