Turning your back on ice cream … the Shoreline Trail to Old Orchard Park

Destination hikes, with refreshments and entertainment waiting for you and your weary family in the last few steps are a great idea but don’t get into the habit; you could miss out on some lovely local routes. Why bring the kids up to believe that there’s an ice cream parlour over the brow of every hill?

One easy local taster takes in a portion of the Shoreline Trail in Port Moody, where there’s enough to distract little heads from missing out on treats. Simply park at the Rec Centre in Port Moody and turn your feet to the anti-clockwise direction around the inlet, heading towards Old Orchard Park instead of Rocky Point for a change.

This route includes some fascinating stretches of boardwalk over a spawning salmon stream and hugging the inlet shores. It’s a great hike for nature, local art and history, and ends up at a kid-friendly playground with beach attached.

Starting off beyond the Rec Centre playing field, cross over the bike trail and head towards the sea. If you head onto the foreshore, there’s a handy bench right at the head of the inlet that gives a great view looking west – from here you can follow the inlet as it disappears around the curve towards Barnet Marine Park past the yellow sulphur at Pacific Coast Terminals. Spot the many birds foraging on the mud flats at low tide, and see if you can spot a heron or two.

Getting back onto the main trail takes you into boardwalk territory, crossing Noons Creek as it heads on up to the hatchery. In the Fall, come back to see biology in action as salmon fight their way upstream for the right to pass on their genes back on home turf, er … gravel.

Past the creek, the narrow trail dips, winds and climbs among the trees, not straying too far from the shoreline. Keep an eye out for rusting pieces of heavy machinery left over from Port Moody’s industrial past on either side of the trail.

Coming round to the north shore of the inlet, check out the bird hide settled into the greenery by the shore. With its narrow slit windows, this is a great place to observe the birds feeding on the mudflats.

Back on the trail, there’s a small pond with associated pond life situated below San Remo Road that makes an interesting diversion. It’s also not far from two pieces of Port Moody history. A round concrete planter with Port Moody place names running up the sides is all that is left of a pair that used to mark traffic circles in the downtown area. An unlucky brush with an automobile completely wrecked one of them, and the other was moved here for its own safety.

You can spot the other piece of history by looking out from the shore where you will find the ruins of an old Port Moody sawmill burner. I think this must be the McNair shingle company tepee burner used for getting rid of wood waste. At low tide you can wander out on the ruins, check the numerous heavy bricks, pretend it’s a fairy tale fort or simply marvel at how easily nature reclaims what man builds.

Back onto the trail heading west and it’s only a short hop to Old Orchard – so named as it was quite literally an old overgrown orchard, cleared by volunteers to create a shoreline park. Here you’ll be able to relax or run off some steam on the swings and other climbing equipment standing on a low rise above a sandy mudflat beach.

From the beach you might just make out the ice cream shop on the far side …

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