Barnston Island Regional Park

I recently reconnected with Dave, a good friend I met almost 20 years ago at a summer camp, over our blog and outdoor activities. We set up an outdoor reunion and headed to Barnston Island for a fun family bike ride with his lovely family.

Barnston Island is formed by Fraser River sediment deposition, between Surrey and Pitt Meadows. It’s connected to Surrey via a small, free ferry service. There is no public parking on the island, so visitors have to park at the free public parking lot at Port Kells and get on the ferry on foot or, more commonly, with their bikes.

Sizable parking lot at the Port Kells ferry terminal
Lining up for the ferry.

The ferry is basically a modified barge pushed by a tug boat. It’s the smallest ferry we’ve been on, and Big Bro kept arguing that this cannot be a ferry because it’s too small.

Tugboat-barge combo ferry

After disembarking, we basically had two choices: circle the island clockwise or counter clockwise. The whole island is private except for the public road and 2 regional park lands: Mann Point and Robert Point.

The loop is 10km, and going counter clockwise from ferry terminal puts Mann Point at the 4km mark, and Robert Point at 8km, breaking up the journey into manageable chunks. The only public outhouse is at Robert Point.

Start of our bike ride, 10am.

The whole loop was paved, but large sections of the pavement were a bit bumpy and cracking. No major potholes though.

Most of the island was farmland, which provided some nice views.

Although the Fraser River surround the island on all sides, we only got some peekaboo views of the water when biking on the road.

Katzie First Nation is also located at the southern portion of the island, but the public road was ungated.

Soon we got to Mann Point. A short wooded walk led us to a large sandy river bank.

The golden sand was surprisingly pleasant and clean. Dave’s kids had a great time rolling around in it.

Mann Point on Barnston Island, with Golden Ears Bridge in the background

After a nice break, we got back onto our bikes. The northern section of the road provided better views of the farms and river.

We stopped for a snack and bio break at Robert Point before racing the last 2km back to the ferry terminal. Big Bro did exceptionally well, setting a new record for longest distance ridden on his bike.

By the time we lined up to load the ferry back at 12:30pm, there were a lot more cars including an Amazon delivery truck. Nice to know Amazon delivers to the remote island.

Overall, this was a fantastic destination for a 10km bike ride on a flat, paved road with several points of interest. The island is remarkably rural due to its isolation from the mainland, with the only connection being a cute little ferry, which was a super fun part of the experience. The ferry runs every 10 minutes or so, basically just going back and forth across the river, so we didn’t have to wait much at all.

Since most of the visitors left their cars on the mainland, there were only about half a dozen cars that drove past us on the Saturday morning. The ride was mostly unshaded, which can be quite hot under the summer sun, but started early at 10am was helpful to avoid worst of the heat.

Before I left, I scouted Port Kells for a launching spot. There’s a ramp near the parking lot that looks like an ideal location for a launch. But as Mon Jef can attest, one should probably avoid launching here when the ferry is on this side of the river. The ferry does a waltzing maneuver to load and unload its cargo on the same side of the barge, so a paddler may be caught off guard by the surprise wake.

Good launching spot, but careful when the ferry is on this side of the river.

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