Lake Canoe Circuit
Bowron Lake Provincial Park, BC
courtesy of Leanne Davies and Robert Hoy
Bowron Lake Provincial Park
canoe circuit in British Columbia, Canada, is world famous. People
from all walks of life, from different countries, speaking different
languages have canoed the Bowron Lake Chain.
1926, thanks to the work done by Frank Kibbee and Thomas and Eleanor
McCabe, the BC provincial government classified this area as a game
reserve. In 1961 it was reclassified as a park and named after John
Bowron, a gold rush pioneer who became the Gold Commissioner at
Barkerville, now BC's famous restored
gold rush town of the 1860's.
Lake Provincial Park is located in the Cariboo Mountains on central
BC, and Wells on Hwy 26 is the nearest community. Take Hwy 26 from
Quesnel to Wells, a distance
of 90km (55.8mi) and it is 30 km (18.6mi) by secondary road to the
park from Wells.
Information & Services
Becker's Lodge Bowron Lake Adventures Resort: We offer affordable family vacations on beautiful Bowron Lake with canoeing, kayaking, hiking, and RELAXING The Lake View Restaurant and Chuters Blue Bar have great food, and we’re “THE” outfitter for the Bowron lakes with over 150 canoes and kayaks. more
Bowron Lake Lodge & Resort Ltd: Enjoy a wilderness canoe trip around the world famous Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit, or relax at the resort where beaches are sandy and swimming is great. Bowron Lake Lodge & Resort offers canoe, kayak and motorboat rentals – plus a restaurant, cabins, & campsite... more
Ecosummer Expeditions: BC’s first kayaking company offers award-winning trips to the Queen Charlotte & Gulf Islands, Johnstone Strait, & West Coast Trail. We guarantee world-class scenery, some of the world’s finest Orca whale and bear watching, & an absolute commitment to service. more
Pathways Canada Tour Company: Experience Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit, a uniquely Canadian wilderness adventure, with the original and most experienced Bowron Lakes Canoe Guides. 9 lakes, each with a distinct personality, linked by 100kms of lazy rivers, towering peaks, rapids and cascading ... more
The Wells Hotel Ltd.: Enjoy simple elegance, cozy accommodation & country meals, in a restored heritage country inn near Barkerville & Bowron Lakes. Relax in the pub, read a book by the fire, or go walking, mountain biking, snowmobiling, or x-country skiing from the front door. more
If you would like to have your business listed, please Click Here.
popularity of the Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit means that a reservation
system is in place. Groups of six or more must reserve, for smaller
groups its highly recommended or you could end up waiting, as only
50 people/25 canoes are allowed on the circuit daily. You must be
fully equipped and completely self sufficient. Remember what you
take in, you must take out.
inexperienced, do some practicing and conditioning before you venture
on the circuit. Be water wise and observe proper safety procedures.
Be cautious when approaching any wild
animals, bears can be very unpredictable, and moose have been
known to charge if you get too close. The circuit is open to canoers
between June and the end of October, July and August are usually
very busy, and weekends are heavy departure times.
Lake Provincial Park is a BC wilderness park covering more than
121,600 hectares (300,352 acres) of land with a system of six major
lakes. Making up the canoe circuit are Indianpoint, Isaac, Lanezi,
Sandy, Spectacle and Bowron Lakes, the Cariboo and Bowron Rivers,
other smaller lakes and streams and several portages. Forming a
backdrop are the rugged and majestic Cariboo Mountains. The canoe
circuit is 116km (72mi) and paddlers can do the route at their own
preferred speed. Ideally the circuit can be completed in six or
seven days, but if you plan to do some fishing or just plain relaxing
in the serene surroundings, you can take longer. And it is possible
to be storm bound for several days. There is a shorter and less
strenuous canoe trip available, its known as the West Side Trip,
and takes you from Bowron Lake to Unna Lake.
