For those who paddle the Powell Forest Canoe Route, you’ll cowl 57 kilometres, through 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 may hear the odd logging truck. And on each Lois Lake and Powell Lake, you’ll go quite a few floating cottages. That may give some individuals consolation, however others who’re searching for excessive solitude received’t discover it right here. I personally preferred the combo.
The Powell Forest Canoe Route is celebrating its fortieth anniversary this 12 months. Again within the day, the Powell River Vacationer Bureau and Chamber of Commerce have been approached by the federal government to seek out some work for lots of unemployed loggers and others within the space. Grant cash grew to become out there and with the assistance of lifelong canoeist Gerhardt Tollas, a route was proved out that took benefit of previous logging and leisure roads for among the portages. The remainder one may say is historical past.
In chatting with Randy Mitchell, the unique proprietor of Mitchell’s Canoe & Kayak Gross sales & Leases, I heard his issues 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 residing there can proceed to take action. That most likely requires an even bigger buffer in relation to logging, so there’ll probably be some politics concerned so all events keep glad. 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 Buddies of the Powell Forest Canoe Route, is that everybody wants nature remedy. He says individuals have to get round in a non-motorized style, utilizing their muscle tissues, away from units. He says magic occurs when that occurs and also you’re sitting round a campfire sharing experiences, staring into the fireplace. 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 through a shuttle with Sasquatch Trails
Paddle: 8.5 kilometres (plus extra for us as we received sidetracked)
Portage: Lois Lake – Horseshoe Lake Portage – 1502 metres a method (we did it thrice, two with masses so 4,506 metres whole)
Camp: South finish of Horseshoe Lake
Expertise: Chad Mitchell from Sasquatch Trails picked us up in Lund and dropped us off on the launch web site at Lois Lake within the rain. Getting moist proper off the bat isn’t my favorite factor to do, however we figured, it could be calm – and it was, and by paddling we’d keep heat – and we did till we stopped for lunch. By then we have 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. (Be sure you pack heat garments for hypothermia-like circumstances.)
Lois Lake is dammed – one thing we didn’t admire till we began paddling. The primary few kilometres took us previous a couple of floating properties (additionally an surprising sight for me) and tons of of tree stumps. You have to listen whenever you’re paddling close to the stumps as some stumps are very near floor. The paddling was straightforward proper off the bat- no massive winds or waves to cope with. Nevertheless, we did get off monitor – as a result of we didn’t notice it’s best to observe the pink markers to the portage. We have been doing that – and on target however then noticed a bridge over a river within the distance and puzzled if that is likely to 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 expertise, the river we went to discover was not marked on the map. The primary portage is in unbelievably fine condition although it’s a lengthy one. We did each portage thrice; as soon as with the meals barrel, paddles, and a small bag or two for John and among the greater 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 might relaxation. We’d often 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 have been happy to see that there was nobody else so we ended up with a first-rate 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 technique 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. Whole a method: 3295 metres however we did it thrice once more, two with masses for a grand whole of 9885 metres.
Camp: Chipmunk Peninsula campsite on Dodd Lake
Expertise: I at all times 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 standard sight.
It was straightforward paddling up the size of Horseshoe Lake and into Nanton Lake. We each loved the chicken 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 straightforward nevertheless it wasn’t in the identical form 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 trying bushes 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 to be they’d clear up anytime quickly.
There’s a campsite on the finish of the portage with beautiful views up Dodd Lake. However you possibly can drive to the campsite – and on a visit like this, I a lot choose the wilderness expertise. We loaded all the pieces again into the canoe and paddled a few kilometre to the Chipmunk Peninsula. There’s an enormous web site right here – within the bushes so it’s on the darkish aspect, nevertheless it’s additionally far more protected. It turned out to be an incredible selection because it rained arduous all evening.
There may be 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 instructed 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 in all their favorite components of the journey. So, for those who 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. Whole a method: 3096 metres however we did it thrice once more, two with masses, for a grand whole of 9288 metres.
Camp: On the finish of the portage on Goat Lake
Expertise: At present might have been a straightforward day however we selected to make it the toughest day trip of the 5 with two portages, together with the one to Goat Lake through 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. In brief order we have been on the north finish of Dodd Lake, doing a straightforward portage previous extra huge bushes 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 have been full of water. Hopefully cash could be discovered for wooden so some tent platforms could 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 somewhat do the toughest portage of the journey whereas it was raining as a result of sitting in a tent didn’t have any enchantment.
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 anxious about portaging in the dead of night. 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 quite a lot of undue fuss about Cardiac Hill. In actual fact, the portage to the highest was quick and exquisite by means of stands of nicely spaced bushes and a forest carpeted with greenery. It was nevertheless 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 right 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 massive steps – and now its not so arduous to know the way it received the title Cardiac Hill. It’s a lot simpler on the ticker getting into a counter clockwise path than it could be developing from Goat Lake.
We broke the carries up and over Cardiac Hill into 5, so we have been capable of roll into camp inside roughly three hours. We have 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 have 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 the beginning of the path to Inland Lake
Camp: Campsite overlooking Powell Lake at the beginning 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 finally 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 peaceful, sunny, heat day of paddling. Typically that isn’t the case on Powell Lake, and you need to work arduous 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 the beginning 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 could be constructed however once more I used to be shocked on the sheer variety of them. Some have been lovingly maintained, whereas many had seen higher days.
Whenever 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 could be good to see individuals observe Depart No Hint rules and pack out what they pack in. I did discover that there have been bear containers for meals supplied by the Sunshine Coast Shuttle. It might even be fantastic to see bear containers alongside the Powell Forest Canoe Route.
