Sometimes the best surprises lie right beneath your nose. Colony Farm Regional Park is one of those surprises. What comes to mind when you visualize the Port Mann Bridge, Cape Horn Exchange and Lougheed Highway? I suspect your blood pressure is rising and you are thinking of tolls and Monday morning rush hour traffic congestion. I challenge you to reimagine the area! Slow down, take time out of your hectic schedule and follow the signs to Colony Farm. Within minutes, you will find yourself in the middle of hedgerows, open fields and wetlands.
During my recent visit to the farm, I began my walk from the parking area adjacent to the main park entrance and near the community gardens. Being early in the season, the gardens were quite bare. However, the promise of a bountiful harvest to come was evident. I followed the short, flat Garden Trail along the Coquitlam River and was treated to views of the Golden Ears. It quickly became evident that the trail is popular with joggers, birders, cyclists and photographers. I learned that this rich floodplain is one of the most biodiverse parts of the region and home to over 150 species of birds and a wide range of animals.
Significant restoration and habitat enhancement work has been taking place in the park and you don’t need to look far to notice the improvements. The restoration project is designed to restore tidal flows and create access for Chinook, Chum, Coho and Pink salmon to the area. To support these natural spaces, visitors are asked to remain on the trails and stay out of the wildlife habitat area. These protected areas offer critical food and shelter for the wildlife that call Colony Farm home.
Along the Wilson Farm Dyke Trail, I noticed numerous nest boxes. I chuckled to myself as I observed these special birdhouses. In the background, a high-density residential development towered over the park. It occurred to me that the birds have adopted a very Vancouver lifestyle – high-density waterfront condominium living! Not just a birders paradise, the park is also rich in history. Originally, a mental health facility, the original farmland provided food for the hospital’s patients. Over the years the farm became world famous for its Holstein cattle. The majority of the barns and buildings are long gone, but as you amble along the Sheep Paddock Trail and the Wilson Farm Dyke trail, it is easy to imagine the cattle grazing in the fields and the farmers tending the crops.
The sound of frogs croaking serenaded me as I meandered along the trail on my way back to my car. It occurred to me that I was no longer thinking of traffic jams and bridge congestion. Instead, I found myself marveling at how Mother Nature, with a little support from the dedicated naturalists at Colony Farm, was fighting to keep this unique wetland area a green oasis. Blood pressure normal – 120/80 – thank you Colony Farm!
From Highway 1, travel along the Cape Horn Interchange to the Lougheed Highway. Turn right on Colony Farm Road and follow the signs to the parking area.
The trails at Colony Farm are flat and short, open to both cycling and biking. Dogs on leash are welcome.
Check it Out:
Interested in a visit? Metro Vancouver Regional Parks offers a variety of programs at Colony Farm Regional Park. Visit this link for the Spring 2016 Program Guide.