Koksilah River - Canyon

Contributed by Scott McBride
What It's Like
A good introductory creeking run near Victoria
Class
III-IV
Scouting / Portaging
Mostly reasonable to scout and portage, Marble Falls is tricky.
Time
2-3 hours
When to Go
October-April during or after rain
Gauge
1.75cms↑ (Jun 27 21:10)
The Koksilah Canyon is the closest commonly paddled river to Victoria, and is a good introductory creek run which needs rain for runnable levels. The Upper Koksilah (III) is immediately upstream. Look for these runs and others in an upcoming guidebook by the Vancouver Island Whitewater Paddling Society.

This section is runnable at a variety of flows, and will spike up and down very quickly. Look for wood floating down the river as a clue that it may still be spiking upwards. A bare minimum flow is 10cms, which will be scrapey but all the rapids still go. A better entry level low-medium flow is 20-30cms. Some of the best padded medium flows are in the 50cms range, when the river comes alive with many surf waves and dynamic eddies. As flows approach 100cms, the river becomes boily class IV-V.

2015 hydrograph for KOKSILAH RIVER AT COWICHAN STATION (08HA003).


To get there, drive about an hour north of Victoria on Highway 1, and turn left on Koksilah Rd. for just over 2km to a bridge over the river next to Jack Fleetwood Memorial Park. The parking for the put in trail is 10km up Riverside Drive on river left, at the north access for the Kinsol Trestle. From here, hike ~500m south along the Cowichan Valley Trail, and drop down to river level below the trestle.

The run is mostly read and run class III-IV through open rapids with some bedrock shelves and boulders, a few small canyons, and one bigger ledge. Following some read and run warmup, the first notable rapid is a triple drop, scouted on the right. After a boulder fence and some boogie water is Marble Falls, a ~3m ledge on either side of a bedrock island. The preferred left channel goes better at some levels than others, while the right channel has issues with a fish ladder and a retentive hole. There are several tricky portage options, and if this run is near your skill limit you'll be better off having a local show you down. After the crux ledge, there is some more read and run, one more big rapid, and a scenic paddle out through a sandstone canyon.

Looking downstream from the put in, showing the character of most of the run.


A neat put in under the Kinsol Trestle, a recently restored logging railway bridge.


The final ledge in the triple drop.


Marble Falls.


Marble Falls left channel.


The last rapid at near minimum flows.