Knowledge CentreTechnical Resources SearchConference PapersCapilano Treetop Adventures — Forest Canopy Walkway Bridges

Capilano Treetop Adventures — Forest Canopy Walkway Bridges


The Capilano Suspension Bridge is one of Vancouver’s signature tourist attractions. It accommodates up to 750,000 visitors a year for its spectacular views of the canyon and the surrounding forest, which includes majestic 250 year-old Douglas Firs. When the bridge owners found that the heavy volume of pedestrian traffic was damaging the sensitive forest floor they conceived the vision of a new attraction: Treetops Adventure, an elevated forest walkway. McElhanney was retained to help them realize this vision. McElhanney’s challenge was to design a walkway high in the trees that would be accessible to anyone that could climb a few steps, and offer unimpeded views of the treetops without damaging the trees in any way. Working closely with an arborist and a specialty contractor, McElhanney exceeded the objectives of the project by utilizing several design innovations. The result is a unique facility that has generated world-wide attention, won awards, increased attendance by 40%, provided educational opportunities, and enhanced Vancouver’s reputation as an attractive destination for environmentally conscious travelers. The project consists of a series of seven suspension bridges connecting eight magnificent Douglas Fir trees in a horseshoe configuration. By taking advantage of the natural slope of the canyon lands, visitors are transported up to 30 meters above ground level. Custom-designed friction collars support viewing platforms at each tree without damaging the bark or the delicate tissues beneath. The bridge suspension cables are integrated into the bridge deck design, allowing the structures to blend into the environment without impeding the views.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Williams, A
LaRose, K