By Sasha Moedt (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: May 6, 2015

 Willband Creek Park_Flickr_Leos L

The health benefits of walking are underestimated. Not only does it get you moving — which aids your muscles, heart, and joints — but it also reduces stress levels. Going for a walk when you’ve hit a wall on your final paper is a great way to clear your head and come back mentally refreshed.

For the full experience, it’s nice to get away from concrete sidewalks, cars, and people, and into the local nature. Willband Creek Park is a perfect place for that. It’s a place that’s made to be peaceful — the path goes around storm water detention ponds, built in part to house bird populations, local and migratory. The bird watching is relaxing. According to Wild Birds Unlimited, this time of year you’ll see a lot of warblers, sparrows, and swallows while the ducks head north. The Canadian geese stick around, and you can walk the loop watching them and their fuzzy goslings paddling along.

Willband Creek Park is located just off of Highway 11 on Bateman Road. The loop is a flat gravel trail. It starts at a parking lot (accessed at Bateman), weaves around the pond, and comes back to the parking lot. If you’d like to go a little farther, you can continue on a longer three-km loop. It has all the amenities — outhouse, wooden bridges over the marshes, benches, and a roomy parking lot.

Often in the wet months of early spring, Willband Creek Park will be flooded and parts of the path are inaccessible, but it’s been exceptionally dry this year. The area is classic Sumas Flats: the ponds are brown and mucky, the marsh is reedy and muddy, and it’s surrounded by grassy fields that blend into surrounding farmlands. Though the loop is quite close to the Abby-Mission Highway, I didn’t notice the sound of the cars.

If you’re sick of staring at your screen, take a walk and make it count. It’s just a 10-minute drive from UFV; if you live near downtown Abbotsford, it’s only a five-minute drive. There are benches facing the pond where you can watch the plentiful and peaceful waterfowl activity. Lepp Farm Market is right down the road, so you can pick up some picnic foods, sit on the bench and watch the birds.