Trail: Fraser River Heritage Park
Location: Mission, British Columbia
Distance from Vancouver: Approximately 1 hour
Directions (with a link to a Google map): Click here for map
Time to hike: 20 minutes to many hours
Ages of children hiking: 1,4,7,10
Number of adults: 1
Jellybean rating: 1/5
This is Sam’s go-to!
Fraser River Heritage Park has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a quiet picnic under a covered gazebo or a hike through a series of trails or a bike ride with a view of the mighty Fraser River and Mt. Baker, Heritage Park has got ya covered.
I take my girls there for any one of those things at least a couple days of the week. It’s our favorite place to go explore and take our pooch for a stroll. There are many, many options for a little adventure at Heritage Park. This particular post will take you through our favorite loop.
When you first arrive off Mary st. into the parking lot, you’ll find the entrance archway. If you have a dog make sure you grab a free disposal bag here. There’s a fork here but veer to the right. Now you have to make a big decision: do you play at the sandbox now or later? I always tell my girls that we’ll come back for sandbox time and a little treat once we’re done doing our little hike.
Directly to the right of the sandbox are the washrooms. Take this opportunity to go because there aren’t any other washrooms along the loop. These washrooms are always really well kept and very clean.
Head back out to the trail. Follow the trail all the way around until you reach a fork. The fork will either take you left back towards your vehicle or right towards the woods. You’re heading towards the woods in the back left so go ahead and take a right. Or, find yourself in a position where your children have completely lost focus and would rather climb that awesome boulder over there:)
You’ll reach another fork at the bottom of the hill that leads the trail from the top of 7th avenue. Steer right towards the trees.
Keep going until you reach the partition wall by the “arched tree”. This is where you’re going to want to cross over into the forest. Before you go into the forest, remember to chat with your kiddos about bear safety. Bears don’t want to see you, but they can be in the area. Give your kiddos a reminder to stay together while you help them balance across the ledge.
You’ll reach a couple of forks as soon as you head over, but just keep staying straight on the trail. After a short while, you’ll come to a bit of a steep hill. I always have a bit of a hard time with my 4-year old on this part, as she tends to get a bit nervous. I encourage her to go slowly, and even to go on her bum if she needs to. If her big sisters are around I make sure to ask them to help encourage her, too (which is partially for my benefit, because “oh, my heart:)”).
After the big hill there’s one more little dip and then you’ll be on flat ground for a while. Really, only for a while. You’ll end up coming to another hill, but this time you’re going to be going up. This one is quite mild.
At the top of the hill, you’ll have the option to go straight or take a left. Take the left!
The great ice storm of 2018 that hit Mission did some pretty incredible things to the trails at Heritage Park. The trails were somewhat impassable after the storm, but thanks to the help of many amazing volunteers the trails were cleaned up. There were some things, like this cluster of trees that were completely uprooted, that will remain as they are, however.
My girls saw this and immediately started climbing down and all over the trees. They were astounded by the root system under the tree that they’d never seen before. My 7-year old started “digging for dinosaur bones”. Big sister saw this as an opportunity to do some climbing (as she usually does).
Once they’re done monkeying around encourage them to keep going by telling them about the mangled tree up ahead. Another product of the storm, this tree really shows mother nature’s strength!
At this point you’re going to walk down a decline until it evens out a bit. There are a few out trails along the way that will give you access to the big field to your right. My kiddos tried to convince me to take one of the trails out, but I reminded them about the “sliding rock*”.
*All of the parenthesized terms have been coined by my girls. Feel free to use them, but don’t be surprised if nobody knows what you’re talking about if you mention it to them:)
Keep going through all the trees until you reach just about the end of the trail. Here’s where you’ll find the “sliding rock”.
The girls will spend loads of time here taking turns going down this rock as a slide (ouch-I know, but it never seems to deter them). It’s here where I take time to watch the joy on their faces, listen to their laughter, and relish in how happy I am that I shop at thrift stores for their clothes. We’ve lost a few pairs of pants to the “sliding rock”.
You’ve now hit the main gravel trail again! You can head left on the trail for a longer walk, or take a right back to the front of the park. We took a right towards the big field.
A few things to note about the big field:
-If you look to the left once you’ve reached the field you’ll see a building. That’s St. Mary’s; formerly a residential school. It’s now used as a business center. If you check out the rest of the park after the bridge you’ll find remains of foundations that were also buildings that were part of residential schools. You can read up about them on the posted signs by some of them.
-The four trees in the center of the field mark the spot for a Medicine Wheel. This location hasn’t been used for healing and ceremonies for quite some time.
-This area is an unofficial off-leash dog area. Owners are supposed to keep their dogs on leash on the trail and within a 10 ft buffer of the trail, but that isn’t always the case.
Take a second and enjoy the calm energy that fills the space here. I literally mean a second-you know how parenting goes! Your kids are already running off towards the “climbing tree”, so you’d better go catch up to them!
The “climbing tree” was once much taller before the ice storm hit. Regardless of it’s size, my kids LOVE this tree. It gives them an opportunity to move their bodies vertically rather than horizontally, and allows them to be as “big as Mommy” for a while.
When, and if, you manage to get your little monkeys out of the tree you’re just around the corner from the bridge.
My two older girls love to walk on the rocks to cross the water, while I highly encourage my two younger girls to cross the bridge. You’ll often see little ducky friends here:)
Once you’re over the bridge you can take a left for a longer route back to the main parking lot, or head right for a more direct route. Taking a left will lead you past the cemetery, gazebo, friendship bell, and awe-inspiring views of the Fraser River and Mt.Baker. If your kids are feeling extra energetic or you have a few spare jellybeans in your pack I definitely recommend taking the left trail.
No matter which way you take you’ll end up at the same spot: THE SANDBOX! Before you get yourself totally set up with the kids in the sandbox filled with toys that permanently live there go grab yourself a nice coffee at the Blackberry Kitchen restaurant first!
Jellybean Rating Summary
Fraser River Heritage Park gets a 1/5 and a 2/5. The gravel trail around the park offers a leisurely stroll, while you can amp it up and go for a bit more rugged terrain in the trails. The park is well groomed and taken care of. It’s also a great spot to just go and hang out! There are often events going on here, like the Children’s Festival (June 10, 2018) and the highly anticipated by my girls and me, Mission Folk Music Festival. All around (get it?) this is a great park for everyone in the family, including the pooch!
Definitely come and check Heritage Park out. Chances are you’ll see me and my crew there, so make sure you come say “Hey!! You’re that lady from Little Adventures Company!!”.