East from Fort Langley - Trip description
Total distance: 12.0 kilometres (7.5 miles)
Coordinates (WGS 84):
N49 10.204 W122 34.335 - Put-in location
- No. 3489 - Small Craft Charts (1/20,000)
Canadian Topographic Maps:
The Fraser River is a very interesting place to paddle. From the boat launch at Fort Langley, you'll be entering the Fraser in Bedford Channel -- a narrow waterway that is used extensively by the Fort Langley Rowing Club. From the put in, we headed north, expecting to travel a distance of 5-6 kilometres.
The current in the Fraser River can sometimes be very strong so check your tide charts (New Westminster is the nearest tide station). On the day that we paddled, the tide was on it's way up but the current was still a steady 3-4 kilometres for most of our up-river trip. Paddling against the current we averaged about 3-4 kilometres/hour but there's lots to look at so you tend not to notice the slower travelling speed.
Be wary of the currents at the top of McMillan Island, when the tide is pushing the current back up the river, the currents are minimal but when the tide is dropping and the current is running fast, the waters at the Island's tend to churn up a bit.
Past the top of McMillan Island, you'll approach Fort Langley Airport -- a small, but sometimes very busy facility. There is a grass landing strip for wheeled airplanes and a large ramp into the water for float planes. Use caution in this area and keep an eye open for float planes -- they can be almost silent if they're landing behind you and you won't hear them until they're nearly on top of you.
Continuing along the shoreline, you'll see a few docks with fishing boats and pleasure craft. Approximately 3.5 kilometres from the Fort Langley boat launch you'll come across a large abandonded tug boat that is docked against some pilings.
About a half kilometre from the tug boat is a small gravel beach just past what appears to be a government dock. We stopped at this spot for lunch.
Continuing on, there is a large sawmill on the south shore. During the week, there will obviously be a lot of action so caution should be shown in this area. Past the sawmill is a booming ground that is approximately 2 kilometres long.
On our return to Fort Langley, the tide was at it's highest and the current was less than 1 kilometre an hour. We easily managed to paddle at a speed of 8 km/hr all the way back to Fort Langley.
Note that there is a large family of beavers near the top of McMillan Island and it's not unusual to see them if you're paddling in the area around sunset.
Caution: You may encounter very strong currents and very large wakes from tugboats and ships in the Fraser River. The Fraser River is not a place for beginners.
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.
Trip date: November 11, 2004
Weather: Sunny, 11C (52F)
Wind: Slight breeze from the west
Water condition: Rippled
Tides/currents: Current was against us approximately 3 km/hr on our departure. Current was 1 - 2 km/hr in our favour on return.
Submitted by: Dan Millsip
Images copyright: Dan Millsip