Strictly speaking, Yaletown is that area around David Lam Park, the Roundhouse and BC Place Stadium on the north-east portion of False Creek, and the warehouse district inland, but we’ve extended it to include all of the north shore from Burrard Bridge to BC Place. It’s properly called “Downtown,” but that’s a misleading name for a seaside bike route.
It’s a pleasant ride any time of the year, and being protected from the winds of English Bay, it’s always a little bit warmer than the West End, though perhaps a little bit rainier at times.
This is the more urban side of the Creek with taller, denser residential towers and major sport and entertainment venues like BC Place. Developed into a mix of public spaces, green areas, heritage buildings and uniform blue-green glass and concrete condo towers, this is the first development in our experience which (disturbingly) actually ended up looking like the artist’s renderings on the condo sales brochures. It’s clean, it’s bright, it’s open, and it’s multi-purpose, providing convenient access to entertainment and amenities.
Yaletown (3.5 km/2.2 mi) (magenta (purple) line):
The bike path along here is primarily separated from the pedestrian path, but not always. Sometimes it’s mixed, and sometimes it diverts into the residential lanes above the waterfront at the western end towards Burrard Bridge. Signs direct you, but if you end up straying, just make your way back to the waterfront.
There are washrooms at David Lam park (at the pumping station in the middle of the park (where the park curves between tennis courts and playing field)) and also in the Roundhouse Community Centre on the east side.
You might get confused where the seawall cuts diagonally through Plaza of Nations (where the flag poles and the casino are) as it’s not clear where to go once you’re in the plaza. Painted lines on the brickwork will guide you.
Riding On: Adjoining Seaside Routes
West: Going west you’ll hit the West End. If you want to go around Stanley Park, remember the Stanley Park is one-way going counter-clockwise so you’ll need to make your way to Coal Harbour or cut along Stanley Park’s entrance to the other side.
Portside & the docks: From the north-eastern end of False Creek you can take the Carrall Street Greenway north through the old part of the city to reach the dock lands at Portside Park and from there proceed directly into Coal Harbour and Stanley Park from East Vancouver or explore the dock areas. The Carrall Street path is 250 meters (277 yards) west of the end of the Creek on the north side. Take it to Alexander Street. See the map above for the Carrall Street greenway through Gastown near the end of False Creek.
East: Continuing east along the currently undeveloped seaside route past Science World you enter Mount Pleasant which curves around to the south side of the Creek.
South (Bridge): To get across Cambie Bridge from the seawall, you actually have to head up adjacent Marinaside (becoming Nelson) Crescent alongside the bridge (brick-paved road) to Beatty Street, then cross the bridge ramp to the other side.
This area was developed in the 1880s as rail yards with other industries scattered along the shore, and now-renovated warehouses dominating the inland streets.
The CPR used to have its train yard and repair shops at Yale in the Fraser Canyon (Yale was a significant place during the gold rush years). When the CPR moved its shops to this location in False Creek, the workers and the name “Yale” followed. “Yaletown” wasn’t so much a place, it seems, as a designation.
The Great Vancouver Fire of 1886 originated a little inland from here. Winds blew flames directly into the little city, destroying it. The fire ended somewhere around the low lands where the Creek and harbour used to overflow, just on the other side of the settlement.
At the eastern end of False Creek between the Plaza of Nations and the blunt end of the Creek at Science World, the seaside route cuts in a bit and runs along a squared-off bit of parking lot separated by a chain link fence – soon to be developed. That bit of land used to be Creek as far over as Keefer and Pender Streets.
At one time the Creek would flow over to join the harbour at high tides at this location and it was possible to canoe from one to the other.