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Coho Park, Squamish – Visiting the Trails

Big cedar tree and boardwalk through coho park, squamish

Introducing Coho Park 

Squamish is such a cool place to visit. There truly is something for everyone. There’s water, there’s trees, there’s animals, there’s tall hills, small hills, full on mountains, big sky, fun people, crazy plants, and enough wide open spaces to fill several lifetimes. 

Sometimes visiting a place like Squamish can be intimidating, especially if you’re not a particularly outdoorsy person. But don’t let that deter you! Not everything in Squamish is going to be a black difficulty, terrifying, I-wonder-if-I’ll-get-out-of-this-alive type of activity. And this is the moment when I introduce you to Coho Park. 

Coho Park, located in British Columbia (about an hour from Vancouver) is a great place to visit for the whole family. It’s amazing because it’s super easy access (it’s literally behind a residential area), it has different trail difficulties, it’s absolutely beautiful, and it’s super close to town. This article is going to go through all you need to know about visiting Coho Park, so let’s get started!

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Are you headed out on a road trip? We’ve got the packing list for you! The Ultimate Packing List for a Road Trip

Are you planning on camping around British Columbia? Don’t leave without checking out our Ultimate Packing List for a Camping Trip first!

Are you getting into the outback for some backpacking? Feel as prepared as possible with our Ultimate Packing List for Backpacking over here. 

How do I get There?


Coho park is wonderful to visit if you may not have a lot of time but need some fresh air, or if you’re keen on just going for a short hike or bike ride. Coho park is located just behind the Garibaldi Estates neighbourhood. 

If you’re coming in from Vancouver, head up the Sea to Skyway 99 and take a right on Mamquam Road. Follow this road from about 600 metres until you reach Garibaldi way. Take a left on Garibaldi way and continue on for about 500 metres until you reach Parkway road. Take a right onto Park crescent and continue until you reach the bend in the road. Parking is around the bend.

What is the parking situation like?

One of the downsides of visiting Coho park is the fact that there isn’t a lot of parking at the trailhead. There’s room for maybe 3-4 cars directly in front of the trailhead, and you may be okay parking on the residential street, but there is also extra parking at the fire station down the street.

If you go to Coho park on a weekend, there is a good chance that you’ll have to park behind the fire station since the park will probably be full of mountain bikers and hikers. If you head there on a weekday, you shouldn’t have a problem parking right at the trailhead. 

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What’s Special About Coho Park? 

Sun shining through tall cedar trees in coho park squamish

Coho park is wonderful. It’s an expansive temperate rainforest area that lays just behind an urban neighbourhood. Sometimes the most beautiful places aren’t the most remote! This temperate rainforest is the largest in the world. It begins in southeastern Alaska and runs all the way down the west coast until you reach northern California. 

Coho Salmon 

The term coho is the indigenous term for the silver salmon that travel from the pacific ocean and come to spawn in the stream that runs through the park. Coho salmon will only spawn in streams and tributaries of medium velocity, meaning that Meighan creek that runs through the creek is the perfect habitat for salmon spawning. Spawning salmon can be found in almost ever coastal watercourse. 

Because of this very important habitat, it’s important to respect your surroundings when you visit the park. It’s important to protect this delicate habitat, so avoid touching the water entirely. Try to keep your dog on a leash when you’re going by the stream, don’t let your children play in it, and let the salmon do their thing. 

Even though there are tons of streams like this throughout the pacific coast, the salmon population is devastatingly as risk because these types of habitats are being threatened by human interference, along with over fishing. Educate yourself on the problem, and act accordingly. 

Trail running through coho park in squamish bc

Plants & Wildlife

The park is full of all sorts of amazing wildlife, so grab those binocular and your plant identification guides! The forest floor is covered in giant ferns (did you know that ferns are a prehistoric plant, meaning that they have the same genetic makeup they did when they lived beside dinosaurs?) along with mosses and lichens that coat the rocks and trees. 

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Did you know that the pacific ocean drops an average of 110 inches (279 cm) of rain per year, and this is what contributes to the temperate rainforest. Though these area sees forest fires throughout the summers, the place is a soggy mess for a majority of the year!

There all sorts of plants large and small, with one of the more significant being the large cedar trees that cover the area. Cedar trees are culturally significant to the Squamish Nation People, and they tower over everything else in the area.

Since there is so much wonderful wildlife in this area, it’s always a good idea to stay on the designated paths. This way, foot traffic won’t damage the plants or any hidden nests. Sticking to the paths is a way for you to interact with nature, without encroaching on it. 

What’s there to Do at Coho Park? 

Standing at the lookout at coho park looking at the town of squamish

There are all sorts of activities that you can do in the park. This is a day use park, meaning that there are no areas for folks to camp or stick around, but there are plenty of campsites in the surrounding areas where you could spend the night! 

Coho Park kind of acts as a link to a bunch of other trails. The coho trial leads north up the escarpment that links up a ton of trails around mount Garibaldi. You can jog for an hour and get to Alice lake, you can take a super steep trail that takes you to highlands, or you can do the super chill 4 Play trail which is the perfect 1.1 mile (1.8km) loop. 

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The park is full on gentle streams and boardwalks that take you past the steep, muddy, or heavily rooted areas. It is a single track, multi use trail with plenty of forks and diversions, leading you through varying difficulties and elevations. 

Mountain Biking 

Mountain biking seemed to be the most popular activity in this park. There weren’t so many bikers that it felt like the trail was being hogged as a hiker, but you can tell it’s the it spot for locals to head with their loved ones after a day of work. 

