Nimpkish River

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Nimpkish River, Vancouver Island

Nimpkish River
Nimpkish River, Photo By Bud Logan

Vancouver Islands Nimpkish River Valley is a beautiful, incredible rugged and remote watershed. From its headwaters in the mountains near Gold River it winds its way towards the northeast Island, past Woss Lake, growing as numerous streams and creeks join it until it flows into nimpkish lake. From there, a short stretch of wild river leads to the ocean, where the river empties into the sea between Telegraph Cove and Port McNeil.

The nimpkish river offers great steelhead fishing in both a summer run in June/September and again in a winter run in January to April. There is a sea run of dolly varden in the spring and there is a year round fishery for resident rainbow and cutthroat trout.

Nimpkish River
Nimpkish River, Photo By Bud Logan

First Nations groups have utilized the surrounding area for thousands of years. The Namgis people had lived at mouth and along the valley for as far back as can be remembered.

The nimpkish river valley is broad and flat and over a 100 km in length. It is shallow in incline, dropping only 280m over its coarse, most of that before woss lake. The nimpkish river begins in the hills above Vernon Lake as a series of small streams and becomes a river where it joins with the flow from the lake. It continues down the valley becoming larger before reaching the junction with woss river, which almost doubles the size. By this time, the river is already getting large. As it continues on its way to the sea, it continues to grow as feeder creeks join it until it flows into nimpkish lake.

The lake is the biggest on Vancouver Island north of the Campbell Lakes, and measures about 23 km long. Due to the way the wind is forced down the valley and onto the lake almost like a wind tunnel, makes it a popular lake for wind surfing.

Nimpkish River
Nimpkish River, Photo By Bud Logan

Though not settled, the valley is fairly extensively logged, with active tree removal still occurring and the clear cuts plainly visible in satellite images. Much of the watershed is protected, and two Provincial Parks on the system provide protection for the wilderness as well as excellent recreational opportunities.

Access to nimpkish lake is easy as highway 19 borders it on the way to Port Hardy and a few rest stops offer trails down to the lake shore. The two parks are easily accessible by boat, but no formal trails to them are available for hiking in. There is no road access to either park. Other sections of the valley can be accessed from logging roads, or from highway 19, which runs through the valley at many points. River rafting is possible on the upper reaches of the river, and is a breathtaking ride through some of BC’s finest wilderness scenery.

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