Take a stroll across the Vancouver Land Bridge for scenic views, art honoring Indigenous people, a bit of history and plenty of space to play at historic Fort Vancouver.
One of my favorite jogging paths is the route around Fort Vancouver. It’s also a favorite for my husband and 7-year-old son. We love visiting the area for its wide open spaces and historic apple orchard, and, of course, the historic Fort, surrounding gardens, and playground. But the journey getting there is just as notable.
Fort Vancouver connects to the Vancouver waterfront via a unique land bridge — a path more like a scenic walking trail than your traditional spanned metal structure.
The 40-foot-wide Vancouver Land Bridge connects the lengthy Vancouver waterfront walking trails along the Columbia River with the Fort Vancouver historical area, spanning WA-14. More than a mere pedestrian walkway, this bridge is paved and fully wheelchair-accessible, and shares loads of local history. Plus it’s landscaped entirely with native trees, shrubs and flowers from prairie, forest and wetlands. Helpful interpretive panels tell about the various plants.
Standout features of the bridge include works by Native American artist Lillian Pitt. Pitt helped create the welcome gate and also Spirit Baskets inspired by Columbia River petroglyphs. The theme of River, Land and People is featured at three scenic overlooks. There is also a series of nine steel panels, featuring the words for river, land and people in nine different Native languages. On the waterfront side slope of the bridge, you will find multiple historic photos of the area, including stories of the original Kaiser shipyards.
Our family loves crossing the land bridge by bike for rides throughout downtown Vancouver or on foot, pushing our heavy-duty wagon along the water to McMenamins on the Columbia. This route of travel easily connects you to the historic Fort and gardens, the Fort Vancouver playground, or for a longer walk to the public library.
Because the bridge connects multiple standout Vancouver features, there are many activities that can be combined into a single trip. Access to Fort Vancouver is available during open hours for $10 per adult; children 15 and younger are free. Pro tip: You can see the oldest cabins across the historic apple orchard near the bridge entrance without paying admission to Fort Vancouver.
One of our family’s favorites is the Historic Demonstration Garden. Pro tip: No dogs are allowed here, so leave the family pet at home. If you explore in spring or early summer, the flowers turn the location into what my kiddo calls “the smell-good place.”
Bring a picnic basket and move up the hill toward Officer’s Row. There is a fun playground a short walk away with pointy-topped, fort-themed features best for ages 5 to 12, and loads of room for a lunch on the green. Due to the location of the nearby Pearson Airfield, this trip is great for plane watchers as small aircraft take off and land frequently. The bridge also runs near the waterfront train tracks if you have a kid like mine whose Thomas obsessions are lasting.
The land bridge can be easily accessed from either the north or south with free parking at either entrance. Both entrances are also a short drive off the I-5. The south access to the feature is found at Columbia Way Boulevard at Old Apple Tree Park and the north entrance is located to the west of the historic fort. Park along the waterfront or in the newly redone parking lot near the Fort and both access points are a short walk away along well-maintained trails.
The area is stroller-friendly and dog-friendly, but there are limited bathrooms nearby. Access to the bridge and Fort exterior is free. Admission to Fort Vancouver is $10 per person; kids ages 15 and under are free.
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