Pitt Polder Dike Walk Part 2 – Pitt Lake Dike Trail

Black Cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) and Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera) provide fall colors in Katzie Marsh in Pitt Meadows, British Columbia, Canada.

fall foliage in katzie marsh

Fall Foliage in Katzie Marsh Provided by Black Cottonwood and Paper Birch (Purchase)

In my previous post about walking the Pitt Polder Dike Trail I covered the area along Rannie Road from the Heron Cove area of Smohk’wa Marsh through to the boat launch parking lot at Grant Narrows. Some of this area was formerly Grant Narrows Regional Park run by Metro Vancouver Parks but is now operated by the Katzie First Nation. From what I can tell the “official” name of the stretch between the start of Grant Narrows and Grant Narrows East (next to the mountains to the east) is the Pitt Lake Dike Trail. It is occasionally referred to as the Nature Dike Trail, though that looks to be the more common name for the trail heading south from the Pitt Lake boat launch parking lot which meets up with the Swan Dike Trail. To the north of the Pitt Lake Dike Trail are great views of Pitt Lake, Osprey Mountain, Raven Peak, with Edge Peak (of the Golden Ears) and Gwendoline Peak to the east. Katzie Marsh is to the south. I previously photographed a number of fall scenes along the Katzie Marsh Loop. In a way, that post could be considered part 4 of this series, though you’ll have to wait for part 3.

Regardless of your location along any of these dike trails, there are great views of the mountain landscapes as well as a lot of wildlife. When I first walked into the area near the boat launch at Grant Narrows, I stopped to consider if I wanted to continue up the dike trail or head back to my car, which was now several kilometers behind me. Considering there was still some blue sky, it wasn’t raining (yet) and the great fall foliage – I continued on of course. While I was contemplating my next move I watched a Common Raven (Corvus corax) do pretty much the same on a piece of driftwood along the shore. It shifted around on the wood, changing directions and occasionally making some noises. It seemed to be contemplating the choices in direction I was, with probably much less concern regarding the weather.

fishing boat docked at grant narrows pitt river pitt lake

Fishing Boat Docked at Grant Narrows on the Pitt River (Purchase)

While I was near the boat launch at Grant Narrows I photographed this fishing boat at the dock. There are a number of boats docked here at any given time, and many more can be seen zipping up and down the Pitt River and Grant Narrows traveling to and from Pitt Lake. Pitt Lake itself is one of the worlds largest tidal lakes and is popular with boaters. The north end of Pitt Lake is 25km (15.5 miles) north of the Pitt Lake Dike Trail and is where the Upper Pitt River enters the lake. The Upper Pitt is one of British Columbia’s best fly fishing and steelhead rivers. This likely accounts for some of the north bound boat traffic, along with the travel to and from the community of Alvin which is approximately 8km (5 miles) further up the Upper Pitt River.

Pitt Lake is notorious for being a windy location and consequently can have some rather large waves. Grant Narrows is a much more sheltered location than the lake itself, and these two kayakers ventured across the Pitt River towards and entrance to Widegon Creek. This is a relatively popular canoeing and kayaking location due to the great scenery and wildlife viewing. The two women in this kayak were not the only ones I saw venture up towards the Widgeon area while I was there.

two kayakers crossing the pitt river

Two Kayakers Crossing the Pitt River at Grant Narrows (Purchase)

Once I had decided to continue further east from the boat launch parking lot and along the Dike Trail, I photographed the scene in the first image above. I think this is one of my favourites from this fall, at least of what I’ve processed. As I said in my previous post, this year was simply great for fall foliage, and in this first photograph that color is provided mostly by Black Cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) and Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera). The photograph below was also made along the Pitt Lake Dike Trail but shows a viewing/lookout tower that is situated on the Swan Dike Trail which is on the east side of Katzie Marsh. This is part way through the Katzie Loop Trail and a tower I climbed last time I walked out that far (about 4.6km (2.8 miles) from the parking lot). As I recall there were several very vocal Kingfishers in the immediate area at the time and it was not a moment to enjoy any quiet!

