Kanaka Creek is a fair-sized Metro Vancouver regional park. Located in Maple Ridge, it stretches from the Fraser River up to Dewdney Trunk Road.
Maple Ridge’s Kanaka Creek Regional Park
Kanaka Creek Park is a long skinny piece of green space that follows Kanaka Creek for several kilometres. In the park there are walking trails, waterfalls, coastal rainforest and an abundance of nature and beautiful scenery. There is also a fish hatchery.
In total, the park is about twelve kilometres in length and it’s home to all kinds of birds and other wildlife. Occasionally, especially in the fall, even bears have been spotted! It’s a big park at over 1100 acres in size.
Where is Kanaka Creek?
Kanaka Creek Regional Park is located southwest of downtown Maple Ridge. Because the park is so long and narrow, there are a few different ways to get to it.
Access to the Bell Irving Hatchery and trails to Cliff Falls is easiest via 256th Street. The Kanaka Creek Seniors Centre is located at 11581 256th Street and the parking lot at the park is just south of there. There are about 30 parking spaces. The parking lot is just a short walk from the hatchery and there is a 2.5 km loop trail to the falls and back.
Another popular area to explore is a few kilometres away by the Fraser River at 23272 River Road. Driving east from Maple Ridge along the Lougheed Highway, as you leave the city’s downtown core, you’ll pass the park entrance on your right. It’s just before Maple Ridge Hyundai which is located on your left.
If you miss the turn off you’ll need to turn left at Jim Robson Way, which is about a kilometre further down the road, and then turn around.
About the Park
Kanaka Creek Park includes all kinds of landscapes, scenery and vegetation. There are open areas, forested trails, places you can ride your bike and areas you can even take your horse.
Towards the northeastern end there is the salmon hatchery which is open for free tours on weekend afternoons (usually between around 1 and 3 pm).
Canyon Trail is a bit more than a kilometre long and it takes about half an hour to walk to the Bell Irving Hatchery. The trail isn’t flat. On the contrary, it goes through sandstone canyons on its way to Cliff Falls.
Riverfront Trail, meanwhile, is about three kilometres in length and makes for a leisurely one-hour stroll. In one direction it goes along the Fraser River and is out in the open. In the other direction it goes along both the river and the creek through the forest.
In the 1920’s the area on the Fraser River where Kanaka Creek Park is today was used by the Abernethy & Lougheed Logging Company. You can still see signs of the logging industry in the area, including right at the river along the Riverfront Trail.
Kanaka is the name used for Hawaiian people who immigrated to the area and worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company on the other side of the river in Fort Langley during the 1800s.
Kanaka Creek Park by the Fraser River
At the Fraser River end of Kanaka Creek you’ll find a small parking lot and a paved road-like path to the waterfront. As of the last time we checked, parking is free.
As you walk along the path to the river you’ll pass a lookout structure and beautiful views of the creek.
At the Fraser River you can turn left and walk up along the river, which makes for a pleasant stroll. Bicycles are also permitted on the path. Alternatively, you can turn right, go along the trail through the forest, and do a loop back to the path which returns to the parking lot.
On the route through the forested trail you’ll come to a dock-like structure with amazing views of the Fraser River. You’ll also cross a bridge over a section of Kanaka Creek. The trail all along the way is flat which makes it an easy place to walk. Bikes are not permitted in this area, although dogs on leash are.
Across the river from Kanaka Creek is Derby Reach Regional Park which is also a nice place to go for walks and ride your bike. And just up the river from Derby Reach is the town of Fort Langley and the Fort Langley National Historic Site.
Cliff Falls and the Hatchery
Around the middle of Kanaka Creek Park, so close to 6.5 km from the area by the Fraser River, is the Bell Irving Hatchery and Cliff Falls. The hatchery and its parking lot are located at 11484 256th Street in Maple Ridge. There is a hiking trail from there to Cliff Falls. It’s a loop and about 2.5 km long. At the parking lot are a small number of picnic tables and a pit toilet.
The hatchery itself isn’t so interesting. You can see a couple of enclosed outdoor tanks with small fish fry. There are also a couple of buildings where programming sometimes takes place. There isn’t a lot else, although it is in a pretty spot. In comparison, the Capilano River Hatchery in North Vancouver has a lot more to see.
The hike to Cliff Falls is really nice and highly recommended. We found it fairly similar to the trails at Capilano River Regional Park from the Cleveland Dam down to the hatchery there. Both involve forest, pretty views, ups and downs and a combination of stairs and hard-packed trails
The hike from the parking lot to Cliff Falls is a loop. It’s about 1.0 km one way to the falls and 1.4 km on the other part of the loop. Most of the trail is hard-packed dirt. There are some stairs though, and a couple of the slopes are fairly steep (so you’ll want to be careful not to slip on the loose gravel).
The falls themselves are very nice. They aren’t huge, and when we went at the end of the summer there wasn’t a lot of water. The falls were pretty though, and no doubt even more impressive in the spring.
You can’t get up close to the falls. Instead you can see them from a distance from a couple of viewing spots along the trail. What we found most impressive about the falls, even more than just the water flowing down, was the rock and its shape. The water had obviously carved away at the rock over the centuries and it looked really cool. The surrounding forest was also very pretty.
Not far from the falls are a couple of bridges. There is also an open area with half a dozen picnic tables. On the trails we went on, dogs were permitted (on leash), but not bicycles. Horses were also allowed in some areas. We also saw warning signs about there being a bear in the area, but that wouldn’t be the case all the time.
Tips and Advice
Below are some suggestions to help you make the most out of your visit to Kanaka Creek Regional Park.
TIP #1: Public washrooms are beside the parking lot at the park by the Fraser River.
TIP #2: Bicycles are allowed along the Fraser River on the paved path heading south, as well as on the path between the parking lot and the river. The area is all nice and flat, which makes it a nice place for young families to cycle.
TIP #3: Kanaka Creek is a nice park to stop at to stretch your legs when driving along the Lougheed Highway through Maple Ridge from Port Moody or Coquitlam on your way to Mission and elsewhere in the Fraser Valley.
TIP #4: Kanaka Creek isn’t a famous park. It’s a really nice one though, and popular. As many as 450,000 people or more visit it per year. Another even more well-known and significant park in Maple Ridge is Golden Ears. It’s a provincial park, it has camping facilities and it’s home to Alouette Lake.
TIP #5: If you’re in the Maple Ridge area on a Saturday in the warmer half of the year, consider dropping by the Haney Farmers Market at Memorial Peace Park. It takes place on Saturdays between 9 am and 2 pm from May until October. It’s a nice market and a good place to pick up treats for a picnic.
TIP #6: Only very rarely are bears spotted in the area. If you do meet a bear, though, be sure to give it lots of space and an exit route. Also, never run or it might think you’re playing a chasing game!
To learn about the area see our article about Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge.