The Central Valley Greenway is a pedestrian and cycling route that winds its way through three different municipalities in the metro Vancouver area. In the map above, it’s the red-coloured route.
Depending on where you are on the route, you can be walking/cycling through nature-filled areas far from any roads or be traversing on a sidewalk next to four lines of industrial traffic. You can experience all different kinds of things from start to finish.
A few years ago, I attempted to walk the length of the CVG, from one end to another. I began on the New Westminster end and tried to get all the way to Science World in Vancouver, all in one day. I didn’t make it and I got about half way, just west of Burnaby Lake. The map below will show you how far I got.
I’m not sure what happened. I chose a really sunny and hot day to attempt this and by the time I gave up, I was sweaty, thirsty, tired, and sore. I always wanted to go revisit the CVG and finish what I had started.
Last week, I had Thursday and Friday off, so I decided to give it another go on Thursday. It was a really nice day, sunny and hot but not so hot that it was foolish to be outside for hours on end. I attempted to pick up my journey as close as possible to where I left it last time.
Because I was lazy, I didn’t get out to the starting point until around 2pm. A part of me was worried that I had started too late. I had no clue what kind of pace I was going to go at, so I wondered if I should have began in the morning. There was still lots of daylight left, so all I could do was just begin walking.
The first bit was basically walking on a sidewalk in an industrial area. I hadn’t been on any of those streets before, so that was interesting, but it was a lot of walking past industrial businesses and seeing trucks on the road. About thirty-minutes in though, I entered into my first little nature area, away from traffic, next to a creek.
I emerged back onto a major street, which I had to cross, but then the route led away from traffic again. For the next forty minutes or so, I was a path built specific for the CVG, just cyclists and pedestrians sharing the path. Pretty soon, I had cross in the Vancouver proper.
At that point, I realized I was making good time and the odds of me getting to the end were pretty good. I wasn’t tired at all, I had lots of water, and I wasn’t hungry. I was basically following the Skytrain line, so I would see station after station along the route. Once I got to VCC-Clark station, I made my first scheduled stop. The new studio location that I’ve written about many times is right next to that station.
I had decided that stopping there would be a good idea because it had washrooms, water, coffee, and a place to rest if I needed it. So, I made sure I brought my access card with me. When I got to the studio, I probably could have skipped it but I decided I had lots of time and I wanted to sit down for just a bit. The studio was basically empty because most people are still working from home and we all had that day off anyways. I used the washroom and then refilled my water bottles. We have a patio on the fourth floor, so I went up there to sit and drink some of the cold, fresh water.
I sat for about five minutes but was aware that if I sat too long, my muscles would get cold and my body would think I was done walking for the day. After the five minutes, I left and kept on walking.
Once I was back on the sidewalk, I realized how close Science World was. It wouldn’t take me very long to get there, so I knew I was going to get to the end. I think it took me about another 20 minutes to get there. I lost track of time but I think it took me only 2.5 to 3 hours to go from Burnaby to Science World and that includes the time I stopped off at the studio.
The map below shows the route I took for the day.
Once I was done, I grabbed a bite to eat at a very secluded and not busy noodle place. I then decided I still had enough energy to walk all the way down to Canada Place where I’d take the Skytrain home.
I did some rough calculations and in total I walked about 12 km that day. I have to admit, it was quite enjoyable and it wasn’t difficult at all. I was probably a little bit dehydrated but nothing was sore or painful. I woke up the next day feeling great.
Upon reflection, I think my first attempt a few years ago was more difficult because of elevation changes. The back end of the CVG is basically flat from Burnaby all the way to Vancouver. The first part of it from New West to Burnaby has a few more hills, so that might have had some affect on how hard I found it. It’s also possible that I’m in better shape now.
I’d like to attempt the CVG again, from start to finish. I think it’s possible for me to do it but it would definitely be much more of a challenge. After all, I’m probably doubling the amount of distance I need to walk, including needing to tackle some hills in the first part.
Maybe I’ll try it again this summer.