There are all sorts of different difficulty trails within the park, with several different loops that you choose from. We went all the way up to the lookout which was the steepest portion for mountain bikers, but plenty of folks were laughing their way down the hill. 

Hiking 

This is such a fun area to go on a hike! The trails are covered in tree roots, but there isn’t very much loose rock, which us hikers love to see. It’s one of those hikes that has a few challenging, uphill portions, but not so challenging that you’re afraid that you’re going to roll your ankle. 

The paths are wide enough that it’s easy to share with other folks, and people seem to be very relaxed about having unleashed dogs in the area as well. I would probably rate the 4 Play trail as an easy to moderate hike (someone with an injury should not do it for example). The trails in Coho park get nothing but 5 star ratings on All Trails

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Keep in Mind…

There are a couple of things to be aware of before you enter the park. Firstly, since it’s a day-use park, there aren’t any services here. There aren’t any water spouts, no bathrooms, and I don’t remember seeing any garbage cans.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Squamish is truly in the heart of bear and cougar country. There are signs all over the place telling you what the proper behaviour is regarding being in bear country. The main thing is to make sure to make noise, don’t bring any food with you, and don’t leave anything behind. 

What Should I Bring with me to the Park?

Dog on boardwalk in coho park with sun through trees

Now that you know all of the options of things to do in Coho park, you may have a better idea of what you need to pack with you to have the perfect afternoon. Though there are no services in the park, that doesn’t mean you have to prepare for a great adventure.

The park doesn’t have running water or bathrooms, nor lights or garbage cans. The good news is that the park isn’t too far away from the heart of the town of Squamish, so you’re never too far away from a drink, snack, garbage can, or toilet. 

Regardless of the activity that you’re doing, it’s always better to be over prepared than under prepared. Things can happen in the woods (they make tons of horror movies about it) so its always a good idea to bring some just-in-case items like these:

  • extra water 
  • non-smelly snacks 
  • phone 
  • headlamp 
  • extra layer (rain or otherwise) 
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One Last Thing… 

If you’ve read any of my articles, you already know what I’m going to say. Since I have the privilege of writing about visiting the outdoors, I feel as though it is my duty to spread the word about the practice of Leave-No-Trace. 

Leave-no-trace is a principle that I believe every person who is visiting the outdoors should adhere to. Leave-no-trace means that you don’t leave anything or any marks behind in a natural area. It means that whatever you pack in, you better be ready to pack it out, too. 

Leave-no-trace means that you pick up any garbage you see littered on the side of trail, or you call out a person who is doing damage to an area that shouldn’t be touched. Leave-no-trace means no carving your name into the sides of trees, and pretty much leaving everything be. 

In order for us to continue having the privilege of entering the outdoors, I think that it’s so important that we try to leave as little of an impact as we possibly can. This is the only way that natural areas can be preserved, the only way that species will stop going extinct, and the only way to keep the cycle of life as a healthy balance. 

Save the coho!

Sun shining on the trail at coho park, british columbia

FAQs

Can you camp at Coho park?

Coho park is a day use park, and there are no places to do any camping. It is on crown land as well, which means it’s actually illegal to camp there. However, there is camping in the surrounding areas like at Alice Lake, Cheakamus canyon, and at the Chief as well.

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If you’re looking for more wild or remote camping, may I suggest using the app iOverlander. This is a user based app where people place pins at areas where they have found wild camping, as well as city camping and paid camping as well. 

Is there running water at Coho park?

There are no water faucets at the entrance of Coho park nor through the remainder of the park. Luckily, it isn’t too far from civilization at all, and the trails aren’t so long that you’ll run out of water very quickly.

Does it cost money to visit Coho park? 

Coho park is public land, meaning that it is entirely free to visit the park! Don’t you love it when that happens? 

Can I bring my pet with me to Coho park?

Pets are totally allowed at Coho park. There aren’t any dogs-on-leash signs, but once you learn about the spawning habitat that runs throughout the park, you’ll be inclined to keep your furry friends on a leash, at least when you’re close to the streams. 

Coho salmon will only spawn in streams and tributaries of medium velocity, meaning that Meighan creek that runs through the creek is the perfect habitat for salmon spawning. Spawning salmon can be found in almost ever coastal watercourse. 

Because of this very important habitat, it’s important to respect your surroundings when you visit the park. It’s important to protect this delicate habitat, so avoid touching the water entirely. Try to keep your dog on a leash when you’re going by the stream, don’t let your children play in it, and let the salmon do their thing. 

See also  The Ultimate Ski Trip Packing List

Even though there are tons of streams like this throughout the pacific coast, the salmon population is devastatingly as risk because these types of habitats are being threatened by human interference, along with over fishing. Educate yourself on the problem, and act accordingly. 

How long are the trails at Coho park?

The main trail that runs through Coho park is a 1.1 miles (1.8km) loop. There are various ways that you can get through the loop, with the most variations being for mountain bikers. These trails also lead to other trail areas around Garibaldi, but there are very clearly marked signs throughout the park letting you know where you are and where to head.

What does Coho mean? 

Coho is the term that indigenous people of Squamish use for the silver salmon of the pacific coast.

Is Coho park hard to get to? 

Coho park is a favourite amongst the Squamish locals because of how easy it is to get to the park. It’s not one of those areas where you should have 4 wheel drive in order to get there successfully. It’s just right outside of town, you can even bike to get there if you wanted. It’s all paved road and just a short 8 minute drive from the heart of downtown Squamish.