Saturday, December 4, 2021

Devil's Lake

In late September, I dragged the kid out to Devil's Lake (Matchayaw Lake) northwest of Edmonton. The fall colours were beautiful but it was quite overcast so the colours don't show in the photos very well.

Access is off Highway 37 near Onoway, east on township road 550. Go past the Jehovah's Witness hall, over the bridge and it is on the right. There is a decent sized parking lot, you can unload at the water's edge, and there is a pit toilet.

The boat launch itself is a nice bed of gravel and the entry was really clean. The water had a bit of algae to it but was fine.

We paddled along the north shore over to where the Sturgeon river outflow is under the bridge.

The river was shallow but navigable and we paddled about a km towards St. Albert and saw lots of waterfowl and heron.

We then returned to the lake and did most of the west shore before cutting across the southern end back to the launch.

The water was like glass for us, which was amazing. The land is pretty open to the west towards Onoway, so I would imagine the lake would get a bit rough if there was much breeze.

There was also a lot of gun fire while we were on the water. I don't know if people were shooting birds (sounded like shotguns) or if there is a gun range nearby.

I'd love to go back on a clearer day; this was a much nicer paddle than I had expected.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Jarvis Lake

Mid-September saw us stop in at Jarvis Lake in William Switzer Provincial Park, just north of Hinton. We put in at the day use area at the south end of the lake. There is a boat launch, beach, swimming areas, playground, and toilets (that are super dark).

It looks like a local paddle club is doing rentals.

You can also access the lake at the north end via Kelly's Bathtub. This is mostly a beach and swimming hole and will require you to make a very short portage to get out into the main lake.

We were there at about 10 am and it was a cold day (+4C). First time my wife had paddled in a parka and toque! 

We paddled the western reach, trying to stay out of the west breeze. We'll try the eastern reach next time. Beautiful clear water, lovely shore line, and basically no one around.

Coming back along the eastern shore, the wind picked up suddenly and we have quiet a paddle for the last half km across some open water. We were both drenched but otherwise had a good time.

William Switzer Park also appears to offer paddling at Blue Lake and Gregg Lake. Maybe next time.

Overall, a great time and nice location. This would be worth another trip next year.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Medicine Lake, Jasper

Medicine Lake is a seasonal lake, located on Maligne Lake Road about halfway between Highway 16 and Maligne Lake. Basically, the basin fills up in spring and then slowly drains. I've never had the chance to paddle here and we were hopeful there would still be enough water in September for a chance. No joy, though!

The best access looks to be from the lookout on the west end of the lake. There is parking lot and a set of stairs. When the lake is full, it would be a short carry to the water. The lake was down about 40 feet when we were there so the carry to the bottom was longer and there wasn't much lake to paddle.

Below, looking up from the lake to the parking lot.

It also looks like you might be able to access the lake at the west end, either by parking in the Jacques Lake trail head and carrying across the road and down the slope, or by pulling into an unmarked parking area at the far east end of the lake, carrying a ways down a closed road, and then down the slope to the lake.

You can see, based upon the scum lines on the slope in the photo below, how much the lake had dropped over the season.

I was disappointed not to get the chance to paddle the lake (which was mostly exposed mud bottom). But the views were amazing. I'm also interested to see what Jacques Lake holds.

Maybe next time!

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Lake Edith, Jasper

In September, we had a chance to paddle Lake Edith in Jasper. Access is off Lake Annette Road and Lake Annette (also a lovely paddle) is just a few hundred meters further up the road. 

Edith offers a lovely beach launch, with picnic tables, toilets, SUP rentals, and a short carry (150 feet?). This is a great place to bring kids.

To the west is Pyramid Mountain. The lake tied 75- to 90-minutes to paddle around and can, occasionally, be a bit windy.

The water clarity is amazing and the colours short with depth and light and whatever is on the bottom (mostly sandy and silt).

There are privately owned cabins around the lake and a bike path that follows the eastern shore before cutting into the woods.

There is an island out in the middle where we sometimes see elk lounging. At the north end, there is also an interesting lagoon.

Overall, an amazing paddle and great way to spend an afternoon. Lake Annette offer a similar experience but is smaller and has no private cabins. Together, they make for a fun few hours of paddling.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Lac Beauvert, Jasper

Mid-September saw us in Jasper for an anniversary weekend. One of our first stops was Lac Beauvert.


There are basically two ways to get on the lake. You can go off the dock at the Jasper Park Lodge. You can also rent kayaks, canoes, SUPs, and paddle boats here, although the prices are steep (basically $100 an hour).

Or you can come up Old Fort Point Road from the south, park next to the lake at the trail head (washrooms), and climb down the bank. The bank isn't particularly steep. But the lake is rocky and the bottom is both slippery and steeply sloping. It is easier to get into a canoe here than a kayak!

The lake is about a 45- to 60-minute paddle around the perimeter and is gorgeous.

The colour of the water changes depending on depth and light so there is a whole range of blues and greens. plus there is a creek in the NW corner and usually some wildlife (elk, most often).

You can see a lot of golf balls along the east side as you parallel the fairways.

The water in the picture below is about 12 feet deep (judging from the size of the golf balls). The clarity in just astounding.

This is unfailingly a nice paddle and I was super happy to have a chance to paddle here this year.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Astotin Lake

In mid-September I took an afternoon paddle on Astotin Lake in Elk Island National Park.  It had been a few years since I've been out here to paddle.


The Park has continued to upgrade its facilities and there is now some kind of snack bar (weekends, it looks like) at the beach. The dock was also nice and there are boat rentals to be had. I went off of the beach instead of the boat launch and it was a touch green getting in!

The water further form shore was the usual iced-tea colour and the water level looked higher this year than in the past by several feet.

I paddle out to the island in front of the beach and then wound my way through the islands on the south half of the lake.

It was a rare calm day on the lake and I had it to myself mid-week.

I ran across a young coyote hunting on the shoreline of the large island in the SW corner of the lake. I watched him for about 10 minutes before he noticed me.

Getting out without putting a foot in the algae was entertaining (well, for those watching!).

Overall, a lovely trip just as the colour was starting to change. I also saw a bison and a tonne of waterfowl flocking up for migration.