Pemberton Meadows to Squamish(The long Way)

CanadaBritish ColumbiaSouthwest
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Andrew McKay
Trip Date : 
Aug. 4/2019 - Aug. 19/2019
Additional Route Information
420 km
14 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
0 m
Longest Portage: 
0 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Not applicable
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

Leaving Pemberton from the intersection of Birch & Prospect travelling 23.5 km on the Pemberton Meadows rd. to a Right hand turn onto Lillooet FSR. 1.5 KM down the FSR is a bridge, this was my starting point. Chatting with two local guides they informed me once you're on the river, consider yourself committed until past Pemberton as most land owners aren't fond of campers.

Technical Guide: 

General route: 43Km down the Upper Lillooet River and across Lillooet Lake. Hitched a ride from Baptiste Smith Reserve to Tipella as i was unwilling to paddle the Lower Lillooet River solo in a loaded 16' Prospector. Paddled across Harrison lake and down Harrison river to the Fraser. Out the Fraser to Burrard inlet, crossing under the Lion's Gate bridge. Continuing to Hutt island(small uninhabited island off of Bowen Island) I weaved my way through Gambier and Anvil island until I reached my end point in Squamish.

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Instead of copying my logbook word for word I'll touch on a few of the unique points and predicaments this trip presented. Navigationally this trip was on the easier end of the spectrum. It was simply follow the water into the next larger portion of water. After completing Lillooet lake I stopped at Baptiste Church to scope the rapids and find transportation around this section of the river. From the few sections I saw it looked like a large volume river at its current height with some Class 3 & and possibly 4 Rapids. There are several guidebooks explaining this section of river in more detail if you choose to paddle it. Calvin is a local mechanic and was kind enough to give my boat & I a lift around this section of river to the head of Harrison lake.

Harrison lake is some 80 KM long and I,comically, battled a headwind of some kind for most of those 80 KM. Though my canoe is fully skirted the wind played a major roll when I was able to paddle. Beautiful scenery throughout. There were plenty of campsite options along the lake. Making my way into the Fraser Valley produced an interesting problem, especially as I grew closer to the ocean and Vancouver Proper. Population density and industry occupy majority of the shoreline making camping options sparse. Another force that needs to be taken into account is the tide. Expect planning around the semi diurnal tide cycle from Mission down river. 

The Ocean...

This was my first foray into paddling a canoe in the open expanse of an ocean. Even in the relativley sheltered waters around Vancouver and Howe sound I had some unnerving moments. I'm comfortable on the ocean in a sea kayak and im quite comfortable in a Canoe. Combining the two experiences left me feeling somewhat helpless at times. The wind being a major factor in any outing, seemed to be compounded 10 fold making crossings between islands a delicate balance of cardio and ferrying. Or Carderrying as I laughably dubbed it during a few poorly planned crossings.

This trip started out as an idea to see a side of the lower mainland I hadn't experienced before. In that regard, it was a success. Even though this was a "solo' trip i encountered humans throughout and was happy to do so. The benefits of solo travel for the soul are beyond rewarding however human interaction is equally as beautiful. With the good always comes the bad, having a major body of water so close to a large populous like Vancouver. There are, unsurprisingly, noticeable signs of errosion, mining, forestry, waste, and litter. Our economy depends on these industries so the only bone I have to pick is with individuals. The amount of litter I collected and had to leave behind due to lack of room in my boat was beyond measure. From full on dilapidated docks to Detergent bottle buoys to a friggen wheel barrow left where a wheel barrow had no place. I did my best to take photos of what I could and will attempt to post some on this forum. 

Final note: As domesticated as this trip was, it was a cementing reminder what a wonderfully diverse vessel the canoe is. My Skirted 16' Nova Craft Prospector (Royalex lite) took me confidently down glacier fed rivers, small and large windswept lakes, tidal rivers, and some mild ocean travel. The only limiting factor seemed to be my Judgement. Thanks for reading and feel free to reach out.


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Post date: Fri, 05/15/2020 - 13:13


Wow. Interesting plan. Thanks for sharing! Pat.

Post date: Mon, 04/13/2020 - 16:20


Can't wait for the video !

Post date: Tue, 03/24/2020 - 23:31


Keep fit & have fun out there!