The Cowichan River has long attracted people for its beauty and has been described as one of the best places in the world to fish trout and salmon. This Provincial Heritage River exits Cowichan Lake at the Town of Lake Cowichan (159 metres elevation) and meanders alongside Highway 18 to Duncan and then out into Georgia Strait at Cowichan Bay. The watershed of the river is around 900 square kilometres (90,000 ha) in total and the watershed is primarily a second growth forest consisting of Douglas firs, hemlock and lodge pole pine. Black cottonwood trees are found in abundance along the bank of the river.
The Cowichan River Provincial Park and other public recreation areas protects a large portion of the river for all to enjoy. Tourists and locals flock each year to the river to go camping, swimming, fishing, hiking, tubing and canoeing in and along the river corridor.
How to Access the Cowichan River:
Skutz Falls Road: (Western Access)
Located off of Highway 18, Skutz Falls Rd provides access to Skutz Falls and Marie Canyon Day Use Areas. These parks have access to the trailheads of Skutz Falls Circuit and the Cowichan River Trail.
Hwy 18 Connector: (Middle Access)
Located off of Highway 18, it provides access to the Stolz Pool Campground and picnic area and other day use areas.
Robertson Road: (Eastern Access)
To reach this point travel west on Glenora RD, turn right onto Vauz RD and continue onto Robertson Rd. This provides access to the eastern trailhead of the Cowichan River Trail.
Parks on the Cowichan River:
These parks are part of the Cowichan River Provincial Park. Information on camping in the area can be found in our camping section.
Skultz Falls: Western trailhead of the Cowichan River Footpath, pleasant walks, fishing, picnics, great swimming and tube runs.
Marie Canyon Park: Vist here for breathtaking cliffside views of the river canyon and rapids. There are also spots for fishing and picnics.
Stoltz Pool Park: Camping, a boat launch, pleasant walks, swimming, tube runs, fishing and picnics.
Sandy Pool Park: A pleasant beach for children, a boat launch and a short loop trail.
Want to go tubing down the river?
For a fun and safe experience you will need to know a few things. Traveling down the river takes seven to eight hours from the town of Lake Cowichan to Skutz Falls. Prepare your self with the appropriate gear; pool toys are not good floatation devices. You’ll be going to go through rough waters so wear a life jacket and if possible carry some ID with you. While the Cowichan River is fairly calm in the summer, there are swirl pools and other hazards. Tell someone your launching and arrival destinations. A few things you might want to have at your destination point are towels, first aid, snacks, and transportation. Happy tubing.
The Cowichan River Footpath
The Cowichan River Footpath connects all the river’s parks and makes for an excellent scenic hike along the meanders of the Cowichan River. It was originally constructed by and for fishers. It is approximately 20 km from end to end and takes about 6 1/2 hours to hike. It is well maintained but no emergency aid is readily available over much of the path. Please travel prepared and respect the areas which pass through private property. The Cowichan Fish and Game Association Clubhouse is at the eastern trailhead of the Cowichan River Footpath. More Information
Trans Canada Trail
The Trans Canada Trail is a project to create a linked system of trails across Canada. The section between Duncan and Lake Cowichan runs alongside the Cowichan River on an abandoned Canadian National Railway (CNR) railbed. All the rails have been removed and the trestles converted into bridges. This trail can be accessed at various points along the river such as at the mile 66 railroad trestle. More Information
Maps of the Cowichan River Corridor are avialible from the tourist information booths in both Duncan and Lake Cowichan. More information is avialible from the Ministry of Environment’s website.