There are dozens
of fine canoe routes here. You can take a few hours to run a river, or a few weeks
to run a chain of lakes. Many of the routes have been well documented by the phenomenal
Northwest Brigade Canoe Club, one of the most active canoe groups in the province.
If you're planning to spend a lot of time in this area, or even to make just one
extensive trip, it would be a good idea to contact them at Box 327, Prince George,
BC V2L 4S2, or pick up a copy of Canoe and Kayak Trip Guide for the Central
Interior of British Columbia, put out by the canoe club. At the very least,
get in touch with them for any new information on regional routes. Another helpful
guidebook is Canoe Routes British Columbia by Jack Wainwright.
River has rapids of up to Class IV, depending on water levels, but if you
can handle that (or, in a pinch, portage), you can canoe the Stuart and
Nechako Rivers from Fort St. James
to Prince George. Alexander Mackenzie
did this route, albeit going the other way, back in 1806 when he established Fort
St. James. A lot of this route is flatwater, scarcely Class I, but watch out for
occasional rapids and the usual litany of wild-water hazards: fallen trees, logs,
etc. The entire trip runs for 119 miles (195 km), with rapids to Class III as
well as one Class IV. Plan on taking three to six days to complete the journey
The Nechako River
is also paddleable well above its confluence with the Stuart River. From the Cheslatta
River Forest Service Site (about 68 miles/110 km south of Vanderhoof
and Hwy 16 via the Holy-Cross Forest Rd) to the mouth of the Stuart is about 87
miles (140 km), the first mile (1.6 km) of which is on foot to the base of Cheslatta
Falls. Most of the river is Class II, with some rapids. Expect to take five days
to reach the Stuart River, and another day to reach Prince George, 30 miles (50
km) beyond. Don't have a time for a weeklong trip? You don't have to do the entire
route, you know.
is the Stellako River. From the east end of Francois Lake to Fraser
Lake is just 4 miles (7 km), the perfect way to spend an afternoon. The river
is maximum Class II, with the exception of a Class IV waterfall. A short portage
- less than 100 feet (30 m) - leads around the falls. Of course, if you don't
want to deal with the rapids, you can always spend a lazy day paddling about Fraser
Lake, and spend the night at Beaumont Provincial Park.
1952, Alcan Aluminum built the Kenney Dam on the Nechako River, creating the Nechako
Reservoir, a series of interconnected lakes that runs nearly 125 miles (200
km) east/west in two broad arms that connect near the dam at the easternmost end
of the reservoir. The northern arm consists of Ootsa and Whitesail Lakes,
while the southern arm, which bisects Tweedsmuir Provincial
Park, consists of Eutsuk and Tetachuck Lakes. With a short portage
between Whitesail and Eutsuk (a tramway has been built to haul bigger boats across),
the lakes can be boated as a 170-mile (275-km) circuit that runs through the rugged
peaks of the Coast Mountains in the west and rolling Interior Plateau hills in
Canoeing or kayaking
the Nechako Reservoir is not recommended, as the area was not logged out before
it was flooded. Still, people do it, and no wonder. This is one of the longest
circuit routes in the province, with only two portages (or one, if you travel
counterclockwise and are comfortable shooting Class III). Prominent are the ghostly
stands of trees, rising silent from the water, a legacy of the 165-foot (50-m)
climb in water levels when the dam was built. Redfern Rapids (which can
be navigated safely by powerboat) is one of the highlights of the trip, as are
the glaciers at Eutsuk's western shoreline. With the deep green of the
surrounding foliage, the white snow, and the blue sky, the reservoir is a photographer's
The landscape surrounding the eastern section of the reservoir,
particularly the stretch between the settlement of Ootsa Lake and Redfern Rapids,
consists of the rolling, heavily forested slopes of the Fraser Plateau, but the
western half features vast glacial expanses of Coast Mountains, for which Tweedsmuir
Provincial Park is renowned. Once in the region, consult private operators for
current information on navigation. The best time of the year to visit the Nechako
Reservoir is in late summer, once water levels and insects have declined. Early
autumn is a particularly beautiful season, when leaves turn the Fraser Plateau
Plan on seven to
ten days to paddle the 56-mile (90-km) Nation Lakes, north of Fort St.
