Belcarra Paddle

Belcarra Regional Park encompasses two very popular paddling destinations: Sasamat Lake and Belcarra Picnic Area. When people say they are paddling in Belcarra, they usually mean the latter.

An important recent update here is the introduction of paid parking during the peak season. For details: visit the metro van website.

A fellow paddler at Jug Island.

After hiking the moderately difficult Jug Island Beach Trail for 2.5 hours, I tagged on an hour of paddling in Belcarra.

The park features good options for onshore activities, including a sheltered picnic area, playground, a basketball court, and a large field.

Launching is fairly straight forward. A muddy beach is very close to the parking lot.

Stairs down to the beach.

This is my first time paddling in Indian Arm on a SUP. I have been told that the best time to paddle here is in the early mornings where there are less motorboat traffic. As this was a tag-on paddle after a morning hike, I didn’t get to launch until 2pm.

I paddled north and soon had to round the corner around Hamber Island. With just 350m across the boating channel at this location, this is the narrowest point of Indian Arm. All motor boats must pass through this point to travel between Burrard Inlet and Indian Arm, so it gets quite crammed here.

This poster shows how much of a choke point exists near Hamber Island.

I hugged the shore as closely as possible, and I dared not to stand up. The wakes of the boats going by at such a short distance were pretty strong and they come without much warning. All it would take was a boater going at speed to knock me over.

Two motorboats speeding through the narrow channel on my way back.

After I went past this narrow point the channel opened up significantly. I could see Deep Cove on the other side of Indian Arm. More heavy boats came by and one of them kicked up a surprisingly high wave that even whitecapped. I got back on my knees.

After admiring some beautiful houses, including one with a covered dry dock like a proper boatyard, I turned back and called it a day.

I think if I could make it early enough, this would be a very nice and peaceful paddle without the motorboats. But on a sunny afternoon, the boat traffic is quite annoying even on a weekday.

As I rolled up my paddleboard, a fallen maple leaf signalled the arrival of autumn.
  • Difficulty – calm waters, southerly wind in the afternoon
  • Boat traffic – too much motorboats to enjoy this area in an afternoon
  • View – the view near Belcarra is dotted with houses and private docks on the shores. Further up Indian Arms it gets more rugged and natural.
  • Facilities – flush toilet, good activities for the whole family in the picnic area
  • Overall score – 5/10

I levelled up my paddling skills and revisited this area in 2021 from Barnet to Jug Island, and had a much better time as a more advanced paddler.

Burrard Inlet/Indian Arm Series:

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