Highway 7 (the Lougheed Highway) from Vancouver to Hope is a slower alternative to Highway 1, but a scenic one. An attractive choice for motorcycles, RVs, and cyclists, it passes through rolling foothills and along winding rivers. Pack your favourite adventure gear, for this route along the north side of the Fraser River offers many hiking, biking, boating, and golfing opportunities.
Are you a fan of the Grouse Grind? Check out the Coquitlam Crunch. This urban hike takes about 1.5 hours, and has an elevation gain of 244 meters. If you want to race, the Coquitlam Crunch on September 10 will determine who can run up the 437 stairs the fastest. For a more gentle exploration of Coquitlam, take a nature walk around Mundy Park or try your hand at geocaching in Maillardville.
Salmon and giant white sturgeon are abundant on the Fraser River, making it nirvana for fishers. (The largest sturgeon caught to date weighed an estimated 1,100 pounds.) For an introduction to fishing, try Trout Creek Farm’s U-catch facility, or borrow a rod, reel, and tackle box from the Mission Visitor Centre (free of charge, courtesy of the Fresh Water Fisheries Society of BC).
One of the most beautiful courses in the Lower Mainland, Sandpiper Golf Course is nestled in the forest on the edge of the Harrison River, and offers towering mountain vistas. For a longer pit-stop, 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.
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, but the 60-km long and 9-km wide, glacier-fed Harrison Lake lets you add a little cold-water adventure to your outing. Bring your canoe or kayak, or take a guided tour with Harrison Eco Tours. If you bring a motorboat, you’ll find a beautiful waterfall up the lake on the east side of Cascade Bay. Boat rentals are available from Killer Cove Boat rentals and Harrison Water Sports.
Worked up an appetite with all that adventure? Take a break in Agassiz to shop at one of several roadside farm stands or stops along the Circle Farm Tour (tour maps available at local farms and visitor centres, or at CircleFarmTour.ca). Don’t miss the annual Agassiz Fall Fair and Corn Festival on September 16. Going strong for over 100 years, the fair will celebrate the “Year of the Pumpkin” with delicious farm-fresh products, a midway, and events you don’t see every day (including a corn-husking competition, goat-milking contest, and antique-tractor pull).
Highway 7 ends at Hope, where Highways 1, 5 and 3 intersect. The town is a short road-trip destination from Vancouver, or a stop on a longer trip that continues into the BC Interior. At the confluence of the Fraser and Coquihalla Rivers, where the Fraser Canyon broadens into the Fraser Valley, you’ll find lots of camping, hiking, fishing, river-rafting and mountain-biking options. The new Hope Bike Park (aka Coquihalla River Community Park) has opened next to Coquihalla Campground. It includes 2.5 acres of woodland with sections for all skill levels, including three pump tracks and seven jump lines.