If you happen to paddle the Powell Forest Canoe Route, you’ll cowl 57 kilometres, by way of eight lakes and 5 portages over the course of between 4 to 6 days. We did it in 5 days however might have knocked it off in 4 because the wind was calm on our second to final day. It’s not a full-on wilderness journey, although make no mistake – there are many sections that really feel wild and much from humanity. The fact is that there’s a community of logging roads, some that even cross the portages, so that you would possibly hear the odd logging truck. And on each Lois Lake and Powell Lake, you’ll cross quite a few floating cottages. That may give some folks consolation, however others who’re searching for excessive solitude gained’t discover it right here. I personally preferred the combo.
The Powell Forest Canoe Route is celebrating its fortieth anniversary this yr. Again within the day, the Powell River Vacationer Bureau and Chamber of Commerce had been approached by the federal government to search out some work for lots of unemployed loggers and others within the space. Grant cash grew to become obtainable and with the assistance of lifelong canoeist Gerhardt Tollas, a route was proved out that took benefit of outdated logging and leisure roads for a few of the portages. The remaining one would possibly say is historical past.
In chatting with Randy Mitchell, the unique proprietor of Mitchell’s Canoe & Kayak Gross sales & Leases, I heard his considerations about the way forward for the route. He’d prefer it to retain its wilder qualities, whereas defending riparian areas so the birds and critters dwelling there can proceed to take action. That in all probability requires a much bigger buffer in the case of logging, so there’ll probably be some politics concerned so all events keep completely satisfied. A quote he talked about, taken from an aged lady on the Walter Kronkite information hours years in the past is probably going more true now than ever – “Shield your wild locations. You want them to remain sane.” His recommendation to me, appearing as he’s now because the spokesperson for the Pals of the Powell Forest Canoe Route, is that everybody wants nature remedy. He says folks must get round in a non-motorized style, utilizing their muscle mass, away from gadgets. He says magic occurs when that occurs and also you’re sitting round a campfire sharing experiences, staring into the hearth. I couldn’t agree extra and hope that folks observe his sage recommendation.
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Day one on the Powell Forest Canoe Route
Begin: Lois Lake by way of a shuttle with Sasquatch Trails
Paddle: 8.5 kilometres (plus extra for us as we bought sidetracked)
Portage: Lois Lake – Horseshoe Lake Portage – 1502 metres a method (we did it 3 times, two with masses so 4,506 metres complete)
Camp: South finish of Horseshoe Lake
Expertise: Chad Mitchell from Sasquatch Trails picked us up in Lund and dropped us off on the launch website at Lois Lake within the rain. Getting moist proper off the bat isn’t my favorite factor to do, however we figured, it will be calm – and it was, and by paddling we might keep heat – and we did till we stopped for lunch. By then we had been fairly moist even with all our rain gear on, so we pulled on wool hats and down jackets which made all of the distinction. (Remember to pack heat garments for hypothermia-like circumstances.)
Lois Lake is dammed – one thing we didn’t recognize till we began paddling. The primary few kilometres took us previous just a few floating properties (additionally an surprising sight for me) and a whole lot of tree stumps. You should concentrate if you’re paddling close to the stumps as some stumps are very near floor. The paddling was simple proper off the bat- no large winds or waves to take care of. Nonetheless, we did get off observe – as a result of we didn’t understand it is best to observe the purple markers to the portage. We had been doing that – and on target however then noticed a bridge over a river within the distance and questioned if that may be the way in which to go.
The underside line is that we took a circuitous path to get to the portage – however in equity to our navigation abilities, the river we went to discover was not marked on the map. The primary portage is in unbelievably good condition although it’s a lengthy one. We did each portage 3 times; as soon as with the meals barrel, paddles, and a small bag or two for John and a few of the larger gear for me. Then we’d stroll again, and John would carry the canoe and I’d take the remainder of the load. Roughly each 100 to 150 metres there have been canoe racks so you can relaxation. We might normally do round a 500-metre carry after which return to get the remainder of our gear – and proceed leapfrogging like that till the top of the portage.
On arrival at Horseshoe Lake, we had been happy to see that there was nobody else so we ended up with a main campsite overlooking the lake. It was beautiful, particularly because the rain had stopped and we had fully dried out. Organising camp chairs and having fun with a glass of wine was an superior method to end the day.
Day two on the Powell Forest Canoe Route
Begin: South finish of Horseshoe Lake
Paddle: 4.0 kilometres on the Horseshoe Lake – Nanton Lake mixture plus about one kilometre on Eire Lake and one kilometre on Dodd Lake for a complete of 6 kilometres
Portage: North finish of Nanton Lake to Eire Lake – 2310 metres a method plus Eire Lake to Dodd Lake – 985 metres. Complete a method: 3295 metres however we did it 3 times once more, two with masses for a grand complete of 9885 metres.
