Nanika Falls. (Tom Roper photo)

Nanika Falls. (Tom Roper photo)

Nanika – Kidprice portage: A great legacy from ‘Save the Bulkley’ days

Tom recounts a canoe trip to Nanika Falls

There was a time in recent Bulkley Valley history when our water, the Bulkley river, was in jeopardy.

Alcan had plans to set up a dam at Nanika falls. The Nanika river flows into the Morice, which in turn flows into the Bulkley, the most important tributary of the Skeena. This, of course, could have affected the salmon and the scenario looked ominous.

Fortunately, at the time there were concerned citizens that rallied and a community group, “Save the Bulkley” was formed. With the support of our local communities and some intense opposition, the project was scrapped.

One of the legacy projects from those days was the establishment of a canoe circuit joining several lakes within the watershed. The idea was “ use it or lose it” and a plan to showcase the natural beauty of the area was implemented.

Of course, I jumped at the opportunity to get into the bush and explore our backyard.

Take the Morice River Road past Canfor out of Houston. Turn right at kilometre 28 and you will pass a neat campsite called Owen Flats and continue toward Morice lake.

Around kilometre 65 a small sign indicates Lamprey Lake left 8km and the adventure begins. Looking across the lake you wonder where the take-out is.

There are no signs, you just have to figure it out as the canoes are loaded and pushed out into the water. A short paddle and the trail becomes visible. The portage to Anzac lake is about a kilometre and a half and after packing Ed’s larger than necessary cooler, a guitar, two canoes and several packs we realized we had too much stuff.

Oh well, we set up camp on an island in Lamprey lake and settled in. This voyage should have at least 4 days to complete. The kids caught some fish and the cooler came in handy for a cold one that evening.

Day 2 was across Anzac lake and there was another short portage. It was early summer and a few mosquitos were out. I looked at my wife ahead of me and wondered where she got that dark sweater.

Ah no, those are mosquitoes. Funny how they know when both of your hands are occupied.

We reached the shore of Steppe lake mid-afternoon and the wind was already up. No point in attempting a crossing. Most lakes blow up in the afternoon and the best option is to wait it out till morning.

The next day the lake had settled and our longest paddle took place. The scenery was spectacular and we were tempted to pull out and climb Tabletop Mountain.

We did not have quite enough time. At the end of Steppe there was a clear trail through to our final lake, Kidprice and the falls. This is actually the longest portage at two kilometres. But it is level and pleasant.

We hit Kidprice early afternoon and no wind as yet. Now, it was a fairly short paddle across the lake to the outlet of the Nanika river. The only issue was the pull of the water to the falls.

No, you would not want to break your paddle at this moment. We landed safely and followed a good trail to the falls. A beautiful site and well worth the challenge.

We had lunch and spent a bit too much time admiring the scenery. The wind would be up soon and we needed to get back to the campsite on Steppe. Sure enough, the wind caught us midway across Kidprice and we had to make several tacks and turns.

It was a little sketchy but we survived. Another beautiful evening with a campfire on Steppe and our adventure stories to tell providing a sound sleep dreaming of the falls.

The next day without incident we paddle steadily, portaged to Anzac and home to Lamprey.

What a fun time right here in our backyard. Many thanks to those people with the vision of protecting our watershed.


Portaging en route to Nanika Falls. (Tom Roper photo)

Portaging en route to Nanika Falls. (Tom Roper photo)