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Tulips of the Valley, Chilliwack BC

Three Ways to Welcome Spring in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley

Tulips of the Valley, Chilliwack BC

Tulips of the Valley, Chilliwack BC

Spring has sprung after a long winter in the Fraser Valley – at my house, it snowed for the first time on October 1 and I am sure that I saw flakes falling from the sky on April 1. Don’t get me wrong, I love winter, but I am ready to welcome the next season with open arms. Here are three ways to welcome spring here in the Fraser Valley.

Tiptoe Through the Tulips at Harrison Tulip Festival

To me, nothing says spring like tulips. When those flowers start poking their way through the soil, I know that it is time to put away my winter boots and break out my flats. At Harrison Tulip Festival (formerly Chilliwack Tulip Festival) the only boots you will be needing are rubber – especially if you visit the 109-acre farm with over 10-million tulips after it has been raining.

During the month of April (and maybe some of May) you can make a day of it by walking the tulip paths, checking out the new (2024) 2-1/2 acre show garden, snacking on delicious Dutch treats (Stroop Waffles, anyone?) and plenty more.

Flood Falls Hope BC

Flood Falls Hope BC

The tulip festival also features fields of daffodils and hyacinths. When it comes to springtime flowers, the more the merrier, I say!

Take a Waterfall Walk at Flood Falls, Hope BC

Flood Falls, a long-time Hope secret, has been gaining Instagram-attention lately thanks to its gorgeous setting and relatively simple access. The walk is short, perfect for an easy afternoon stroll with the family. The views are breathtaking as the waterfall tumbles down the sheer cliff and into a pool at the bottom of the falls.

Spring is arguably the best time to visit the falls thanks to the sheer volume of water. In spring, the falls can be raging. In the heat of summer, the pool at the bottom dries up completely and the falls are barely a trickle.

Kilby Historic Site

Kilby Historic Site

Before you go, grab a coffee from the Blue Moose and a fresh-baked snack from The Rolling Pin Bakery, then head for the falls. Just make sure to pack out what you pack in to ensure the falls remain gorgeous and litter free.

Visit the Farm Animals at Kilby Historic Site, Harrison Mills BC

Adorable baby animals and a 1920s farm and store? Sign me up! Kilby Historic Site  in Harrison Mills is a step back in time and the preserved Waterloo Farm on which the historic site sits is the perfect place to spend a sunny spring afternoon.

Wander through the orchard and visit the animals (my personal favourites being the bunnies), climb the stairs to see the rooms of the 1908 Manchester House Hotel, and sample a piece of delicious Cabin Fever Junction Pie Company pie in the Kilby Café.

Eagles at Kilby Provincial Park

Eagles at Kilby Provincial Park

Once you have thoroughly investigated the heritage site, take a stroll down to the confluence of the Harrison and Fraser Rivers and walk the beach at Kilby Provincial Park. In the autumn, Kilby and the Harrison River is home to the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival as thousands of eagles come to roost in the trees near Kilby Provincial Park.

Spring is a wonderful season in the Fraser Valley. From budding plants to baby animals, there is something for everyone to enjoy. What activities are on your springtime to-do list?

If this area interests you, check out our drives:
Coast Mountain Circle Route (Vancouver Round Trip via Lytton, Lillooet & Whistler)
Side Trips from Vancouver Offer Plenty To Do in the Winter

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For camping opportunities in this area click on Camping Map and search under the specific communities.

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The Chilliwack River Valley: An Outdoor Enthusiast’s Paradise

Chilliwack River Valley - Ken Bramble

Chilliwack River Valley – Ken Bramble

About one and a half hours east from Vancouver International Airport is one of the Lower Mainland’s best kept secrets, one which is an outdoor adventurers’ dream. Want world class fishing for steelhead trout and a variety of salmon? Got it. Rapids ranging from class 2 to 5 for the whitewater rafting rookie or experienced kayaking enthusiast? Check. A range of hikes from family-friendly afternoon jaunts to technically challenging overnighters? Affirmative. Camping destinations for relaxed RVers, summer long-weekend tenters, and backcountry machete-wielders? Absolutely. When it comes to outdoor destinations, the Chilliwack River Valley has it all. But don’t tell anyone…the locals are trying hard to keep it a secret!

Fishing near Vedder River campground

Fishing Near Vedder River Campground

With its origins in the mountains of Washington State’s North Cascades National Park, the Chilliwack River makes its way north into Canada and eventually the Chilliwack Lake. From the lake’s northern end, the river snakes mostly west for many kilometers before it meets up with the Sweltzer River and then the Sumas River before flowing into the mighty Fraser River. On a technical note, shortly after joining forces with the Sweltzer, the Chilliwack passes under the Vedder Bridge and its’ name changes to the Vedder River.

Regardless of its name, the Chilliwack/Vedder River is well known to anglers from around the Lower Mainland, the province, and even internationally. A veritable rainbow of salmon species – coho, chum, pink, white chinook, and sockeye can be caught here between the months of July and early December. The river is also home to various types of trout, including rainbow, coastal cutthroat, and steelhead, which is renowned as one of the most difficult-to-catch freshwater sportfish. Those hungry for the challenge of steelhead can put their angling skills to the test between January and April or July to early September. Be sure to obtain a proper license for the type of fish you’re hoping to hook! If you are going to camp in the area too there are a good selection of private campgrounds, provincial parks and recreation sites. More information at Where to Camp.

