Sunday, September 11, 2011

Astotin Lake, Elk Island National Park

With the forecast yesterday predicting +20 and sunny, we went out to Elk Island Park for the first time this year to have a picnic at Astotin Lake. It started a bit grey while I was loading up the car and got progressively darker while we drove out. By the time we got there (in shorts and T-shirts), it was 13 degrees and the wind was really blowing.

There were some hardy kayakers taking to the water and several more sitting in the cars, seeing what would happen. As usual, the winds didn't really translate into much wave action on the lake, even when the wind shifted from the east to the north--there were some small swells, but no white caps.

The lake level remains very low, despite the wet summer which makes launching off the beach tricky due to the drop off. The green band between the beach and the water is the old lake bottom. There is easily 40 feet of beach cropped out of the left of the picture and then 20 or more feet of exposed lake bottom. I forgot to go past the boat launch to see if it was functional.

We decided to ride out bikes and poked around the boardwalk on the SE corner of the lake. The park has added a new section to the boardwalk (as the old boardwalk was has become landlocked) with dropping lake levels. We then rode along a paved trail the runs east-west along the south end of the lake, leaving out of the golf course parking lot.

The beavers have been busy along the trail. In the foreground, you can see the top of a metal grate that protects a culvert from floating logs. The beavers from the dam (in the background) have packed this end of the creek full of mud and created a nice pond. On the other side of the trail, you can see the "true" level of the land, about five or six feet lower than the water level in the pond.

We had a lovely bike ride along the trail, seeking lots of buffalo and coyote poop but not animals. Then the weather turned further, dropping to 10 degrees, with wind and rain so we had a good sprint back to the car. I hadn't though of Elk Island as a cycling destination but the trail was lovely. Next time I might ride in to Astotin from the south gate.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Chickakoo Lake

Chickakoo Lake is located in the 480-acre Chickakoo Lake Recreation Area, just west of Edmonton on Highway 16. Take Highway 16 to Secondary Highway 779 and turn north. Then turn west on Township Road 534 and the north on Range Road 13.

The main site offers pit toilets, lots of parking and a trail system suitable for walking, mountain biking and horse riding. The loop (Indian Ridge Trail) that leaves the parking lot has several picnic sites. There is also a boat launch and it is a popular fishing hole.

Chickakoo Lake runs NW-SE with the boat launch at the SE corner. Excepting the boat launch, most of the shoreline is reeds and bog.

The trees mean the lake is extremely calm most days and there are a lot of fish jumping (it is stocked each year). We’ve also seen beaver and lots of waterfowl. Others report deer, moose and bear.

To the north of Chickakoo Lake on Range Road 13, you will hit Township Road 540. Turning east will return you to Secondary Highway 779. On the south side of the road, you will see a long lake called Kettle Lake. I have not been able to find a decent entry point to Kettle Lake.

The hiking here is lovely and we might go back to ride our bikes. From a canoeing perspective, wildlife and fishing and the main draws. There are prettier lakes to canoe.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Obed Lake

Obed Lake is the western-most lake of three lakes located in Obed Lake Provincial Park, about half way between Edson and Hinton on Highway 16.

Access is clearly marked and entails a short gravel road off the north-side of the highway, which eventually becomes the boat launch. A fairly typical foothills lake--reeds, treed shoreline, sandy soil under some grass. Not a great campsite by any means (pit toilets, few sites crammed closely together, no hand sanitizer and a boil-water advisory on the hand pump).

There is a small campsite, washrooms, and picnic tables. There was a fair bit of water fowl and a collection of anglers. The lake was very warm the day we were there, maybe 15 C or so in the shallows at the boat launch. The bottom was sandy and I'd be worried about swimmer's itch.

Overall, much less nice than Jarvis Lake just 60km down the road. We stopped here for lunch on our way back from Jasper but I don’t think we’ll be back.

Jarvis Lake

Jarvis Lake is located in William Switzer Provincial Park, about 5 km west of Hinton on Highway 16 and then 18km north on Highway 40. There are five lakes and a creek in the park, with Jarvis Lake being the southern-most lake. This is a lovely place to stop for a picnic lunch on the way to Jasper.

There is a large day-use area which includes a boat launch, dock, washrooms, playground, swimming area and picnic site. There is also a campground with separate docks.

The lake itself runs north-south (the day-use site is at the south end) with both a NW and NE reach, the latter being quite extensive. The water is very clear and was glassy-calm while were were there (boat wakes excluded!).

There is apparently a canoe route along Jarvis Creek that runs about 4km, starting where Highway 40 crosses the creek near Kelley’s Bathtub and ending at the Graveyard campground. This route can be paddled both way, although we've not tried it.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Lake Edith, Jasper

Nestled beside Lake Annette is Lake Edith. The two of them make a nice day of paddling with a swim (in Annette, which is slightly warmer) and lunch interspersed.

If you had dinner at the Jasper Park Lodge, you could add in a paddle on Lac Beauvert in the evening.

Edith runs basically north-south, with a longer reach on the east side of the lake. There are private cabins at the north end of the lake and your best access is from the parking lot on the south end. There is a short carry (150-feet?) and then you launch off of the beach.

The is a small creek to the west of the beach as well as an island in the north-western reach of the lake. In the north-eastern reach there are interesting sandbars (I think you can walk across the lake at one point) and a sunken kayak to spot.

Edith has (at a guess) about 4km of shoreline. There is also a series of roads and bike paths that allow you to circle the lake. This yields some very nice views of Pyramid Mountain.

Like most lakes in Jasper, the waters is very clear and has a lovely green tinge. This is as easy paddle for novice canoeists and I don't recall ever seeing the lake particularly rough.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Slow start to the season

A shoulder injury (ironically from too much working out this winter to be better prepared for summer activities) has sidelined my canoeing partner so we won't be getting out much this year.

I do expect we'll have a few updates over the summer and I'll take my camera along when we visit canoeing spot with our bicycles.

This has, however, meant much more time for gardening and the yard looks fantastic!