Your Guide to Widgeon Creek, a Paddle and Hike Adventure only 1 Hour from Vancouver, BC

Widgeon Creek Paddle and Hike

Here’s a 90 second video summary of the route from the Pitt Lake boat landing, up Widgeon Creek, and then to Widgeon Falls. Further notes below…

The route to Widgeon Falls combines a paddle through the idyllic Widgeon Slough wetlands and then a hike through a beautiful forest until you get to a waterfall cascading over polished bedrock. People explore this route in canoes, kayaks, inflatables, and even paddleboards.

You can rent canoes at the Pitt Lake boat launch, but be warned that they have limited stock and often sell out so you might want to arrive early in the day. The only accept cash; last I heard it was $80/day (plus a $50 deposit) but call them at 604-790-2205 to make sure.

Pitt Lake is a tidally influenced lake, fluctuating as the Fraser River breathes in and out in response to the tides. Because of that portions of the creek through the slough can get very shallow a few hours after low tide, so be prepared to wade portions of the stream, especially in late summer when the water levels are low.

It’s relatively easy to navigate up the slough; there are occasional signs to point you in the right direction and other paddlers who know the route. The only possible point of confusion is after about 30 minutes where two branches converge: take the left branch (looking upstream) and keep an eye out for the sign shown at 23 second mark in the video above.

In the wetland you can see lots of ducks, geese, herons and eagles, as well as the occasional wayward seal that has swum in from the sea.

The Widgeon Creek Campsite (shown at the 28 second mark) has an outhouse, picnic tables and several tent pads with no other amenities. When I looked into it reservations could not be made and it was first-come, first-served. You should, however, check with BC Parks for any changes.

From the campsite it’s an easy 2.5 km walk to the falls. Follow the trail marker and head up the small gravel road. Eventually you’ll come to a second trail marker (00:44) which gives you two options: 1) continue straight up the road, or 2) turn right and take a smaller trail through the forest close to the creek. The first option is faster but the second option is much prettier; take option 2.

The trail is generally flat and easy until the last 20 minutes when you have to climb up and down a few ridges before coming to the Widgeon Creek Falls. There’s lots of room to sit, picnic, and sunbathe beside the waterfall. In midsummer when the river levels have subsided this can be a nice place to swim, but to do this when the water levels are high would be suicidal.

The entire route is 15 kilometers: 10 km by boat (5 km in, 5 km out) and 5 km on the trail (2.5 km in, 2.5 km out). It takes most people 4 to 6 hours and in good weather you’ll see families with children, couples with dogs, and tourists of all shapes and sizes paddling up the creek (not everyone continues up to the falls). Despite the traffic this is one of the nicest day excursions in the Lower Mainland.

The main hazards include

1) Swamping or flipping on Pitt Lake. This could be an issue if the wind comes up on the lake, so buckle up your PFD and don’t get turned sideways to the waves.

2) Bears. There are a lot of berries in the area and fish in the river, so you’re in prime bear habitat. Pay attention, don’t distract yourself with earphones, and bring bear spray.

3) The falls themselves. The rocks around the falls are slippery and the current below is swift, so falling into the creek here would be a bad thing and rescue could tricky. There is a lot of safe terrain here, but pay attention when you’re close to the edge, and especially keep an eye on dogs and children.

Widgeon Creek is a gorgeous little getaway, so enjoy!

Stephan Kesting