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Top 5 Fall Paddling Spots near Victoria

Our Top 5 best places to see fall foliage from the water this Autumn in Victoria, BC

We have a short Autumn season here on the west coast of Canada. A lot of rain leads to a quick fall and long drawn out ‘winter’ of bare branches and very little snow. So when the leaves begin to change you have to take full advantage of the vibrant colours while they last. Lucky for us it is around the same time that the waters start to become clear and crisp. What does this mean? Double the colours!

So where should you paddle this fall around Victoria to enjoy this season change close up? Check out our recommendations below.

1. The Gorge Waterway

Conveniently enough our top pick for fall foliage is the Gorge waterway in downtown Victoria. This close by wonder is a narrow inland stretch of water and as you manoeuvre up this waterway the industrial look of the lower harbour gives way to the more rural residential and parklands of the upper gorge. The farther you go the closer the shores hug in with the overhanging branches now full of a broad range of oranges, yellows and some reds. The stark contrast of the deep green evergreens provide the most stunning views both on and off the water.

gorge waterway

An enjoyable lunch break paddle up the Gorge waterway. Photo by Stephanie Brown

2. Thetis Lake

There is a reason we love Thetis Lake for some of our kayak and paddleboard courses: it is gorgeous no matter the season. In the fall the colours surround you on all sides and the glassy surface characteristic of a lake on a calm day can give you a dream-like experience of the autumn foliage. This is a perfect place to enjoy if you are a little nervous about paddling on the ocean or if you want to be surrounded by the changing leaves all around you. Enjoy exploring the many nooks and crannies this lake offers and take in some truly spectacular views.

Kayaking in the fall

Enjoying the calm waters of Thetis in the fall. photo by Stephanie Brown

3. Tod Inlet

Tod Inlet trail is a great walking trail that can be accessed via the water by putting in a Brentwood Bay. Enjoy a lovely paddle up to the Nature Float and hop out of your kayak or off of your paddleboard for an enjoyable stroll up the Tod Inlet Trail. This route offers a truly unique experience and is a great way to spend a fall day.  A great trail for the dogs, if your pooch is a calm paddling companion this could be the best fall adventure for you to get out on this year. Not to mention you are close to the Butchart Gardens if you want to extend the outdoor enjoyment.

fall paddling around Victoria BC

Beautiful paddle at Tod Inlet. Photo by Rita Kassandra

4. Saturna Island

Saturna Island is like our favourite child that we will never admit to favouring. Seriously though, this little island has the most beautiful views all year round. Some of the most varied and stunning paddling views from towering sandstone cliffs to rolling grassy fields. If you are up for an adventure jump on a ferry over to this coastal oasis and enjoy a unique escape paddling through the waters surrounding this little gem. We can guarantee that the views of the island in the fall, as well as the views from the island, will not disappoint.

saturna island in the fall

The first day of fall on Saturna Island. Photo by Bruce Holland

5. Elk Lake

This beautiful bit stretch of water has served us well as a location for our summer kids camps but it also provides us with some stunning fall colours. The amazing thing is this peaceful escape is conveniently located right next to the highway making getting here super easy. Much like Elk Lake the benefits to paddling on a lake are pretty obvious: calmer water more often. Elk Lake can get some pretty big waves on those windy days but if you catch it on a calm day you are in for a real treat with those stunning fall colours reflected back on the water’s surface as if the trees are bending forward to check their reflection in a mirror.

elk lake paddling in the fall

The ducks are not the only ones enjoying the fall foliage on elk lake. Photo by Stephanie Brown

We are sure you are visualizing some breathtaking photos and hearing your paddle cut through the surface of the water as you are reading this, so we suppose there is just one question left to answer; what are you waiting for?


Don’t have your own kayak? Rent one at our downtown location on a nice day and check out the Gorge or ask us about off-site rentals and go explore some other paddling destinations yourself.

Did we miss one? Let us know in the comments below your favourite place to go paddling in the fall on Vancouver Island.

2 Responses to “Top 5 Fall Paddling Spots near Victoria”

  1. Anne Topp says:

    Just found this. Hoping to get out kayaking more. Thanks for the info

    • Jamie Dawson says:

      Hello Anne,
      Thanks for stopping by our website, if you join our emailing list you will be updated with new blog posts and in store events. Hope to see you on the water!

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About Ocean River

Located in Victoria, British Columbia on beautiful Vancouver Island, Ocean River is one of the premier speciality kayak and adventure companies in North America. Brian Henry, the founder & current owner, has been running Ocean River since 1981, and Ocean River continues to be recognised as one of the most significant outdoor/paddlesports instructional & tours provider in North America.

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