lookout tower on the swan dike trail at katzie marsh

Lookout tower on the Swan Dike Trail on the east side of the Katzie Marsh Loop (Purchase)

The Pitt Lake Dike Trail also has a lookout tower which is about 500 meters (1600 feet) east of the parking lot. The image of a boat moving through Grant Narrows at low tide I linked to above was made from that tower (looking north), as was the photo below of two women guiding a toddler along the trail (looking west). This is a wide “trail” because it is not only the top of a dike, but also a road that cars and trucks take to the Grant Narrows East area (private) where there are a few buildings and many boats are launched from as well.

walking along the pitt lake dike trail at grant narrows pitt lake

Walking along the Pitt Lake Dike Trail at Grant Narrows on Pitt Lake (Purchase)

The last photograph here shows the view from the lookout tower on the Pitt Lake Dike Trail looking east. You can see a few buildings and the dock with boats at Grant Narrows East, as well as a number of vehicles parked there. This is a private area and not one the public can stroll into. Just before that building on the right is the beginning of the Swan Dike Trail which one should take south to continue on the Katzie Loop Trail. Looking east from the tower, or while walking the dike, one can also get a nice view of Edge Peak of the Golden Ears (Mount Blanshard) though the views are better further to the west.

people walking the pitt lake dike trail between pitt lake and katzie marsh

Walking the Pitt Lake Dike Trail between Pitt Lake and Katzie Marsh (Purchase)

Wait, can we go back to the very first image in this post? I spent a while editing this one, and it wasn’t until this evening I noticed something. What is that just above the left hand trees up on the mountain? It looks like a rock outcrop, which is what I assumed the entire time I was editing it. As part of my process to make the images for the blog, I zoomed in 100% at random, and centered on that area. Is that a GAZEBO? What the heck is a gazebo doing up the hill in that location? The hill goes straight down into a slough/creek (Eloise Creek?), and I can’t imagine where a trail could be to get to that location on the side of Gwendoline Peak unless it started at Grant Narrows East and followed a ridge to come down to that location. The last time I did the Katzie Loop I don’t think it was there, or I was distracted, which is entirely possible. I suppose it could be something to do with the UBC research forest over the peak above it, but that seems doubtful given its location.

If anyone can solve the great gazebo mystery let me know!

building on side of gwendoline peak above katzie marsh

Random Gazebo Building on the Hillside below Gwendoline Peak.

For more photographs from the city of Pitt Meadows visit my Pitt Meadows Gallery.

Pitt Polder Dike Trail Walk Part 1

Raven Peak with fall foliage from the Pitt Polder Dike near Heron Cove and the Smohk’wa Marsh in Pitt Meadows, British Columbia, Canada.

raven peak and fall foliage along the pitt river

Raven Peak And Fall Foliage in Pitt Meadows (Purchase)

This is the first part of a series of posts about the Pitt River and Pitt Lake area where I photographed this fall. 2021 was a relatively spectacular year for fall foliage in this part of British Columbia, giving me a lot of potential opportunity to try to photograph in my favourite fall foliage conditions – sunshine. I like fall leaves in almost any weather aside from a downpour, but when they are hit by some sunshine they can really light up in great ways. It was fortunate the Maple tree fall foliage was good this year, and was followed by many weeks of great foliage in the Cottonwoods and Birches, because the weather was very very wet. The southern part of British Columbia had an endless string of rain storms starting in October and ending (so far) just last week. More than one of these were quite damaging and caused record flooding and highway damage. So finding time to get out and photograph when it wasn’t pouring rain was difficult, and doing so with a rare sunny break even more so.

