Hugging the US border, Abbotsford is set in a wide swathe of farmland split by the Fraser River and the Trans-Canada Highway. The Fraser Valley urban centre is a base from which to embark east into the BC interior or west to the coast. Sumas Mountain Regional Park butts up against Abbotsford’s eastern edge with hiking and mountain biking trails (from easier Squidline to the hardcore Knob Gobbler) skirting its slopes. It’s also a happening spot for agritourism, from lavender fields and a meadery to apple orchards and a cidery.
East along backroads (on the Trans-Canada or Highway 1 south of Chilliwack) is Cultus Lake, long beloved by locals for its placid waters (as a warm alternative to the chillier ocean and alpine lakes) and status as an easy camping getaway just 100 kilometres from Vancouver. Swim, canoe, golf, bike, and explore Cultus Lake Provincial Park into Columbia Valley, where some of the first families in the area settled in the 1890s, or go east into the subalpine playground of Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park.
Skip the Trans-Canada (Highway 1) thoroughfare and take the old Fraser Highway west into Langley, the easternmost municipality of Greater Vancouver. From here, continue west on secondary roads to the seaside community of White Rock and Crescent Beach’s sand and scenic boardwalks. A short drive north brings you to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, the jumping-off point for the many islands (from smaller Gulf Islands to the huge Vancouver Island) in the Strait of Georgia.
The Canada-US border crossing at Sumas, 15 minutes from downtown Abbotsford, is a less-travelled route into Washington and Whatcom County’s wilderness at the foot of imposing Mount Baker, the highest peak in the North Cascades. Hike and bike in summer, ski at Mount Baker in winter, or take a leisurely route west to the Aldergrove crossing, where Aldergrove Regional Park offers wetland scenery before returning to the Canadian side (a longer option within the US continues to the coast and the Peace Arch crossing).
The Fraser Valley is a year-round destination with mild-but-wet weather from November to February. Higher alpine regions may get snow (with the closest skiing to Abbotsford being across the border on the slopes of Mount Baker), but summer is peak season for camping, especially at lakes, and valley temperatures can be many degrees hotter than at the coast and mountains.
- Most provincial parks take site reservations in advance (recommended throughout the high season of summer) and give an early priority booking window to BC residents. - The Trans-Canada Highway, which runs through Abbotsford and neighbouring municipalities, is the main thoroughfare to points east and west and can become very congested during rush hours on weekdays and holiday weekends. - Travelling across the border to the United States can also be very busy during weekends and holidays, requires a valid passport, and is subject to closures (you may need to return via a different crossing than anticipated).