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The Search For BC’s Best Lake

August 5, 2023 Update: Congratulations to Sproat Lake near Nanaimo on Vancouver Island for beating out 47 other bodies of water to win CBC’s best lake in BC title.

August 1, 2023 Update: We’re down to the final four and they include two lakes in the Thompson-Okanagan region, one near Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, and one that’s a 30-minute drive north of Squamish, followed by a five-hour hike into the mountains.

Since July 24, CBC has hosted the The Search for B.C.’s Best Lake, a 2-week long contest powered by user votes. At the beginning there were 32 lakes to vote on, including Bowron, Kootenay, and Osoyoos in the province’s interior as well as Buntzen near the city of Vancouver and Comox Lake on Vancouver Island.

Since then the list has been whittled down to four including Shuswap Lake east of Kamloops, arguably the most popular house-boating destinations in the province, as well as Kalamalka Lake between the cities of Kelowna and Vernon. The latter is a popular SUP spot because of the calm waters, warm weather, and beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. It’s also the location of the annual Kalamalka Classic Paddleboard Festival. Shuswap and Kalamalka are now vying to win the title of best lake in the BC Interior.

Kalamalka Lake

Battling for top spot in the province’s southwest region, which includes Vancouver Island, are Sproat Lake and Garibaldi Lake. The latter is a popular destination for fit hikers who wind their way from the community of Garibaldi, just north of Squamish, past the famed Black Tusk peak in the Coastal Mountains to a postcard-perfect setting nine kilometres later. Not a lot of paddling gets done on this lake however, except for adventurers who haul in packrafts.

But Sproat Lake, northeast of Nanaimo, is an excellent paddling playground and home to it’s own canoe club. Paddlers here enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding rainforests and regularly spot bald eagles and other local wildlife. It’s also a famed fishing and camping location.

Sproat Lake

To vote for your favourite of these four British Columbia lakes, visit CBC’s “The Search For BC’s Best Lake” contest page.

Of course, everyone has their own version of what a “best” lake is and given that BC has more than 20,000 of them, choosing a winner is relative. Here is a list of nine other lakes in the province that we highly recommend paddlers visit:

  • Alice Lake, Squamish – the perfect training ground for paddling beginners
  • Lower Arrow Lake, Castlegar – where the largest kokanee salmon on earth was caught
  • Bowron Lakes, Cariboo Chilcotin region – the most popular canoe circuit in the province
  • Heffley Lake, Kamloops – enjoy crystal-clear waters and cool summertime temperatures
  • Williams Lake – located on the shores of the interior city with the same name and the site of a the Scout Island Nature Centre
  • Okanagan Lake, Kelowna – home of the 27-klometre-long Kelowna Paddle Trail that passes 20 beaches and parks and two bird sanctuaries.
  • Lake of the Woods, Hope – also known as Schkam Lake, this small body of water is a perfect mid-day rest stop
  • Powell Lake, Sunshine Coast – Almost an inlet unto itself, Powell Lake is the largest lake in the aera and offers endless possibilities including the sublime Powell Forest paddling loop.

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