The 5 Best Off-Season Kayaking Adventures Near Vancouver

It’ll just be you, the seals, and a handful of sail boats.

Ask a paddler why they enjoy kayaking, and most will mention the closeness they feel to nature and almost meditative state they reach while paddling. It's tough to really appreciate this part of kayaking during the summer when the waters are often disturbed by day tripping power boats cranking out the jams and scaring off away any living animal within 100 kilometers.

The off-season provides an opportunity to head out on a kayak adventure without the crowds filling up beaches and campsites. Yes, in autumn the days are shorter but water temperatures are still warm and the mild evenings make for perfect golden hour explorations. Fall foliage and dramatic skies are only an added bonus to having most paddling spots all to yourself.

Here are the five best spots near Vancouver to enjoy an off-season kayak trip.

1. Indian Arm Provincial Park

Photo: Rachel Kristensen

Just 30 minutes from Vancouver, this spot is a local as well as a boater’s favourite in summer time leaving from the popular Deep Cove.

After a mere 15 minutes of paddling from the pebble beach and small sailing club on the North Shore, you'll find yourself skimming the waters with seals and passing waterfalls cutting through mountains covered in dense green forests. If you go in the off-season, it’ll just be you, the seals and a handful of sail boats once you paddle past the 3km mark.

Take your tent and follow Canada’s southernmost fjord for 18km deep into the arm towards Granite Falls, a massive 50m waterfall with a grassy campsite situated right on its shores. As a bonus, the fall is spawning season with 60,000 salmon making their way on the same course up the inlet. Learn more.

2. Alouette Lake

Photo: Rachel Kristensen

This is by far the best example of how an adventure can be completely different in the off-season than in the summertime. In the heat of summer, the boat ramp is lined up with aluminum fishing boats and wakeboarding speedboats dominate the lake. By fall, the fog and moody grey tones roll in. Boaters are gone, the beaches are empty and the scenery is nothing less than extraordinary.

Paddle far from the day use beaches towards the narrows where the submerged tree stumps sit just below the shallow shoreline. Rustic and mossy lakeside campsites can be found after a two hour paddle - but you'll feel like you've paddled feel a million miles away. Learn more.

3. Pitt Lake

Photo: Rachel Kristensen

Another boater friendly lake, this time with a drive featured on countless Instagram feeds. The winding road weaves through a blueberry farmlands with tall mountains looming in the distance.

Once at the dead end of the road, boaters are greeted to a tidal lake with bears, deer and seal all easily spotted on a paddle.

Make a day trip on Pitt Lake and paddle in the marshlands towards Widgeon Falls. Follow the small and shallow creeks through a tall grassed slough to a sandy beach that leads to a forested waterfall trail.

If you go in off-season, you’ll easily find parking for your boat on the sandy beach and have the possibility of getting into one of the few backcountry campsites.

Just make sure you remember that it is a tidal lake, so your boat should be high up on the shore. Learn more.

4. Jones Lake

Photo: Rachel Kristensen

As a recreation campsite sitting 600m above the Fraser Valley, Jones Lake can see a lot of action in summer, sometimes the rowdier crowd.

In the off-season, the isolated peacefulness of this place can truly be experienced. The decimated tree trunks cut down by forestry works stand eerily half emerged in water, giving the place a hauntingly serene feeling. Best of all, those moody weather photos are practically guaranteed in the off-season with glacier capped mountains veiled in rolling fog. Learn more.

5. Sechelt Arm

Photo: Rachel Kristensen

A short ferry ride away from Vancouver is another densely forested fjord on the Sunshine Coast with barnacle covered beaches and smooth sheltered waters. Ferry lines and traffic jams plague the nearby towns and everyone tries to escape to the nearest body of water during the summer, but in the off-season, the Sunshine Coast lives up to its ‘get away from it all’ mantra.

For a special adventure, go for a paddle at night when it is a new moon. The waters of Sechelt Arm have phosphorescence that sparkle and glow in the water once disturbed. Learn more.

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Remember to always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and be sure to brush up on LNT principles for backcountry fires as well.

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.