Kayaking Tours Near Vancouver, BC

We love recreational kayaking in quiet waters around Vancouver.

We have been enjoying these areas  now for five years. Here are our favorite areas we love and revisit often.

A few years ago we were visiting our daughter in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory in Canada. One evening we took a walk along the Yukon River and saw a group of kayaker’s taking a lesson in a quiet eddy of the river. They were doing log rolls in the icy water. After watching these people for a few minutes we decided there was no way we were ever going to ever do this, absolutely not!

We were in our late seventies at the time and did want to try kayaking. We still had the urge when we arrived back in Chilliwack in the Fraser Valley, a 1-½ hour drive from Vancouver. We checked around to see what was available for us to get safely into the sport of kayaking.

We decided on an inflatable kayak called Sea Eagle.

They are sold in the USA and come with a three-year warranty so we bit the bullet and ordered a two-person unit with the deluxe seats. We checked it out once it arrived and the first thing we noticed was that it fit into the trunk of the Honda easily along with the paddles, life jackets, foot and electric pumps, seats, rubber boots and towels.

Beautiful Cultus Lake

We headed for Cultus Lake near Chilliwack and fell in love instantly with the whole concept of kayaking. This lake is perfect: 8 km long and 2 km wide. I don’t know why but the weather in Chilliwack can be windy but when we arrive at the lake it is almost calm.

During the week there are plenty of areas to put in. For the first excursion we inflated the kayak at the east end of the lake at the number 1 beach. It took us about 15 minutes from the time we arrived but once we got things right, we got that time down to 10 minutes flat.

 

There are many good places to enjoy kayak tours near Vancouver on this lake. This parking lot may be full on nice summer weekends but the boat launch is good as not many people swim there. A kilometer past the boat launch there is a little cove where there are 10 parking spots and a great place to launch.

Further down the lake, Maple Bay is another great launch area. You can drive to the lake and unload your stuff and then head back up the road to a parking lot on the left side. Park staff do not allow parking in the boat trailer lot so take the walk.

This lake is clean and a treat for sore eyes. There are quite a few picnic tables on the east end and a group picnic area about halfway down the lake. The lake is a perfect place for mergansers and the geese keep the grass clipped and fertilized.

Mill Lake, Abbotsford

The history of Mill Lake goes back to well over a century when this lake was a landing place for logs that were harvested from the area and dumped into the lake for sorting before being sent to a huge sawmill that once rested at the end of the lake.

The lake is 43 acres in size and is home to many Japanese lilies that were brought here from Japan by  some ladies who were homesick for their home country.

Parking is at a premium on the weekends. There is a good launching area at the end of Mill Road. This is not a place for huge waves as it well protected from the wind but Irma and I love it as it is right in the middle of the city.

Fraser River Kayak Tours at Fort Langley

There is a nice place to put in at Fort Langley that will take you to the boat launch just below the Fort. Make a right onto Mavis St from Glover Road and a left on Church St and the boat launch is at the end.

This is the river, which means the water is flowing, but we didn’t have any trouble paddling upstream. If the river is in flood, I would make this tour a little later in the summer. There is a tide that comes up from the ocean that helped us the last time we did this. The current was quite slow with the tide coming in.

Deas Island Kayaking Tour

This is a nice, quiet paddle that is easy to access. You can put in at Delta Deas Island Rowing Club. This tour is straight down the water area to the tunnel bridge. Pass under the bridge and there are many good options for your excursion.

This park is a wonderful place to have a picnic as there are many tables and a clean washroom.

Pitt River

The first time we arrived here to go across to Widgeon Creek, as close as we could get to park the car, was well over a kilometer. That was on a Sunday in August. We should have known it would be difficult to find parking. Late September was our second choice and the correct one because the area was busy but not too bad. You can put in and then park either in the lot or along the road.

Widgeon Creek is truly gorgeous. You must paddle across the river and find the entry to the creek. Go up this creek and it is the perfect place to poke along. Try some of the narrow waterways to see what is there. A waterway goes off to the left and goes up to a campsite where you can hike to a waterfall. We love it here and so do many more who find their way to this beautiful spot. Kayaking tours such as this one is represent what kayaking is all about!

Whonnock Lake

You can get to this little lake off of Dewdney Trunk Road turning south on 272 St and left on 112 Ave and 276 Street.

This is a nice lake to spend a sunny afternoon. Parking is easy and you can put in anywhere.

Hayward Lake Kayaking Tour

Go to the end of Dewdney Trunk Road and you come to the Stave Lake Dam. On the right is a road to Hayward Lake and go a short distance to the lake. If the parking lot is full you must leave as there is no overflow parking area.

