We have had the privilege of living near Campbell Valley Park in Langley, BC since 1976 and have spent many happy hours exploring the park on horseback and on foot.
The south entrance at 8th Avenue near 200th Street is the perfect place for a walk with the dog. A seasonally open Visitor Centre run by enthusiastic volunteers provides a wealth of information about the park. Our daughter and son-in-law’s wedding was held at the pond behind the Visitor Centre. It is also a popular place for holding family reunions. For a beautiful walk through fields and forested areas, you can take the ravine trail past the historic Annand/Rowlatt Farmstead which has buildings dating back to 1898. The one-room Lochiel schoolhouse nearby was built in 1924 and was relocated to the park in 1988. This area is also the location of the Country Celebration held every September.
On our many hikes through the park, we usually start on the Shaggy Mane trail – an 11 km dual use equestrian/hiking trail that circles the park. We take the entrance from 216th Street and head south to the open fields and ponds beside the Little Campbell River. This is a great area to see birds and if you’re lucky, a beaver. The Water Splash is a popular area for the trail riders as they urge their horses through the stream.
Other times, we leave the Shaggy Mane trail for the lesser known Deer Trail that winds over to the old Langley Speedway racetrack. Before it was closed in 1979, it was the site of many stock-car races during the summer. The asphalt track still holds out, though the surrounding grandstand area has been reclaimed by the trees and grasses. From there, we can hike north to the Campbell Valley Downs Equestrian Centre on 208th Street which hosts many equestrian events every summer. This is also where riders park their horse trailers and saddle up for a ride around the park. The alternate trail from the racetrack leads to the well groomed Little River loop trail – a 2.2 km circle hike which is also wheelchair accessible, and the North Valley entrance.
If you are a geocacher, you can spend many hours searching for the dozens of geocaches hidden throughout the park. This is a great way to find the many smaller paths off the main trails.
Most of the park has been left to nature and there is an abundance of wildlife including deer, coyotes, hawks, eagles, beaver, skunks and possums. On one of our horseback rides a coyote watched us from the side of the trail. He appeared to be waiting, as though at a red light, for his chance to merge onto the trail. When he judged that there was enough room between horses, he trotted out onto the trail and kept pace with the cavalcade for several hundred meters before veering off onto a tiny trail known only to the smaller animals. Owls are also abundant in the park – many times we have seen them peering down at us from their snug daytime perch high in a tree.
Springtime in the park sees masses of Russell Lupins growing in the fields and apple, cherry and plum blossoms on the old trees left from the days when the area was farmed. The summer brings green grasses and trees, and a profusion of small animals such as mice and voles. In the fall, mushrooms and fungus of many varieties sprout from the dead and fallen trees in the forest. Winter is a much quieter time in the park with fewer hikers and horse riders, though a sunny day will bring many people out.
If you want to ride the 1 km bicycle/hiking path, start at the South Valley Entrance off 8th Avenue and take the trail from the parking lot west to 200th Street. From there you can head north parallel to the road through fields and forested areas and past the park headquarters at the corner of 200th Street and 16th Ave. It is a short, easy ride for beginners or children, with few hills and very little pedestrian traffic.
When you come here, remember to bring your camera and hiking stick, because wherever you go in the park, you will find a new trail to explore and something new to photograph.