British Columbia has no shortage of beautiful trails with stunning views and refreshing lakes, and the crowds heading for the hills every weekend are a clear indication that the world is growing more aware of our hiking haven. North Vancouver’s own Grouse Grind has become internationally renowned, but, did you know that there are actually three Grind hikes in Southwest B.C., two of which are in the Fraser Valley?
Together, with Chilliwack and Mission, Abbotsford forms the Fraser Valley East region, and provides countless opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels. From novice hikers to seasoned backpackers, whether you are looking to meander along the water or climb mountains covered in lush, sweet scented forests, there is a satisfying hike for everyone.
Placed perfectly amongst picturesque mountain ranges in the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford is home to Sumas Mountain, one of the city’s most visible and familiar landmarks. One of its most popular trails is the Glen Ryder Trail, of which the bottom portion makes up the Abby Grind. At just over 2km one way and an elevation gain of 406m, Abbotsford’s Grind holds its own against its predecessor, and some say it’s even more challenging as the top half becomes fairly steep. On average, it takes most hikers 40-45 minutes to make the ascent to the first lookout, where, once you’ve caught your breath, you’re greeted with gorgeous views of the surrounding farmland and Mount Baker in the distance. If you still have energy to burn, you can continue on up the trail for even better views at Sumas Peak, or you can turn around at this point for a quick jaunt back down to the trailhead.
Time: 45 minutes to the first lookout
Dog Friendly: Yes, under control
Just outside of Abbotsford in neighbouring Chilliwack, lies Mount Cheam, a majestic Fraser Valley mountain with some of the most breathtaking 360-degree panoramic views of the valley, its surrounding peaks and snow-capped Mount Baker across the border. Although getting to the trailhead can be quite challenging – a 4-wheel drive vehicle is highly recommended – it is well worth the long, bumpy ride once you find yourself trekking through meadows filled with colorful wildflowers and past pristine creeks and ponds. Views abound throughout the hike, but it’s at the very peak that the sheer magnificence of Mount Cheam will hit you. Just be mindful that you don’t get too close to the edge as loose rocks have often given way, sadly taking many lives with them. Once your camera is full and you’re able to pull yourself away from the stunning views, be sure to treat yourself to a refreshingly icy dip in Spoon Lake as you make your way back down the mountain.
Time: 4.5 hours round-trip
Distance: 9.5 km round-trip
Dog Friendly: Yes
Matsqui Trail Regional Park
For those looking for a nice, flat and low level hike, Matsqui Trail Regional Park is one solution. Traversing the banks of the Fraser River overlooking Mission, this well groomed trail boasts views of the surrounding mountains and farmland, and provides a great way for walkers, runners, equestrians and cyclists to experience Abbotsford’s natural beauty. Fourteen kilometres of the Matsqui Trail Regional Park are part of the Trans-Canada Trail, an intricate network of trails linking communities right across Canada. This beautiful park has something to see at all times of year, from wildflowers to swans to passing boats and sturgeon, and provides a great alternative for those looking to add a little variety (or recovery) to their hiking routine.
Time: 2 hours
Distance: 7 km
Dog Friendly: Yes, on-leash
Mill Lake Park
Right in the middle of Abbotsford, it’s hard to believe that you’re still in the city when you reach Mill Lake Park. Its peaceful surroundings make it an ideal place to spend time outside. Although the short trail around Mill Lake is more of a walk than a hike, this popular park is the perfect family destination, offering something for everyone, from walking or jogging, to hanging out at the spray park or fishing in the lake. On those days when you need to get your hike in, but can’t get out to the local mountains, Mill Lake is a great last minute choice.
Time: 30 minutes
Distance: 2.30 km
Dog Friendly: Yes, on-leash
Hidden across the river, just beyond Abbotsford and northwest of Mission is Rolley Lake Provincial Park, with a peaceful and picturesque lake surrounded by a flat and gentle hike. An easy hour or so will take you around the lake, through lush, mossy forests of by huge, second growth cedar and hemlock trees. At the Northeast end of the Lake, just beyond the campgrounds, a 10 minute trek will take you to Rolley Falls, or you can head back to the main beach for a pleasant dip in the warm water lake. There’s plenty of room to picnic and just relax the day away here, swimming, fishing or canoeing, and during the Spring and Summer months, 64 campsites sit nestled in the forest just steps away from the lake.
Time: 1 hour round-trip
Distance: 5 km round-trip
Dog Friendly: Yes
A gem on Abbotsford’s Discovery Trail, Fishtrap Creek provides visitors with an opportunity to experience flora and fauna right within the city. The trail starts off with towering trees that play with the sunlight, allowing rays of sunshine to stream through along the trail. After a short walk you’ll see the picturesque Fishtrap Creek. Lily pads are home to ducklings and dragonflies, and provide shade for tadpoles below. Take a walk out over the water and you’ll be surrounded by sounds of birds chirping, squirrels scattering, and frogs leaping into the water. You’ll quickly forget you’re in the middle of a city as the sights and sounds of the forests welcome you to a sanctuary of peace. While this trail only takes 75 minutes, be sure to slow your stroll and enjoy all of the scenery along the way.
Time: 75 minutes
Distance: 3.5 km round-trip
Dog Friendly: Yes
These 5 great hikes are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what Abbotsford and its surrounding area can offer. Let us know some of your favourite hikes in the Fraser Valley East region and we’ll add it to our bucket list!
Looking for more activities to do in Abbotsford this Spring? Check out our “Top Ten Things To Do In Abbotsford” list!