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Vancouver's other grand park.

Vancouver's other grand park

Moody forests, wild beaches, manicured gardens ... plenty to explore in new Pacific Spirit Park with the university campus next door Renowed for its bustling Chinatown, thriving Granville Market, and thousand-acre Stanley Park--all near downtown--Vancouver has even more diversions just 7 miles west of the city center. On Point Grey, overlooking the Strait of Georgia, moody forests and wild beach contrast with manicured public gardens and a striking museum of Coast Indian art. Newly created Pacific Spirit Regional Park adjoins University of British Columbia, this year celebrating its 75th anniversary with special events. Together, park and campus play a tranquil counterpoint to the busy pace downtown. Explore 40 miles of trails and beach, bicycle broad boulevards, or enjoy a drive (and perhaps a picnic) on a bluff above the sea. Spring, with its profusion of bloom, can be the best time to visit. Nitobe Memorial Garden is especially noteworthy, as are the rhododendrons that splash color through woodlands of the Asian Garden. April weather darts from blustery to summery (average rainfall is about 3 inches).

Walk through a Coast Indian village

In any weather, star attraction of the 995-acre UBC campus is its Museum of Anthropology. Designed by internationally known Canadian architect Arthur Erickson, it displays a superb collection of Haida and Kwagiutl carvings. Exhibits make you feel as if you are walking through an Indian village. Grimacing bears, giant ravens, and other carvings face you as you stroll from the entry down ramps to the Great Hall. There, against a 45-foot-tall wall of glass, upright totem poles look out to Burrard Inlet and more carvings. Allow at least 2 hours to visit the museum, open 11 to 5 Wednesdays through Sundays (until 9 Tuesdays); $2.50 U.S. Schedule tours a week ahead: (604) 228-4643. Ceramics wing opens in September.

A wealth of gardens, UBC celebrations

Largest and most diverse is the 60-acre UBC Botanical Garden. Among its delights are 8 shady acres of native plants, a Physick Garden with 16th-century herbs, an alpine rock garden, and a rambling Asian garden (a new observation platform overlooks forests and Georgia Strait). Hours are 10 to 5 daily; $2.50 U.S. Nitobe Memorial Garden is a consummate Japanese landscape circling a lake. Don't miss azaleas and other plantings surrounding the nearby Asian Centre. Hours are 10 to 5 daily; $1.25 U.S. The Rose Garden contains more than 350 varieties; bloom begins in June.

Campus fun, May 1 through August 31

Among anniversary offerings (many free) are campus and garden tours, children's theater, a music fest, and concerts. Pick up a calendar at the Student Union, at Gate 2 on Wesbrook Mall, 9 to 5 daily, or call 228-3131.

Visit new park on foot or by bike

Once part of provincial lands set aside for the university, for decades the park property lay untouched except for logging. In late 1988, nearly 1,900 acres were deeded to the Greater Vancouver Regional District, which put signs at entrances and opened a visitor center. For maps, stop by the center, open 1 to 4 daily May through August (check kiosk in April) on W. 16th Avenue, or call 432-6350. Managers are contending with an upsurge in mountain bikes, which have rutted and muddied many hiking trails, even where bikes are off limits. For now, wear ankle-high boots or rubber boots, or stick to garden paths or the beach. Use the map on to follow the walks we suggest--mostly on drier trails or the beach. Use the park's map to chart a route among dozens of intersecting paths. Expect horses and fast-moving bikes; don't hike alone or after dark. There are no rest rooms or picnic tables. For a guided nature walk (several in spring, weekly in summer), call 432-6350 through mid-May, then 420-3031. Or attend park-sponsored Eco-fest on April 22, for guided walks and bike treks. Admiralty Trail (1 mile) wanders up and down across three ravines facing English Bay. For harbor and city views, return another mile along the beach; add West and East Canyon trails (currently under repair) for a 1-mile side trip. To sample Point Grey's diversity, we pieced together a beach-and-campus loop (4 miles). From Acadia Beach, walk the shore west 1 1/2 miles (nudists are common, even in spring's uncertain weather). Climb Trail 4 to the top of the 300-foot bluff and the reconstructed Haida village. Next door is Cecil Green House, a restored Edwardian mansion open 9 to 5 weekdays. Picnic on the grounds--or at any other pretty spot on campus--any time; UBC offers order-ahead picnics ($5 to $15 a person) May 1 through August 31; call 228-6828. Across S.W. Marine Drive are the Rose and Nitobe gardens. Take Trail 3 back down to the beach, or walk the path on the water side of Marine.

Salish Trail (4 1/2 miles one way) traverses the entire park, north to south, through mixed deciduous forest with pockets of ancient fir, cedar, and hemlock.

Camosun Bog Trail takes you on a short walk to the heart of a 2,000-year-old sphagnum bog, whose flora includes lodgepole pine, sundew, and cloudberry.

Uplands Loop (1 mile) follows drier, harder trails for a quick look at mixed deciduous forest. From Imperial Road, take trails 12, 22, 4, 9, and 22 again.

Bicyclists will find leisurely pedaling on miles of four-lane boulevards lightly traveled on weekends. Or try the park's paved bike trails (see map). The UBC campus is largely car-free west of Wesbrook Mall. For rental bikes, call Sports Rent, 2560 Arbutus Street, at 733-1605, or the campus rental office at 228-3515.

Getting to the park. Marine Drive provides the main access (see map). Approaching from the south on Provincial Highway 99, cross the Oak Street Bridge, follow signs to S.W. Marine Drive, and go northwest 7 miles. From downtown, cross the Granville Bridge, take W. Fourth Avenue west, and follow signs for N.W. Marine Drive. Parking along roads is plentiful, except near Nitobe garden; or park on campus. From Granville Street downtown, bus 4 and bus 10 both stop near park trailheads--a brisk stroll from gardens, museum, beach trails. Have exact fare--$1.25 Canadian. [Map Omitted]

PHOTO : Only 5 miles west of downtown as the crow flies, hiker on driftwood-strewn Acadia Beach

PHOTO : begins 4-mile beach-and-campus ramble

PHOTO : Easy pedaling rewards bikers on W. 16th Avenue--one of four wide, level boulevards

PHOTO : threading new park and university campus

PHOTO : Japanese tranquillity engulfs May visitors to Nitobe garden's lake and landscape

PHOTO : Stern-faced totem guards flowery knoll where cyclists rest on grounds of anthropology

PHOTO : museum

PHOTO : Surrounded by lush forest, hikers pause to catch breath between Admiralty Trail's ups and

PHOTO : downs

PHOTO : Picnickers spread feast outside UBC Museum of Anthropology, whose concrete post-and-beam

PHOTO : motif suggests a West Coast Indian longhouse. Museum's red cedar entry doors, created in

PHOTO : 1977 by 'Ksan carvers in northern British Columbia, are first stop on guided tour
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Title Annotation:Pacific Spirit Regional Park
Date:Apr 1, 1990
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