Vancouver’s Next Super Highway? Salish Sea Marine Trail

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Photo: Rob Weiss

Tired of ferry line-ups and traffic jams?  The B.C. Marine Trails Network Association (BCMTNA) has the solution!  Imagine a magnificent, 257-kilometre saltwater route connecting Vancouver’s lower mainland to Victoria.  Granted, you will need to rethink the amount of luggage you are toting as you will require a canoe, kayak or small “beachable” boat to travel along the Salish Sea Marine Trail.  This spectacular route, designed specifically for paddlers, will add an impressive water leg to the Great Trail, previously known as the Trans Canada Trail.  If all goes according to plan the trail will be complete in time for Canada’s 150 birthday celebration in July 2017.  Now that’s a birthday gift!

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Vancouver’s Next Super Highway? Salish Sea Marine Trail

Whey-Ah-Whichen – Fall Kayaking at Cates Park

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Indian Arm Photo: Rob Weiss

Although the dog days of summer are long behind us, I simply can’t bring myself to put away my paddling gear. Fortunately, Vancouver is not only a world class water sport destination, but our mild climate means any day is a great day to paddle. Granted cooler fall and winter temperatures mean it is extremely important to be safe and sensible, but with proper preparation and good judgement year round paddling is a treat that can be enjoyed by all boating enthusiasts. Recently, my paddling partner and I saw a break in the weather and planned an afternoon trip out of Cates Park in North Vancouver. Known as Whey-Ah-Whichen, the Tsleil-Waututh ancestral name for the land means “faces the wind.” This area is the largest waterfront park in North Vancouver and one of my favourite launch spots. During the summer, the sandy beaches are full of beachcombers in search of treasure and the playground and picnic areas are teaming with families. Cates Park is also home to Takaya Tours and the Cates Park Paddling Centre. Open May to October, Takaya Tours is a First Nation owned eco-tourism company and one of Vancouver’s premiere cultural tourism businesses offering an exciting and authentic interpretation of Coast Salish culture.

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Whey-Ah-Whichen – Fall Kayaking at Cates Park

Salmon Smorgasbord – Kayak the Harrison River

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Eagles feasting on salmon Photo: Rob Weiss

Against all odds, each and every fall, millions of BC salmon fight an epic and awe-inspiring battle.  These fish courageously make their way from the mighty Pacific Ocean to travel upstream on their quest to spawn.  Rivers and spawning channels across the province team with life.  Like the salmon, paddlers, photographers, and fishermen also flock to the rivers to partake in this natural phenomenon.  My paddling partner and I find ourselves joining this annual migration and our destination of choice is the Harrison River.

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Salmon Smorgasbord – Kayak the Harrison River

Ultimate Urban Kayak Escape – Spanish Banks to False Creek

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View of Science World Photo: Rob Weiss

Sitting in our kayaks, with bows pointed towards the North Shore Mountains, we were faced with a difficult decision.  To our left, open ocean, the call of Wreck Beach and the natural splendour of Pacific Spirit Regional Park and to the right the urban oasis known as Vancouver.  This is the thrill of launching from the expansive beaches of Spanish Banks.  After much discussion, we decided to head to town.  The glistening towers lining English Bay and Yaletown were like beacons guiding us towards the protected waters of False Creek.

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Ultimate Urban Kayak Escape – Spanish Banks to False Creek

Kayaking the West Vancouver Shoreline

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The Welcome Figure by Stan Joseph Photo: Flickr Ikan1711

With the magnificent North Shore Mountains towering overhead and spectacular shoreline, West Vancouver is well known for its luxurious oceanfront homes.  Viewing these architectural estates from the water is a unique and thrilling.  Paddling affords you an intimate, exploratory experience.  Think of it as type of “British Columbia Outdoor Home Tour of the Stars”.

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Kayaking the West Vancouver Shoreline

Dipping at Deas

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Kayak Deas Island Photo: Rob Weiss

Ask Vancouverites where Deas Island is located and you may get a puzzled look.  Yet, thousands of commuters navigate the George Massey Tunnel on a daily basis, emerge on to Deas Island and cross the Deas Slough.  Wetlands, marshes, protected harbours and tidal flats are there for the taking. What better way to view this secluded natural hideaway than from the cockpit of a kayak?

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Dipping at Deas

In the Mood? Kayak to Port Moody’s Rocky Point Park

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Photo: Flickr DTB

Exploring new, easily accessible launch sites is often a spiritual experience for paddlers.  Of course, living in the Pacific Northwest we are extremely spoiled by the wide variety of paddling opportunities that surround us.  However, the search for short, local evening and afternoon paddle routes always looms large and without a doubt one of Vancouver’s best kept secrets is Barnet Marine Park.  Located in Burnaby, off the Barnet Highway, the area is a popular picnic and swimming area, yet often underutilized by paddlers.  Directly across from Admiralty Point, the kayak launch at Barnet Marine Park provides opportunities for adventurers to either paddle up Indian Arm, or to navigate along Burrard Inlet to Rocky Point Park in Port Moody.

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In the Mood? Kayak to Port Moody’s Rocky Point Park