Camp: Chipmunk Peninsula campsite on Dodd Lake
Expertise: I all the time really feel prefer it takes some time to get into the rhythm of the outside, and this journey was no exception. We hit our stride on the second day, paddling and portaging from Horseshoe Lake to Dodd Lake. Simply getting out of the campsite was attention-grabbing. I kneeled within the entrance of the canoe and pushed logs round making a path to log-free water. I perceive that log jams on Horseshoe Lake are a traditional sight.
It was simple paddling up the size of Horseshoe Lake and into Nanton Lake. We each loved the fowl life and the peacefulness. As soon as we reached the portage on Nanton Lake, we had accomplished all however a few kilometres of paddling for the day. Most of our 7-hour day concerned two portages.
The primary portage to Eire Lake was comparatively simple however it wasn’t in the identical kind of form because the portage to Horseshoe Lake. The second portage from Eire Lake to Dodd Lake was a deal with. Massive stumps and a few grand wanting timber made it an attention-grabbing one. By the point we arrived at Dodd Lake, it had began to bathe once more, and the skies didn’t appear like they’d clear up anytime quickly.
There’s a campsite on the finish of the portage with beautiful views up Dodd Lake. However you may drive to the campsite – and on a visit like this, I a lot desire the wilderness expertise. We loaded every part again into the canoe and paddled a few kilometre to the Chipmunk Peninsula. There’s a giant website right here – within the timber so it’s on the darkish aspect, however it’s additionally far more protected. It turned out to be a fantastic alternative because it rained onerous all evening.
There’s one other route that will get you to the Chipmunk Peninsula that includes much less portaging. It takes you from the northeast finish of Horseshoe Lake up a hill to Little Horseshoe Lake. One other portage places you on Beaver Lake after which there’s a last brief portage to Dodd Lake. We had been advised that the portage hadn’t been brushed out and that it required extra effort than the one we did. However the Mitchell household describe it as being the wildest a part of the canoe route and one among their favorite components of the journey. So, when you like an actual wilderness expertise go proper (east), not left (west) on the finish of Horseshoe Lake.
Day three on the Powell Forest Canoe Route
Begin: Chipmunk Lake campsite on Dodd Lake
Paddle: 7.0 kilometres on Dodd Lake – Nanton Lake mixture plus 2.2 kilometres on Windsor Lake for a complete of 9.2 kilometres
Portage: Dodd Lake to Windsor Lake – 717 metres a method plus Windsor Lake to Goat Lake – 2379 metres a method. Complete a method: 3096 metres however we did it 3 times once more, two with masses, for a grand complete of 9288 metres.
Camp: On the finish of the portage on Goat Lake
Expertise: As we speak might have been a straightforward day however we selected to make it the toughest time out of the 5 with two portages, together with the one to Goat Lake by way of Cardiac Hill.
The day began moist and uninspiring. However very quickly the showers stopped, however the mist hung round, making a moodiness to Dodd Lake. It was a implausible paddling expertise – with quiet water and crystal-clear reflections. Briefly order we had been on the north finish of Dodd Lake, doing a straightforward portage previous extra large timber to Windsor Lake. One other fast and exquisite paddle up Windsor Lake put as on the Windsor Lake campsite and the beginning of the portage to Goat Lake.
After an evening of rain, all of the Windsor Lake campsites had been full of water. Hopefully cash will be discovered for wooden so some tent platforms will be constructed, as this isn’t the place you need to be staying on a wet evening. After consuming lunch in a small shelter with the showers starting once more, we checked out one another and mentioned Let’s get out of right here. We determined that we’d moderately do the toughest portage of the journey whereas it was raining as a result of sitting in a tent didn’t have any attraction.
It’s a 2,379-metre portage from Windsor Lake to Goat Lake – and after buzzing and hawing we didn’t get began until about 2 PM. As this was June, we had a great deal of daylight, so we weren’t frightened about portaging at the hours of darkness. The portage began off simply sufficient. There was some climbing, and I used to be pondering to myself that there gave the impression to be a number of undue fuss about Cardiac Hill. In actual fact, the portage to the highest was quick and exquisite by way of stands of nicely spaced timber and a forest carpeted with greenery. It was nonetheless the wettest part of any portage we’d executed.
On the prime we had a water break after which began down. Hmmm. Now I get it. The portage all the way down to Goat Lake may be very steep in locations, particularly with a canoe over your head. Throw in slimy logs, leaning, slippery boardwalks and a few large steps – and now its not so onerous to grasp the way it bought the identify Cardiac Hill. It’s a lot simpler on the ticker getting in a counter clockwise route than it will be arising from Goat Lake.
We broke the carries up and over Cardiac Hill into 5, so we had been capable of roll into camp inside roughly three hours. We had been each feeling happy with ourselves – because the portage was over, the campsite was beautiful and as soon as once more we had all of it to ourselves. Very quickly, we had our tent up, we had been cleaned up and the wine was poured. Life was candy right here on Goat Lake.
