Fort Langley to Barnston Island - Trip Description
Total distance (one-way): 18.5 kilometres (11.5 miles)
Coordinates (WGS 84):
N49 10.204 W122 34.335 - Put-in location (Fort Langley)
N49 12.163 W122 34.776 - Alternate put-in location (Kanaka Creek Park, Maple Ridge)
- No. 3489 - Small Craft Charts (1/20,000)
Canadian Topographic Maps:
Caution: You may encounter very large wakes from tugboats and ships in the Fraser River. Other hazards are log booms and strong currents. The main arm of the Fraser River is not a place for beginners.
The Fraser River presents the paddler with many options -- and it rewards with great views and interesting places to explore. For this trip, I paddled solo for the first 5 km from Fort Langley to Kanaka Creek, where I met up with tlg. We then continued along the south shore of the Fraser.
On my departure from the Fort Langley boat launch, the current was moving downstream at about 2-3 km/hr making speeds of 10 km/hr possible with only a little effort. After paddling to the eastern end of McMillan Island, I paddled across the Fraser, in the direction of Kanaka Creek. The entrance to the creek was very difficult to spot -- even from 50 meters away. Look for the pedestrian bridge and the brightly coloured fishing boundary marker, when you locate them, you'll easily find the creek opening. After a short paddle up the creek, I met tlg at the Kanaka Creek Park canoe launch.
From the mouth of Kanaka Creek, we paddled across the Fraser to the south shoreline. Shortly afterwards, a very large tugboat passed us, creating a four foot tall wake. The tugboat skipper slowed down when he saw us to reduce the size of the wake, but that may not always be the case on the Fraser so you need to be alert at all times for hazards such as boat wakes. There are many large boats that frequently travel along the Fraser and these boats can produce dangerous conditions -- if you are uncomfortable with large boat wakes, you should perhaps reconsider the main arms of the Fraser River as a place to paddle. Bear in mind also, that wakes from boats can take considerable time before they reach you -- a boat on the opposite side of the river can be long gone before it's wake reaches you. Be watchful.
There are few places along the Fraser to exit your kayak -- one of the nicest places to get out of your boat however, is at Derby Reach Park where a gently sloping beach extends for about a full kilometre.
Roughly a kilometre west of Derby Reach Park is the community of Grants Landing, which consists of a large group of house boats. We paddled between the houseboats and the shore, enjoying the interesting water dwellings.
We stopped for lunch just past the house boats on a small marshy beach -- it wasn't the most picturesque spot, but it was easy to exit the boats in the shallow water.
Continuing on our way, there were many interesting sights -- we passed several sawmills and a cement plant, there were a few abandoned cars in a couple of locations, and we observed many different birds en route. We even had a curious seal follow us for quite a distance.
As we entered Parsons Channel we crossed over to the shore of Barnston Island -- this would be an especially prudent move if you're paddling here during the week as the activity around the sawmills on the opposite side of the channel will create many challenges for a small kayak. There are log booms tied up along Barnston Island but water traffic will be a lot less than on the other side.
Be extremely careful as you approach log booms when the current is strong -- getting sucked underneath a logboom in your small kayak would not be a good thing -- give a large berth and watch the water carefully as you approach logbooms.
We had originally planned to paddle to Maquabeak Park at the north end of the Port Mann bridge but since we had paddled at a very relaxed pace, we didn't cover as much distance as we had expected. Since we still had another 10-12 kilometres to go, and less than an hour and a half before sunset, we decided to end our trip at the Barnston Island Ferry parking lot at the foot of 104th Avenue. There is what appears to be an abandoned boat launch at the parking lot that is suitable for getting in and out of a kayak or canoe (trailered boats will need to look elsewhere for launching).
While not a wilderness paddle by any means, this paddle is great if you like exploring river shorelines and industrial areas. But be mindful -- the industry and boat traffic along the Fraser can create many hazards for those in small boats -- stay aware, be safe, and you'll find the Fraser to be a great place for a paddling adventure.
Put-in/parking location at Fort Langley:
From Vancouver: Follow Hwy 1 east until the 232nd Street exit Cross over the freeway and follow 242nd north as it winds along for 1.8 km and joins with Rawliston Crescent and heads west. Continue to Glover Road. Turn right and head north on Glover Road into Fort Langley. Continue through Fort Langley and turn right on Mavis Avenue (just before the train tracks). Travel one block east and turn left on Church Street. The entrance to the park is just over the rail road tracks. The boat launch is at the east end of the park. Parking is free.
From Abbotsford/Chilliwack: Follow Hwy 1 west until the 232nd Street northbound exit. Follow 242nd north as it winds along for 1.8 km and joins with Rawliston Crescent and heads west. Continue to Glover Road. Turn right and head north on Glover Road into Fort Langley. Continue through Fort Langley and turn right on Mavis Avenue (just before the train tracks). Travel one block east and turn left on Church Street. The entrance to the park is just over the rail road tracks. The boat launch is at the east end of the park. Parking is free.
Put-in/parking location at Kanaka Creek Park:
From Maple Ridge: Follow the Lougheed Highway east until River Road. Turn south and cross over the train tracks. Immediately after crossing the tracks you will see the entrance to Kanaka Creek Park -- follow the roadway to the parking lot near the canoe launch which is located near the base of the train.
Trip date: November 21, 2004
Weather: Cloudy, cool
Water condition: smooth
Tides/currents: Tide was rising at departure but there was a downstream current. As we approached Barnston Island at high tide, the river current was standing still.
Submitted by: Dan Millsip
Images copyright: Dan Millsip