James, from one end to the other by canoe. The route begins at Tsayta Lake,
and passes through Indata, Tchentlo, and Chuchi Lakes. There
are 12 Forest Service recreation sites along the lakeshores. Make sure you stop
by the Tchentlo Lake Warm Springs on your way through. They're within sight
of the Tchentlo Lake Lodge on the opposite shore. The springs have a maximum temperature
of 75 Deg F/24 Deg C. On a warm summer's evening, you won't want it much hotter.
If you don't want to do the entire route, you can launch a canoe from the Tchentlo
Lake Lodge, an 83-mile (133-km) drive from Fort St. James. Follow the signs from
the Leo Creek Forest Service Rd in Fort St. James. Canoes can be rented from the
Depending on where
you begin on Takla Lake, it will take you two to four days to canoe the Takla
Lake/Stuart Lake system. The most common starting point is Takla Landing.
It's 118 miles (190 km) from there to Stuart River Campground, just south of Fort
St. James. The route travels south down Takla Lake, along the Middle
River to Trembleur Lake, then takes the Tachie River to Stuart
It will probably
take you over a week to canoe Babine Lake, British Columbia's longest (but
not largest) lake at 110 miles (177 km) from tip to tip. You can also put in and
take out at many places along the lake, including Fort Babine, Smithers
Landing, Granisle, Topley Landing, or Pendleton
Bay. Hug the shore of this huge lake; weather can change rapidly.
off the beaten path is the Nanika-Kidprice Portage Trails, located southwest
of Houston, and situated in the Morice Provincial Forest. The wilderness canoe
route consists of a number of trails that links through four lakes on the edge
of the Coast Mountains. There are a number of primitive camping spots located
along this route with some toilet facilities, but most of them are not formally
developed. Round trip to Nanika Falls on Kidprice Lake is about
30 miles (50 km) - allow at least three days.
The route commences at
the north shore of Lamprey Lake. There is parking and room for camping
(no facilities) at the trailhead. Please fill out a site registration form located
at the trailhead. Lamprey Lake is a small lake with reasonably good fishing. The
portage trail between Lamprey and Anzac Lakes is about 1.5 km long. From
Lamprey Lake, the trail follows the west boundary of an old clearcut to the ridgetop,
then proceeds steeply downhill through the timber to Anzac Lake. Anzac Lake has
the best fishing on the canoe route. The shoreline is not well suited to camping.
The trail between Anzac and Stepp Lakes commences near the outlet
of Anzac Lake. The portage is short, flat, and there may be some marshy areas.
Stepp Lake is subject to heavy winds and canoeists should not stay too far out
from shore. There are several good camping spots along the lake, the best being
located along the narrow channel at the south end of the lake. There are also
several nice pebble beaches along the lake. The portage between Stepp and Kidprice
Lake is about 2 km long. The trail is relatively flat with some short steep
sections. The trail terminates at Kidprice Lake with a boardwalk over the last
100 to 200 metres which is wet and marshy. Canoes can be ferried down the creek
to Kidprice Lake.
Kidprice Lake has some pebble beaches and has good
views of subalpine and alpine slopes. There are several camping spots on the eastern
end of Kidprice Lake but campers are encouraged to use less used sites. The lake
is subject to heavy winds. Canoeists should not enter the narrows leading
out of Kidprice Lake as there are strong currents which may sweep a canoe over
the falls. Nanika Falls is the visual highlight of the canoe route. There are
trails on both sides of Nanika River from which the falls can be viewed. Access
from Kidprice Lake to Morice Lake is extremely difficult and involves a
strenuous portage around Nanika Falls. The Nanika River is a wild river
with large rapids, rocks and log debris which require precise maneuvering. It
is recommended that paddlers do not attempt this river unless they
are expert paddlers and have been properly briefed on the hazards. Access from
Kidprice Lake to Nanika Lake is very difficult and seldom done. There are no established
trails or facilities to Nanika Lake and it is approximately 6.5 kms from Kidprice
Access to the canoe route from Highway 16 at Houston is via the
Morice River Forest Service Road for 65 km, then south along the Lamprey Forest
Service Road for 8 km to Lamprey Lake.
