I was asked to help find a good kayaking trip and join a friend for 3 days and two nights of outdoor adventure. After a lot of research we decided to head for Clearwater Lake in Wells Gray Provincial Park. The clear waters surrounded by the pristine wilderness in the Cariboo Mountain Range did not disappoint!
Clearwater Lake is in Wells Gray Provincial Park. To get there from Kelowna we drove to Kamloops and took Highway 5 North past McLure, Barriere (where the damaged forests from the 2003 fires were still very evident) until we reached Clearwater and then turned off the highway and onto Clearwater Valley Road. View the map here. The Clearwater Valley Road is referred to as the “Corridor Area” of Wells Gray Provincial Park. It is just one section of this amazing park.
Along the 67 km corridor, numerous sidetrips will attract your attention. Several examples are:
Spahats Creek Park and Spahats Falls
Trophy Mountain Hike and Trophy Mountain Flower Meadows
Green Mountain and Placid Lake Hiking Trails
Helmcken Falls and Helmcken Falls Rim Trail
The drive to the lake took roughly 4 hours from Kelowna. Since we wanted kayak farther up the lake to set up our camp , we didn’t have the time to take in side trips, except for one. With Helmcken Falls being Canada’s fourth tallest waterfall at 462 feet, we could not drive by without taking the 3 km sidetrip to the Helmcken Falls Viewpoint. The falls are incredible to see, next time I go I will stop at the Helmcken Falls Rim Trail and hike the four kilometers to view them.
I believe a natural wonder like the Helmcken Falls will leave a deep appreciation and warm your soul if you have to work a bit to get there. I am thankful that we could save time and drive right to the falls but after leaving the fenced off viewpoints and groups of tourists, I likened the experience to having a fast food meal as opposed to the fine dining that was just next door.
At the South end of Clearwater Lake you can camp at the Clearwater Lake Provincial Park campground with the Clearwater River running from the lake past the campground and over Osprey Falls right at the end of the campground or you park overnight at the boat launch overnight while you kayak or canoe down the lake to one of the four wilderness campsites. We of course chose the latter.
After kayaking for approx. 10 km, we came to the “boat access only” Bar View campsite. The site was a paradise. We enjoyed the long sandy beach on the pristine wilderness shoreline too much so for the second day we took the kayaks to Divers Bluff campsite and Eagles Lookout Trail across the lake. Divers Bluff is a fantastic site but does not have the nice sand to enjoy.
Eagles Lookout Trail Head was easy to find. The 1.3 km trail began with lush moss covered ground and large cedars, fir and birch trees in a spacious forest and ended with a steep gruelling hike that brought you to appropriately named Eagles Lookout. With an elevation gain of 250 meters, the view was great and the rocky lookout that jutted out over the edge of an enormous cliff made for a perfect hike!
For more Wells Gray Information see these Tracks And Trails posts: