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Little Cates Park Playground

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toddler structure | med crowds | bathrooms | low traffic caution | parking | nearby transit | baby swings | picnic tables

Little Cates is somewhat of a hidden gem, often overlooked in favour of its flashy next-door neighbour, Cates Park. But with a better view of the water, far fewer visitors, and its very own “castle”, this Deep Cove park deserves a visit.

Little Cates park sits at the far southeastern edge of the North Shore, where Burrard Inlet turns north to become Indian Arm. From almost everywhere in the park are great lines of sight to the water, where freighters park just offshore and Simon Fraser University sits atop the hill across the inlet. There is a rocky beach here, and if you venture down to the easily accessible water, you may see purple sea stars clinging to the rocks at low tide.

The playground is very toddler-friendly, with two baby swings, a spring-mounted ride-on horse, two slides, low climbing obstacles, and low-hanging rings to hang from. Older kids will enjoy the taller slide and the more challenging climbing obstacles, as well as the two regular swings that look out onto the water.

With Cates Park and its far bigger playground nearby, you may be wondering why people come here instead of Cates. For one thing, there are far fewer visitors at Little Cates. For another, you can get a great view of the water from the playground here, unlike at Cates.

But what’s really special about this park is the “castle”, as it’s known locally. The “castle” is the concrete remains of the foundation of a mill that once stood on this site. With four tunnel entrances and concrete “barricades” to patrol, kids young and old will love letting their imaginations run wild.

This park has washrooms and three picnic tables, one of which is near the playground. But many families just come with blankets to lay out on the grass for their picnic.

Parking can be challenging. Get to the park before 10 a.m. on a sunny weekend in order to have your pick of parking spots. There is one small lot adjacent to the tennis courts that fills up early. After that, you’re parking on the street or else parking at Cates Park and walking the nature trails to get to Little Cates (a lovely walk).

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