The Sayward Forest Canoe route is a challenging outdoor adventure situated within the Sayward Provincial Forest, northwest of Campbell River on Vancouver Island.
The B.C Forest Service has constructed a number of portage trails that link a series of lakes to form the Sayward Forest Forest Canoe Route, and one of the most extensive canoeing opportunities on the island.
The Great Campbell River Fire that burst into life in July 1938 sadly destroyed much of the Sayward Forest. The devastating blaze raged for over a month before finally being extinguished by firefighters. Over 30,000 hectares of forest were razed to the ground, inspiring a massive replanting effort the following year during which almost 800,000 Douglas-fir trees were planted in one month – an incredible accomplishment for those days! Since then, hemlock, cedar and white pine have all regenerated naturally.
The Sayward Forest was named after William P. Sayward, a pioneer logger and sawmill operator in the area.
The undulating topography of the region incorporates many lakes and creeks, and is largely covered with immature second-growth timber.
Today, this is the most extensively managed forest in British Columbia, and paddlers should be aware of the presence of logging trucks.
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Although most of the lakes within the Sayward Forest Canoe Route remain ice-free for most of the year, the preferred time to do the route would be summer or early fall. The recommended direction to circumnavigate the route is counterclockwise, commencing at any one of the numerous available starting points.
Good road access to most of the lakes within the route allows one to canoe the whole route or only part of the route. The entire route requires about 3 to 4 days to complete and covers nearly 50 km. Numerous Recreation Campsites are located on the lakes on the canoe route, providing adequate overnight camping facilities at Campbell Lake, Gosling Lake, Mohun Lake, Twin Lake, Amor Lake, Brewster Lake, Gray Lake, Fry Lake (Fry Peninsula).
Gosling Bay on Campbell Lake and Morton Lake are preferred put-in spots, with other popular locations being Strathcona Dam, Loveland Bay, Forbes Landing, and McIvor Lake.
Sayward Forest Canoe Route Circuit Description:
- Section 1: Campbell Lake (Gosling Bay) to Gosling Lake – 1.1 km Portage
- Section 2: Gosling Lake – 1.8 km Paddle
- Section 3: Gosling Lake to Higgins swamp channel – 0.2 km Portage
- Section 4: Higgins Lake & swamp channel – 0.8 km Paddle
- Section 5: Higgins Lake to Lawier Lake – 0.3 km Portage
- Section 6: Lawier Lake – 0.5 km Paddle
- Section 7: Lawier Lake to Mohun Lake – 0.3 km Portage
- Section 8: Mohun Lake – 9.2 km Paddle
- Section 9: Mohun Lake to Twin Lake swamps – 1.6 km Portage
- Section 10: Twin Lake & swamp channels – 2.0 km Paddle
- Section 11: Twin Lake to Amor Lake – 0.8 km Portage
- Section 12: Amor Lake – 4.4 km Paddle
- Section 13: Amor Lake to Surprise Lake – 0.1 km Portage
- Section 14: Surprise Lake – 1.1 km Paddle
- Section 15: Surprise Lake to Brewster Lake – 2.2 km Portage
- Section 16: Brewster Lake – 5.2 km Paddle
- Section 17: Log Jam at Brewster Lake – 0.1 km Portage
- Section 18: Log Jam to Gray Lake – 1.8 km Paddle
- Section 19: Gray Lake – 2.8 km Paddle
- Section 20: Gray Lake to Whymper Lake – 0.3 km Paddle, 0.3 km Portage
- Section 21: Whymper Lake – 0.6 km Paddle
- Section 22: Whymper Lake to Fry Lake – 0.4 km Paddle, 0.4 km Portage
- Section 23: Fry Lake – 2.0 km Paddle
- Section 24: Campbell lake (to Gosling Bay) – 8.3 km Paddle
- Total with sections 20 and 22 paddled: 41.2 km Paddle and 6.7 km Portage
- Total with sections 20 and 22 portaged: 40.5 km Paddle and 7.4 km Portage
- Total Circuit: 47.9 km