Taking time out on the CapU50 Trail

A simple walk in the woods can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, improve energy levels and even give your immune system a boost. And now there’s a new way to get outdoors and enjoy the natural beauty of Capilano University’s North Vancouver campus.

Sofia Paco, Jo-Ann Cook, Rachel Clearwater and Rachel’s dog Daisy during a trail building day on Thursday, May 23, 2019

The new 1.6 km CapU50 Trail connects existing pathways including the Seymour Greenway Trail and the path through the central forest with a new footpath in the wetland area north of the Bosa Centre for Film and Animation.

“The idea was to make a trail loop that would highlight some of the biological wealth on campus,” says CapU biology instructor, Rachel Clearwater. “A trail that you can do quickly at lunch or between classes.”

Download the CapU50 trail map (pdf)

Getting the project off the ground took a community effort. Clearwater and groundskeeper, Jo-Ann Cook collaborated on the proposal to the University’s 50th anniversary Great Ideas fund. Once funding was secured, they consulted with the University Facilities department and faculty from Biology, Outdoor Recreation Management, Geography and Early Childhood Care and Education. Sofia Paco, a student volunteer with the CapU Works program, took on the role of project manager.

“It’s been a really interesting process figuring out how instructors and students use the nature spaces on campus and what they value, and then coming to a consensus on the best trail route and design,” says Clearwater.

The original proposal envisioned a trail marked with gravel and boardwalks, but for biological reasons and to maintain a more natural feel, the end result is a simple footpath. The new paths were built by student and employee volunteers with guidance from mountain bike trail builder, Ted Tempany and Penny Deck, who heads the North Shore Mountain Bike Association Trail Academy. The build included removal of invasive species and extensive replanting of native wetland plants.

The trail officially opens in late June. It will be marked with signs and have a website, including short videos about the ecological and cultural values of key areas.

Clearwater looks forward to using the expanded trail with her environmental biology and ecology students. The trail allows classes to access the wetland, identify different plant assemblages, locate native and non-native species and participate in a bird monitoring program developed by biology instructor, Tom Flower.

“It’s been a challenge to balance all the user interests, meet safety standards and prioritize ecological conservation and restoration needs, but I’m really proud of the trail that our many volunteers and collaborators have built and hope that it helps the CapU community to enjoy campus nature.”

Written by: Shannon Colin