On this particular day, I had planned to do some photography closer to Vancouver but instead headed straight north to the Pitt Lake area in Pitt Meadows. The clouds made an early appearance on what was supposed to be full day of sun. So I managed to outrun the cloud advances from the south, and had over an hour to photograph with some sunny breaks. Some of the place names for this area can get confusing with multiple names being used, some official, some not. I made the photograph above next to the Smohk’wa Marsh from the Pitt Polder Dike (as per the city of Pitt Meadows) between Heron Cove and the boat launch area at Pitt Lake/Grant Narrows. I liked those two colourful Paper Birch trees (Betula papyrifera) and walked a bit to line then up on either side of Raven Peak above. This image is the September photograph in my 2022 Nature Calendar.

golden ears edge peak and fall foliage along the pitt river

The Golden Ears (Evans Peak), Raven Peak and Fall Leaves in Pitt Meadows (Purchase)

My plan before this moment had been to walk up onto the Pitt Polder dike and take a quick look at one of my favourite views looking north. I stayed for longer than that, and made the photo above looking east towards the Mount Blanshard’s Edge Peak (The Golden Ears). I believe the yellow trees in the foreground are Black Cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) which I don’t recall having as nice foliage in the fall in previous years. One doesn’t need to walk far (or at all) to see great scenery in this location though. I made the panorama below to show why this is one of my favourite views in the area, and this is just 45° of a 360° view. The wetland in the foreground here is the Smohk’wa Marsh. The Golden Ears are on the right, followed by Raven Peak, Osprey Mountain (in the Golden Ears Ranges), and Gloomy Peak/Widgeon Peak on the left (Coquitlam Ranges). The Pitt River can be seen in the left hand side of the photograph between the marsh and the mountains to the north.

panorama of the view from pitt polder dike in pitt meadows

Panorama of the scenic view from the Pitt Polder Dike (Purchase)

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I had never walked along this dike before, and this became a fruitful afternoon of “what is around that corner?” which drew me further and further from where I’d left the car on Rannie Road (and my rain gear). The photo below shows the view mountain peaks I’m most familiar with along this stretch. Gloomy Peak here is hiding behind a colorful Birch tree. Widgeon Peak is hiding off to the left, but I’ve always thought the peak in the middle should be named. If it is named, even unofficially, I’ve yet to find it. I guess I’d just like a result from a 20 minute search through maps sometimes!

gloomy peak birch fall foliage pitt river

Gloomy Peak Hides behind Some Fall Birch leaves (Purchase)

I had continued to walk the dike heading east, going around interesting corners and finding new compositions with fall foliage and mountains. Near the end of this section of the dike I photographed the scene below with some more Birch and Cottonwood tree fall leaves with Osprey Mountain in the background. Osprey Mountain is fairly prominent when one reaches Grant Narrows and travels further along the dike next to Katzie Marsh. I look forward to photographing it and the surrounding mountains soon when they are covered in snow.

pitt polder dike trail osprey mountain

View of Osprey Mountain along the Pitt Polder Dike Trail (Purchase)

Part 2 of the “Pitt Polder Dike Trail Walk” will have photos I made near the Grant Narrows boat launch area at Pitt Lake as well as some from the “Pitt Lake Dike Trail” that heads east from there towards the Golden Ears peaks.

For more photographs from Pitt Meadows visit my Pitt Meadows Gallery in my Image Library.

Views from the Traboulay PoCo Trail – Golden Ears and the Pitt River

View of the Golden Ears, Raven Peak and Osprey Mountain (left) and the Pitt River from the Traboulay Poco Trail in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada.

mount blandshard osprey mountain pitt river

The Pitt River, Osprey Mountain, and the Golden Ears (Purchase)

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   It is relatively warm and spring-like now, but a few months ago I was still looking for winter photographs in my area of British Columbia. The Golden Ears (Mount Blandshard) are one of the nearest mountain views that I can reach from where I live, and so they are a frequent subject of mine. I have photographed them from many locations but hadn’t done so from the Port Coquitlam perspective, so I drove out to the Traboulay PoCo Trail in February to photograph the Golden Ears and the Pitt River.

pitt river and osprey mountain in winter

Osprey Mountain and the Pitt River (Purchase)

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   While the Traboulay PoCo Trail encircles Port Coquitlam entirely, I parked at the Prairie Avenue parking area and walked just the short distance between there and the DeBouville Slough. This gave me the great view (first photograph above) of the Golden Ears, the Pitt River and a few surrounding mountain peaks. I also made a few other photographs in this area, including this one of Osprey Mountain with some nice “belt of venus” sky coloration. This was not a view I’d anticipated, but that is hard to do in a location you’ve never visited. Some times trip planning on Google Earth etc is very useful, but it is never as useful as actually visiting a location.