The Bulkley and Skeena River Valleys
this water-coursed area, one can get more places by boat than by car. Whether
you're boating for transportation or for relaxation (or both), there's plenty
of room to play. If you're going by paddle power, try Ross Lake Provincial
Park near Hwy 16, 38 miles (62 km) west of Smithers
(no powerboats), as well as Seeley Lake, Diana Lake,
and Lakelse Lake Provincial Parks.
a guide to explore Gitnadoix River Provincial Recreation Area, which offers
superb boating or paddling in a fully protected watershed that drains into Skeena
River east of Prince Rupert;
check in Prince Rupert for guided boat trips into the area. If you want to get
out onto the ocean proper, Prince Rupert has a plethora of boats and guides available.
To smell salt in the air around Kitimat, explore the Douglas Channel.
The Stewart-Cassiar Highway (Hwy 37)
Lake-Kispiox River Provincial Park contains a chain of undeveloped lakes,
rivers, and swamps that provides an outstanding opportunity for water-related
adventure. The park is located about 8 miles (14 km) east off Hwy 37. Entry is
from Mile 74 (Km 120). There is a small boat launch at the north end of Brown
Bear Lake. From there, canoeists must paddle and portage to Swan Lake and
There is a series of five lakes in the Bonney Lakes Canoe
Route, which starts 21 miles (34 km) off Hwy 37 on Brown Bear Forest Service
Rd at Meziadin Junction. The route starts and ends in Bonney Lake, with portages
of 100 feet (30 m) to 2,300 feet (700 m) along cleared but undeveloped portage
routes. Expect to take two to four days to complete the route.
wishing simply to paddle around a lake for a few hours while in this neck of the
woods, Meziadin Lake in Meziadin Lake Provincial
Park is good to float about on.
Don't even think about canoeing or
kayaking the Stikine River into the Grand Canyon of the Stikine, a 61-mile
(100-km) stretch of impassable waters that charge through canyons 1,000 feet (300
m) deep. It has only once been bested. Be content with the waters that are runable:
for instance, the 160-mile (260-km) stretch between Tuaton Lake in the Spatsizi
Plateau Provincial Wilderness Park and the Hwy 37 bridge over the Stikine.
If you wish, you can pick up the trip on the other side of the Grand Canyon of
the Stikine, continuing downriver from Telegraph
Creek all the way to Wrangell, Alaska, for a fortnight's travel of 280 miles
(459 km). This is a trip for experienced backcountry paddlers only. Tuaton Lake
can be reached by floatplane.
A second canoe route starts in the Spatsizi
Plateau Provincial Wilderness Park, and is accessible via a 3-mile (5-km)
portage from the BC Rail grade to the Spatsizi River. There are no major
rapids on the Spatsizi River, but once the Spatsizi flows into the Stikine, expect
some rough water and rapids, especially at higher water levels. Plan on 7 to 10
days for canoeing either the Stikine (Tuaton to Hwy 37 bridge) or the Spatsizi/Stikine
routes. Less-experienced paddlers can still experience the wonder of the Stikine.
Dozens of river-rafting companies offer treks through this wilderness paradise.
The Dease River from Dease
Lake to Liard River used to be one of the most important water highways in
the province, and saw its last great use during the construction of the Alaska
Hwy. Nowadays, the river is experiencing a bit of a renaissance, as paddlers discover
this 162-mile (265-km) waterway. It's mostly Class I and II, with some Class III
rapids. Expect to take about seven days to complete the one-way paddle.
Though the usual route for rafting expeditions on the Tatshenshini River
starts in the Yukon and ends in Alaska, much of the river's path is through British
Columbia's Coast Mountains. The full 161-mile (260-km) river-rafting trek will
take 14 days, though it is possible to do smaller 6 and 8 day trips on the Upper
Alsek River. Altogether, there are three routes on the Y-shaped river system that
lend themselves to exploration in this World Heritage site. The Tatshenshini and
its heftier counterpart, the Alsek, run south through the St. Elias Mountains,
home to some of the tallest peaks in Canada, many of which reach elevations of
15,000 feet (4575 m). The two rivers merge just inside the western boundary of
Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Wilderness Park, then
flow as the Alsek through Alaska to meet the Pacific at Dry Bay. The Tatshenshini-Alsek
watershed is often referred to as the 'Holy Grail' of rafting.
are paddling adventures to be had on Atlin Lake in Atlin
Provincial Park and Recreation Area. The massive lake is reached from the
town of Atlin on Hwy 7, and is subject
to sudden, strong gusts of wind, so be careful not to paddle more than 110 feet
(30 m) offshore. Although there are no developed facilities, there are many sheltered
locations to beach a canoe and pitch a tent.
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