Lynn Canyon Park and Suspension Bridge (WHO COULD FORGET THE SUSPENSION BRIDGE!?!?)

Aside from maybe birth announcements and that one time Thomas told his preschool teacher that his favorite thing is when Mommy lets him “ride dirty in the car,” few of my posts on Instagram have had as much of a reaction as this photo of the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge.

All suspension bridges warrant a big gulp and a bit of courage, but this was a special suspension bridge because it was a crowded suspension bridge. I’ve been on the suspension bridge over the Via Ferrata at Nelson Rocks, which has wooden planks spaced a foot and a half apart. Crowded was scarier.

BUT, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start from the beginning, when my sister told me we were going to Lynn Canyon and to wear hiking shoes. Check!

We showed up and ate our packed lunch at the picnic area. (There is a cafe at the park, but my sister’s family are masters of packing meals. We didn’t go anywhere without at least 20 sandwiches and a few bags of sliced apples.)

Funny enough, the majority of the photos I took were in the picnic area. It was lovely enough to warrant lots of pictures, but I think the real reason was the intermittent rain and, oh yeah, the kids running in every possible direction.

My sister didn’t seem concerned, so I tried to channel her chill. Her kids are a bit older than mine (her youngest is a little older than Mary) and the difference I can see in her family is, what’s the word? Aspirational.

I think that having four kids will be busy and chaotic (and require several bags of sandwiches) forever and always amen, but the difference between four kids who can all buckle their seat belts and stay awake for 12 hours straight without their insides melting, and, um, MY FAMILY is huge. There was such a difference in my tension level and my sister’s, and it helped me see that sometimes I parent my big kids with toddler restrictions. Sometimes necessarily, and sometimes unnecessarily.

I tried to watch my exploring children with big-kid sensibilities and limited myself to shouting at them only every other time my heart jumped up into my throat. And in my defense, I’d like to share the signs that decorated the trails that my kid was zig-zag jumping around:


Where were we? Oh yeah, pre-hike lunch at the picnic area.

After lunch we headed to the trail head where we found 1) a bunch of those warning signs and two memorial plaque to lives lost in the spot we were standing 2) a big line.

The line of people distracted me and blocked my view of the bridge. Remember when I said I never read or researched anything we were doing? That’s how I ended up standing in line for a suspension bridge without realizing I was standing in line for a suspension bridge.

Perhaps that sounds insane and doesn’t make sense, but you have to remember that I was distracted by the big line and also my kids who were climbing up a hill that, at the base of it, had this sign:

Or maybe it’s more that even when I realized we were going on a suspension bridge, I didn’t realize how terrifying it would be. If I HAD realized, perhaps I would have prepared my kids and, for example, paired them up with a trusting adult. Instead, I was wearing Anna, Mary was between me and my dad, Thomas was between my sister and mom, I have no idea where David was, and Tom was at the rear of the group responsible for zero children.

There were so many people on the bridge, and I am not exaggerating when I say they were all leaning over the edge and stopping to take photos like they were they were strolling along the Macy’s holiday windows.

It seemed like we were the only ones desperate to cross the flippin’ bridge and get back on solid ground, thankyouverymuch. (Emphasis on flippin’.)

Ok, ok, ok, so now we’re back on solid ground on a beautiful trail. It was raining a little and my nerves were still shot from the bridge, so hopefully now you understand why I was a little ON EDGE watching David and his cousins were exploring off-trail. (Eventually, Tom walked with them to make sure they weren’t near any cliffs.)

[Just to be clear, hiking at Lynn Canyon is totally safe and there are fences blocking any potentially dangerous drop-offs.]

We hiked to the 30-foot pool and it was a great hike. (Special thanks to Lynn Canyon for using the Imperial system rather than the metric system. I guess 9.144-meter pool doesn’t have the same je ne sais quoi.) The trail was great, well-maintained, and doable for kids. There was also lots and lots to see and explore, and I promise it wasn’t all on the edge of a cliff despite what my heart rate might imply.

We stopped at 30-foot pool and let the kids explore. There was plenty to see and do.

In the photo below you can see Kristie, Thomas, and Gabby in the foreground. In the background Jason is walking through the shallow part of the pool with David, John, and Abram.

Kristie and Thomas, I assume she’s explaining how canyons are formed.

The 30-foot portion of the 30-foot pool.

Just as we were planning to turn back, Thomas decided he was done. He closed his eyes and started screaming that he couldn’t walk because he couldn’t see. And when we suggested he open his eyes, he screamed even louder so he couldn’t hear us.

That was the tone for the entire hike back. Beautiful scenery with a tantrum soundtrack.

We took a different route back so we didn’t have to do the suspension bridge a second time, something our group unanimously agreed on.

