Much to explore at Island 22

Explore Chilliwack series - Island 22 Park has it all. Equestrian facilities, a boat launch, a bike skills area and an off-leash dog park.

Elijah Loewen gets some air while riding the jumps at the Island 22 bike skills park.

Elijah Loewen gets some air while riding the jumps at the Island 22 bike skills park.



Island 22 Regional Park has something for everybody. Well known for its equestrian facilities, there is also a large boat launch along the Fraser River, a new bike skills and jump area, an off-leash dog park, and a variety of scenic trails.

This 132 hectare park – owned by the City of Chilliwack, managed by the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD), maintained by the volunteer Park Society – started out as only a boat launch (often used for military training) and camping area.

In 1986, local fathers Heinrich Meister and Rolf Wedler looked to Island 22 to be a space where a safe, well-planned equestrian destination could be built, for their children and other young riders in the community. No other public equestrian event courses existed in the Lower Mainland at the time.

“We wanted to build a competitive, recognized event course,” says Meister. The District of Chilliwack agreed, and the course design (created by Sean Flynn) was approved for building. A $25,000 grant was awarded to start clearing the land.

After two full years of building, with an outpour of help from volunteers and farmers in the community, Island 22 hosted its first event – the 1989 Mount Cheam Pony Club event.

Today, Island 22 maintains a plethora of equestrian amenities, including riding rings, jumps and trails, and the park hosts several equestrian events annually. Even visitors who do not ride horses enjoy watching the riders train in jump courses.

Island 22 was once a popular camping destination, offering a ‘secluded’ atmosphere within pizza-delivery distance from town. However, “when the river shifted in the early 2000s,” Meister explains “we lost about 70 acres of land.”

Island 22 Dog ParkWhile the erosion meant that camping would no longer be available at the park, the remaining land was converted by FVRD into a large, fenced-in, off-leash dog area, for those who are fans of another four-legged friend.

The newest addition to Island 22 came in April 2013. The $200,000 bike skills park was a joint initiative between the City of Chilliwack and the FVRD. Park designer, Jay Hoots, has designed more than a dozen community-based bike parks and trails in BC.

In coordination with the FVRD and riders in the community, Hoots designed the park to enable riders of all ages and abilities to work on their skills by training on hills, trails and jumps that progress in difficulty.

The bike park caters to a large community of Chilliwack riders, including Elijah Loewen and Ash Burke (see video) who were thrilled to show off some of their skills in the progression jumps and advanced jumps, which intricately weave between pre-existing cedars.

The beautiful park trails are shared by equestrian riders, cyclists, pedestrians and leashed-dogs, taking in the the sights and sounds that Island 22 provides.

The ample boat launch can accommodate a dozen simultaneous launchings, making it one of the largest in the Lower Mainland. This well-known launch is used to send fisherman off into the Fraser and Harrison rivers to catch salmon, sturgeon, trout and other water-dwellers.

Island 22 is hosting its 28th annual B.C. Championship Equestrian event August 28-30, and it will also be hosting the popular Unbridled Mud Trials for the third time on September 26.

 

Do you have a favourite place in Chilliwack? Email sam.bates@theprogress.com

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