Eagle River Run

The Eagle River runs west from Eagle Pass in the Monashees down to Sicamous and into Shuswap Lake.   There is really not enough water in the upper end of the river to paddle, but when the Perry River joins the river, there is enough water to paddle from Craigellachie or Malakwa.   On the upper river there are fallen trees, sweepers, deadheads, and logjams to contend with so it is only suitable for experienced paddlers.   Eagle River meanders all the way making the distance much longer in a boat.   We launched at the Malakwa Suspension Bridge which is only 21 km from the lake, but it took us 39.6km to paddle the river.   At times we were paddling east on our way downriver.

Eagle River Run

The upper section had some faster water, but many hazards too.   At one point 6 km downstream, the entire river was blocked by a logjam with only a 4 foot opening, followed by an obstacle-slalom course.   I was able to get through, but another person capsized and the third person portaged around the section.   For the first two hours, we had to slow down the kayaks in the river, scout the best line, and paddle adeptly around various hazards.   At a good landing/launch spot downstream the river became slower, more clear of hazards, and it started to meander even more.   This would be a good/safer spot for most kayakers to launch (see the locations coordinates below).

Eagle River 002c Eagle River 007c

From this point, it is just a long paddle to the lake.   We took 7 hours in all.   Next time, we will start about 6 km downstream and we will pull out at the dog park just past the Cambie-Solsqua Bridge, shortening the route by about 13km.   We ended up paddling out into the lake where there were powerboats, windy conditions, and nowhere to land near parking.   We landed near the bridge, but this is a busy area with limited parking opportunities.   In the lower river, there is also a set of rapids then a fish weir to negotiate.

We enjoyed the wildlife corridor, especially with the early run of the sockeye salmon.   The fish jumped out of the water and predators patrolled the shoreline.   We spotted a bear, many eagles, herons, and turkey vultures.

Eagle River 012c Eagle River 020c
Eagle River 006c Eagle River 2 006c

For recreational paddlers, the lower river would be a good choice, avoiding the upper river and lower river obstacles.    Paddling this river in high water conditions would be for experienced paddlers only.   The Eagle River is scenic and interesting, worth a day of paddling and exploration.

Coordinates (east to west):

  • Malakwa Suspension Bridge launch area (on the north side) – N50 46.448 W118 47.677
  • Danger area – logjams, sweepers, deadheads – N50 55.298 W118 48.329
  • A good launch area below the danger area – N50 54.776 W118 48.401
  • Cambie Bridge – N50 53.546 W118 52.112
  • Launch/landing spot (steep bank) at the end of a dirt road – N50 52.447 W118 55.811
  • Golf course (steep bank), but a possible landing/lunch spot – N50 50.844 W118 57.132
  • Lower Rapids – N50 50.987 W118 57.526
  • Cambie-Solsqua Bridge – N50 50.354 W118 58.425
  • Dog Park – N50 50.332 W118 58.592 (180m past the bridge on the north side)
  • paddlers can also choose to follow the river to the lake and back to the bridge area

Eagle River 2 008c

Sylvia Falls Trail

The trail to Sylvia and Goodwin Falls starts at the end of the Clearwater River Road.   Take the left turn into Clearwater and follow the road over the river bridge heading west onto Camp 2 Road.   Turn onto the unsigned gravel road which angles sharply to the right.   This is the Clearwater River Road and it runs for 38 km north along the west side of the river.   The road seems to deteriorate each year.   Several washouts closed the road earlier this year, but it is now passable to most vehicles, but high clearance is advised.   the road has many potholes, there are some narrow sections, and fallen rocks pose a hazard at several spots.   There are numerous tracks down to the river used by fishermen, rafters, whitewater kayakers, and hikers.   The signed trail to the Kettle is the best one for hikers.   Follow the road to the end and park.   This is the start of the trail to the falls and beyond to Mahood Lake.

Sylvia Falls

The trail to the falls is about 8km return.   It winds through cedar-hemlock forest, passing wet areas, rockslopes, and along riverslopes.   It is a moderate hike to the falls.   Hikers can hear the falls ahead and can catch a glimpse of Goodwin Falls through the trees.   There are 3-4 side trails with different views of the falls.   The first one goes out to a viewpoint of both falls.   An even better view requires following a rough side trail to the right and down a mossy rock slope.   The route is slippery from the mists of the falls, but the effort is worth it.

Clearwater River Road 008c

Another side trail leads to the gravel beach below Sylvia Falls for some more unique views.

Clearwater River Road 015c

Beyond the falls, the trail continues for another 2.5km to Mahood Lake.   This section climbs over a steep hill and descends through the forest to the lakeshore.   The upper part of the trail is more overgrown and a bit rougher.

The trail winds through a damp forest, featuring some wetlands, and forest slopes with many mosses and lichens.   The whole area also has a remote feel to it.   Hikers should take appropriate precautions if venturing into the Mahood River Valley.   Check Wells Gray Provincial Park website (link) for any current alerts, especially concerning the access road.   The best season to go is late summer, well past any spring melt erosion and rockfall on the road and the end of the bug season.