The extra bit included a lot of stairs — a lot of down, then a lot of up. I walked with Mary and was trying to keep her motivated. When she saw the final flight of stairs I was worried her eyes were going to fall out of her head. But then? Then she rallied. She powered up the stairs without stopping and without complaining. And guess what? She was the first person of our 14-person group to make it to the top.

Therein lies the reason I’m so glad we did this type of stuff. Our kids got a chance to enjoy God’s creation, have adventure, and push beyond their perceived physical abilities.

Oh yeah, and no admission fee!




  1. Gayle Ann July 29, 2019

    For what it is worth, I have the same feeling about Niagara Falls. When we were home a few years ago, some kindergarten teacher on vacation decided she wanted to “touch beauty.” She was on the American side of Devil’s Gorge, just up from the whirlpool, and walked out on one of the boulders, and touched beauty. Like something from a science fiction show, the water sucked her below the surface, and she immediately disappeared. Some people have experiences from which they emerge knowing God is watching. Around NYC, such experiences include eating at a hot dog stand in the city, or driving on the NJ NASCAR track, excuse me, turnpike, or really, any interstate, if not road in NJ.

    At the mouth of the Niagara, where it opens into Lake Ontario, one, on each side of the river, can take a boat fitted with a jet engine, up the river to the whirlpool. TOTALLY cool thing to do. It goes up river past both Canadian hydro plants, Sir Adam Beck I and II, and the one American one across from them. (Tours available only on the Canadian side.) Most boats don’t venture beyond the three plants because the water gets really rough. The jet engines push through them. The first set isn’t too bad, but, after it… If your idea of a fun time is sheets of ice water, one after another, hitting you in the face, and ending the ride looking like a drowned rat with wet squishy shoes, go for it. If you prefer to end the trip as dry as you started, and don’t want to purchase a waterproof, not resistant, camera, take the closed top boat. Same style boat, plexiglass cover, and every once in a while, they stop, and raise the cover, allowing for great photography. The fall is a BEAUTIFUL time to do it.

    When the water is high, the boat goes to just before the whirlpool. Even a jet engine can’t keep the boat out of the whirlpool. In low water, and there was a drought that year, the boats hug the American side, make the 90 degree turn in the river, and head up river a very short distance, then turn around, and head back. So, during the low water times, like dry summers, someone walking over the river on a tightrope, you get, maybe another 150 yards for the same admission fee.

    Shortly after sucking her in, it spit her back up, right next to a jet boat. A jet boat with a physician on board, who did CPR, as the boat rushed the 7 miles down the river, to a waiting ambulance.

    The drought, the boat, the physician… only God could have orchestrated such a convergence of events so precisely.

    She was fine. Her poor frantic fiance, who had been left on the rock as she was sucked under, was picked up, and taken to the hospital. A couple of days later, photo op with the boat captain in the hospital.

    The fall before that summer, an exchange student died. The Canadian side is landscaped beautifully, and there are miles of beautiful half stone walls, with thick iron railing on top, above, next to, and down river, from the falls, as well as miles of beautiful gardens. An exchange student decided to climb up on the railing at the edge of the falls, and perch on it for a picture. She slipped and fell. She didn’t survive.

    There are signs on both sides, and on the Canadian side, in English AND French, as well as some other languages. They aren’t there as a suggestion. Every ballpark I’ve been to has a message before the game starts about playball means everyone, and pay attention. People ignore that message as well.

    Signs, legislation, and even the ballpark video messages, can’t stop stupidity.

    • amandakrieger July 30, 2019

      WOW! That story is crazy! you are right, it was orchestrated perfectly. that story could have very easily had a very different ending.

      While we were in Lynn Canyon my husband kept saying he couldn’t believe people actually dove into the water. it was a cold, rainy day so no one was swimming. But we’ve Googled and the number of people cliff diving is unreal. There were so many signs (Pay attention to the pit in your stomach! No social media post is worth it! ‘That spinal injury was totally worth it’ – said no one ever) and still it seems people ignore.

  2. Gayle Ann July 30, 2019

    If you ever notice, for the most part, it always seems to be visitors. I suppose locals are brought up with a healthy fear/respect for whatever the local attraction is. We were brought up on water, so we always had life vests, even though we could swim. But, people come on vacation, drink on the water, no life vests…. Not that there aren’t stupid local people, but it is the inexperienced that seem to think they know it all.

    Think of the first responders who have to risk their lives. Watch this video. It is one of the most dramatic.

  3. Gayle Ann July 30, 2019

    From this evening’s news, lest you think I exaggerate about the religious experience of NJ driving. I encourage everyone to click. It will be your “What?” moment of the day.


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