Highway 7 (the Lougheed Highway) from Vancouver to Hope is a slower alternative to Highway 1, but a scenic one. It passes through rolling foothills and along winding rivers. Travelling this route in the winter can mean quieter roads, escaping the winter chill with a hot springs dip, and maybe even seeing a frozen waterfall.
Start your trip in Coquitlam with a visit to Colony Farm Regional Park. The park is habitat to over 200 bird species with trails that showcase mountain views and the Coquitlam River. Minnekhada Regional Park is another great option for winter bird watching and hiking. Visit Coquitlam’s City Centre & Town Centre Park to grab a bite to eat, and then stroll along Lafarge Lake. There’s plenty to see so book an overnight stay to ensure you have the time to take it all in.
Make your next stop in Maple Ridge at Billy Miner Alehouse (circa 1911), a local favourite for food and ale. Steeped in history, freight engines still pass by on the same tracks they used over a hundred years ago. Bundle up and take in the historic sights along the Fraser River Heritage Walk, or stay warm and explore history at the Maple Ridge Museum and Archives. The Museum even has a special Christmas themed display running from November 20th to December 20th.
Scenic Highway 7 is a photographers dream with multiple waterfalls to discover. While you’re in Mission, wander downtown’s unique shops, and then visit Westminster Abby for one of the best views of the Fraser Valley.
For a cozy winter retreat, stay the night in the luxury cabins at Rowena’s Inn on the River. Settle in with a private patio and view of the river, wood-burning fireplace, heated floors, and deep-soaker Jacuzzi tub for two. Plan to visit Harrison Mills in November for the largest gathering of wintering bald eagles in the world.
A must-visit just up the road from Highway 7 is Harrison Hot Springs. The healing mineral waters have been a draw since settlers discovered them in 1858. Celebrate winter by taking in the festive Lights by the Lake, and then rent skates for outdoor skating at the Starlight Skating Rink. Warm up with a hot springs soak and cozy overnight stay.
Highway 7 ends at Hope, where Highways 1, 5 and 3 intersect. A former gold mining then logging town and railroad stop along the Fraser River Valley, postcard-pretty Hope is a town of 6,000 tucked into the steep Cascade Mountains. Detour to comfy Owl Street Café, a family-run operation just off the Crowsnest Highway. You’ll need time to peruse the impressively kitschy collection of all things owl—from chainsaw log-art to ceramic to shells, some 300 in all. Don’t miss Manning Park near Hope, a great destination for dark sky stargazing. You can even rent a telescope for a closer view.
Header image: Fraser Valley | Shayd Johnson
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