RECREATION IN THE CHILLIWACK RIVER VALLEY
About 10,000 years ago the last ice age carved a home for the Chilliwack River – a valley of peaks and creeks that has become a playground for almost every type of outdoor recreation pursuit.
The Upper Chilliwack River melts off Mt. Baker in Washington State, flows across the international border and into Chilliwack Lake. From there the river runs through our valley bottom and is fed at frequent intervals by side creeks coming out of the mountains that define our valley. At the Vedder Crossing Bridge our river becomes the Vedder River and thus is often referred to as the Chilliwack/Vedder River.
Measuring up river from the bridge, the first 10 kilometers is shored mostly by residential and agricultural land. Located in this bottom section of the valley are roadside garbage bins for visitors to deposit their holiday refuse. There is also a general store (On the Way) 2.2 km up river from the bridge and a café (Pointa Vista) and car repair shop (Pointa Vista Garage) at 7.0 km up the valley. There are no gas stations or pay phones in the valley and very little cell phone reception, so come prepared to be self-sufficient.
The drive up Chilliwack Lake Road to Chilliwack Lake is a pleasure in its own right. Vistas of peaks and creeks abound. But many visitors use this access road simply as a “jumping off” point for other pursuits.
Camping can be a year-round activity. Thurston Meadows campground (km 17.3) is open all year. Information on this and other Ministry of Tourism sponsored campsites is found at www.sitesandtrailsbc.ca - Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park (km 40) is a provincial campground open May to October. Find provincial park information at www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks - Many small free forest service and informal camping sites are also situated along logging roads. We ask that you do not damage the trees and facilities found in these sites and that you pack out all your garbage (including fishing debris, broken beer bottles and shotgun shells) to the roadside bins at the bottom of the valley. Local residents spend many summer hours cleaning up visitor garbage…the less we need to do of this, the more we will encourage government to keep informal campsites accessible.
There are many free activities and points of interest along the valley bottom, beginning at Thompson Park (km 6.8 from Vedder Bridge). This is a Fraser Valley Regional District Park www.fvrd.bc.ca/SERVICES/PARKSANDTRAILS/EXPLOREOURPARKS/Pages/default.aspx and has an interpretive shelter and trails. At km 10.3 the Tamihi bridge crosses the river and the Chilliwack Centre of Excellence whitewater kayak training site is located here. Spectators can stop and watch athletes training. The Chilliwack River Hatchery (km 20.6) is operated by the federal Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans. Information on public access is available at www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/sep-pmvs/projects-projets/chilliwack/chilliwack-eng.htm.
A web of trails, including the Trans Canada and 14 other designated trails, cover the valley from end to end. There are several trail guides published and available in book and outdoor stores that give up-to-date trail access information. There have also been kilometers of salmon and steelhead spawning channels built in the valley to enhance our fishery. Alongside most of these channels are very pleasurable walking trails that quickly take you from paved road to wilderness and at the right times of year, witness to spawning salmon and opportunistic bald eagles. Trails are used to access activities such as fishing, climbing, kayaking, skiing, paragliding, wilderness camping, caving, rock hounding, hunting and more. The river is known for its world class steelhead fishing and kayaking.
There are trails built specifically for ATV’s, dirt bikes and snowmobiles in the Chipmunk Creek area of the valley, located about 8 km off the main road at Camp Foley (km 26.5). Motorized recreation vehicles also make use of non-gated logging roads. Care must be taken to watch for active logging and also to not run motorized vehicles on hiking trails.
There are several lakes in the valley, the largest being Chilliwack Lake (km 40). A spectacular lake, it is also glacial-fed and windy most afternoons. Extreme caution should be used when boating on the lake. Foley Lake is the only other road-accessible lake, being about 10 km off the main road at Camp Foley (km 26.5). Other lakes such as Lindemann, Greendrop, Flora, Pierce, and Radium are attainable via trails ranging from a 45 minute hike to a several hour trek, but all of them worth the effort to reach their shores.
There are many Bed and Breakfast options as well as professional recreation services available in the valley including Chilliwack River Rafting, Purple Hayes Kayak School and Fred’s Custom Tackle. For more information, brochures and maps visit the Tourism Chilliwack Visitor Centre, 44150 Luckakuck Way (near the Lickman interchange – 604-858-8121) 9a.m. to 5p.m. daily. www.tourismchilliwack.com
Please respect all natural habitat and wildlife, and pay attention to all safety signs including logging and mining cautions. With an estimated 1 million visitors per year, more than ever we need your help to take good care of our valley. Enjoy your visits.