   The last photograph here is a nice post sunset view – alpenglow on Mount Baker. The river in the foreground is the Pitt River in a spot near the DeBoville Slough while Mount Baker itself is in Washington State. I also made a photograph of Baker a bit earlier in the evening with what I would call “sunset light” on Mount Baker.

alpenglow on mount baker from the pitt river

Alpenglow on Mount Baker from the Pitt River (Purchase)

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   Not to wade to far into what is often a contentious discussion over the definition of alpenglow, but the photo above is exactly what I’d call alpenglow. The definition of alpenglow is that the light has to be indirect, so it is usually reflecting off of clouds or the atmosphere in some way. Sunset light can create a great glow, but is still direct light. So the photo I linked to above would be “sunset light” and the photo shown above is “alpenglow”. I see a lot of photographs where direct light is labelled as alpenglow. Alpenglow is great light, subtle, and is harder to find than good sunset light. Quite often it just doesn’t materialize when I am looking for it. I think this might be why actual alpenglow is a bit coveted, and why some want to move the definition towards something easier to obtain such as the direct sunset light. I do wish I saw light like this more often!

For more photographs from Port Coquitlam visit my Port Coquitlam Gallery.

My 10 Best Photos of 2011

reflection of mount shuksan in the silhouette of picture lake
Mount Shuksan Alpenglow

   It is always tough to narrow down a years worth of images into a list of the “best”. I did this last year and I think it is a valuable exercise. Jim Goldstein of JMG Galleries creates a list of everyone’s top 10 images each year. I made my first top 10 last year. This years list has fewer landscape and more wildlife photos. This is partly due to my not getting out to shoot as many landscapes as last year, and partly due to my backlog in image editing.

   You can click on each of the following images to go to the blog post that may tell a bit more about the location and how I made the photograph.

In no particular order my “Best of 2011″…

Read more

Pitt Marsh Sunset

sundown at pit-addington marsh wildlife management area near pitt lake
Pitt-Addington Marsh Wildlife Management Area
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   This photo was taken 2 days ago just outside the gates to Grant Narrows Regional Park. Well, it used to be a regional park, it is now in limbo and under the jurisdiction of the Province. I suppose the overall area can be labelled the Pitt-Addington Marsh Wildlife Management Area for now.

   I have long had my eye on this area because it is so close to where I live and seems capable of great scenery at sunset. I’ve never quite managed to be there at these times though, the area loves to gather the first clouds coming into the Lower Mainland around Vancouver. I still have a lot of shots developing in my head that I wish to take in the future – but new ones always come to mind as soon as I am there and in conditions I hadn’t planned for! Each time I am there, regardless of weather conditions I am always rewarded with either great scenery or a lot of wildlife, mostly waterfowl.

   This scene is not really a “sunset” as the sunset was actually somewhat to my back as I took this – but I like how the clouds opened up and let in some colour over the mountains (probably the area around Raven Peak). I will have more images from this location posted soon.

Pitt River and Pitt Lake

Was not a stellar weather day for picture taking of mountain vistas, but these turned out okay.

This first panorama was taken about a km from the Pitt Lake parking lot, north of Pitt Meadows.

7 stitched photos, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

dike trail at pitt lake

This was taken at the north end of Harris Road, Pitt Meadows.

7 stitched photos, Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM

pitt river panorama

The peak in the middle of this shot is the High Knoll Viewpoint in Lake Minnekhada Regional Park.

high knoll pitt river