The Main Lakes Chain Canoe Route, also known as the Village Bay Lakes Canoe Route, which lies mostly within Main Lake Provincial Park, on the northern end of Quadra Island, is one of Vancouver Islands lesser know kayak/canoe trips. The Main Lakes Chain Canoe Route is not so much a “route” as a serious of connected lakes that can be explored from a single camp site. The Main Lake Chain comprises six freshwater lakes (Village Bay, Mine, Main, Little Main, Clear, and Stramberg Lakes) in Quadra Island’s interior. This is a leisurely three day (~ 11 km) canoe trip with lots of off road camping spots (allowed within the park), beaches and islands to explore.
The best time of year to paddle the Main Lake Canoe Route is in the late spring or early summer, due to the higher water levels. The connecting waterways between Village Bay, Mine Lake and Main Lake can be difficult to navigate when water levels are low. There are seven Provincial camp sites along the route, all featuring sandy beaches and fire rings.
Village Bay, Mine Lake and Main Lake are connected by navigable water; however keep an eye for low water as extreme low water may present difficulty in navigating. If you’re paddling late in the season, or in low water conditions we recommend putting in at Mine Lake rather than Village Bay (see directions below).
Village Bay Lake – Although this lake is heavily populated with cabins and has a good deal of small motorboat traffic at the height of the summer it’s still an enjoyable place to paddle. You can ether start your trip here or paddle down from either Main or Mine Lake and spend an afternoon exploring. Lower Village Bay Lake has an island with a cliff jumping site complete with rope.
Mine Lake – Is is the middle lake of the three navigable lake. It’s fairly shallow and has broken shoreline that’s fun to explore. There’s one rocky island campsite and another just at the entrance to the channel connecting Mine Lake with Main. Both are lovely places to spend a weekend.
Main Lake – The largest in the chain and the most prone to windy conditions which can produce a chop of up to ½ metre high, there are a few private islands in Main Lake and seaplanes are fairly common. On the north east side of Main Lake you’ll find a sandy beach but also a short walking trail, 40 – 65 meters off to the left that follows an old logging road to Yeatman Bay, north of Surge Narrows on Quadra’s eastern coastline.
Little Main Lake – Paddle up Shadow Brook until you come to the spawning gravel beds that are signed Do Not Disturb. Portage from here about 100 meters to bypass the spawning beds, then one pull over or two across stick dams.
Clear Lake – Can be reached in high water but if there is low water Clear Lake is too shallow and muddy.
Stramberg Lake – You can be hike up to a tributary creek of the same name that meets Shadow Brook near the spawning grounds.
Direction: From Campbell River catch the Quadra Island ferry to the Quathiaski Cove ferry terminal (Quadra Island). Take West Road North to untill you see Hyacinths Bay Road on your left. If you come to Heriot Bay you’ve gone to far. Head North on first Hyacinths Bay Road, then Village Bay Road. Continue on to where the road turns to gravel until you arrive at Village Bay Lake. Launch at either side of the bridge in Village Bay. Alternatively, you can continue another 2.5 kilometres north along Surge Narrows Road to Mine Lake where there’s there is a small natural put-in. However, if you continue another 100m down the road, there is an easier sandy boat launch with ample parking spots. There is lots of parking, picnic tables, an outhouse and a creek.
Blog Posts: Main Lakes Canoe Route
- Backroads Map Book – VIBC42 – VIBC43
- Main Lake Provincial Park
- Main Lakes Canoe Chain – Quadra Island
- The Warm Lakes of the Main Chain – Quadra Island
- Quadra Island Main Lakes Canoe Route
- Canoeing on Quadra Island
- Main Lake Canoe Trip
- Village Bay Lakes Canoe Route
- Paddling Village Bay Lakes Canoe Route
Main Lake Provincial Park Map