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Cheam Views, Hope Slough, Chilliwack | Kim Walker
By Kimberly Walker
In the Fraser Valley, numerous Blueways – or water trails – with designated routes, launching points, and points of interest have become increasingly popular in recent years. Akin to a hiking trail on the water, Blueways provide recreation users the opportunity to paddle on a variety of waterways including lakes, rivers, sloughs, and canals.
In Spring 2021, the Watershed Watch Salmon Society put out a socially-distanced, DIY challenge for local paddlers to explore the Blueways in Chilliwack. The fourth annual Paddle the Slough Challenge encouraged people to explore a variety of waterways in Chilliwack during spring freshet when the water levels are highest in the sloughs.
I have kayaked for over fifteen years, but never had I seriously considered paddling in the sloughs close to my house. For years I had watched as the sloughs came up in the spring and then lowered, sometimes to just a trickle, as the summer progressed. But, with the desire to explore more paddle routes close to home, and the added encouragement of potential prizes, I got myself registered and hit the trail – the water trail, that is.
First up for me in the challenge was the Hope Slough. Extending from Rosedale to Fairfield Island, our paddle trip from the launch point beside the Rosedale Fire Hall down to Corbould Park in Chilliwack clocked in at exactly 16 kilometres on my GPS tracker with a travel time of just under four hours.
The launching point next to the Rosedale Fire Hall had a lovely view but was somewhat less lovely in terms of the practicalities of launching the kayak. The bank was quite muddy which made entrance a little bit challenging. The challenges continued from the Rosedale Fire Hall for the first portion of the trip (as far as Chapman Road), as the slough was quite shallow and muddy. If I were to do it again, I would probably wait for higher water or skip this portion of the trip entirely and save myself the trouble of scrubbing slough scum off the bottom and sides of my kayak.
Beyond Chapman Road, the slough deepens, and the paddling becomes easier. In this portion of the trip, we were treated to a goose and gosling escort, excellent bird viewing, and peek-a-boo views of the Cheam Range whenever we turned around to look behind us.
Eventually we arrived at Reeves Road, which is an alternate launch point along the Hope Slough. If I were to do the trip again, I would probably use this launch point for it’s wider and less mucky access point and the fact that by launching here you avoid the shallow and muddy portion of the upper slough. If you do choose to paddle the whole route, Reeves Road makes a good place to stop and have a stretch.
Shortly after Reeves Road the slough turns north and away from Yale Road, traffic noise disappears, and it becomes lovely and peaceful in the slough. Before long, the slough turns west again and becomes noticeably wider. The portion of the slough that runs along Hope River Road is a beautiful paddle. If you are looking for a much shorter alternative, launching at the Kinsman Hall on Hope River Road allows you to paddle the widest, deepest, and definitely most popular part of the slough. It is also by far the easiest launching point with parking, a wide gravel entry point, and even a bridge from which you can watch paddlers pass below you before or after launching. From Kinsman Hall you can paddle downstream to Corbould Park, which was the end point of our journey. Another gravel launch point allows you to exit and carry your boats up on shore in a muck free environment, which was certainly appreciated!
The best way to paddle the Hope Slough is by either arranging a two-car shuttle or having someone drop you off. Some portions of the slough, particularly the section near Kinsman Hall, can be paddled in either direction, but for the full effect it is nice to be able to have the gentle current pull you along and not have to worry about paddling back upstream.
Due to fluctuation water levels, paddling in the slough is best enjoyed when the water is highest. However, there are plenty of other Blueways in the Fraser Valley and a quick Google search turns up official city plans for Blueways in many communities. This spring, take the opportunity to do a little exploring in your own backyard and seek out local gems that you may otherwise never have thought to experience.
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Published: May 5, 2022
Last Updated: May 5, 2022
Kimberly is a Special Education, Elementary School teacher in Hope, BC. Previously having worked ten years at the Hope Visitor Centre & Museum promoting tourism in Hope and British Columbia, Kimberly worked on many local history projects in the museum as well as researching and writing articles for the local newspaper. Kimberly loves travelling with her husband Dale and their dog Alpine. In the fall of 2014, they spent the first 78 days of married life travelling and camping their way across Canada - just the two of them and the dog - travelling in a Hyundai Elantra! Kimberly loves various outdoor recreation types and exploring our beautiful province.