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.
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!
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.
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.
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.