The total kms in the trail details above, along with the time to complete, are if you want to circumnavigate Harrison Lake (one of the paddle selections from "The Vancouver Paddler" book that I reviewed this May 2004).
I over-nited at 20 km on the East Harrison Forestry Road to demo a kayak this spring, May 16/04. Camping spots from here to Cogburn Creek, about 3 kms away, are easy to find, many right on the beach. Harrison is a BIG lake and if the winds are up you will find swells between 2 to 3 feet. The surf crashes on the shore like the ocean - I was woken up early Sun a.m. by this - the wind having shifted during the night. Due to the winds you can encounter Harrison Lake should be classed as a difficult paddle!
I had the kayak out for 45 minutes, off the beach, Sat evening to get a feel for it. Sun a.m. I waited for the surf to die down (approx 10 a.m.) before heading up the lake to Cogburn Creek. This was a nice paddle and with the sun out and the winds calm it was easy. The road along this stretch is right down beside the lake so any traffic could be seen. There is tons of beach area that you can pitch a tent on and as a result it is a common hang out for teens and the partying crowd. The real downside here is the garbage that people leave behind!! There are signs posted everywhere to "pack it out" but people can be such PIGS!!! There were some rather large garbage middens back in the trees and of course the pre-requisite toilet paper garnish, deposited indiscriminately, by those who don't know "How to Shit in the Woods".
The paddle to Cogburn Creek, past a bay with the Cogburn Logging company located on the shore, takes about 1/2 hour. The scenery is great if it's sunny. Cogburn Creek shallows quickly so that it would be difficult to paddle up unless the water levels are higher. Oh... it's also darn cold!! I noticed through the bottom of the kayak immediately on entering it's flow!
Cogburn Creek has some camp sites on either side up off the Forestry Road bridge and also back in along a "spur" road. The creek looks like you could take a boat down to the lake but there is some fast water here and it seems fairly shallow.
Another 10 kms or so further north, Big Silver Creek beckons with a longish mouth that is deep and clear and slow moving. There is another logging operation here on the shore. Places to camp seem pretty scarce here.
From the #1 Hwy take the turnoff to Harrison/Aggasiz. Follow the signs to Harrison Hot Springs and when you hit the beach at Harrison turn left and head for Sasquatch Provincial Park. You'll reach a fork in the road where it turns to gravel. The East Harrison Forestry Road is signed at this point; the other fork to your right leads to 3 smallish lakes (Deer, Hicks and Trout) and campgrounds in Sasquatch Park. Follow the East Harrison Forestry Road which is an active hauling road so watch out for traffic, especially logging trucks.
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Posted By: Alineit
- Thu Apr 12 13:01:26 EDT 2007
UpsideAmazing views, incredible camp sites. there are some really good hiking spots in the area, suggest getting a backroad map book for the area
Downsideon long weekends there are ALOT of people there. can reach in the thousands for weekends such as may long. which meens alot of litter along the beaches
Commentsuggest it to anyone who enjoys paddling, lots of whitewater as well. Cogburn Creek is not safe to bring a boat or sea kayak down. during spring it is rated as a class 4 rapids. and there are alot of rocks. just this last weekend i damaged one of my yaks and its not even full force yet
Posted By: Philip T
- Thu Jan 13 23:01:43 EST 2005
UpsideSpectacular scenery, nearly a hundred miles of portage-free paddling, uncrowded, and (if you're careful to find road-inaccessible campsites), a reasonably wilderness-like experience within a few hours drive of Vancouver.
DownsideAll the beaches on Harrison Lake are covered with logs from the logging/sorting operation at the north end of the lake. This can make landing in even moderate waves really tricky, especially if you're in a kayak rather than a canoe. So if you intend to land to avoid paddling in bad weather, do it earlier rather than later.
As Hawke noted, it can and does blow up real good on Harrison (the lake and river valley are one of the main "corridors" for air flow into and out of the BC interior to the Pacific). And on the east side of the lake, particularly from opposite Doctor's Bay to the north end, landable spots are few and far between. You need to treat paddling here as essentially like a series of long, committed crossings, even though you're following the shoreline. I ran from Todd Bay to Port Douglas Channel in seas that were regularly throwing green water across my deck, because there was nowhere to land. In my kayak, it was just exciting: In an open canoe, I would have been sunk for sure several times over. If you're paddling an open canoe, I'd suggest getting a very early start in the mornings, and getting off the water at the first stirrings of the afternoon wind. Even if you're paddling a kayak or a canoe with a spraydeck, you want to be experienced if you intend to ride out weather rather than run from it.
Hawke's right that most of the 4 x 4 accessible sites around the lake are pigsties. I try to assume there's no higher percentage of rowdy, littering slobs among 4 x 4 campers than among paddlers, but because of their larger numbers, it only takes a small percentage of the 4 x 4ers to ruin the road-accessible forestry campsites for paddlers and other SUVers alike.
CommentI've sea-kayaked on Harrison Lake several times over the years, and did a complete circuit of the lake in June of 2004. A few comments to supplement this trail report that might be helpful to others:
Hawke just missed out on a great campsite at Big Silver Creek: It's on the hook-shaped island in the delta of the northern arm of the creek. Sandy, tidy, with a nice dining lean-to that someone's built out of driftwood. There's also another sweet site in the delta where Douglas Creek runs into Little Harrison Lake.