Murtle Lake — North America's Largest Paddle Only Lake > Blue River
The Edge of Civilization
Revitalizing air fills you as you breathe in deep. The turquoise blue water of Murtle Lake licks at your vessel as you dip and bob, cutting through the surface. Lean into the warm breeze and look up and out. The sky above is dramatic and inspiring, interrupted by the craggy snow-capped peaks of the mountains. This is wild, big sky country where the gentle sound of nature is your soundtrack for a back-country canoe camping adventure.
Murtle Lake – Explore on and off the Water
As North America’s Largest only paddle lake, Murtle Lake is a nature lover’s paradise. Take your time, you can go anywhere your own two arms and canoe or kayak will take you. The weathered Cariboo Mountains rise on the horizon and reflect off the water. Golden, sandy beaches give way to forests overflowing with every shade of green. Shimmering mica swirls and swims in the water making it sparkle in the light of the sun. The rainbow trout that call Murtle Lake home can be colossally-sized; toss a line in and make a catch for dinner.
Into the Wild
Once ashore, spend some time on a hike through old growth rain forests. Listen to the chipmunks chatter as birds flit about overhead. Watch for deer and elk grazing on leaves or moose ambling along through trees. Catch the slow, gliding ballet of an osprey, or the hunter-like eagle snatching fish from the water’s surface. Beautiful robin’s egg blue skies give way to indigo blue nights awash with stars. The spectre-like appearance of the Northern Lights can sometimes be seen floating in the air.
Venture out for a full day hike through Wavy Crest Range where you journey through old cedar and white pine and emerge onto a ridge where unspoiled wilderness surrounds you. Or, for a more restful endeavour, take the 20-minute trek to Henrietta Lake where solitude is at its finest. 5 km (3 miles) from Diamond Lagoon will have you sitting at McDougall Falls, 14 metres (46 feet) of watery muscle cascading over rocks and captivating your thoughts.
Murtle Lake is where wilderness is just a step away. It is easily accessed off the iconic Yellowhead Highway through Blue River. Follow the signs and wind your way along a backcountry road to a parking lot. Here you’ll find the head of a 2.5 km (1 mi) wheelchair accessible wooded trail to the lake.
Pack your gear into your canoe or kayak and launch yourself into a one of a kind experience. Paddle west, and you’ll find Fairyslipper, Leo and Smoker Islands. Go north and you’ll find scenes of rough, rugged mountains and tranquil, clear water. Leave your cares behind; paddling this stellar beauty is the best way to unplug, disconnect and recharge.
Camping at Murtle Lake
Make your home for the night on the sandy beaches that surround Murtle Lake. Imagine waking up to the sound of water lapping outside your tent. Murtle Lake has several sandy beaches in approved locations, where you can camp, share a campfire, and make new friends.
Pack in a tent and let nature sooth away your cares.
Access by Water
You’ll find 70 wilderness campsites spread out over 100 km (62 mi) of forested shoreline. Twenty of them are so secluded you may forget other people exist. There’s only one campsite accessible by land, the rest are water access only.
Cast your line and catch a rainbow trout weighing up to 3 kg (7 lb). At the end of the day, cook your catch over an open fire in the glow of a picture-perfect sunset and calming silence. Settle in for the night in the fresh mountain air, the awake in the morning to a lake so still and calm it looks like pure glass reflecting the vibrant remains of sunrise. This is nirvana.
Twenty-four km (17 mi) from the Murtle Lake access trail is the Blue River Campground, where you can rent canoes, carts and fishing gear. Stock up on goods and then continue to the peace and quiet of Murtle Lake.