Chilliwack River Fishing

Fishing on Chilliwack River

If the idea of landing a 30-lb chinook salmon doesn’t thrill you, perhaps racing down the Chilliwack River in a raft or kayak would be enough to take your breath away. Local companies offer a range of trips for anyone from the rafting rookie to the whitewater junkie (from class 2 to 4+ on the whitewater scale). Perhaps you’d rather challenge the river on your own – try kayaking. There are appropriate sections for newbies, while experienced kayakers can test their skills at the famous Tamihi Rapids, Canada’s only class 5 training course and a common site for the training of our national Olympic kayaking team. By the way, the official whitewater classification system maxes out at Class 6, which is the type of water you don’t want to even attempt to navigate in a floating object (i.e. Hell’s Gate).

Camping at Lindeman Lake

Camping at Lindeman Lake

For those who feel more comfortable on “terra firma”, the Chilliwack River Valley still has plenty to offer.  Easier, flat walks can be found west of the Vedder Bridge at the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve (several hikes ranging up to 5 km return) or the Vedder River Trails (the Vedder Rotary Trail is 8 km one way).  At the east end of the valley from Vedder Bridge is access to more moderate hikes.  The Lindeman Lake Hike is a well maintained trail that winds through forest for 3.4 km (return) with a modest 215m elevation gain before terminating at a peaceful alpine lake where wooden camping platforms are available for those who want to stay overnight.  The longer-winded among us may want to carry on a further 3.5 km and gain another 150m in elevation to visit Greendrop Lake.

View from Mt MacFarlane Summit

View from Mt MacFarlane Summit

Meanwhile, the hardier, more adventurous trekker can put their legs and lungs to the test on the way up Mount MacFarlane.  This trail will have you climbing 2,016 m over the course of 17 km out and back, but the inspiring scenery includes massive Douglas Firs, a couple of pristine lakes, and a summit with a panoramic view of snow-capped peaks that is incomparable.

Once you’ve conquered Mount MacFarlane, there are many other challenging hikes and illustrious summits to reach in the Chilliwack River Valley area. Did I mention there’s a lot to do here? If you love the outdoors, this is a place you must visit. But be careful…you might just decide you never want to leave!

For information on camping and RVing in British Columbia go to https://www.campingrvbc.com/

Vedder River Campground and Summer Fun, British Columbia

Vedder River is fun for the kids

Vedder River is fun for the kids

For the third year in a row, my family and I have been camping at the Vedder River Campground, located in Chilliwack, BC.  Just under an hour’s drive from downtown Vancouver, it is the perfect long weekend getaway, close yet not too close. Situated along the Vedder River, it offers an array of various activities for the whole family.  The campsite does get busy during the summer months, especially around the long weekends, therefore we make sure to book ahead of time.  There are a few families that we know that come to this campsite, and it is the perfect place for us to forget about our daily routines in the city and sit back and relax by the fire.

During the hot summer days, just steps away from the campsite is the river, a perfect cooling spot in the clean but fast flowing waters.  After breakfast my family and I would go down the river with the floaties and inflatable boats.  My kids love to go down the lazy river, although we always keep an eye on them as most of the river keeps a steady flow, but some parts of the river move more rapidly and vigorously.

Views from top of Elk Mountain, on a cloudy day we were above the clouds.

Views from top of Elk Mountain, on a cloudy day we were above the clouds.

After a full day by the water we would head back to the campsite and start preparing dinner.  Often times it would be something prepared on the Barbeque with lots of fresh salads and veggies on the side.  The kids play at the Vedder River playground, keeping busy making new friends and bike riding within the enclosed campsite area.  For a leisurely walk after dinner, or an easy bike-ride, we would take the bikes onto the Vedder South or North Dyke Trail that extend 7km, starting from the Vedder River Campground.  Surrounded by local mountains such as Mount Cheam and Elk Mountain, Chilliwack offers picturesque views and beautiful sceneries that include wild flowers, turquoise lakes and valley views.  Kids oftentimes like to visit the nearby farms to see horses and cattle feasting on hay, and pick blackberries along the way.

Going to a popular spot in Chilliwack for ice-cream at the Mighty Moose. The ice-cream is from the Birchwood Dairy Farms.

A popular spot in Chilliwack for ice-cream is the Mighty Moose made with ice-cream from Birchwood Dairy Farm

Local blueberry and strawberry farms offer berries for sale, and conveniently there is a stand located walking distance from the campsite.  We would get some freshly picked berries and make a refreshing summer berry milkshake with vanilla ice-cream as a treat. Before we head back to the city, we would buy a few flats of delicious sweet berries and make pies at home or freeze them for smoothies.

Whenever we go somewhere I encourage my family to explore local hidden spots and go for hikes to see lakes, views and waterfalls.  It is a way for us to connect without the internet

Stunning views at Lindeman Lake

Stunning views at Lindeman Lake

connection that we seem to depend on in our everyday lives.  And when we need a little more than just a hike, we would endeavour on longer adventures to see the Bridal Veil Falls, which are only a 15min drive from here.  I have yet to take my family to see the beautiful Lindeman Lake with turquoise blue waters which is about a 40 min drive from here.  A less than 3-hour hike that the whole family can do, and once there, have a picnic by the breathtaking waters surrounded by mountains.  Some parts of the trail are rockier, therefore being prepared with proper footwear and lots of water and snacks will make for a more comfortable experience.

During the early fall months, fishing becomes a popular activity along the river, as fishermen gather to catch Coho, chum, pink and sockeye salmon.  My daughter loves fishing along the river, and the expression on her face once she catches a fish is priceless.

With many activities to choose from, Chilliwack and surrounding areas offer many activities and attractions for the whole family to enjoy.  During the summer months it is a great place for making memories, having fun and enjoying the outdoors.

Published: August 11th, 2016

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