Frugal Fun: Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Step off the beaten path and slow things down by heading out to visit the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve in Chilliwack. More than just a preservation site, this reserve and educational center is a great destination to step away from the busy-ness of life and take in nature at its best.

Admission to this nature reserve is always free of charge and includes access to the Rotary Interpretative Center, the observation tower, binocular rental and use of the viewfinder at the trailheads.

Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve
Attribution License by Ode to the Ordinary

Upon arriving at the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve, visitors are encouraged to visit the Rotary Interpretive Center (through the main doors) where they are greeted by a volunteer. There are always lots of things to see and do while at the reserve and the front desk volunteers are happy to inform visitors of what’s going on and to provide personalized activity suggestions.  Visitors are also encouraged to bring their binoculars along with them, to help them better spot herons hiding in the trees. Don’t have any? Just ask the front desk staff – they will gladly lend you a pair!

The walking trails themselves are all on relatively flat terrain, and stroller and children friendly. With over 9 kilometres of trails spreading over 4 separate walking routes – there is a path for everyone! Trail maps can be collected from the front desk (or the birdhouse box on the outside of the building to the right of the front door), and clearly show the length of each trail as well as the types of wildlife that can be spotted on each. Taking between 30 minutes and 1.5 hours to walk (depending on which one you choose), the trails offer quiet solitude and natural beauty every step of the way.

Permanent Heron
Attribution License by Ode to the Ordinary

Worried there won’t be much to see this time of year? Visitors are welcomed all year round for a reason! As the nesting begins in early spring, and the flowers blossom in early summer – each season has something a little different to share than the one before it. During the fall months, spend a while taking in the colourful changing of the leaves, and the early morning mists off of the water. The best part? Not all of herons that call this community home migrate south for the winter – which means there will always be herons to spot (if you can find them), whatever the season!

The shortest walking trail (marked in red on the trail map) has an added bonus for the kiddies – there are 24 household items hidden along this path.  Teach the little ones how to explore and test your own exploration skills at the same time, see how many you can spot!

Peaceful View
Attribution License by Ode to the Ordinary

Back at the Rotary Interpretation Center, there are accessible washrooms, a vending machine, a meeting space to have a snack, touchable animal displays, interactive discovery boxes and an educational video on herons and their habitat. Families and school groups are always welcome to take their time here to explore and learn about the various creatures that can be found throughout the reserve (such as bald eagles, birds and ducks).

Be sure to also stop by the gift shop before you leave, to browse through a selection of local jewellery and artist wares – and help support the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve Society!

Hours & Location

Rotary Interpretive Center
Open 10:00am – 4:00pm, 7 days a week until November 1st (11:00am – 3:00pm after November 1st).  Closed Christmas Day.

Self-Guided Walks and Trails
Open 7:00am – Dusk, 7 days a week.

Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve Location
5200 Sumas Prairie Road, Chilliwack
Ring; 604.823.6603

Contributor: Shannon Clattenburg

Shannon Clattenburg is a creative spirit first and a freelance writer second. She is a features writer for Fraser Valley Pulse and has a love for uncovering hidden gems throughout the Fraser Valley . She lives in Chilliwack with her boyfriend and her doggy Rolo. Twitter: @OrdinaryShan

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