Saturday, June 16, 2018

Elkwater Lake, Cypress Hills

Elkwater lake is located beside the town of Elkwater in the Cypress Hills, about an hour SE of Medicine Hat. I stayed overnight in Elkwater on the way back from a work trip a few weeks ago.

Elkwater is mostly a summer village with limited services (pub/bar, a few lodges, campgrounds) but is your best bet for accommodations in the Cypress Hills. I had very dramatic weather while I was there and it was (disappointingly) too cruddy to paddle.

The lake itself looks like it would be nice. It is about 3km east-west and has a northern leg that is maybe 2km long.

There are three easy access points. The first is off the parking lot near the community hall on 3rd Street (above). There is a dock that is silted up and offers a sandy bottom on the east side of the dock.

A bit further west is a public beach and marina. There is a boat launch as well as a nice beach launch. You can also rent boats here. Even further west (Fire Rock campground) there was another boat launch and beach area.

The south side of the lake has a nice walking path and groomed parkland. Despite the bad weather, things were definitely getting crowded with the trailer-and-boat crowd on Friday night. I suspect the lake would be pretty busy with boats on the weekend.

A pretty picture from the next morning (looking west from the causeway) gives a better impression of the lake in nice weather. I would definitely come back here and try again if I was down in the SE corner of the province again.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Reesor Lake, Cypress Hills

Work took me past the Cypress Hills so I decided to stay the night in Elkwater (just southeast of Medicine Hat). There were two lakes I wanted to check out. The first was Reesor lake (which is a reservoir).

Reesor is southeast of the townsite and you you have to drive up to the top of the plateau and then back down. The road is paved all the way. I had pretty bad weather (driving up in the clouds with visibility of about 300 feet) but then things improved as the road dropped back down to the lake.

The picture above looks east down the lake from the first roadside pullout. You could get a boat in by the picnic table but the better access point is midway down the lake (below). There is a large gravel lot, washrooms, picnic tables, and a boat launch.

Boats with electric motors are allowed on the lake and there were two fishermen pulling out when I got there. there were also a lot of pelicans on the south side of the lake (breeding colony?)

The road continued to the east end of the lake. This end includes the dam and a turn-around spot. I think you could also get in here if you worked at it. The road turns to gravel and continued east towards Fort Walsh but looked wrecked in the raid (greasy clay base).

It was simply too cold to paddle (6 degrees on June 1 with drizzle) but I might go back if I were down here. There is also access to the spruce ponds off the same road, but, again, the road surface looks way to dodgy to try given how wet it was.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Wascana Lake, Regina

Wascana Lake is located in downtown Regina and represents probably the best paddling option for residents. Access to the lake is best at Willow (docks at bottom right of map), just north of the Broad Street bridge. There is a fair bit of parking and three options for putting in.

The best option is the beach immediately south of the main parking lot (by the bridge). It is sandy, gentle and an easy carry (no picture--sorry). There is also a concrete boat launch right there, but launching kayaks and canoes seemed prohibited.

There is also a paddling centre (that rents) that has a beach and docks, including a sandy boat launch. There are also public washrooms here.

The perimeter of the lake is about 4km. Access to the southern half of the lake (south of the bridge) is prohibited as it is a migratory waterfowl sanctuary. Powered boats appear to be allowed on the lake, at least in some circumstances (several pontoon boats were moored), and there were also sailboats on the water.

There are a couple of interesting islands to paddle around and the lake is set next to the provincial legislature (which is pretty). There is also a paved walking trail around the lake.

The lake was marked for racing with buoys when I was there. There were also a lot of kids in canoes on the water. Although the flags were standing straight out, I didn't find the lake too choppy (its gets some shelter from the surrounding park). It is directly on the flight path from the airport so expect planes overhead!

The lake was lousy with waterfowl (mostly geese) when I was there. A friend who paddles suggests the lake gets nasty in later summer. The water was pretty murky while I was there but seemed free of leeches (at least at the beaches).