 

Janice Lake

Janice Lake (sometimes called Long Island Lake) lies next to Highway 24 (Interlakes) at the McDonald Summit.   The turn-off to the Recreation Site on the shoreline is 22.5km from Little Fort.   The access road is a bit rough and leads to a cleared area with 3 campsites and a steeper final slope down to the lakeshore.   I chose to park in the clearing and carry my boat down the last 50m.     The paddle starts in an arm of the lake.

Janice Lake

The distance around the shoreline of the lake is 8.25km.   At 1270m, this is a higher lake and temperatures are cooler than the North Thompson Valley.   The lake water was clear and I could see schools of fish.   The shoreline is treed and the lake can't be seen from the highway.   The lake lies with Emar Lakes Provincial Park.   It is one lake in a chain that can be paddled with short portages between (although one is 1030m long).   At this time, the trails are closed because of windfall and danger trees (link to more information).  

Janice Lake 007c Janice Lake 010c

The most enjoyable lakes to paddle include these attributes:

  • no powerboats
  • no lakeshore homes
  • away from busy roads
  • clean water and a healthy ecosystem
  • wildlife potential
  • large enough to offer a good workout
  • reasonable launch and landing access
  • a scenic shoreline

Some good paddling spots have most of these, but Janice Lake has all of these.   Although the lakes of this area are a bit of drive, they are worth a day of paddling in the high country on the edge of the Cariboo.

 

Frogmoore Fens

One of our favorite lakes to paddle is East Frogmoore Lake.   It is not easy to get into the lake which makes it seldom-visited and it feels remote.  Directions into the lake were detailed in a previous post – East Frogmoore.

This time we launched in the third lake, paddled across the lake, landed at the east end, portaged our boats over the dam, then relaunched into the channel.  Near the end of the channel, we found it had been dammed with debris so we had to portage around the blockage-dropoff into the last part of the channel into the lake.

Frogmoore

Extensive lily pads areas and marshlands surround the lake, making interesting paddling.  The yellow pond lilies were in bloom in mid-August.

Frogmoore Again 020c Frogmoore Again 026c

When the lake waa dammed, water levels rose, drowning some trees.   Large rootstalks line the fens on several shorelines.   Reeds, cattails, lily pads, and smart weed surround the lake.

Frogmoore Again 009c Frogmoore Again 010c

On a sunny day, the sun and clouds reflect in the lake.

Frogmoore Again 004bc

This lake has a special character to it.

Frogmoore Again 022c

The total distance to paddle both East and West Frogmoore Lake is about 6.5km.   Adding two portages each way adds extra time.   It is possible to 4WD or quad into the lake, but this is a very round-about route and does not get to a reasonable boat launch, so fishermen and paddlers usually paddle down the channel to get to East Frogmoore.  Not easy, but well-worth the adventure….

Frogmoore Again 024c Frogmoore Again 028c

 

Oregon Jack to Blue Earth

This long (46-49km) bike ride is a very nice one, but pre-scouting of the area and permission to cross a private ranch is required.   Nevertheless, parts of it can be biked on backroads, exploring routes in the upper valleys of the area.

Trip log:

  • We left a vehicle near Spences Creek, the end point, then drove north to the Hat Creek Road which goes west from the Trans Canada Highway south of Ashcroft.
  • The road climbs for 11km into the Three Sister area on the edge of Oregon Jack Park; there are three limestone hills/cliffs here used by climbers, but there are also pictographs on the rock.   Watch for an obvious pullout just past the ranches.
  • Above the Three Sisters, the road becomes narrower, climbing the hills into the Park.   A turn-off to Cornwall Hills Provincial Park is passed along the route.   At the crest of the Oregon Jack Road is a cattleguard at 1265m, which is where we parked to start our ride.
  • We rode through Oregon Jack Park, a downhill and flat route for 7.5km.   The junction with Upper Hat Creek is reached here at 1136m.
  • To avoid a long route around ranchlands, we asked for and received permission to cross a gated ranch road, allowing a straight line south 4km to Blue Earth Creek.
  • This turn is unmareed and would be very difficult to know without scouting in advance.   We turned onto a minor backroad which climbed up to Blue Earth Provincial Park.
  • This route starts at 1206m and climbs for 8.7km to Blue Earth Lake at 1392m.   This scenic spot is a great place for lunch.
  • From Blue Earth lake the road continues to climb for 5km to 1470m.   This is remote high country and we saw bear scat frequently.
  • From the high point, we rode downhill for 3km to a road junction.   We turned right to the Twaal Creek Valley.   At 1km, we rode past Twaal Lake.   Just past the lake is another junction and we turned left onto the Twaal Creek Road.
  • The last section of road is about 17km of downhill and flat sections, finishing at the Trans Canada Highway 4.2km from Spences Bridge.
  • The whole route requires fitness, endurance, route-finding skills, and adequate preparation, but is perfect for those who like to explore.   Thanks to Steve and Darcy Lawhead for scouting the area, getting permission where required, organizing, and leading the ride.

Three Sisters pictographs

Three Sisters pictographs

Oregon Jack 007c

Upper Hat Creek

Marys bike photosc

Oregon Jack to Blue Earth Creek

Oregon Jack 016c

Blue Earth Lake

Oregon Jack 017c

Relic in the Twaal Creek Valley

Three Sisters pictographsUpper Hat CreekOregon Jack to Blue Earth CreekBlue Earth LakeRelic in the Twaal Creek Valley