This is why we only go here during the week. Good washrooms are next to the boat ramp. This is another beautiful lake that has been created by a dam. There are places where old trees that were killed by the rising waters still exist and can be fun to paddle through. There are a few nice beaches along this lake where you can swim or simply relax on a nice sunny day.

Harrison Mills

I’ve skipped along this north side of the Fraser River as I want to post only the areas where Irma and I have kayaked already. The Harrison Mills area is a great place to start. A little to the west of Harrison Mills is a small lake called, Lake Errock. Irma and I drove around this lake but couldn’t find a place where we could park. Perhaps someone can help us on this one and I can include it on this blog.

Just before you are about to cross the Harrison River Bridge on the right-hand side of the highway, there is a driveway to a mobile home. The gent who lives here allows people to park on his property. He has a box similar to a mailbox where you can deposit the $5 parking fee. Do this and you will find a good launch area and a few places to park.

From this area you can go west on the lake or go under the bridge and along the side of the Sandpiper Golf Course. On a nice day, we always enjoy going up along the golf course and if there are planes in the area you will get a bird’s eye view as they use the runway that is between the water and the golf course.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you go north past the houses you will come to a big old log that has been sitting there on the bottom for a long time. The log is a great place for a lunch. Late in the summer the water level drops and this area is very shallow. Later in the fall when the salmon are running you can see them here by the hundreds as they make their way to their spawning grounds. You will certainly see plenty of eagles everywhere as they await their turn at the dining table.

Harrison Lake Kayak Tours

Head east to Harrison Hot Springs where you will find Harrison Lake. We have two favorite areas where we put in. If the wind is down we put in at the north end of the barge area. Here you will see the breakwater jutting out. Usually there is a barge moored here. Note the portable toilet at the north end of the lot. There is a boat launch here so be alert to that when you park. You can put in here or if it is breezy there is a spot at the inside of the breakwater next to the barge.

 

 

If it is too windy then proceed north along this road for about 3 or 4 km and go straight ahead to Sasquatch Park instead of turning right at the nice homes you will see in front of you. Cross the bridge and the boat ramp is on your left.

This area is protected from the wind from the north and east as well as the south. This park is a mecca for the children. The water is perfect for swimming, there are plenty of picnic tables and a very good washroom.

There are a few nice homes to the south of the boat launch.

Hicks and Deer Lakes

I bunch these two beauties together as they are near to each other and approachable from the same area. Both have good parking areas and easy to launch sites. The scenery here is captivating and something you will never get tired of seeing.

To get here from Sasquatch Park, simply cross the bridge and turn left and follow the unpaved road that veers to the right about 1 or 2 km ahead. Slow down as the potholes will shake you up. The road gets graded once a year but there is plenty of traffic heading to the campgrounds at the lake and the pot holes soon show up again.

Kawkawa Lake in Hope

When you want a place to kayak away from the wind, hop into the car and head for Hope at the eastern end of the Fraser Valley for a wonderful kayaking tour. From the Old Princeton Road turn left on 6th Avenue and then right on Kawkawa Road and this will take you to the lake. Look for the sign as it is tricky to find. The lake is set in a bowl and you can drive down to the boat ramp to unload but you must park back up the hill where there are a few parking spots. We love this lake as do the residents.

Lightning Lakes Manning Park

These lakes are gorgeous! Kayak or canoe these two lakes and you will downgrade everything else to ho-hum status. They are not in the Fraser Valley but well worth the spectacular drive for a perfect kayaking tour.

From Hope leave town on Highway 5 and exit right on Highway 3 to Manning Park. This will take you past The Hope Slide (stop here to get the feeling of the volume of rock it misplaced) and on the way to Manning (30 to 40 minutes) you will travel over Allison Pass with simply spectacular scenery to enjoy.

Turn right at the Park and follow the signs to the lake. The lake is a popular one but there are plenty of parking areas. There is lots of room to offload your kayak in the open areas.

I refer to the lake as lakes but Lightning is one lake with a portage between two lakes. There may be a foot of water between two bodies so does that count as one lake or two? Either way, both are fantastic. There is a very busy canoe rental station here and they do a good business on the weekends.

Expect to see Giant Blue Herons, Eagles and Ptarmigans  as they seem to have accepted the fact that we humans may show up in their territory from time to time.

Irma, Colette and I drove up from Chilliwack one weekend, kayaked the lake and stayed overnight in Princeton and hit the lake again on our way back home the next day. After dining at a nice restaurant, we strolled the downtown and were surprised to have five deer cross the street a few meters away from us as they headed to their lunchroom at a cute little park.   

