The Sawyard Forest Canoe Circuit is probably the Vancouver Island’s most popular canoe route and with good reason. This is a gorgeous rout with spectacular scenery rivaling BC’s own Bowron Lakes and Ontario’s famed Algonquin Park. There is an abundance of well maintained camp sites, ranging from drive-in sites to “rustic” sites. The portages are probably the best maintained portages I’ve encountered in 40 plus years of canoeing. Kudos to BC Parks, you’ve done a great job! The vast majority of them can be done with a canoe cart.
The Sawyard Forest Canoe Route can be easily paddled in 3-4 days although I’ve heard of particularly motivated groups doing it in two. I usually give myself five days, allowing myself ample time to fully appreciate this amazing canoe route. As most of the lakes along the Sawyard Forest Canoe Circuit are accessible by road, the route can be done either as a whole, or in parts. In order to best navigate flowing water along the route it’s recommended that the route be done in a counter clockwise direction. The usual starting point is Morton Lake Provincial Park which offers a good start point with a spot to park your vehicle. I personally prefer starting at the North end of Brewster Lake as with a little effort you can cut a kilometer or more off the longest portage.
Because of the Sawyard Forest Canoe Route’s ease of access and proximity to nearby Campbell River, I recommended doing this route either early or late in the season and, if possible, through the week rather then on weekends. Water levels during the drier summer months can become too shallow to canoe. When water levels are high, currents in the creeks can be tricky to navigate. Parts of the route at the south end of Brewster into Fry Lake contain rapids. During normal water levels, these rapids can be canoed. Always assess the route for obstacles before running the rapids.
Blog Posts: Sawyard Forest Canoe Circuit
Total Distance: ~47.4 km
Paddling Distance: ~39.3 km
Portage Distance: ~8.1 km
Direction: Morton Lake Provincial Park can be reached by following Hwy 19 North from Campbell River. Turn off at the Menzies Main logging road (There is no road sign at the junction but there is a small sign saying “Morton Lake”), approximately 10 minutes past the pulp mill. Follow the gravel Menzies Main for 12 km, then take Morton Lake Road for another 7 km to the park. For Brewster Lake continue on Menzies Main for another 3-4 km and then turn North onto Long Lake Main (Brewster Main) and 4-5 kms to the North end of Brewster Lake. Watch for portage signs. The portage touches the road in two places.
When travelling on logging roads, please drive carefully. Always give industrial traffic the right-of-way, drive with headlights on at all times, keep to your own side of the road, and park well off the travelled surface.
- Amor Lake
- Brewster Lake
- Fry Lake
- Goose Lake
- Gray Lake
- Lower Campbell Lake
- Mohun Lake
- Surprise Lake
- Backroads Map Book VIBC41 – VIBC42
- Sawyard Forest Canoe Route Map & Brochure PDF
- Novice’s Guide to the Sayward Forest Ccanoe Circuit
- Canoeing & Kayaking: Sayward Forest Canoe Route
- Go Campbell River – Sayward Forest Canoe Route
- CCR Sayward Forest Canoe Circuit
- Dam Good Trips – Sayward Forest Canoe Route
- Morton Lake Provincial Park
- Sayward Forest Canoe Route
Sawyard Forest Canoe Circuit Map