The Traboulay PoCo Trail in Port Coquitlam is a great cycling trail and hiking trail. It is family friendly and dog friendly.
The Poco Trail is safe and well-maintained, offering something for everyone. Located just 27 km (17 miles) from Vancouver, it is very well worth a day trip. If you’re trying to enjoy as much of BC as you can in a short time, you could not do much better than this trail. (Unless you wanted to cycle the world-class Stanley Park Trail in downtown Vancouver.) But this ride is not just for tourists – it should be on the bucket list of every local cyclist, because it has so much to offer.
Route: Traboulay PoCo Cycling Trail, Port Coquitlam, BC (also known as the Poco Trail)
Surfaces: mainly off-road, mainly smooth. Depending on the time of year, you may encounter some mud
Location: 27 km (17 miles) from Vancouver
Distance: 25.5 km (15.8 miles) , circular route (or you can just go a few miles from the parking lot and turn around – the route is bi-directional)
Difficulty level: easy but long if you do the entire circuit (but you don’t have to); easy to follow because it is well sign-posted
Type of bike required: any kind, but mountain or hybrid would be best
Safety level: very safe, almost entirely off road
Suitable for: the whole family, including the dog. Unaccompanied children should not do the entire route, because there are a few short parts where you have to cross major roads or travel along the shoulder of a major road.
Congestion: Not bad at most times, can be very quiet if you pick your time wellT
Getting there from downtown: Travel east on Hastings Street through Vancouver and follow the signs onto Highway #1 Eastbound. Take the Exit #44 for United Boulevard and then stay left following the signage for Maple Ridge. Turn right at the first set of lights at Shaughnessy Street and enter the parking lot.
Parking: You can park your car right next to the Poco Trail, for free
Average Joe Cyclist Rating: Poco Trail rates a Gold Bike-Star for a pleasant family bike ride with diverse scenery and terrains, and lots of interest and historyFor more guides to bike trails, see Average Joe Cyclist Trail Guides
The Traboulay PoCo Trail is an ambitious, 25.5 km long, dog-friendly, family-friendly cycling and hiking trail. It encircles the busy British Columbia suburb of Port Coquitlam, yet feels as if you are out in the country. Ducks paddle peacefully on lakes, unperturbed by the nearby traffic thundering over the Mary Hill Bypass. And the Traboulay PoCo Trail 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. It’s also a dog-friendly trail, if you want to take a nice long walk with your dogs. We sometimes take our dogs along for the ride, and when they get tired they ride in their Axiom Premium Pet Baskets (reviewed here).
How to Get to the Poco Trail
- By Car: The Traboulay PoCo Trail is 27 km (17 miles) east of Vancouver. It is most easily accessed by car, driving east on Highway 1, following the signs for United Boulevard. At the Citadel Landing near Shaughnessy Street and the Mary Hill Bypass there is free parking. The green arrow on the map below marks the parking lot.
- By Bike: You can cycle from Vancouver to the PoCo Trail on the Loughheed Highway, but if you add in the entire trail, you’d be cycling about 100 km (62 miles), which is more than most day trippers are likely to want to do.
- By Public Transit: Take your bike on the Skytrain and get off at Sperling or Braid Skytrain stations. Then cycle to the PoCo Trail along Loughheed Highway.
Diverse Terrain on the Poco Trail
The Traboulay PoCo Trail offers many happy changes and surprises, as the terrain switches from good gravel track, to very 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’re next to the peaceful De Boville slough, filled with modest boats that all seem to be doing nothing in particular. Time slows down on this trail in a magical way. 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. There’s so much to see that you quickly realize there’s no need to hurry. The Poco Trail is about the journey, not the destination (which is after all, usually the car park).
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. All the way, the Poco Trail is well sign-posted and easy to follow.
Part of the trail runs through the historic Colony Farm, which is one of the most biodiverse areas in BC and is home to over 150 species of birds – obviously, this is a great place for bird watchers! Watch this video about Colony Farm and I guarantee you will soon be planning a trip to the Poco Trail.
A River (or Two) Runs Through it – Rivers at the Poco Trail
The Traboulay PoCo Trail constantly crisscrosses water. A lot of the time you will be cycling on dykes beside the Pitt River; other times you’ll be biking on single-track next to the sometimes fast-flowing Coquitlam River. The river provides many inviting picnic spots. The sound and smell of water adds to the peaceful ambiance of this lovely slice of wilderness.
The Gilnetter Pub on the Poco Trail
If you’re not the picnicking type, do not 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 on the Poco Trail
If you’re not enchanted by the ever-changing terrain and the great scenery (or by the pub), you may be impressed by the history lessons offered along the trail. At Citadel Landing you can see living evidence of the backbone on which British Columbia was built: the logging industry.
About 12 km (7 miles) later, you’ll come across a series of informative signposts. From them you will learn that the Traboulay PoCo Trail was pioneered in 1967, to celebrate Canada’s one-hundredth birthday. As with so many impressive projects, this great trail was spearheaded by a small, dedicated group, who became known as the “PoCo Trail Blazers”.
The PoCo Trail was named after Leonard Macaulay Traboulay, an emigrant from Trinidad who became mayor of Port Coquitlam in 1981, and held the position for nineteen years. In a stroke of trail-making genius, the developers of the Poco Trail have 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 tell about key events in Port Coquitlam history.
Next you will reach the entrance to Kwikwetlem First Nation territory (Kwikwetlem is Stolo for “Red Fish up the River”). The name of the Stolo people means “People of the River.” The PoCo Trail is a lot quieter around here, but still used by a wide variety of cyclists and hikers.
Facilities: Washrooms and Play Park on the PoCo Trail
There are at least two sets of washrooms on the Poco Trail, and they were clean, well-lit, and well-equipped too.
A nice feature for cycling families is the big children’s play park that is halfway around the PoCo Trail. It provides a welcome break for tired young cyclists! Personally I used to find that my children needed some kind of bribe to get them excited about a bike ride, and this park is perfect for bribing young ones: “Just a little way further and you get to play in the park!” (If you need a bribe for adult members of the family, the Gilnetter Pub is probably a better bet.)
Bottom Line on the PoCo Trail
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 (17 miles) out from Vancouver. If you’re trying to see as much of BC in as little time as possible – on a bike or hiking – you could not do much better than the Poco trail. And it’s a trail for all abilities: there were no steep climbs, and no terrifying descents.
History, nature and diverse, easy cycling … the PoCo Trail is a little slice of cyclist heaven for the whole family – and it’s dog friendly too!
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