Final Thoughts

These are the various lakes Irma and I and our daughter, Colette have been enjoying for the past few years. The Fraser Valley does have more places to enjoy your kayaks. We try to not travel on unpaved roads so we have not kayaked on the lakes that are only accessible from forestry roads.

This is a never-ending list and as we discover more lakes and quiet waters for us older folks, I will post them here.

If you have a favorite site in mind please add a comment and I will include it here.

Seniors Kayaking Golden Rules

The Sport is Exploding

Over the last five years, Irma and I have witnessed a tremendous growth taking place in kayaking and paddleboarding on the lakes where we enjoy the sport. People of all ages seem to be taking to the waters in record numbers, especially seniors. Why? Because it is good, healthy fun and easy to do.

Irma and I have been discussing seniors kayaking golden rules that should be considered before taking up the sport.

Rule Number One:

Watch and observe. We don’t advise anyone to head to the kayak store and buy one because there are so many different makes and models from which to choose and you will probably end up with the wrong choice for your dream of a day on the water. We suggest you head out to the nearest lake or river, find some people kayaking and see what they are doing. Look for mature kayakers, not young people because they are blessed with great agility and have no fear. Once we pass retirement age we tend to not want to end up swimming to shore.

Look for people paddling both hard shell and inflatable kayaks. Watch how they get out of their kayaks. You may notice that most kayaks are easy to get into. Generally that is the easy part. With the kayak in a few inches of water, simply step in with one foot, lower yourself down to the seat while bringing the other foot inside. While doing this, you are steadying the kayak with both hands. Irma and I have an inflatable kayak and when we are ready, we launch our kayak parallel to the shore. Irma gets in first and settles down and with her paddle she holds the kayak steady while I get into my seat. When we are inside and comfortable, we paddle away.

Before we ever bought a kayak, we tried one at my nephew’s cottage. He had a couple of hard shell kayaks and I hopped into one and took off. I loved it and couldn’t get over how easy it was to move through the water. It hardly drew any water and could skim over rocks and logs three or four inches under the water. My first thought was that we must get a couple of these for ourselves! This was before I came back to the cottage and attempted to get out of it! This was not a canoe that was wide open.

 

This is the type that I tried to get out of without ending up in the water.

This kayak has an oval hole where you sit. I tried one leg but I’m six feet tall and couldn’t get my leg free. I tried the other leg and that wouldn’t work either. Finally, I managed to get one leg out but as I squirmed around, the kayak kept moving away from me. I couldn’t stand up and couldn’t get back in. I could feel myself losing whatever balance I had remaining and as the kayak moved away, I ended up sitting in the water with my legs sticking straight up in the air and feeling like a fool! Of course the kids who were watching were laughing uncontrollably as they had sensed this was going to happen and were waiting for the show.

That was the first and last time I would ever sit in a similar kayak because I had learned my lesson. Even today, a good many years later, I don’t even want to watch someone trying to get out of one of the hard shells.

Young people are so agile they have no problems with these things but when this happened I was 70 years old and should have known better.

Rule Number Two:

 

Buy an inflatable kayak! This golden rule for seniors kayaking should always start with steering clear of what anyone tells you. If you are a senior and a beginner, the inflatable kayak is simple to operate. Getting into and out of them is a dream! Yes, you can still get wet as I did a couple of times, but chances are you will be smarter than me and not get into trouble.

Preparing for a trip on the lake. The seats are on the hood of the car.

We bought a two-person Sea Eagle inflatable kayak. It is 12 feet long and you can get into and out of it easily. It has three air chambers, one for the floor and one for each side. It takes only 10 minutes to inflate. I use a small 12-volt electric pump that I plug into the receptacle in the car. I fill the chambers and then top off the air with the foot pump that comes with it. While I’m doing the filling, Irma is inflating the seats, putting together the paddles, and taking the lifejackets out of the trunk and getting the stuff to the spot where we will put it into the water.

Did I mention that we keep our kayak in the trunk of our Honda Civic? There is plenty of room for everything. We don’t need to buy a roof rack, worry about it blowing off the roof, or knocking it off the roof by hitting the overhead door to our condo. It sits quietly in the trunk just waiting for us to get to the lake.

This was taken at Ladner (Dees Island) British columbia. Irma and I are being passed by our Daughter and her son.

Rule Number 3:

Forget about speed and fast water! As we age, we should slow down and smell the roses because everything moves too fast. Everyone is always in a hurry. I suppose we all were in a hurry to get over into the fast lane but the end will come quickly enough, don’t you think? So why should speed enter into kayaking? One of the greatest pleasures a person can experience is to sit out in the kayak on a lake of mirror-like water on a perfect day, close our eyes and soak up the sun.

