Burns Bog is a large swath of wetland covering most of the area between highways 17, 91 and 99 in Delta. It is eight times larger than Stanley Park but only a minuscule part of it is accessible to the public. I always imagined Burns Bog as a bubbly swamp with fog rolling over it and a monster’s hand reaching out from the depths and after you ankle. Well, on Sunday we went to find out.
Burns Bog is the largest undeveloped urban landmass in North America and most of it has been set aside as a nature preserve closed to public. However, there are about 3 km of boardwalk from which you can observe this unique ecosystem without getting your feet wet.
To get there, the shortest approach is from Hwy 91 at Nordel Way exit. Park at Planet Ice skating hall at 10388 Nordel Court. Very good directions are posted here. We found it a little tricky to locate the trail head (we turned right on the brick path, instead of going left, which was a mistake) but once on the trail proper it was a smooth sailing (wide, gravel, suitable for bicycle) and we found the start of the boardwalk no problem.
The first couple hundred of meters of the boardwalk takes you under a forest canopy before emerging to an open wetland. Here, the walkway planks are suspended over a foot of water and grasses and water-loving bushes span to the horizon. At the time of our visit the nature was just about waking up from its winter hibernation but I can imagine that in April and onward this place is teeming with life and is awash in fresh green of the new foliage. It is also a birdwatcher’s paradise as the bog is an important stopover for more than 400 species of migratory birds.
As you walk along you will come across numerous interpretive displays where you can read a ton about the bog’s ecosystem but the best way to learn why this is such a unique place is to join one of the public tours guided by a Burns Bog Society volunteer. Check their calendar for the next public tour or schedule a private field trip.
Every year Burns Bog Conservation Society organizes an Earth Day pilgrimage to the bog accompanied by programs and events. This year it falls on April 26, 2015 and starts at 1pm. Head there to celebrate the arrival of spring!
A great option how to get there is to cycle from Vancouver. The Delta-South Surrey Greenway is a separated bike path taking you through urban parks and green spaces directly to Burns Bog trail head (and continues beyond where you can connect with Boundary Way bikeway for a great loop via Ladner). It’s a great way of getting to know the urban parkland of Delta.