We continued to the following 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 a couple of extra hours and ended up at a campsite you want to look arduous to seek out that’s at the beginning 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 bushes ought to or not it’s stormy. The views are fairly good although the bugs on arrival have been ferocious. They practiced kamikaze like assaults at our face and ft till I pulled out the bug spray. Don’t neglect it.
Day 5 on the Powell Forest Canoe Route
Begin: Powell Lake at the beginning 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 may need been for the opposite 22 kilometres! In simply 90 minutes we have been at Mowat Bay unloading and calling Chad for a pickup. The paddling was fairly alongside the shore of the lake, previous lovely bushes, and plenty of rock outcrop. We ducked in to take a look at Haywire Bay Regional Park – the place you may also camp and paddled previous the Outside Studying Centre.
Attending to the beginning and end of the canoe route
One of the simplest ways to get to the beginning of the canoe route on Lois Lake is to guide a shuttle experience with Chad Mitchell of Sasquatch Trails. He’s a part of the Mitchell household – the folks that lease canoes and equipment – and have been for 30 plus years in Powell River so he is aware of the realm and the logging roads just like the again of his hand. He additionally has a radio which you want for those who’re driving the logging roads.
For those who’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. Nevertheless, if you’re driving to Powell River, you possibly can go away your automobile at Mowat Touchdown – and purchase a parking go. He’ll choose you up there and take you to the launch web site on Lois Lake at an agreed upon time. Contact him for reservations and pricing.
What to take paddling
For those who’re planning to paddle the complete Powell Forest Canoe Route, you actually need to go ready. That is temperate rain forest so it will possibly rain arduous at sure occasions of the 12 months. And it may be windy so know the indicators of hypothermia. Carry sufficient further meals for a day do you have to get wind sure or have an accident.
You’ll be able to lease 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 lease, the simpler will probably be to portage.
We carried all our gear in waterproof luggage. The North Face duffels have served us nicely over time as have the smaller yellow ones like this one for stuff you want throughout the day. I really like the see by means of characteristic.
We took hearth starter with us, however all of the wooden was so moist I don’t know if we’d ever have gotten a hearth going. Be sure you have matches and several other lighters it doesn’t matter what. I packed our perishable meals in Hydro Flask Day Escape Comfortable Cooler and would swear by this now. It’s absolutely waterproof, and it retains meals chilly for a few days. It’s additionally received a couple of locations the place you possibly can connect carabiners so its straightforward to hold.
On this journey take further rope and a few carabiners. There aren’t any bear lockers so that you MUST dangle further meals. Every campsite comes with a protracted rope however that’s it.
I at all times pack Gear Help Tenacious Tape in case I rip one thing like a sleeping bag or tent.
I’d 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’d additionally recommend a water filter, a can of bear spray (ask Chad from Sasquatch Trails before you purchase one if he has any you possibly can borrow!!) and the standard tenting gear like tent and cooking gear. I’ve used our MSR range for over a decade.
For consolation, pack a few camp chairs and a camp pillow for a greater sleep.
A couple of issues that may assist
- Portages are well-marked so for those who don’t see the indicators under, you’re not on an official portage.
- Whenever you’re canoeing to a portage search for pink markers. They are going to 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 sneakers with me. Be sure you maintain one dry set of camp garments in a separate bag.
- Take some heat garments even in summer season – further socks, a toque, and a packable down jacket.
- The bugs could be vicious so take the bug spray. They weren’t so unhealthy in June that we wanted bug nets.
- Convey 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 individuals can be robust going and it’s not beneficial.
Nevertheless, you might put in on Lois Lake and portage to Horseshoe Lake on a path that’s in fairly fine condition – and it’s huge too. Getting by means of the logs in a kayak at Horseshoe Lake may very well be problematic however doable so you might proceed to Nanton Lake and camp there. The portage to Dodd Lake just isn’t in almost as fine condition because the one out of Lois Lake so I wouldn’t suggest it except two individuals have been up for carrying single kayaks. I feel it could be a troublesome expertise too.
There may be additionally the choice to place in at Mowat Bay in Powell River and kayak by means of to Goat Island as there aren’t any portages. So in idea, you might do about three days of the route, however solely the hardcore kayakers who’re ready to hold their kayaks ought to think about the entire thing. I personally wouldn’t need to do it. And as Randy Mitchell from Buddies of the Powell River Forest Canoe Route says, “this journey is actually geared to canoes – and kayak carts have a fame for inflicting ruts.” Go do the Bowron Lakes Loop as an alternative!
Earlier than or after your canoe journey
We have been pushed to Lund from the Powell River Airport by Sunshine Coast Shuttle. Additionally they shuttled us round Powell River so we might get gasoline for our range, together with some groceries, wine, and beer earlier than persevering with on to Lund. I really like this village as its straightforward 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.
Think about a keep right here earlier than or after your journey. It’s the gateway to Desolation Sound so you might add on some days of kayaking. There may be additionally a small ferry over to Savary Island which by all accounts is a stunning place to go to. And for those who’re feeling very bold, you might 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.
The way 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’ll be able to 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 when you have a reservation and don’t have to attend. Pay as soon as on the first ferry, in both path. Take a look on the ferry schedule to determine one of the best connections.
For those who’re coming from Vancouver Island you possibly can take a 90-minute ferry experience from Comox to Powell River.
Alternatively, you possibly can fly. Pacific Coastal Airways companies 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 also 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 companies 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 basic space
A giant thanks to Sunshine Coast Tourism for internet hosting me however all ideas are mine alone.
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