As part of our All Regional Parks quest we decided to visit Belcarra Park in Port Moody. There are many ways how to explore Belcarra – hike, bike, stroll, swim, kayak or enjoy a picnic. We had a few hours to work with before the forecast rain was supposed to hit at 2 pm so we brought our bikes to cover some good distance and set off down one of the trails. And were we ever pleasantly surprised!
Belcarra Park is twice the size of Vancouver’s Stanley Park and although the trail network isn’t as extensive the park has lots to offer (click here for a park map). When driving to the park from Port Moody via Ioco Road, follow the signs for “picnic area” ignoring a turn-off towards White Pine Beach / Sasamat Lake. Five hundred meters after this turnoff the road makes a left hairpin turn, notice a trailhead right at the curve of the turn. It is the start of the Springboard Trail. Very short distance after this turnoff look out for a small pullout area on the other side of the road. This is pretty much the only spot to park if you want to start here. Make a safe U-turn and park at the pullout.
The Springboard trail is lovely, there’s no other way to describe it. It’s flat, easy, partly paved and generously padded with a moss carpet underfeet. A perfect trail for a Valentine’s Day, I remarked. Praclik does not share this romantic streak so he came back saying that it is perfect for cardiac patients. After 2km the trail passes by a Woodhaven Swamp, make sure you check it out, especially in springtime when young frogs congregate for daily (nightly?) frog concert.
Continue past the swamp 1km further down and you will reach a large picnic area adjacent to a beach and pier. If you are here early in the morning (8-9am) you will be able to watch crab fisherman throwing their traps filled with chicken meat in the water, pulling them back full of crabs.
From the picnic area you need to decide whether you’ll head north towards Jug Island over a short but rocky trail or south towards Admiralty Point for a (sunset) stroll. Or you can rent a kayak from Takaya Tours (they offer a lot more than just kayak rentals, check out their guided excursions) and explore some of the nearby islands by kayak.
We headed towards Jug Island beach because it offers a bit more remote experience and the end point promises a view up Indian Arm inlet. First 1 km of the trail is a wide gravel path and is bikeable (but considerably uphill) although we were told that bikes are officially not allowed. The trail will take you through some beautiful west coast rain forest, complete with moss hanging off branches and ferns growing high in the trees. I loved the hanging moss gardens where the trail passes by some vertical bluffs which were completely covered in soft greenery.
After about 1 hr you’ll reach a beach with Jug Island only a stone’s throw away. If you don’t mind the cold water this must be a great spot to go for a swim in summer. Often you can spot a seal swimming nearby, perhaps checking you curiously out. Although, as my engineer husband points out, these are not seals but seal HEADS because there’s no body clearly discernible. And in his world of scientific reason, what cannot be observed does not exist.
Interesting local history: on our way back from Belcarra, at a stop sign where Bedwell Bay Road turns into a Ioco Road, we noticed a sign for “Ioco Heritage Townsite” and also “Port Moody Station Museum”. We didn’t stop because I wasn’t familiar with either. After coming home I looked up some information about the two sites and now regret not stopping. So don’t make the same mistake. Ioco townsite is now pretty much a ghost town from the heyday of 1921 when Imperial Oil Company built a town for its workers. Eighty three buildings once stood there, now down to 13 boarded up houses. Every year in October the Port Moody museum organizes Ioco Ghost Town Day when this site becomes once again alive with people. The Port Moody Station Museum is by itself worth a visit. Located in a former CPR station, it houses exhibits documenting town’s history and showcasing objects from daily lives of the era. Museums are a great way of getting to know the local history and to gain understanding for what is by appreciating what was.