Centre to Isaac Lake
Your canoeing journey begins at the Registration Centre, and you
travel with the water flow, going clockwise. The hardest part of
the trip is at the beginning, with a 2.4km (1.4mi) portage from
the Registration Centre to Kibbee Creek. The creek takes you out
to Kibbee Lake which is only 2.4km (1.4mi) across, then another
portage of 2km (1.2mi) to Indianpoint Lake, which is 6.4km (3.9mi)
across. As you near the east lake of Indianpoint Lake, the lake
turns marshy, but a marked channel leads to a slough and the portage
trail at its head. From this point its easy going to Isaac Lake
The West Arm of Isaac Lake is 6.8km (4.2mi) long and the Main Arm
is 31.2km (19.3mi) long. When canoeing Isaac Lake, paddle close
to shore, as high winds and rough water may occur at any time.
This section of your trip is both a Portage and canoeing the Isaac
River. Isaac Lake to McLeary Lake is 2.8km (1.7mi) of which about
1.6km (.9mi) can be canoed. Once you arrive at McLeary Lake, take
the hiking trail up on either side of the Isaac River to the falls.
Here the river flows 11 Metres (36 feet) over a ledge, to form this
Lake to Unna Lake
McLeary Lake is only 1.2 km (.7mi) across, next is the Cariboo River.
Be prepared at all times while on the Cariboo River, as its
swift and has sweepers (tree trunks extending out from the bank
into the current). This part of your trip, the Cariboo River, McLeary
Lake to Lanezi Lake is 5.2km (3.2mi) long. When canoeing Lanezi
Lake which is 14.8km (9.1mi) , the inside perimeter is the route
most take and there are few places to land along the shore. The
Cariboo River, from Lanezi Lake to Sandy Lake is a short canoe trip
of 1.2km (.7mi) and to canoe across Sandy Lake is only 4.8km(2.9mi).
As you follow the Cariboo River, Sandy Lake to Babcock Creek its
a distance of 3.6km (2.2mi). Just before you get to Babcock Creek,
watch for the narrow entrance to Unna Lake. Do not proceed down
river past this point, instead walk along the trail to the viewpoint
and see the 24 metre high (78.7ft) Cariboo Falls.
Lake to Bowron Lake
Unna Lake is a great place to stop and relax, enjoy the crystal
clear water and sandy shores. Babcock Creek is too shallow for paddling,
so its best to walk the mid-channel, lining the canoe. Babcock Lake
is only 2.8km (1.7mi) across, and between Babcock Lake and Spectacle
Lakes the two portages are short and easy. Spectacle Lake including
Swan Lake is a 12.4km (7.6mi) trip, and its easy going from
here on. Canoeing the Bowron River, from Spectacle/Swan Lake is
an easy 4km (2.2mi) trip and Bowron Lake is 7.2km (4.4mi). Afternoon
wind squalls are quite regular on Bowron Lake, so its best
to canoe the east side of the lake. No camping areas are available
along the shore of Bowron Lake, so, the end of the circuit landing
point is a plainly visible float at the Bowron Lake Campground.
The West Side Trip
This is the shorter and less strenuous trip. It means you will be
going counter-clockwise and starting your canoe trip at Bowron Lake.
From Bowron Lake, you canoe the slow, meandering Bowron River to
are two short and easy portages between Spectacle Lakes and Babcock
Lake. Babcock Creek is shallow, its suggsted to walk mid-channel,
lining the canoe. Unna Lake is as far as you can go on this canoe
Unna Lake, you can walk to the viewpoint to Cariboo Falls. Unna
is a small clear lake with a sandy shoreline. Its a great
place to camp and spend some quiet time. This is a much shorter
trip than the complete canoe circuit, but again you can take your
time. It can take anywhere from six to seven days, or longer. You
must reserve and register this West Side Trip. The same rules and
regulations apply to this short trip as they do in the complete
For canoes, equipment rentals and accommodations, there are two
privately owned lodges on the northwest shore of Bowron Lake.
further information on Bowron Lake Provincial Park: