Syéxw Chó-leqw Carving
By Kimberly Walker
A true blink-and-you’ll-miss-it destination, the new Syéxw Chó:leqw Adventure Park near Ruby Creek – on Highway 7 between Agassiz and Hope – offers excellent beginner trail riding and adventures for all ages.
The park, owned and operated by the Sq’ewá:lxw (Skawahlook) First Nation, was built through collaboration between the Aboriginal Youth Mountain Bike Program and First Journey Trails. It celebrated it’s grand opening in September 2018 and I was lucky enough to attend the event with a group of Grade 4 students. I saw first hand how much they loved the trails and brand new 90,000 square foot adventure playground.
In the months since the grand opening, I have been fortunate to visit Syéxw Chó:leqw several times and each time am amazed at the variety of experiences the 33 acre park contains. I have been there with dozens of school children, by myself, and with my husband and dog. I have walked the trails, cycled the beginner-friendly pump track, and gazed at the spectacular views. I have pushed kids back and forth on the zip line, and taken a turn (or two) on it myself. I’ve also taken a nasty tumble off the boardwalk in the bike skills area, but we’re not going to talk about that…
Syéxw Chó:leqw is a dream family destination. The new adventure playground is full of opportunities for the whole family, with the playground separated into two main parts: one for the wee ones and one for the older kids – and the “kid” in all of us. When I visited with the Grade 4s, the spider web was a huge hit, as was racing on the double slides and zipping back and forth on the ZipKrooz. The adventure playground is the perfect mix of standard playground fare and new and novel features, making it a destination that can easily keep even the most sceptical playground visitor (ahem, my husband) entertained.
Once you exhaust the playground, the wonders of Syéxw Chó:leqw are still just beginning. Set on 33 acres, the Adventure Park currently contains nearly 6 kilometres of multi-use walking and cycling routes. There are single and double track trails that loop through the park with enticing names such as Spá:th (Black Bear) Trail and Sp’óq’es (Eagle) Loop. On my last visit, I noticed recent trail development, so I strongly suspect that in the coming months the park will offer even more variety of trails.
I am a nervous cyclist with a pretty rickety mountain bike, and even I was able to thoroughly enjoy the winding trails and occasional wooden bridge throughout the park. My mountain biking experienced husband, on the other hand, loved the pump track and the skills area – and, apparently, leaving me in the dust on the trails!
Not to be missed on any trip to Syéxw Chó:leqw is the incredible viewing platform on the Boulder View trail, to the left at the very end of the central route that runs as a spine down the middle of the park. Much of the park is enhanced with gorgeous First Nations carvings, and the eagle carving at this viewpoint is no exception. Set on a large wooden platform at the base of a rocky cliff, the benches at this viewpoint are well placed for a little quiet reflection. In Halq’eméylem, Syéxw Chó:leqw, means ‘rockslide in the forest’ and this is certainly evident at the viewpoint!
Syéxw Chó:leqw is a beautiful hidden gem in my own backyard. It has become a favourite local destination and is well worth visiting either as a daytrip from the city or as a break during a longer journey. Whether you are walking, cycling, or just enjoying the playground, Syéxw Chó:leqw is fun for the whole family and the Sq’ewá:lxw First Nation has certainly met their goal of providing a family-friendly place to reconnect with the land and enjoy nature.
To get to Syéxw Chó:leqw, head east from Agassiz on Highway 7 (or west from Hope) and watch for the new sign on the edge of the highway. The park can be a little tricky to find, but the new sign makes it significantly easier. If you are coming from Agassiz, it is a left turn shortly after the red-roofed buildings at Ruby Creek. If you are coming from Hope, if you get to Ruby Creek you have gone too far! There is a fairly large parking lot – and if you are visiting on a sunny Saturday, the cars in the lot and shrieks of laughter from the playground will give away your destination.
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Published: May 16, 2019
Kimberly is a Special Education, Elementary School teacher in Hope, BC. Previously having worked ten years at the Hope Visitor Centre & Museum promoting tourism in Hope and British Columbia, Kimberly worked on many local history projects in the museum as well as researching and writing articles for the local newspaper. Kimberly loves travelling with her husband Dale and their dog Alpine. In the fall of 2014, they spent the first 78 days of married life travelling and camping their way across Canada - just the two of them and the dog - travelling in a Hyundai Elantra! Kimberly loves various outdoor recreation types and exploring our beautiful province.