The road less traveled? For runners, they’re the best kind

I have a desk job.
Yes, I get out on assignment once in a while, but even then I’m often in a car, in a bleacher or in an auditorium seat somewhere. In more ways than one, I’m largely chained to my desk.
So at night when I get home, I can’t wait to lace up my runners, leash up my dog and hit a road, dyke or trail in my neighbourhood. I’ve been running for about 17 years, which is long enough to know what constitutes a decent running route. For me, that’s plenty of clean air, at least one garbage can and poop-bag dispenser, a public dog water bowl, at least a little glimpse of nature and the opportunity to run off-road.

A rainbow arches over the Brunswick Point trail.

A rainbow arches over the Brunswick Point trail.

If you live in Delta and you’re a runner or walker, these are my five faves, plus a bonus cross-training route that requires a self-propelled marine vessel (kayak). You can adjust most routes to fit your desired distance.

1. Delta Nature Reserve (Burns Bog) and Watershed Park
Location: Enter/park at Planet Ice, 10388 Nordel Court, or any access point on route (see map)
Distance: Whatever you want
Just one word: Wow. This place is a one-stop runner’s paradise. The trees of the Delta Nature Reserve provide shade in the summer and protect you from the elements in the winter. There are multiple routes to avoid flooded trails (this is the Wet Coast, so it happens).  You can enter and exit at multiple points because it basically stretches from behind Planet Ice in North Delta to Highway 99 in East Ladner. The Delta Nature Reserve at the Planet Ice end gives way to Watershed Park, where you can incorporate hill training, or just keep going toward Highway 99. The boggy terrain is easy on the back and knees and the dozens of trails that shoot off the main trail and loop back mean you could do your entire run without a lot of repeat scenery. It’s perfect. Period.

2. Centennial Beach/Boundary Bay Regional Park
Enter off Boundary Bay Road in Tsawwassen
Distance: 5-23 kilometres
This is one of my favourite runs, but beware that if you don’t like running around a lot of people, it’s the place to avoid on a hot summer day. The beach has been gaining in popularity in the decade or so that I’ve been coming, and it now boasts a brand new café with a diverse menu, new and improved restroom facilities, a children’s playground, bird lookouts and a heritage tourist attraction. My preference is to run on an overcast day when you can have most of the trails to yourself. If you need to add mileage to a run, the dyke here connects to the entire Boundary Bay dyke system by a short jog along Beach Grove Road at the northern exit. You could run from Tsawwassen to White Rock if desired.

3. The River Road West dyke trail
Distance: 5-8 kilometres, depending on how far you go
Location: Enter at River Road and 47A Street in Ladner
This is primarily a river/dyke run that yields great views of the Fraser River, surrounding farmland and neighbouring floating home communities. I usually run from my house near the Westham Island Bridge and do it in reverse, stopping half way for a break at Stir Coffee in Ladner Village. Yeah, yeah – coffee isn’t exactly the beverage of champions, but it’s music to my mouth no matter what I’m doing. If you want a longer run, this trail extends pretty much to the port; you just have to run on the road for short periods where the dyke isn’t continuous. Follow the water and you can’t go wrong. See next item.

4. Brunswick Point
Distance: Whatever
Location: End of River Road West, Ladner
This is one of my favourite trails. It’s flat and unchallenging, but it has striking views of the river, the ocean and the working container port, with opportunities for bird watching and bench stops for sitting and/or stretching. It’s never busy. If you decide to run here between September and March, however, don’t be surprised if you hear gunshots because it’s a popular local hunting spot. And if you have a dog, there is just one garbage can and bag dispenser at the main entrance. My inconsiderate dog likes to save up and crouch down when we are as far as humanly possible from the garbage can, and so I’ve often been stuck carrying her gift to me for many kilometres, or I’ve bagged it and left it visible on the trail for easy pickup on the way back.

5. Delta Millennium Trail
Distance: Whatever
Location: Connect at Deas Island Regional Park at one end, or at Captain’s Cove Marina on the other side of the Massey Tunnel.  Map.
This route is popular with cyclists, walkers and runners. There is a web of trails in Deas park to explore to add mileage, or simply do the Millennium Trail between the  and Ferry Road on the other side of the tunnel. You’ll be connected to the two ends of Ladner by a tunnel underpass, and there are actually two pubs on the route for bathroom and beverage breaks.
For more information. (Although this post is aimed at cyclists, it offers a superb explanation of the trail with photos. Exploring the site, you’ll also find mentions of some of the other routes I’ve listed on this page.)

6. Ferry to Fred Gingell Park (and back)
Distance: No idea. Over land and over sea.
Location: Park along the east side of the Tsawwassen Ferry causeway near Tsatsu Shores
Equipment: Kayak
I’ve thrown this one in here just because it’s such a wonderful cross-training opportunity. Load the kayak into your car and park on the ferry causeway, then paddle east across the water, past the large condo development (Tsatsu Shores) and the beachfront houses until the stairs leading from Fred Gingell Park to the shoreline come into view. The land entrance to the park is actually at 253 English Bluff Road, but you’ll be accessing it from the water. Once you arrive, pull your kayak up onto the shore and then run up the 200 stairs leading to the park viewpoint. You can do the stairs as many times as you like, but remember to save some energy because you still have to paddle back to your car. According to The South Delta Leader newspaper, doing the stairs 10 times is equivalent to the Grouse Grind.