The route starts at the Cleveland Dam, drops down into the Canyon and follows all of the scenic trails stopping at all of the viewpoints along the trails. There are a number of options to extend the route, but the amount of elevation makes this tough despite the relatively short length.
The end of the route is a nasty stair climb back to the start.
Ample parking at the top, or there are two alternative parking locations which will save you from the hilltop finish.
Start at the benches overlooking the Capilano Lake with the Lions in the background. Cross the Cleveland Dam and take the right-hand trail on the west side of the Dam to climb for further elevation. Turn onto Shinglebolt Trail, which follows a wide forest path to a wooden staircase. At the bottom of the stairs, take a short left and then climb over a mass of roots to another wooden stair. From here, follow the trail downhill before taking a third set of stairs on the right.
At the bottom of this, the stairs turn right onto Capilano Pacific Trail (North)
. This out-and-back run takes you down to a lovely viewpoint of the canyon. I normally do a quick loop up to Rabbit Lane (one of the alternate parking locations), and if you want to add additional distance you can follow Capilano Pacific (South) as far of you like. It eventually takes you down to Ambleside and the ocean. Going down to Ambleside and then following the seawall to Dundarave will add about 10 miles to your run, and most of it is paved path along the ocean.
Returning up Capilano Pacific Trail (North)
you'll cross the stairs from Upper Shinglebolt Trail
and a second Shinglebolt path intersection. Stay on Capilano Pacific until you hit the wide gravel road that climbs to the Dam. Turn down the road but only for about a hundred feet and take the stairs down Giant Fir Trail
. At the bottom of the hill, turn left and head up to the viewpoint from the bottom of the dam. In early spring or following big rainfalls you'll get soaked from the spray coming off the Cleveland Dam!
After enjoying the view follow the trail along the river, notice the fish hatchery across the river - which is a great side-trip. The trail passes the cable pool bridge and then takes a short climb to the pipeline crossing. Go part way up the steep hill on the far side, and take your first right turn onto Coho Loop Trail
. This short trail features some scrambling and steep rock sections. Take your next left, climb the hill and cross the Pipeline Trail
. A next left will take you back down to the opposite side of the Cable Pool Bridge and just below the fish hatchery. From here it is a brutal stair climb back up to the Dam and your starting point.
Capilano Lake isn't accessible to the public as it is the watershed for Vancouver. The pump house is located below the dam on the west side - you can see it from the top of the dam. The start/finish location also has great views of the Lions and the Grouse Mountain sky lift.