Heber River - Lower

Contributed by Scott McBride
What It's Like
A box canyon ending at a baseball diamond
IV-V (P)
Scouting / Portaging
Not a bad idea to scout the crux rapid before putting on.
1-2 hours
When to Go
After rainfall October-March, snowmelt April-June
139.0cms↓ (Apr 21 14:15)
The most convenient creek run in the whitewater hot spot of Gold River, the Lower Heber is found right next to the highway as you're rolling into town. A couple of adventurous box canyons will bring you down to the takeout at the baseball diamond. While you're in the area, make sure to check out some of the 5 sections on the Gold River, as well as the other local creeks: Ucona, Pamela, Quatchka, and Upana. Look for these runs and others to be described in an upcoming guidebook produced by the Vancouver Island Whitewater Paddling Society.

As with many of the creeks in Gold River, a good starting point is 100cms on GOLD RIVER BELOW UCONA RIVER (08HC001), a bit less in the spring. If it's your first time down, it's a good idea to scout the crux rapid by using the riverside trail along the canyon rim on river right, just upstream from the twin bridges near the takeout. The Heber River used to have an Environment Canada gauge, but in 2020 this is no longer active.

2020 hydrograph and median for GOLD RIVER BELOW UCONA RIVER (08HC001). A good starting point is ~100cms on this gauge, less in the spring.

Access to the Lower Heber is easy, just over an hour west of Campbell River on Highway 28. Once you're in Gold River, bear left at the main junction onto Muchalat Drive, and before crossing the Gold River turn left onto Ucona Road. Follow this a short distance to a bridge over the Heber River, and turn right down into the takeout at the baseball diamond. To get to the put in, head east on Highway 28 from the main junction in town back towards Campbell River for ~4km, to a point where the road is closest to the river down a steep bank.

The run itself consists of two canyons separated by an open section of class II-III. The easier first canyon is class IV but with vertical walls and wood potential. The second canyon has a portage completed through a crack in the river right wall, as well as a crux class IV-V rapid that ends in an almost riverwide undercut. If you don't want to run this rapid, it's possible to hike out to the takeout on river left. After the crux, paddle around a bedrock island and take out at the baseball diamond, or continue on down the Middle (II) and Lower (IV) Gold River.

A ledge in the first canyon of the Lower Heber River.

Dropping into the crux rapid in the second canyon of the Lower Heber River.

Another view of the crux rapid.

The main hazard in the crux rapid, a massive undercut in the runout. Note the flood deposited logs on river left.