The West Dyke Trail in Richmond, BC, Canada, is a flat, six-km (3.7 miles) trail that’s fun for the whole family. An ideal family cycling activity is to park close to the beginning of the trail, cycle 6 km to either Garry Point Park or the lovely fishing village of Steveston (which are right next to each other), stop for an ice-cream or some fish and chips, and then cycle back again.
The city of Richmond is built on 18 islands, most of them at sea level, at the mouth of the 1,375 km long mighty Fraser River. To protect this low-lying land, 60 km of dykes have been built. Some of them, such as the West Dyke Trail, have been turned into great biking and walking trails.
How to find the West Dyke Trail
The hardest thing about the West Dyke Trail is actually finding it. Richmond is a maze of roads, and only the promise of a peaceful bike ride on the dykes kept us going when Maggie and I set out to find it, along with Celena, our nine-year-old. Eventually we figured it out. If you’re transporting your bikes to the dyke with a car, the best route is to drive west on Westminster Highway, and turn right on No. 1 Road. No 1 Road dead-ends at River Road. Park anywhere on River Road, and you are a few meters from the dyke trail. To find the West Dyke Trail, head west. (If like me you are directionally challenged: stand facing the dykes, with River Road behind you. You want to go to the LEFT.)
The West Dyke Trail Features Great Views
Once we had unloaded the bikes, we paused for a few minutes to enjoy the sight of planes taking off from Vancouver International Airport, just across the Fraser River in front of us. There are benches right on the bike trail. We even saw a plane landing on the water.
After that we headed west for a few hundred meters, to the entrance of the West Dyke Trail. Here the trail veers southwards, and now instead of having the Fraser River on our right, we were biking next to the Strait of Georgia. Between us and the Strait were several hundred metres of marshland, with lovely reeds with mauve flowers (if there is a botanical expert out there who knows that those reeds are called, please let me know).
Here are some views from the West Dyke Trail:
The trail is flat and smooth going, a real pleasure to cycle along. There were plenty of other bikes and walkers, but not so many that it was crowded and unpleasant. After a short while we came across the entrance to the Terra Nova Natural Area. We did not explore this, but we saw other happy-looking cyclists coming out of it.
The trail continues in the same easy manner for six kilometers of fresh air, natural beauty and easy cycling. Celena was riding her kid’s Norco bike, which is kind of like a really pretty, pale green TANK. I am beginning to realize that she has outgrown that bike. We had to go fairly slowly so that she could keep up, even though the terrain was so flat. Most kid’s bikes are not really made for long bike rides. I will have to do some research and see how to make cycling easier for her – more about that in a future post, no doubt.
Garry Point Park, Richmond
Then on the horizon we saw colorful kites, and suddenly we were at the Garry Point Park – a park built entirely on man-made land reclaimed from the marshes. In 1981 the City of Richmond purchased this land and dredged sand from the base of the river to create the base and mounds of the park. This was augmented with stones quarried from Texada Island. So enjoy this park, if you get to it – a lot of people worked very hard to make it happen!
For Celena, this was the highpoint of the trip, as we stopped for fish and chips from the Pajo’s concession, followed by an ice-cream cone from Timothy’s. (For me, the highpoint was that there was a washroom next to Pajo’s.) The wait for the food was 30 minutes, but it was worth it, as the food was pretty good. Unfortunately, although there were about 200 people in the park, there are only about six picnic tables. Nevertheless, we managed to get comfortable enough to enjoy our lunch. Biking tends to make you so hungry that you happily lower your standards.
After lunch, we took a stroll past the historic Gulf of Georgia Cannery into Steveston, which is just a few hundred meters past Garry Point Park.
The Steveston Farmer’s Artisan Market was in full swing in front of the Gulf of Georgia Cannery. This market is a regular event in summer time, and aims to provide fun, entertainment and shopping for the whole family. Wares on offer were incredibly diverse, including organic coffee, kettle corn, Fieldstone Artisans Bread, local produce and plants, fresh sockeye salmon, sculptures, organic doggy treats, and fresh squeezed lemonade.
After lunch we set off back to the car. Energized by ice-cream, Celena set a cracking pace, despite the clunker bike. It was a relief not having to try to keep up with her, knowing that this off road trail is completely safe for the smaller cyclists.
Finally, here is a great video that truly highlights the peacefulness and views of the West Dyke Trails:
All in all, this is a great family ride! Don’t miss it!
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