The crisp cool air, the changing colours, the cosy blankets and hot chocolates; these are only a few things I love about autumn. While some only want to curl up and stay home until spring arrives, I love heading out during this time of the year.
When planning our first autumn getaway for the year, the Fraser Valley kept popping up high on our list.
The region offered us everything we wanted for our autumn trip: beautiful countryside, stunning waterfalls, tranquil lakes, unique farm experiences and cosy lodge stays.
We picked Agassiz – a small town in Kent – as our base from which to explore the region. It lies close to many places that we have been wanting to visit for some time – including Fraser River Lodge.
The combination of beautiful hikes during autumn, farm experiences and cosy lodges around Agassiz makes it the perfect autumnal getaway near Vancouver.
Agassiz is surrounded by provincial parks and mountain ridges — most notably, the Cheam Range to the south and Sasquatch Provincial Park to the north of Agassiz.
At this time of year, most campgrounds are still open, as the autumn months are also the best fishing months.
The same goes for hiking trails, which remain open and become sprinkled with beautiful autumn colours.
Disclaimer: You are in bear country, so always be bear aware. Make noise when hiking, keep food packed away and if possible, carry bear spray.
Before they go into hibernation, bears are still active during autumn. In this time, you are most likely to find them near rivers, lakes and streams.
Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park
Surrounded by subalpine and alpine ridges, Chilliwack Lake is the perfect playground for the outdoor fanatic.
During autumn, the drive to the lake is beautiful… The road is flanked by colourful trees and you occasionally catch a glimpse of the Chilliwack River, a popular fishing spot.
The river itself also has challenging rapids, making it perfect for white water rafting year-round.
Before arriving at Chilliwack Lake, we stopped along the road a few times. The lake was peaceful, offering perfect reflections. The camp site right by the lake was not busy and we were the only visitors outside of the campers.
Even though most of the trees here are evergreen, there are a few deciduous trees dotted around the lake, making it the perfect spot for autumn photography.
Sasquatch Provincial Park
Sasquatch Provincial Park is a forested area made up of two main lakes and several campgrounds. Both lakes have boat launches and are great for swimming and water sports.
The park is named after the legendary creature, Bigfoot… so keep an eye out!
Once in the park, we first drove to Deer Lake. (The road is a dirt road with potholes throughout, so be careful.)
There was no wind so the reflections on the lake were perfect.
There is a hiking trail all around the lake, which we partly walked along.
There’s also a campground right by this lake but again, this was not busy, so we didn’t encounter too many people.
Off the Beaten Path: Bear Creek Falls
Some 22.5 kilometres north of Harrison Hot Springs, you will find a hidden gem: Bear Creek Falls, which lies tucked away in the forest.
There is no signage and barely any info online… In fact, if not for the nearby campground, these falls might not even get any visitors.
We drove for around thirty minutes on a service road, heading towards the falls. Even though the drive was beautiful, with winding roads and lovely autumnal foliage, I kept wondering if the drive was worth it.
I shouldn’t have worried though because as soon as we saw the sign for the campground on the left… we also saw the stunning waterfall on the right!
We had to scramble over the rocks to get closer to the falls but overall, it’s easy to get a closer look at the falls.
After checking out the waterfall, we made a quick visit to the campsite and the lake. Since not many people visit this area, the lakeshore was very peaceful and quiet.
Cheam Lake Wetlands Provincial Park
Cheam Lake Wetlands consists of 93 hectares of land, wherein over 200 bird species nest.
The park is relatively small with only three short trails but it is a great spot for birdwatching, picnicking and peaceful walks along the lake, with Mount Cheam set as the backdrop.
We entered the park close to sunset, so there were not many visitors when we arrived.
We walked along the main trail, which leads to a set of floating bridges and a viewpoint over the lake and the mountains. It’s a great park to visit at the end of the day.
Circle Farm Tour
The Circle Farm Tours are self-guided farm tours to some of Fraser Valley’s most unique agri-tourism destinations.
The Back Porch
We started our self-guided tour at The Back Porch. Owned by Dan and Lynda, The Back Porch features a pottery and basketry studio, as well as a coffee roaster.
The roasting process is pretty unique as the beans are roasted in a flame roaster that dates back to 1919.
