British Columbia

Hikers flock to Quarry Rock despite North Van plan to curb crowds

The viewpoint at North Vancouver's Quarry Rock was a busy scene over the long weekend, despite a plan by district officials to limit the number of hikers accessing the trail.

For safety, no more than 70 people should be atop Quarry Rock at once, says District of North Vancouver

A photo posted on the website Reddit shows what the Quarry Rock view looked like Monday afternoon. (Jason Wong/CBC)

It rose to the top of the Vancouver subreddit like a casual hiker ascending the Quarry Rock trail on a sunny holiday Monday: A photo of the view from North Vancouver's Quarry Rock — the inlet below and the hills extending into the distance — completely obscured by a crowd of people.

The image drew plenty of comments, especially since it came after North Vancouver District officials announced a plan to limit the number of people on the viewpoint — and trail — at any given time.

According to the district's website, the fire chief recommends that, for safety, no more than 70 people should be on the viewpoint at a time. Officials plan to monitor the crowds and at peak times keep people from setting out until other hikers have emerged at the trailhead.

For hikers tackling the relatively short but exceedingly popular trail on Tuesday, there were still crowds but nothing like the long weekend.

"I've been a couple times on the weekends. It's single file all the way up ... I just avoid it completely," said Ashton Hamilton-Smith, who said getting a view with about 45 other people at the top on Tuesday was a challenge, despite clear weather.

"You've kind of got to shove people aside — well not shove," said Hamilton-Smith, who says it's getting very hard to find any dog-friendly trails.

"This is pretty much my only option. I actually come from New Westminster, because I can't find any other places."

Hikers stand aside to let a group of hikers equipped with walking poles descend the Quarry Rock trail on Tuesday. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Jonathan Hutchings does the trail a couple times a week.

"The trail has changed quite a bit — so many more people. On weekends, I don't even bother coming," said Hutchings, who also likes to bring his dog. "It's like a lineup just to do the hike."

He said there can be about a hundred people at the viewpoint at once on some days, but when he got to Quarry Rock on Tuesday there were about 25.

Ashifa Saferali, owner of Honey Donuts and Goodies in Deep Cove said the business's popularity is tied to the popularity of the village as a hiking and kayaking destination.

"This strip is always busy, regardless," said Saferali, as motorists jockeyed for parking spots in front of her café.

"If you come really early, you're going to be lucky; if you come later on in the afternoon, it's a little bit tougher," she said.

Saferali said the effort to reduce the number of hikers on the trail is welcomed.

"Everybody gets a chance to go up the trail," she said. "There's been a lot of erosion over the last couple of years."

Jason Browne, who stopped in at Saferali's shop after his hike on Tuesday, said he was feeling pretty smug after working on the weekend and avoiding "the masses of people," but he still found crowds.

"We came fairly early, I reckon, around 10 o'clock or so, and it was busy," said Browne, who ascended the trail with his baby on his back. He said there were chokepoints on the trail, and he constantly noticed faster hikers coming up behind him and trying to pass.

Jason Browne said the trail was busy Tuesday morning, but he was happy to have avoided the weekend "masses." (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

His advice to others interested in the trail and parking in Deep Cove?

"Come a little bit earlier, if you can. Otherwise, it's going to be a bit of a nightmare just driving around."

Meanwhile, District of North Vancouver spokesperson Stephanie Smiley said staff was monitoring the situation over the weekend but didn't have any numbers to share with CBC to illustrate how busy it was.

In response to reports that hikers hadn't noticed any officials limiting access, Smiley said in an email that "the ability to limit the number of hikers on the trail is at the discretion of the head park ranger and our fire chief, and they will use it when necessary."


Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker

About the Author

Rafferty Baker is CBC Vancouver's mobile journalist. Follow him @raffertybaker