Buntzen Lake

Buntzen Lake is so beautiful, it's hard to believe it's man-made.

You may not believe this (because this lake is so god-damn beautiful) but Buntzen Lake is actually man-made. Created in 1903, the Buntzen Lake hydroelectric project was the first hydroelectric generator to provide electricity to Vancouver. Back in the day, the lake used to be Vancouver's main source of electricity. Nowadays, the lake produces less than 0.4% of the power created by all BC Hydro generating stations. In 1972, BC Hydro completed the development of the Buntzen Lake Recreation Area and to this day still maintains the trails within the area. 

One of the most popular trails in the area is the Buntzen Lake Loop. With a distance of approximately 8km, an elevation gain of 100m and a return time of 4 hours, it is the perfect cruisey day hike. We opted to go clockwise. Follow the 'Bunzten Lake Trail' signs and you will weave along a path parallel to the water. Shortly after beginning your hike, you will reach a floating bridge. Walk across this bridge and turn right onto a gravel road. Follow this gravel road until you arrive at a pump house. Turn right again and you will be back on the Buntzen Lake Loop trail, which encircles the lake in its entirety. And about halfway through the hike, you will reach North Beach - a quieter beach compared to the one near the parking lot.

The Buntzen Lake Loop trail allows you to walk between magnificent Douglas Fir trees and mighty Cedar trees, almost through small trickling creeks and over a number of wooden bridges that look like they could be pieced together to form an old school rickety rollercoaster. All the while (or most of it), the trail offers spectacular views of pristine water, dramatic mountains and the occasional kayaker. 

Being only a 45 minutes drive northeast of the city, Buntzen Lake makes for a great day trip.

NB: A more challenging and uphill hike in the area is Diez Vistas. Suitably named as its Spanish translation is 'ten views'. We will definitely be coming back to do this one.

www.bchydro.com/buntzen_lake

Buntzen Lake, Anmore, Greater Vancouver, British Columbia

The Grampians

Hiking adventures only 3 hours from the city.

Three hours drive away from the city of Melbourne lies an incredible and rugged mountain range - the Grampians. This National Park boasts an array of adventure, hiking, camping, and even some food and wine from local producers and nearby vineyards. At the heart of the Grampians lies Halls Gap, a perfect spot to grab a bite to eat before a day of exploration begins. We recommend Harvest, a cute little cafe (come provedore and accommodation) delivering a number of hearty brunch choices and, of course, coffee.

No matter how long you spend at the Grampians, the trip is not complete without hiking the Pinnacle. This trail is an easy 2.1km with a short 2 hours return time. Starting at the Wonderland car park, follow the signs and walk over the bridge. The start of the trail is predominantly bushwalking and stairs. As you ascend, steep sandstone walls with spectacular layers will tower above you on both sides - this is Australia's very own Grand Canyon but, obviously, much smaller in scale. As you reach the top of the canyon, a green sea of Australian forestry as far as your eyes can see will be on your right. On your left, a trail leads you further up to the peak (aka pinnacle) where you'll find a magnificent 360° panoramic view of the Grampians. 

For more awesome views, head to Boroka Lookout. For some waterfall scenes, check out Mackenzie Falls. Both of these are only a 10 minute drive from Halls Gap.

Wild kangaroos are aplenty in the Grampians, so you'll be sure to see some hopping about.

Grampians National Park, Victoria

www.visitgrampians.com.au