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.
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).
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.
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