To get to one of our beautiful lakes we cross a river over a bridge. That river has some great whitewater and is home to many kayak races. We leave that river for the young folks who have a great time challenging themselves to go faster and faster around the many rocky challenges that make up the river.

Playing it Safe

Since our kayak is inflatable there is always a chance we could experience a leak; therefore, we tend to cruise along the shore most of the time. Of course this is where the birds and animals hang out. Animals appear to lose their fear of man when approached from the water in a kayak. Irma and I have seen deer feeding along the shore of a lake and have drifted right in to where they are feeding and they simply go on feeding. This little family of Mergansers (mother and 13 babies) were enjoying basking in the sun on a lake. We passed their rocky perch within a few feet as we were pulling in to enjoy a cup of tea on the beach. Our bow was actually touching the rock not 3 feet from them. It wasn’t until I took some photos of them that they decided to move a few feet to the left and set down again.

Give it a Try

So that‘s about it for our Ultimate Guide on seniors kayaking golden rules. By all means, don’t let the world go by and wonder what it must be like to be out there on a nice stretch of water. If we 82-year-olds can get out there and enjoy it, why can’t you?   

Kayaking-Great Fun On The Water

How Would You Answer These Questions?

Would you like to put some fun in your life? Are you enjoying the great outdoors? Have you ever considered kayaking? Have you seen kayakers out on the water in their little kayaks? Well we decided to see what it is all about and we have had a ball while doing so. If you think you may be too old to try this amazing sport, consider this: Irma and I are both 82 years young!

Kayaking; Having great fun on the water was what we saw when we put putted in our little gas-powered boat. We had our little boat for quite a while and thoroughly enjoyed our time on the water. Ours was a PORTA-BOAT and it was excellent. We had purchased a little outboard motor called a British Seagull. This was a bare bones little motor with no electronics except a spark-plug, no electric start, and no anything, just simply gas and a starter cord. Open the valve to the gas tank, set the choke, wrap the starter cord and give it a pull. It started every time for us and as we were retired, speed was not important. Top speed from the engine was minimal as it was rated at 3 HP.

Now there is very little exercise to be had from sitting in a nice little boat for a few hours. We began to take note of the many kayaks that were around the lakes. Once, while at a friend’s cottage, we had an opportunity to try out their kayaks. Getting into the kayak was no problem and they zipped along at a good speed. Getting out of the kayak was another thing. I tried this way and that but nothing made sense. I’m in pretty good condition but I finally ended up out of the kayak and ended up sitting in the water soaked from my belt to my shoes. I loved the idea of the kayak, so on to the next question.

How can Irma handle one?

We started to check around and came across inflatable kayaks. We found someone who had one for sale and since it was a two-person model we bought it. It handled nicely but the seats were very poor. Then we found one made by Sea Eagle. They were made in the USA and had a dealer in Burlington, WA so we ordered a tandem model and we liked it. The seats were not great but they were ok so we used the kayak a couple of times before we decided to buy two more of the deluxe seats and they have been fantastic.

Soon we were paddling around the lakes like professional kayakers. One advantage of the inflatable kayak is that it fits in the trunk of our little Honda Civic. All of the other gear fits in the trunk too: paddles, pumps, life jackets, rubber boots in the fall and old towels for drying off the kayak before returning it to the trunk.

Our Routine

 

When we arrive at the launching site we find an area near a boat launch. If there isn’t one we simply find an area where the bottom doesn’t drop off steeply. Once parked, Irma inflates the seats and unloads the paddles, life jackets and other gear and I lay out the kayak, and hook up the electric pump to the car. Ten minutes later we are ready to go. Many times we are parked near others with hard-shell kayaks who have just arrived. By the time they release their kayaks from the roof or back of their pickups, we are ready to go.

Seating Ourselves

The real beauty of our Sea Eagle inflatable kayak is the ease of getting in and out. Our seats fit into the kayak and when we sit in we sit right onto the seats. Step in and we are off and going. I sit in the stern and my seat is immovable. Once we are comfortable we are away for another day on the water.

Sea Eagle Warrantee

Sea Eagle kayaks come with a three-year guarantee and it came in handy as our kayak sprung a leak at a seam after about a year and a half. I called the company and they asked if I could take a short video of the area of the leak. I did and e-mailed it to them. A few minutes later they called me back and told us to trash it and the new replacement was on the way. I had a phone call three days later to come pick it up. You cannot beat great service!

Because we are both over 80 and Irma wears two expensive hearing aids, we kayak along the shore of the lakes we enjoy. We do not do white water but we do enjoy riding the wakes of the speed boats towing water-skiers as they race around the lakes. The kayak rides easily over the waves. We see fish, ducks, geese, herons and deer and the wildlife seem to almost ignore us and we get quite close to them.