Maria Slough offers a peaceful option for prospective paddlers

The channel offers three kilomteres of navigable water for the season's canoe and kayak enthusiasts.

Colleen Gingerich kayaks down the Maria Slough

Looking for a leisurely spot to paddle your canoe or kayak, where there’s easy access and plenty of space — but motorboats won’t be an issue?

Consider Maria Slough, just east of Agassiz on Highway #7.

The channel offers about three kilometres of navigable water, where you’re never far from shore.

With guests visiting from New York, long-time Agassiz resident in late March, Colleen Gingerich thought she’d treat them to a peaceful paddle on the picturesque waterway.

This portion starts at the back end of Seabird Island and empties into the Fraser River, then it goes upstream past the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge.

Gingerich has two kayaks and she borrowed another from a friend, so her son Denver and his fiancée Naomi Barrattara would each have a boat.

“I’ve probably paddled there, three or four times before,” said Gingerich. “It’s actually low water right now. We parked at the boat launch area by the first Seabird Island soccer field and we had to drag the boats out in the mud. It’s not like you’d sink in the mud, though.”

The trio headed downstream toward the Fraser, crossing under the highway and the CPR bridges.

“After the railroad, the slough opens up wider,” she said. “There were so many birds singing. It was just beautiful.”

Continuing southward, the slough narrows to about two boat-lengths wide.

“One time last year, some cows were actually right down in the water for a drink,” said Gingerich.

“There’s a little bridge off Dyke Road and the water was flowing pretty fast there. It’s not whitewater but I had a hard time on the way back, so I had to get out and walk it through — and I’m a pretty strong paddler.

“We probably went another half a kilometre downstream of the bridge. You can see the Fraser then but I caution people to not go any closer unless they are experienced river paddlers.

“On the way back, we ended up being under the train bridge when a train went over,” said Gingerich. “I was impressed by the thunder of the train as it passed by.

“Over on the Agassiz side of the slough, a couple of hundred yards upstream of the boat launch, there’s a rock face of polished rock with waterfalls coming over it. It’s beautiful.

“You can paddle further on up and it meanders into smaller tributaries,” said Gingerich.

Eventually, you’ll come across a culvert and you’ll have to turn around.

Gingerich is an avid paddler on Harrison Lake and Harrison River, so this excursion was definitely in the easy category for her.

“It’s not a work-out kind of paddle,” she said. “It’s just a way to get out and enjoy nature and listen to the birds. Denver and Naomi thought it was just great.

“Paddling casually, it’s maybe 20 to 30 minutes down to the Fraser and the other way, maybe 30 to 40 minutes.

It’s a nice, little afternoon paddle.”

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