Day 4 on the Powell Forest Canoe Route
Begin: Goat Lake campsite
Paddle: Roughly 22.0 kilometres from Goat Lake to the campsite at first of the path to Inland Lake
Camp: Campsite overlooking Powell Lake at first of the path to Inland Lake
Expertise: After having fun with a leisurely breakfast, John and I hopped into the canoe and began paddling throughout Goat Lake to an inlet that in the end took us to Powell Lake. The wind blew up on this part, so it had me questioning what was in retailer for us on the most important lake of the paddle. In the end nothing is the underside line. We fully lucked out with what turned out to be a relaxed, sunny, heat day of paddling. Usually that isn’t the case on Powell Lake, and you must work onerous within the face of the wind. In hindsight, we might have paddled all the way in which to Mowat Bay, however we broke it up and paddled to a campsite at first of the path to Inland Lake.
I fairly loved canoeing previous all of the floating cottages on the water – although over the course of the day we noticed solely a handful of individuals in them. My understanding is that no extra floating cottages will be constructed however once more I used to be shocked on the sheer variety of them. Some had been lovingly maintained, whereas many had seen higher days.
While you get to the hexagonal wooden cottage, decelerate and pull in behind the log growth. You’ll see the Fiddlehead Touchdown hut right here, utilized by hikers on the Sunshine Coast Path. We determined to cease right here for lunch and take a look round. Whereas the huts on the Sunshine Coast Path are easy and free, it will be good to see folks follow Depart No Hint rules and pack out what they pack in. I did discover that there have been bear packing containers for meals supplied by the Sunshine Coast Shuttle. It could even be fantastic to see bear packing containers alongside the Powell Forest Canoe Route.
We continued to the subsequent campsite proven on the map which is probably 10 – quarter-hour from Fiddlehead Touchdown, I discovered it too darkish – and it was additionally early sufficient and calm that we determined to maintain going. In the end, we paddled for just a few extra hours and ended up at a campsite you’ll want to look onerous to search out that’s at first of a path to Inland Lake – although I don’t assume the path is in excellent situation.
There are a steep set of stairs as much as a flat tenting space with a number of websites, a few of that are within the timber ought to or not it’s stormy. The views are fairly good although the bugs on arrival had been ferocious. They practiced kamikaze like assaults at our face and toes till I pulled out the bug spray. Don’t overlook it.
Day 5 on the Powell Forest Canoe Route
Begin: Powell Lake at first of the Inland Lake path
Paddle: Roughly 8.0 kilometres to Mowat Bay in Powell River
Expertise: Our final day was a sunny however windy one. It gave us a style of what might need been for the opposite 22 kilometres! In simply 90 minutes we had been at Mowat Bay unloading and calling Chad for a pickup. The paddling was fairly alongside the shore of the lake, previous lovely timber, and many rock outcrop. We ducked in to take a look at Haywire Bay Regional Park – the place you may as well camp and paddled previous the Out of doors Studying Centre.
Attending to the beginning and end of the canoe route
One of the best ways to get to the beginning of the canoe route on Lois Lake is to ebook a shuttle journey with Chad Mitchell of Sasquatch Trails. He’s a part of the Mitchell household – the those that hire canoes and kit – and have been for 30 plus years in Powell River so he is aware of the world and the logging roads just like the again of his hand. He additionally has a radio which you want when you’re driving the logging roads.
If you happen to’re flying into Powell River, he can choose up your canoes, your group and each drop you off and choose you up on the finish of the route. Nonetheless, in case you are driving to Powell River, you may depart your automobile at Mowat Touchdown – and purchase a parking cross. He’ll choose you up there and take you to the launch website on Lois Lake at an agreed upon time. Contact him for reservations and pricing.
What to take paddling
If you happen to’re planning to paddle the total Powell Forest Canoe Route, you really want to go ready. That is temperate rain forest so it might probably rain onerous at sure instances of the yr. And it may be windy so know the indicators of hypothermia. Carry sufficient further meals for a day must you get wind sure or have an accident.
You possibly can hire a canoe and all of the gear from Mitchell’s Canoe & Kayak Gross sales & Leases. I extremely suggest renting a canoe barrel with a packing harness as that may assist to maintain your meals protected from bears and it makes portaging a lot simpler. And the lighter the canoe you hire, the simpler it will likely be to portage.
We carried all our gear in waterproof luggage. The North Face duffels have served us nicely through the years as have the smaller yellow ones like this one for stuff you want through the day. I like the see by way of function.
