Situated in a narrow canyon abutting Capilano River Regional Park, this city-owned dam boxes in the Capilano Lake—the main water source for much of the Greater Vancouver region. Trails at the dam offer views of the dramatic 300-foot (91-meter spillway, old-growth forests, and the Lions, a pair of spearlike mountain peaks.
Tours of Vancouver’s North Shore often make stops at Cleveland Dam—as well as other nearby attractions—such as the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Capilano Salmon Hatchery; both of which are just a short hike from the dam. Some tours also stop at Grouse Mountain. Visitors can’t swim in the man-made Capilano Lake—it is fenced off to prevent contamination—but you can walk across the dam bridge and admire the views of the spillway, lake, and peaks of the North Shore Mountains from various overlooks.
Things to know before you go
- Bring along some food to enjoy a picnic amid the panoramic scenery.
- Restrooms, picnic tables, and drinking water can be found near the Cleveland Dam parking lot.
- Wear hiking boots so you can explore trails in the surrounding park.
How to get there
Cleveland Dam is situated at the north end of Capilano River Regional Park, about a 20-minute drive from downtown Vancouver. The SeaBus ferry runs between the Waterfront terminal in downtown Vancouver and North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Quay. From there, bus #236 connects to the dam.
When to get there
The best time to visit Cleveland Dam is in late spring, when the snowmelt ensures there is lots of water flowing, and the distant mountain peaks are still sprinkled with snow. In the fall, visitors can see salmon spawning at the nearby hatchery. If you’re visiting on a summer weekend, come early in the day to beat the crowds.
Hiking in Capilano River Regional Park
The Cleveland Dam offers easy access to a network of trails of varying difficulty. The 4.6-mile (7.5-kilometer) Capilano Pacific Trail starts at Ambleside Beach and leads up by the Capilano River to Cleveland Dam, passing through the Capilano Canyon and rainforest. A shorter trail leading off from the dam goes south to Capilano Salmon Hatchery; note that this trail, part of which is stepped, is quite steep.