- Difficulty Easy
- Time 1 hour
- Round-Trip 3km
- Elevation Gain 55 meters
- Season year-round
- Camping No
- From Vancouver 1 hour
- Public Transit No
- Dog Friendly On-Leash
Downes Bowl is a scenic area with a network of hiking trails located in Clearbrook Park in Abbotsford. The bowl shaped terrain is unique in that the area has a large marsh with wooden boardwalks and small bridges that cross several streams. Dropping down into the bowl also makes for a quieter hiking experience even though the park is located near busy roads and sports fields.
There are a number of trails in Downes Bowl and several routes you can take to explore the area. This description will follow the outer-most route as it loops through the bowl, returning to where you started. If you have extra time, it is worth exploring some of the inner trails too and the small bridges that cross the streams.
The trail begins near the parking lot of Clearbrook Park and follows a gravel trail next to the baseball fields. When the trail reaches another trail, go right onto what's called the Discovery Trail and continue making your way around the baseball fields. Don't let the start of this hike disappoint you. After walking along the gravel trail around the baseball fields for about 400-meters, watch for a wide gravel trail to your left and follow that down a steep hill as you leave the noise of the sports fields and roads behind.
Walk down along the wide gravel trail for about 300-meters and watch for a trail to the left. It will actually be the 3rd trail on your left but it's difficult to spot the first 2 trails. If the wide trail starts going uphill, you just missed the trail to the left and you are starting up the hill back to the area by the fields.
After going left onto the trail, follow it into the scenic forest as it passes through a variety of terrain. A short distance later, go right at a junction and down across a wooden bridge. Follow the route as it meanders through the peaceful marsh area before crossing two more bridges and reaching another junction next to a fenced in area.
Go right at this junction and within a couple of minutes, go left at a 2nd junction (do not go up the hill to your right as this trail goes to homes along Qualicum Street). Follow the trail as it does a large loop to the left, passing between two large marsh areas often filled with skunk cabbage in the spring and summer seasons. Continue following the trail until it reaches a junction and go right as the route gradually gains a bit of elevation before arriving at some wooden stairs that go down onto a long set of raised boardwalks. Cross the boardwalks and walk up a short hill on the far side to a 4-way intersection.
At the 4-way intersection, take the trail in the middle, the narrower one, as it will be the outmost part of the loop through Downes Bowl. Follow this trail as it begins to climb steeply up to the highest point in the park. Unfortunately, there is no view from this point and it only offers a good workout. Follow the trail down the other side and go right at each of the junctions until you reach the bottom.
At a junction just before the trail ascends steeply again, it's at this point you must decide whether to extend your hike and explore some of the inner trails. For this route description, we'll continue up the steep hill, the steepest grade of trail in the park, until you reach the top of a mound, where the gravel trail next to the baseball fields can be seen a mere few steps away. Walk to the gravel trail and go right, following the trail a short distance, before turning left and heading back to the parking lot where you began.