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Guide books tend to ignore B.C.'s beautiful Fraser Valley yet it's a wonderful day trip from Vancouver. Here's a quick list for active outdoorsy people who might be traveling with children or who might not be up to difficult physical terrain. Most of my trip is wheelchair/stroller friendly. I've designed my trip as a circle route from Fort Langley to Chilliwack (mostly on Highway 1) , crossing the Fraser River at the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge (Highway 7 + 9) and then going back toward Vancouver on the north side of the river on Highway 7, crossing back to Fort Langley on the ferry. It started out as a day trip, but I've gotten a little carried away over the last year with additional attractions that people might like.
This is one of B.C.'s oldest towns and it has a wonderful little main street with cute shops and great coffee! Stop here for a coffee and then go over to the National Park and tour the old fort. See how the fur trade and Gold Rush formed the early history of B.C. and learn about the rich culture of the First Nations of the Fraser Valley
This is a great destination for people who love to hike but whose knees can't take rough terrain. You are surrounded by mountains, but in the flat valley. Much of the Chilliwack section of the Trans Canada trail runs along the Vedder River. If you like to fish, the Vedder is famous and you can get gear in the nearby village of Vedder Crossing. Afterward, go to the Chilliwack Airport's cafe for a slice of pie so famous that flying clubs plan their itinerary to drop in for pie.
This preserve, along the Vedder River, is almost spooky in the springtime. Hundreds of blue herons fight for nest space in the cottonwoods, circling and fighting and sounding like something out of Jurassic Park.
This collection, housed in the architecturally significant former City Hall, is a great orientation to the history of the eastern end of the Fraser Valley.
These falls are one of the tallest in Canada, yet easily accessible from the highway and easy to hike to on well-maintained trails. The trip to the falls and back is about 30 minutes from the parking lot. There are also day use facilities in the park. On the other side of Highway One, another easy and interesting hike can be found at Cheam Lake Wetlands Regional Park.
Agassiz is not only blessed with an abundance of farms, but also with a lot of small on-farm businesses offering a variety of foods and learning experiences. The food is wonderful, usually made in small artisanal batches. One business you might like to add to the tour is the Agassiz Bakery across from the SuperValu. They have wonderful high quality breads and croissants.
Harrison Hot Springs is a destination in itself, so it might be an overnight stop if you want to extend my daytrip. I like to stop at the little cheese store just off Highway 9 going into Harrison Hot Springs for picnic items. In the village itself, there are lots of great restaurants, but my favourites would either have to be Kitami, for Japanese food, or The Old Settler, for good pub food. Walk along the esplanade past the hotel to see the source of the hotsprings or maybe soak in the public pool and experience the springs for yourself.
Imagine getting whisked away by jetboat to a romantic waterfront cabin along a pristine river, sitting on your own secluded deck, and being served a gourmet dinner in a rustic private lodge among towering evergreen trees. This is a wonderful combination of "roughing it" and luxury.
Sadly, the company that owns the rights to the natural spring at the crest of Mt Woodside has closed the public access to the spring water. I'll miss the stop, and I'm sure bikers will miss it even more. Follow the signs to the Kilby Store and Museum. Kids love this place because of the little farm, but adults love to reminisce at the general store. It's interesting to see how important this area was to the logging industry in early BC. You can then go over to Harrison Bay and just look at the scenery. Eagles can be seen in many of the trees (they have an Eagle Festival here in the fall) and seals can often be seen sunbathing on the log booms. Yes, seals! They swim up the Fraser River from the ocean to feed on fish.
Playing a round of golf might stretch out your day a bit, but this course is not only top notch from a golf standard, but in one of the most beautiful settings you can imagine nestled between the mountains and the Harrison River. If you want to stay the night, the luxurious Rowena's Inn and River's Edge Cafe are part of the golf course property.
If you have an interest in engineering, history, or just need an interesting stop with the kids, this restored 1912 generating station is a great stop for the whole family.