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Region Details

Looking for the best places to Canoe in and around Duncan? Below are some great routes, trips and resources to help you Canoe in and around Duncan.

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I think it was John Grace who once said "It's all just training for British Columbia". He was referring to the super challenging creeking and multi day wilderness whitewater trips that are located all over this mountainous province. There is a lifetime worth of easy and intermediate paddling too. Whether it is multi day ocean trips, winter whitewater paddling on Vancouver Island, surfing tidal rapids, creeking in the interior, remote trips up north BC offers it all and then some.

Canoe Trips or Routes

Duncan

Copper Canyon
Chemainus River - This run is classic! It gets demanding very quickly at levels above 35cms on the online gauge. Normal levels begin around 20 cms, but it can be run (bony in the shoals but enjoyable overall) down to 12 cms. The first good rapids don’t appear until about 4 km into the run. The first is a river-left slide/cascade followed shortly by a fun, twisty class III through sheer bedrock. After another km or two reprieve, things start to pick up. Just as you’re ‘gettin in the groove’, an impressive horizon line with a tight line to the left of a house-sized boulder (Powerhouse - Class IV) gets the adrenaline moving. The next drop is a boulder garden with some pin potential on river-right around a large mid-stream boulder. River left opens up at medium to high water. After a few more fun drops, boaters are treated to short flatwater rest before the spectacular second canyon. On April 5, 2017, a massive landslide occurred at the beginning of the 2nd canyon and dammed the river drowning out 2 of the classic drops. However, the November floods rectified the problem and ultimatey led to an overall improvement in the 2nd canyon. For starters, the former double-drop known as ’sieve drop’ at the beginning of the 2nd canyon appears to be permanently lost (underwater). However, the new entrance drop to the 2nd canyon formed by the debris from the landslide is an entertaining boulderfield that nearly makes up for the loss of ’sieve drop’. As a bonus, the formerly manditory portage just downstream is now runnable through a right shoot and boof at high flows (40+cms). Stay far right to enter and then aim for the river right-of-center hump for the best boof. In total, the 6 big drops of the 2nd canyon pack in 70% of the excitement of the entire run (and that’s saying alot!). After the steepest-walled part of the canyon, a long, pushy class IV with a rambunctius diagonal hole at the bottom awaits. Immediately afterwards is the pièce de résistance of the run: A virtually unportagable class IV+-V- (depending on flow) drop. This one develops a nasty whirlpool on the bottom right at higher water, and probably deserves class V status above 35cms on the gauge. Cleanest lines tend to be left of centre. Immediately after breathing your sigh of relief comes ‘the flume’ (IV+/V-). Scout from river right (the only option). The flume is a tight channel on river left that has done its share of damage to boats (and helmets, and skulls, and paddles). Higher water makes for an easier ride through the hole. On the heels of flume, the final drop on this beautiful run is anticlimatic, but would be a major rapid on many other runs. Be aware that the big boulder in river center is thoroughly undercut. People and boats have washed cleanly underneath (though rarely together). Two more kilometres of mild riffles lead to the river-right takeout directly across from the river-left Banon creek confluence (and below the overhead power lines).
Canyon Section
Koksilah River - The Koksilah Canyon is a fun, moderately-difficult section of whitewater on southern Vancouver Island. The Canyon features 3 major drops, all of which have relatively easy portage options. Additionally, the river is runnable/enjoyable at a very wide range of flows, which makes it a popular intermediate/advanced trip.
Sandy Pool to Vimy (Heritage Rd)
Cowichan River - A pleasant section of the Cowichan well suited to novice and intermediate paddlers. There are a few wave trains that can either be challenged or avoided. Enjoyable for those new to swiftwater SUP or those wanting to build skills before taking it up a notch. The speed of the river is directly proportional to the flow rate. The take-out is on river-left: a gravel beach, a rise up to a yellow gate with concrete barriers, and a bend to the left are significant markers. Take-out should be recce'd when to ensure visual cues are noted. 45-60 min run length.
Stoltz Pool to Sandy Pool
Cowichan River - Another good novice or intermediate run. A bit more difficult than the Sandy Pool to Vimy section. Rapids are a bit bigger and longer than that section. It's narrower, so there are less chances to avoid the rough stuff if that is paddler's intent. Easy access points are both in public parks, but does require a short walk/portage . Finding the take out may be a bit challenging from the river, so it's worth checking out the take out beach at Sandy Pool.
Vimy (Heritage Rd) to Allenby Road
Cowichan River - Good for novices and intermediate paddlers. Channels are wide with multiple options for line choices. Some nice wave trains to play in if desired. A significant Class 2+ section about a third of the way into this section. May be walked around or one can opt for a less difficult inside line. Yummy hot dogs, fries, and onion rings at Carol's Hot Dog Trailer located at the Allenby Road take-out (seasonal). What a great way to end the run!

Resources

Wilderness Kayaking Co

(250) 746-0151

6683 Beaumont Ave, Maple Bay, Duncan, BC

http://www.wilderness-kayaking.com/wilderness-kayaking-co/

Local Paddling Clubs

Canoe Kayak Freestyle Committee National Programs

Canoe Kayak Canada Freestyle is responsible for the growth and development of Freestyle Canoe/Kayak in Canada. We work with provincial, territorial and local organizations to hold programs that support athlete development. We also host National Team trials and support athletes at the international level.

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