We left with beautiful coffee mugs, coffee beans and delicious chocolate-coated beans.
Our next stop on our tour was Harrison Lavender. The shop is located right next to The Back Porch, so it’s easy to combine these two spots on your self-guided tour.
Harrison Lavender is the first lavender farm in Agassiz and is still new, having only opened in 2019.
The farm shop offers a variety of lavender products of which we bought dried lavender and lavender sachets.
I particularly love the care that has been put into the farm’s look and feel, with purple accents throughout the fields and the farmhouse.
The Farm House Natural Cheeses
We couldn’t leave Agassiz before visiting this cheese farm. They produce award-winning, artisan cheeses that you can purchase from their shop.
What makes their cheeses really stand out is that they use milk from more traditional cow breeds, such as Guernsey, Brown Swiss and Jersey.
These cows graze on the pastures for up to 210 days. This diet of fresh, green grass directly translates to the beautiful rich golden colour seen in the butter and cheese; this is due to the high beta-carotene levels.
We couldn’t resist their cheese, so we bought three different cheeses from their shop!
Where to Eat in and Around Agassiz
Muddy Waters Cafe
Located right by the lake, Muddy Waters Cafe became our go-to spot for coffee, breakfast and lunch while we were staying in Agassiz.
Their farm-to-table menu offers delicious food, as well as locally roasted, specialty coffees, throughout the day.
The Broken Whisk
The Broken Whisk is a fairly new restaurant in Agassiz. The quirky interior is a mix of Western-meets-diner-style.
The menu offers comfort food and comes in large portions… You won’t leave hungry, that is for sure!
Fraser River Lodge
Dining at Fraser River Lodge is a unique experience. With views overlooking the Fraser River and Mount Cheam, it’s definitely one of the best restaurants in Agassiz and offers exceptional views.
The menu has something different each day, with the chef using only locally grown and produced ingredients.
Hidden Gem: Amble Coffee
Amble Coffee is a cute, little coffee truck located not too far from Cultus Lake, along the banks of the Vedder River.
It’s the perfect excuse to get a hot drink and walk along the river banks on a crisp autumn day.
Their coffee is excellent — and make sure to grab some of their baked goods as a little snack for on the road.
Grab Some Dessert: Rocky Mountain Chocolate
You will find Rocky Mountain Chocolate right next to Muddy Waters at Harrison Hot Springs.
Even though Rocky Mountain Chocolate is a chain, the owners of this Harrison Hot Spring branch, Mark and Julie, make a lot of their items on-site.
This includes the delicious, chocolate covered-apples, as well as the sasquatch foot-shaped fudges, a nod to the Sasquatch legend from the nearby park with the same name.
Where to Stay in Agassiz: Fraser River Lodge
Fraser River Lodge must be set in one of the most stunning locations in the Fraser Valley.
The log lodge overlooks the mighty Fraser River and impressive Mount Cheam. It’s no wonder it is also a popular wedding venue.
During our two-night stay at the lodge, we stayed in the honeymoon suite. Our room was the epitome of cosy… With vaulted ceilings, wooden logs throughout and a cast iron fireplace, I almost didn’t want to leave it!
Just outside our door were traditional Muskoka chairs (with heaters alongside them). These are perfect for relaxing and enjoying the views.
The lodge is even pet-friendly (although Kumo became the first cat they have welcomed…)
Fun fact: One of the things that makes this a unique stay are the herd of bison that roam around the property.
The lodge offers several activities, including fishing, archery, axe throwing and gourmet dining.
As soon as we arrived, we took a walk around the property. We visited the axe throwing spot and said hi to the bison.
On our second night, we reserved the gourmet dinner and it was delicious. The dinner consists of three courses created by a Michelin-trained chef.
Dinner is only by reservation, so be sure to plan ahead!
Our weekend getaway in Agassiz and our stay at Fraser River Lodge couldn’t have been more perfect.
The weather was not always sunny but I usually prefer the misty/cloudy atmosphere… It creates the quintessential Pacific Northwest (PNW) autumn mood.
If you’re looking for a local autumn getaway close to Vancouver, Agassiz (and the surrounding area) won’t disappoint!