The Water is Calling: A Look at the Water Routes Along the Trans Canada Trail in Beautiful B.C.


Discover Trans Canada Trail water routes | Ferry Vancouver Island to Vancouver © Jennifer Mahon

Summer is here, and with it, a constant drive to be on the water. With options on the coast, in the interior and even a quick jaunt on public transit, here’s a look at the water routes in B.C. on the Trans Canada Trail.

Salish Sea Marine Trail

A paddler’s dream come true, the Salish Sea Marine Trail offers a 260-kilometre-plus journey from Horseshoe Bay to Victoria by way of the Sunshine Coast, Nanaimo, the Gulf Islands and the eastern side of Vancouver Island, concluding at its southern tip. Enjoy incredible vistas, and if you’re lucky, you may even spot an orca or two.

Note that this trail section is designed for experienced paddlers and requires caution; you’ll be crossing the BC Ferries path and Victoria Harbour traffic. Be sure to check the weather before venturing out, let someone know your planned route and itinerary, and always wear a personal flotation device. Several access points are available for those looking for a shorter trip. Our friends at BC Marine Trails have great resources on their site.

West Vancouver to Nanaimo Ferry

Less paddling, more ferry! Did you know that the 57-kilometre West Vancouver to Nanaimo Ferry route, running from BC Ferries’ Horseshoe Bay to Departure Day, is part of the Trans Canada Trail? Enjoy incredible views and take your bike—or journey on foot—to continue along the trail on the island. Check out connecting trail sections like the City of Nanaimo Trail and beyond.

trans canada trail water routes
© Courtesy of Trans Canada Trail

Vancouver TransLink SeaBus

This short and sweet trail section takes you from Waterfront Station in Vancouver to Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. A sure hit with the kids, the Vancouver Translink SeaBus takes 12 minutes from start to finish and offers an easy, car-free way to cross Burrard Inlet. Explore Lonsdale Quay’s cafés and galleries, or continue on to the City of North Vancouver Trail for a bike ride or walk.

Sea to Sky Marine Trail

Reserved for kayaks and canoe brigades, this 39-kilometre route takes water adventurers from West Vancouver to Squamish, where it connects with the Sea to Sky Trail land route. Take in the water and mountain views and enjoy an exhilarating paddle through Howe Sound, passing by Gambier Island, Lions Bay and Anvil Island. Launch sites and campsites are available along the route.

© Courtesy of Trans Canada Trail

West Arm Provincial Park Paddle Route

The West Kootenays are calling! For those looking for paddling options away from the coast, this gorgeous paddling route takes you through 29 kilometres of Kootenay Lake, from Rotary Lakeside Park in Nelson to the Balfour to Kootenay Bay Ferry terminal. Enjoy mountain and forest views and stop at first-come, first-served marine-access campsites for a multi-day journey. Note that the park does not have any facilities.

Balfour to Kootenay Bay Ferry

Last but not least: the Balfour to Kootenay Bay Ferry, which is not only the longest scenic free ferry crossing in the world, it’s also part of the Trans Canada Trail! Enjoy a relaxed half-hour crossing, then continue towards Crawford Bay, Kimberley and beyond.

Discover the Trail Across B.C.

Wondering where you can find the Trans Canada Trail? Check us out at to explore our map, find out more about fun activities, updates, events and more.

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As the longest trail network in the world, the Trans Canada Trail connects Canadians and visitors to nature and to one another, from coast to coast to coast, through accessible and inclusive outdoor activities.


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