We took hearth starter with us, however all of the wooden was so moist I don’t know if we might ever have gotten a fireplace going. Remember to have matches and a number of other lighters it doesn’t matter what. I packed our perishable meals in Hydro Flask Day Escape Smooth Cooler and would swear by this now. It’s absolutely waterproof, and it retains meals chilly for a few days. It’s additionally bought just a few locations the place you may connect carabiners so its simple to hold.
On this journey take further rope and a few carabiners. There aren’t any bear lockers so that you MUST hold further meals. Every campsite comes with an extended rope however that’s it.
I all the time pack Gear Support Tenacious Tape in case I rip one thing like a sleeping bag or tent.
I might recommend packing a tarp and sufficient rope to tie it correctly. I discover the grommets from a budget Canadian Tire tarps pull out too simply although that’s what we used.
I might additionally recommend a water filter, a can of bear spray (ask Chad from Sasquatch Trails before you purchase one if he has any you may borrow!!) and the same old tenting gear like a superb tent and cooking gear. I’ve used our MSR range for over a decade.
A couple of issues that may assist
- Portages are well-marked so when you don’t see the indicators under, you’re not on an official portage.
- While you’re canoeing to a portage search for purple markers. They’ll lead you proper to the pull out.
- All campsites got here with picnic tables and hearth pits.
- There are outhouses in any respect campsites.
- I like having water footwear with me. Remember to maintain one dry set of camp garments in a separate bag.
- Take some heat garments even in summer time – further socks, a toque, and a packable down jacket.
- The bugs will be vicious so take the bug spray. They weren’t so unhealthy in June that we would have liked bug nets.
- Carry good rain gear and embrace a ball cap to maintain the rain off your face.
Are you able to kayak the Powell Forest Canoe Route?
There are sections of the Powell Forest Canoe Route that may work with a kayak, however I can’t think about doing the entire thing due to the lengthy and troublesome portage between Windsor Lake and Goat Lake. That a part of the path is steep and slender in locations – and there’s no room for a kayak cart. Even carrying a single kayak with two folks could be powerful going and it’s not really helpful.
Nonetheless, you can put in on Lois Lake and portage to Horseshoe Lake on a path that’s in fairly good condition – and it’s extensive too. Getting by way of the logs in a kayak at Horseshoe Lake might be problematic however doable so you can proceed to Nanton Lake and camp there. The portage to Dodd Lake just isn’t in almost as good condition because the one out of Lois Lake so I wouldn’t suggest it until two folks had been up for carrying single kayaks. I believe it will be a troublesome expertise too.
There’s additionally the choice to place in at Mowat Bay in Powell River and kayak by way of to Goat Island as there aren’t any portages. So in idea, you can do about three days of the route, however solely the hardcore kayakers who’re ready to hold their kayaks ought to take into account the entire thing. I personally wouldn’t need to do it. And as Randy Mitchell from Pals of the Powell River Forest Canoe Route says, “this journey is de facto geared to canoes – and kayak carts have a fame for inflicting ruts.” Go do the Bowron Lakes Loop as a substitute!
Earlier than or after your canoe journey
We had been pushed to Lund from the Powell River Airport by Sunshine Coast Shuttle. In addition they shuttled us round Powell River so we might get fuel for our range, together with some groceries, wine, and beer earlier than persevering with on to Lund. I like this village as its simple to stroll round, there are a few good eating places and the cabins at SunLund RV Park are a stunning place to spend an evening.
Take into account a keep right here earlier than or after your journey. It’s the gateway to Desolation Sound so you can add on some days of kayaking. There’s additionally a small ferry over to Savary Island which by all accounts is a stunning place to go to. And when you’re feeling very bold, you can get shuttled out to Sarah Level by Terracentric Coastal Adventures – and both camp proper there or hike a small part of the Sunshine Coast Path.
Tips on how to get to Powell River
There are quite a few methods to get to Powell River and the beginning of the Powell Forest Canoe Route.
You possibly can drive from Vancouver by taking two ferries – the Horseshoe Bay to Langdale ferry after which Earls Cove to Saltery Bay. Depend on 4.5 hours in case you have a reservation and don’t have to attend. Pay as soon as on the first ferry, in both route. Take a look on the ferry schedule to determine the perfect connections.
If you happen to’re coming from Vancouver Island you may take a 90-minute ferry journey from Comox to Powell River.
Alternatively, you may fly. Pacific Coastal Airways providers Powell River. John and I flew in from the South Terminal in Vancouver. It took simply 25 minutes – and it’s one heck of a scenic flight.
As of March 2022, you may as well fly from downtown Vancouver to Powell Lake on Harbour Air.
There are two bus traces that may even be of curiosity. The Island Hyperlink Bus providers Vancouver Island and may get you to the Comox Ferry terminal.
The Sunshine Coast Connector will get you to Powell River from Vancouver.
Additional studying on issues to do within the normal space
A giant thanks to Sunshine Coast Tourism for internet hosting me however all ideas are mine alone.
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