Spring Forward! Words synonymous with “let’s paddle!” My kayak is my “happy place” and although I paddle year round, there is something about springing forward that triggers my inner kayaker and passion for the sea. One of my favourite early season destinations is the Nickomekl River in South Surrey. This floating nature trail is scenic, protected and features a dry launch site. Ideal for beginners, families and experienced paddlers alike, the Nickomekl River offers a tranquil welcome to all.
Being early in the season, I decided to dry launch from Ward’s Marina located in Elgin Heritage Park. Situated on the banks of the Nicomekl River, the park boasts 3.25 km of nature trails and an opportunity to travel back in time with a visit to the Heritage Stewart Farm. Home to the Nicomekl Rowing Club, the boat launch can be a busy place during training times. Be careful to watch your tide tables! The tidal range in the area is about 14 feet on large swings, and I have seen many a sailor waiting for the tide to turn before returning to the boat ramp.
Departing from Wards Marina, I decided to point west. Conditions were perfect, calm and sunny. Before I knew it, I was enjoying a lazy paddle or more accurately float, towards Blackie Spit and Crescent Beach. The river slowly meandered past farmers’ fields, forested banks and waterfront homes high atop the river banks. As I approached my favourite section of the trip, near the Crescent Beach Marina, I could literally feel the worries of the world peeling off me with each and every stroke of my paddle. I navigated past huge, sleek yachts nestled in their boathouses and moored at the marina and then continued under the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway wooden trestle bridge. Should you time your paddle correctly, it is possible to paddle under the Amtrak train as it thunders overhead.
As I rounded the bend near Blackie Spit, and set my sights on Mud Bay, I was rewarded by the most magnificent view of the North Shore Mountains. Snow-capped and glistening in the afternoon sun, it felt as though Mother Nature had painted a masterpiece just for me. I was compelled to stop, float and admire the view. Yes indeed, spring has sprung!
Kayakers are welcome to launch from either the dock at Wards Marina, located behind the Heritage Stewart Farmhouse, or from the boat ramp in Blackie Spit Park.
Efforts are currently underway to enhance the paddling experience on the lower Nicomekl River and establish this as a designated Blueway Route. This floating nature trail will provide nature appreciation paddling opportunities, while striving to protect sensitive waterfowl areas.
Do you have a favourite spring paddle?