Sunday, May 23, 2010

Horseshoe Lake Kayak Adventure

The Powell River Forest Canoe Route draws paddling enthusiasts from around the world. It follows a chain of 8 lakes through the back country and is best navigated in a canoe or small kayak. That's because of the 5 portages between the lakes. Wayne and I own what we lovingly call the Big Yellow Banana. It's a Current Designs Libra XT that's almost 22 feet (660 cm) long and 92 pounds (41 k) soaking wet.

Add our camping gear and you can barely lift her off the ground. Obviously, we aren't going to take her on the whole Canoe Route, but you can access portions of it by vehicle. Last week on a warm spring day we transported the Yellow Banana to the Nanton Lake Campground. Nanton is a beautiful Forest Service camp on the Goat Lake Main logging road. This is an active logging road, so use caution and obey signs.

After launching we paddled the north side of Nanton. It's shallow near the shore and the bottom is covered with plants, perfect for trout but tough on lures. We let this little guy go home to his mama. Nanton connects with neighboring Horseshoe Lake through a wide channel. The waterway is dotted with lots of old snags from logging early in the 1990's before the dam was installed on Horseshoe.

Horseshoe also has lots of floating logs and stumps. We found hundreds (maybe thousands) of them in a solid log jam blocking the opening. We decided to work our way through. At times we felt like explorers moving through ice floes in the Northwest Passage. We would nose forward and pull logs past our hull. Sometimes we were blocked by a solid mass and had to reverse course. After about an hour we made it to open water.

We followed the north shore to the campground at the portage to Little Horseshoe Lake. It was late afternoon and the camping area was already in full shade. We decided to continue south to find a sunnier spot. About two thirds of the way down the lake (just above the canoe symbol on the map) we crossed to the west side and found a perfect spot on the bluff of an island.

It was a rustic site with a stump bench, a mossy flat area for our tent, a fire ring that we chose not to use and a dynamite view. Our kayak floated safely below tied to several beached logs. From the healthy look of the Bearberry plants and moss on the ground, we were the first occupants of the season. After our dinner of subway sandwiches we turned in to be serenaded by frogs and loons.

After a leisurely morning in camp we worked our way north fishing and trolling. About half way to the head of the lake we encountered the log jam. We paddled around it and back through the channel without any obstruction. It must move back and forth en masse with the wind. Back in Nanton, we stopped at the new picnic site built by the ATV Wednesday Trail Building Group.

After a snack and rest we paddled back to our car. On the way we passed this empty Osprey nest. It looks ready to receive its new occupants for the summer season. Osprey must need and claim a large fishing territory. We only saw one other nest in Horseshoe Lake.

Back at the campground we took time to unload and organize our gear for our next kayak trip. If you are planning to visit Powell River and want to camp, Nanton is an excellent choice. It has several lakeside spots, some with their own launch ramps. You can also headquarter here for ATV rides on the extensive logging road and trail network south of town.

If you have any questions, just leave a comment. If you want more information about exploring Powell River's backcountry, I recommend reading Wayne's books Up the Main or Up the Winter Trail. They are both available online at -- Margy


  1. That looked like some very challenging kayaking - especially w/ the log stumps you mentioned. But beautiful scenery! My kayak was one of the best investments I made for summer adventures!

  2. What a great outing you had. A very beautiful are and so close for you to enjoy.

  3. What a great little trip, thanks for sharing your experience. One day....when I'm not working so much...I'll give it a try.



We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy