The cities of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows stretch along the eastern edge of metro Vancouver, hemmed in between the Fraser River and the Golden Ears mountains, and dotted with agricultural land. Among the cities and farms weaves a network of dikes built to keep the rivers and lakes from flooding into fields and homes. These dikes offer active families a maze to explore on foot or bicycle, whether you want a short outing or a longer one, with plenty of scenery along the way.
If you’re want to bike the dikes, here’s my complete guide.
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Cycling the Dike Trails
The dike trails are primarily flat, gravel trails that can be accessed from a variety of points around Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. Their traffic-free expanses (along with pretty scenery along the way) make them the perfect family biking trails. Whether you want an out-and-back trail or a loop to ride, the dikes can meet your needs.
The dike trails are multi-use trails, meaning they are popular with cyclists and dog walkers. Some sections of the trails in Maple Ridge are also used by horseback riders. You may also meet people on scooters or fishermen carrying gear. I always chat with my kids, before we start a ride, about yielding to pedestrians and being courteous and respectful of other users on the trails. People we’ve met have also been very tolerant of kids learning to ride bikes (and swerving all over the trails, despite my attempts to remind them to “share the trail” and “ride on the right!”).
While you bike the dikes, watch for signs along the way about the local plants, animals and birds or maps of the trails. Some of these signs are starting to fade with age and should be replaced, but it’s still a good way to learn about the birds you see from the dikes and other information. My kids like to stop and look at maps or see how far they’ve gone by watching for km markers.
Where to Access the Trails
There are numerous points to park and bike the dikes in Maple Ridge. You can find parking lots located at:
- Jerry Sulina Park (Maple Ridge) is located just off Dewdney Trunk Road and Golden Ears Way. This popular parking lot has two porta-potties and is very busy at certain times of day or year.
- Harris Road (Pitt Meadows) has a small parking area where it meets Fraser Way (turn south off Lougheed Hwy and drive to the end of Harris Road). There’s a couple of outhouses here as long as an information sign.
- Kennedy Road (Pitt Meadows) just off Lougheed Highway has parking as well as a couple of picnic tables (near the Pitt River Bridge).
- Old Dewdney Trunk frontage road (off Old Dewdney Trunk and Lougheed Hwy) is another place to park to access the dike trails near the Pitt River Bridge.
- Menzies Crossing is a large parking lot on Harris Road (north of Lougheed Highway) just beside the Alouette River. There are picnic tables here but no outhouses. This parking lot is also popular with kayakers / stand-up paddleboarders.
There are also other access points at the ends of various roads near the trails, but these are mostly just parking on the road near the trail.
I love my Velocirax for making it easy to get all our bikes to and from the trails. In five minutes or less, I can have all our bikes racked and ready to go. Once we park, I unrack the bikes while the kids put their helmets on and slide their water bottles into the cages on their bikes. Then we’re ready to jump on and ride!
Scenery along the Dikes
There are blackberry bushes at several places along the dike trails. We’ve stopped on the trail just west of the Pitt Meadows airport to pick berries. As the berries are often dusty from the users on the gravel trails, you may want to bring along buckets and wash the berries before consuming.
As mentioned, most of the dike trails follow the rivers of Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge. There are bridges to go over or under as well as beaches where you can stop and play in the river. We see plenty of water fowl, from mallards and Canada geese to herons (which have a huge nesting colony near Jerry Sulina Park). Riding past the farms is also fun, as we see blueberry bushes, pumpkin fields, horse pastures, and more.
There are benches at numerous spots along the dikes, making it easy to take a break (especially for kids who find their bike seats uncomfortable). These benches are usually in scenic locations but rarely in shady locations. Besides a stretch of the trails along the Fraser River in Pitt Meadows, most of the trails have little to no shade along them, so they get very warm on hot summer days.
More Cycling Tips
As already noted, the dikes can get hot in the summer. While riding creates a breeze and you may not notice the heat, I’ve often gone through way more water than I expected when out on a ride. I highly recommend taking several water bottles (more than you think you need). There are no places along the way to refill your water bottles. We also bring along a small backpack or bike bag for snacks.
The trails meander through beautiful country, with views of the Golden Ears mountains to the north. Give yourself time to stop and admire the scenery. I’ve seen otters and bears while riding the dikes, plus the beauty of the changing season and changing weather. If you’re riding with kids, factor in more time for breaks, whether you’re picking blackberries, splashing in the river, or just flopping down in a spot of shade.
Have you biked the dikes in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows? Where is your favourite place to start?