Columbia Lake Canoeing

This article originally appeared in Canoeroots and Family Camping magazine.

Columbia Lake glows like a blue-green glacial jewel set in the Rocky Mountain Trench. The 14-kilometre-long eastern shoreline is one of the last pristine natural lakeshores in the vicinity. Good news for the Ktunaxa (Too-na-cka) Nation Spirit Trail, which hugs the slopes above the shore and offers hiking paddlers a chance to experience the open forests and grasslands of the Trench.

The trip begins at the lake’s northern outlet in Columbia Lake Provincial Park. Head north on Columbia River Road from Fairmont Hot Springs. Once on the park’s gravel access road, look for two obvious gravel tracks to the lakeshore for put-ins, one is at the gated end of the road. Two easy days can get you to a shuttle vehicle at Canal Flats Provincial Park at the south end of the lake, but many paddlers opt for an out-and-back trip. Campsites are numerous, but try to set up below the spring high-water mark.

At more than 2,000 kilometres from the Pacific, Columbia Lake forms the headwaters of the Columbia River, the fourth largest river in North America. Millions of salmon spawned here until the construction of Washington State’s Grand Coulee Dam in 1942. 


Need-to-know info:


Canoe Rental

Kootenay River Runners,

Columbia River Outfitters,

Good Read

River of Memory: the Everlasting Columbia, by William D. Layman

Park Information

This article appeared in Canoeroots & Family Camping, Early Summer 2009. Download our free iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch App or Android App or read it here.


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