One of the best picnic sites in the south Fraser Valley is located at Campbell Valley Regional Park in Langley. An unspoken welcome permeates the atmosphere. Eat a little, explore a little, eat a little moreóyou know the routine. Choose from any of three tabled sites or simply bring a blanket and spread yourself beneath the arms of the Hanging Tree, an imposing bigleaf maple in the valley bottom beside the Little River Loop Trail. Picnic tables and toilets are located at the North Valley and South Valley entrances, as well as at the Campbell Valley Downs Equestrian Centre.
You can lose yourself without getting lost on Campbell Valley Regional Parkís miles of walking trails. The landscape here is so welcoming that you wonít feel isolated or alone. At every twist and turn along the pathway, a bird will call, a squirrel will chatter, and fellow walkers will offer a smile. Little Campbell River bubbles along its meandering course. Follow the 1.4-mile (2.3-km) Little River Loop Trail through the meadows and forested slopes of the valley bottom. Pause at the Listening Bridge to listen. Spend an hour or more exploring the gentle contours of the park along the Ravine Trail, where former owners once farmed. Wander around the Annand/Rowlatt farmstead, whose sturdy barns, sheds, chicken coops, and home have all been well maintained. Peek in the windows of the old, one-room Lochiel Schoolhouse nearby thatís been relocated to the park.
For a longer stroll, follow a portion of the Shaggy Mane Trail that makes a grand 8.7-mile (14-km) sweep around the parkís perimeter. Horseback riders also use this trail for their workouts, so mind your footing. The Shaggy Mane Trail does not connect with many other trails in the park, so the best idea is to walk a portion of it before retracing your steps. For example, walk up into Cottonwood Meadows from Little River Loop Trailís junction with Shaggy Mane to reach the Campbell Valley Downs equestrian centre.
The Horse riding paths in Campbell Valley Regional Park are located east of 200th Street in Langley. Before this was parkland, Langley riders maintained the bridle trails that run east towards Aldergrove. Since September 1979, when the GVRD took control of the 2-square-mile (535-hectare) valley, these trails have come into greater public use. Today, Campbell Valley Regional Park is one of the easiest places for visitors to satisfy a desire to ride a horse. The Shaggy Mane Trail, which rings the park, runs 6.8 miles (11 km), an easy two-hour ride. Stables located at one of the neighbouring farms directly across from the park equestrian centre at Campbell Downs, provides horses and guided tours of the trail on a one- or two-hour basis. Since riders often encounter park visitors who are exploring the trails on foot, they must be escorted for the first several visits. Once riders qualify, however, they can set out on their own.
The valley land between the Fraser River and the Canada-US border ripples away like the wake behind a troller. Early settlers didnít have an easy go of it; the land was boggy and thick with mosquitoes in summer. But having come this far, they dug in, cleared the trees, farmed the land, and, in season, hunted and fished for wild game. You can still get a scent of those years as you pedal the backroads along the border of Surrey and Langley. Make Campbell Valley Regional Park your hub, but note that bicycles are not allowed on park trails.
Begin your cycle ride from either of the Campbell Valley Regional Park entrances on 16th or Eighth Ave, head to 200th St, then south to Zero Avenue, which runs along the Canada-US border. Surprisingly, there arenít any fences or signs forbidding crossings, just a dense scrub forest and one lone concrete marker. Cycle west on Zero Avenue to 184th Street and then turn north. You are now on the Halls Prairie Road. Immediately watch for one of the most gracious (and spacious) pioneer farm homes on the east side as the road drops down into the Hazelmere Valley. Perched on the hillside, the view from here of the North Shore is captivating, particularly when the clouds part. From here, head to Eighth Avenue and then east to return to Campbell Valley Regional Park, for a total distance of 9 miles (14 km) round trip.
The park can be reached from either Hwy 1 or 99. From Hwy 1, take the Langley CityĖ200th Street South exit (exit 58) and travel 9 miles (14.5 km) south. Turn east on 16th Avenue for the North Valley entrance and the Campbell Valley Downs Equestrian Centre. Or turn east on Eighth Avenue for the South Valley entrance. From Hwy 99, take the Eighth Avenue East exit (exit 2), travel 4.7 miles (7.5 km), and follow the park signs.
For more information on Campbell Valley Regional Park, contact the GVRDís East Area office, (604) 530-4983.