From cool heritage sites to a vibrant restaurant scene, Richmond is well-stocked with indoor attractions and activities. But the great outdoors is also never far away. From the log-strewn shores of Iona Beach Regional Park to the ‘secret garden’ flowerbeds of hidden gem Paulik Park, there are plenty of fantastic fresh air destinations here.
In the fourth edition of our handy Outdoor Escapes series, we give you the lowdown on the Richmond Nature Park, a popular community green space on the eastern side of the city. Read on for some great reasons to unplug, chill out, and take some restorative deep breaths at this easy-access family favourite.
Immerse yourself in nature at the Richmond Nature Park. | Photo: Tourism Richmond
Occupying around 80 hectares (200 acres) of lush bog and forest habitat, Richmond Nature Park is the perfect introduction to the city’s flora and fauna. Its four well-marked trails—totaling around 5km (3 miles)—are short and easy to explore, while its highly varied birdlife make it a birder’s paradise for visitors of all ages.
Near the entrance, the park’s unique Nature House interpretive centre is full of fascinating displays and resources that illuminate the region’s wild side—including lots of kid-friendly exhibits. Junior visitors are also well-served by an excellent playground just a few steps away.
The Richmond Nature Park has a popular playground area. | Photo: John Lee
The first port of call for many park visitors, head up to the counter inside the Nature House (entry is by donation) and pick up some free brochures. You’ll find excellent trail maps as well as information on the park’s plants and birds; these are great for helping you identify what you’ll see when you head out on the trails.
The Nature House is a highlight of the park. | Photo: John Lee
But don’t leave just yet. The Nature House is a brilliant attraction on its own. Check out its tooth-and-claw taxidermy—including some impressive eagles—plus live critter tanks that often include frogs, salamanders, and garter snakes. There’s even a mesmerizing bee colony to peek at, complete with a new queen from New Zealand.
The Nature House has lots of interactive action for kids, including puzzles, colourful displays, and a popular Tic Tac Toad game. There are also some pop-up exhibits that change with the season. These included, on our visit, a springtime display of bird nests and a live TV feed of a nearby chickadee nest.
There’s also a surprisingly good gift shop in one corner, complete with educational toys and birding guidebooks. And don’t miss the nearby noticeboard where upcoming happenings are announced: the park hosts special events every few weeks, which sometimes include meet-and-greets with animals ranging from owls to reptiles.
The Nature House is full of kid-friendly displays. | Photo: John Lee
But you don’t have to wait for an event to see wildlife up-close here. Arguably the Lower Mainland’s easiest birding destination, you’ll find two birding hot spots located just behind the Nature House. Each is very popular with camera-wielding bird fans.
The first is a series of feeders aimed at attracting the park’s hummingbirds. On our visit, we spotted not only several Anna’s (the region’s year-round hummingbird) but also two of the copper-coloured rufous varieties that arrive here in spring. All were happily feeding while cameras snapped nearby.
A few steps away is an even-bigger bird magnet: a few well-stocked seed feeders fringed by seats and small benches. Within five minutes, we spotted finches, song sparrows, a spotted towhee, and a downy woodpecker. Pick-up a birding checklist brochure from the Nature House to help with identification. New to birding? Check out these tips to ensure you start off on the right foot.
A woodpecker spotted at the park’s feeding station. | Photo: John Lee
From here, you can explore the park’s four well-marked and interlinked trails—keeping your eyes peeled for birds, rabbits, and chittering little Douglas squirrels en route. The first is the .35km Pond Trail, encircling a small pond where frogs, turtles, and neon-bright dragonflies can sometimes be seen. This trail also includes a wide, newly rebuilt boardwalk that is wheelchair accessible.
The Time Trail (.83km), Quaking Trail (1.6km), and Bog Forest Trail (1.8km) fan out across a corner of the park, offering tranquil, spongy-soft strolls through the often dense shrubs and woodland. Bring your plant checklist brochure from the Nature House and look out for everything from water parsley and deer fern to salmonberry and creeping buttercup.
The park’s trails are well-marked. | Photo: John Lee
Need to know
The Richmond Nature Park is open daily from 7:00am to sunset, and the Nature House is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Dogs are not allowed in the park, due to the fragile environment (the same goes for bikes). Feeding animals and picking plants is not permitted.
There is car parking at the park entrance, but the site is also on the number 405 transit bus route, with regular services stopping just across the street. The park has a covered picnic table area as well as good onsite washrooms.