Vancouver Island offers the canoers, kayakers and whitewater enthusiasts, a
year round playground where they can enjoy their favourite recreational
pass time. Some say winter is the best time to hit the waters, but consider
the rainfall factor, which can be heavy. Locals take advantage of the
two peak seasons, early spring runoff and the autumn rainy season, while
July and August are the two busiest months with vacationers using the
Popular with all classes of paddlers is Cowichan Lake and the Cowichan
River. Take Highway 18 just north of Duncan,
and drive west to some of the best paddling, hiking and fishing on
the Island, the Cowichan Valley. Canoeing the lake can take from a
couple of hours to a couple of days, it all depends on the individual.
Running the river from the village of Lake Cowichan to Duncan takes
about two days. From the put-in point at Lakeview Park to your first
portage at Skutz Falls is approximately 10 km (6 mi.) and you might
have to portage around Marie Canyon depending on the water level.
From here to Duncan, which is 20 km (12 mi.) is a moderate to easy
trip. Hazards you will encounter include water level changes that
occur quickly, log jams and some rapids. The places to watch for on
this river are the S-Bend, the Double Whammy and The Last Drop.
For advanced kayakers and guided intermediates, Gold River is interesting
paddling with three different sections. There is the upper canyon
run of 6.1 km (3.8 mi.) which is a grade or class 3+ to 4+ and is
not for open canoeists or rafters. This part means continuous rapids,
pools and drops as you work you way through a narrow canyon. The middle
section is a grade or class 2+ to a 3+ but becomes a 3+ to 4+ during
high waters. There are rapids, rock gardens and drops over this 9.7
km (6 mi.) course. The Lower Canyon of Gold River is 5.8 km (3.6 mi.)
in length and ranges from a grade or class 2 to a 4+ at peak times.
Along the way there are surfing waves, some holes that you should
avoid, and The Big Drop. Gold River (town and river) can be reached
by taking Highway 28 from Campbell River.
Other rivers to run on Vancouver Island include the Nanaimo, Koksilah,
Adam, Campbell, White, and the Nimpksih to just mention a few. If
you wish to paddle ocean surf, the most popular places are, Long Beach,
Cox Bay, San Josef Bay and River Jordan. For a complete list of rivers
and lakes you can canoe or kayak, join a club and check with local
equipment dealers in the area. No matter what waters you plan to canoe
or kayak be safe, have fun.
A Canoe Or Sea Kayak Trip
BC Adventure Network members invite you to kayak or canoe with them:
Spirit of the West Adventures: We offer sea kayaking tours to the Johnstone Strait & the largest pods of killer whales on the BC coast – Desolation Sound, Quadra Island, & Campbell River - & guided excursions to explore ancient native villages. Set a course for a one of a kind wilderness a... more