Kilby Park is a beautiful riverfront park and there’s a wonderful pioneer history associated with the Kilby Historic Store situated next to the park. It’s well worth a look through the restored boarding house, post office, and general store to get a feel for life on the Fraser River at the turn of the century, when steam wheelers linked small towns like Harrison Mills with the docks downstream at Mission and New Westminster.
The first settlers came to the area in the late 1800s and started milling lumber in 1870. Between 1870 and 1910, the tiny community grew, as did local sawmill operations. In 1904, Harrison Mills constructed a two-story building consisting of a general store and a hotel, which the family operated until 1976. There is a small admission charge to view the store, which is open from May to October and at Christmas each year.
Matsqui Trail Regional Park is located on the south shore of the Fraser River across from the town of Mission, and boasts a level dike trail that runs for over 6 miles (10 km) beside the Fraser River. The trail offers good views of the Fraser and the quiet farms that border it, as well as the snowcapped Cascade Mountains.
If you’re exploring Matsqui Trail on foot, the round-trip walking time will be about two hours. The trail is flat for its entire length, which makes it an ideal destination for those who like to chat with friends while walking along. The most interesting time to visit is in late spring when water levels in the Fraser are at their highest.
There’re always a few fisherman here casting from a nearby sandy fishing bar. Industries crowd the riverbanks west of Mission, but thin out as the trail leads east of the bridge. Several old riverboats are tied up at the Canadian Pacific Railway dock. Nearby fields are dotted with black-and-white Holsteins. The trail runs beside these fields and has long stretches where the full capabilities of a bike can be tested. Paths lead down off the trail to picnic spots beside the river.
Rounding the last major bend before the trail reaches Sumas Mountain and the Page Road trailhead, you finally look out at wilderness on all sides. Mission’s famous Westminster Abbey presides on a ridge to the northwest. The town of Hatzic is directly across the river. Strawberry Island is the large sandy expanse to the east on the far side of the Fraser. All signs of industry are beyond view downstream. This is the mighty Fraser as it should be: big river, big landscape, big fun.
The Matsqui trail ends at an old quarry on the side of Sumas Mountain. Riding time both ways from the Mission bridge is about one hour. With so many places to pull off and watch the river flow, it just might take you longer. In fact, you can expand your ride by tacking on the 4-mile (6.6-km) round trip between the west side of the bridge and the park’s Glenmore Road trailhead. This stretch leads past Gladwin Pond, and it’s rougher in places than the dike trail—skinny tires will definitely be a disadvantage here in wet weather. The backroads that lead west from the Glenmore Road trailhead pass through Bradner, Glen Valley Regional Park, Fort Langley, and Derby Reach Regional Park. The Pemberton Hills present a smoldering challenge to cyclists along the way.
Matsqui Trail Regional Park has picnic tables arranged beside the Fraser River. Most of the year these are on high ground, but during spring runoff the tables may be covered by several feet of muddy water. Fortunately, the tables are well secured and should still await you once river levels recede. Here on the Matsqui prairie you’ll find many grassy areas between the river and the dike where you can spread a blanket and let the Fraser lull you with its slow but steady rhythm.
The main cycling trailhead can be a little tricky to locate. It sits under the south end of the Mission Bridge, which links Hwy 11 in Abbotsford and Matsqui with Hwy 7 and Mission to the north. Turn west off Hwy 11 onto Harris, then north on Riverside, which will take you right to the park’s Mission Bridge picnic area.
Nearby Regions & Towns