Surrey Nature Centre – Gateway to Urban Wilderness

Nature Exploration Photo: C. Gillespie

Nature may be the last thing that comes to mind when you think of Surrey’s City Centre, yet nestled on the northern edge of the Fraser Highway lies a natural oasis known as Green Timbers Urban Forest.  I have a penchant for nature, and when time limits my ability to travel to the mountains, nothing thrills me more than exploring an urban forest. Featuring over 10 kilometres of nature trails, a lake, meadows, and countless wildlife viewing opportunities, Green Timbers does not disappoint! Once a destination for tourists in search of old growth trees, Green Timbers is considered the birthplace of reforestation in British Columbia and certainly one of Surrey’s natural gems.

Trail in Green Timbers Urban Forest Photo: Surrey Nature Centre

Anxious to begin moving and eager to explore the park, I took a deep breath of fresh air and began my walk through the forest.  As I ventured deeper into the park, the noise of the city began to fade.  It struck me that I had left the towering concrete buildings behind and to my delight majestic second growth forest dominated the skyline.  Moving at a slow, relaxed pace, along the well-marked trail I eventually arrived at the lake.  Despite chilly winter temperatures I noticed a lone angler on the bank patiently fishing.  To my inexperienced eye, the fishing expedition did not appear successful, yet the fisherman appeared content.  Fishing is a popular past time in Green Timbers as the Fraser Valley Trout Hatchery regularly stocks the lake with rainbow trout.

Misty morning in Green Timbers Urban Forest Photo: Flickr S. Black2

After spending the bulk of my morning exploring the trails, I arrived at the Surrey Nature Centre refreshed and rejuvenated.  I hold the Nature Centre close to my heart.  Perhaps my obvious love and bias for nature and the outdoors is a factor, but I think the Surrey Nature Centre is fantastic!  This incredible facility is open year round and strives to inspire a love of nature in folk of all ages.  From the Arboretum, home to an estimated 77 different trees, to the Pole Forest Adventure area, the centre provides numerous opportunities to discover your inner urban naturalist.  Featuring both self-guided activities and registered programs the Surrey Nature Centre has much to offer.

Children’s Programs at the Surrey Nature Centre Photo: Surrey Nature Centre

Delighted, I watched as a class of elementary students and their fearless teachers departed from the Nature Centre on a well-planned expedition.  Excitedly, filled with awe and wonder, they were off collecting soil samples for further study.  I could only imagine what these youngsters might find.  Natural connections were forming before my eyes. As I continued along the trail, it occurred to me that our next generation of environmental stewards and scientists were at play in Surrey.  Awesome!

Giants in Green Timbers Urban Forest Photo: Rob Weiss

Getting There:

Parking for Green Timbers Urban Forest Park is in the 14600 Block of 100 Avenue in Surrey.

Accessible by car, bus, bike or on foot, the Surrey Nature Centre is located at 14225 Green Timbers Way.

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