Route: Traboulay PoCo Cycling Trail, Port Coquitlam, BC (also known as the Poco Trail)
Surfaces: mostly off-road, mostly smooth
Distance: 25.5 km (15.8 miles) , circular route
Difficulty level: easy but long
Type of bike required: any kind, but mountain or hybrid would be best
Safety level: very safe, completely off road
Suitable for: the whole family
Congestion: not bad at most times, can be very quiet if you pick your time well
Parking: You can park your car right next to the trail
Average Joe Cyclist Rating: Gold Bike-Star for a pleasant family bike ride with diverse scenery and terrains, and lots of interest and history
For more guides to bike trails, see Average Joe Cyclist Trail Guides
Ducks paddle peacefully on a puddle-sized lake, unperturbed by the nearby traffic thundering over the Mary Hill Bypass. This contrast is an apt metaphor for the entire Traboulay PoCo Trail. This ambitious, 25.5 km long trail encircles the busy British Columbia suburb of Port Coquitlam, yet feels as if you are out in the country. And it has something for everyone: diverse cycling terrain and wildlife, interesting features for history buffs, a pub for thirsty adult cyclists and a play park for the kids.
The Traboulay PoCo Trail offers constant, happy surprises, as the terrain switches abruptly from good gravel track to (thankfully infrequent) roadside shoulder, to tree-canopied single track, then to meandering, multi-user paved trail. One moment you will be cycling past a blueberry field, the next you’ll find yourself next to the tranquil De Boville slough, filled with unpretentious boats. One minute you’ll be hitting the brakes to admire a soaring Blue Heron, and the next you’ll be skidding to a halt to confirm that yes, that really is a llama grazing solemnly on the adjacent farm.
Interest is maintained all the way by a rich diversity of animal life, including eagles, ducks, horses, cows, llamas (!) and even a solitary but splendid swan. There’s even the Mountain View Kennels, where one could stop and buy a German Shepherd puppy … I begged and pleaded, but Maggie was having none of it.
Part of the trail runs through the historic Colony Farm, which is one of the most biodiverse areas in BC and home to more than 150 species of birds – a great place for bird watchers!
Access to the Trail
- By Car: The Traboulay PoCo Trail is situated 27 km east of Vancouver. It is most easily accessed by car, driving east on Highway 1 and following the signs for United Boulevard. At the Citadel Landing near Shaughnessy Street and the Mary Hill Bypass there is free parking.
- By Bike: You can bike there on the Loughheed Highway, but once you add in the trail itself, you’d be looking at close to 100 km (62 miles) for the day, which is probably too much for most day-trippers (certainly would be for me).
- By Public Transit: Take your bike on the Skytrain and get off at Sperling or Braid. Then cycle to the trail along Loughheed.
A River (or Two) Runs Through it
The Traboulay PoCo Trail constantly crisscrosses water. A lot of the time you’re cycling on dykes beside the Pitt River; other times you’ll be zipping along on single-track beside the fast-flowing Coquitlam River. The river was fast enough that we didn’t want our little dog to go near it, but beautiful enough to provide many inviting picnic spots. The sound and smell of water adds to the peaceful ambience of this slice of wilderness that lies so close to city and highway.
If you’re not the picnicking type, don’t despair! Just a couple of kilometers east of the car park you’ll find the Gillnetter Pub. It offers better-than-average pub fare, and it’s right on the Pitt River, with a great view. And you can lock your bikes within sight of your table.
Plenty for History Buffs
If you’re not blown away by the ever-changing terrain and great scenery (or by the pub), you’ll probably be impressed by the history lessons offered along the trail. At Citadel Landing you will see living evidence of the backbone on which BC was built: the logging industry.
Around 12 kilometers later, you’ll find a series of informative signposts. One of them states that the Traboulay PoCo Trail was pioneered in 1967, to celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday. As with so many cycling projects, this great trail was spearheaded by a small but dedicated group, which became known as the “PoCo Trail Blazers”.
The trail was eventually named after Leonard Macaulay Traboulay, an emigrant from Trinidad who became mayor of Port Coquitlam in 1981, and remained mayor for 19 years. And that’s not the end of the history lesson. In a stroke of trail genius, the developers added historic plaques to the trail, so that you can cycle forwards or backwards in time, depending on which direction you’re going in. The plaques will tell you about key events in Port Coquitlam and BC’s history.
You will again be reminded of BC’s history when you find yourself at the entrance to Kwikwetlem First Nation territory (Kwikwetlem is Stolo for “Red Fish up the River”). The name of the Stolo people itself means “People of the River.” The trail is a bit quieter here, but still used by a wide variety of cyclists and hikers.
Facilities: Washrooms and Play Park
I noticed two sets of washrooms on the trail, and they were clean, well-lit and well-equipped too!
A great feature for cycling families is the big children’s play park situated halfway around the circuit. A welcome break for weary young bikers! Personally I find that my 10-year-old needs some kind of bribe to get her excited about a bike ride, and this park is perfect for bribing young ones: “Just another 2 km and you get to play in the park!”
The Traboulay PoCo Trail is a great cycling trail. It offers something for everyone, it’s well-maintained – and it’s totally worth journeying 27 km out from Vancouver. If you’re trying to see as much of BC in as little time as possible – and on a bike – you could not do much better than this trail. And it’s a trail for all abilities: there were no steep climbs, and no terrifying descents.
History, nature and diverse, easy cycling … a little slice of cyclist heaven for the whole family!
For many more great bike trails, see Average Joe Cyclist – Great Bike Trails.
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More posts about cycling trails:
- Cycling the Galloping Goose Trail, Part 1
- Here’s Part 2 of my Guide to Cycling the Galloping Goose Trail!
- And here’s my Guide to Cycling in Sooke!
- Here’s my Guide to Cycling the wonderful Lockside Trail on Vancouver Island.
- Here’s Part 1 of a whole series on the joys of cycling in Montreal.
- Here’s a trail to avoid at costs in Richmond (unless you have nerves of steel and the cycling skills of a super hero).
- Here’s a really cool family trail in Richmond – the West Dyke Trail.
- Here are a whole lot of trails in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve – some of them challenging, some of them family-friendly.
- And here’s a post called Deer Lake Park: Cyclist’s Paradise for the Whole Family in the Heart of Burnaby.
- Here you can read all about the Central Valley Greenway, an ambitious trail that runs from New Westminster to Vancouver, via Burnaby. And here’s even more about it.
Note: the above post was originally posted on the Velocity Global 2012 Conference Blog.