Saturday, September 15, 2018

Two Jack Lake, Banff National Park

In August we had a chance to paddle Two-Jack Lake in Banff. The day-use area is accessed via Lake Minnewanka Road.

Depending on how full the day use area is, you can literally drive to the waters edge and park 20 feet from the water. There are picnic tables along the lake shore as well as a single washroom.

We were there on two different days and faced smoke both time. The pictures on the web of clear days are amazing, with a lovely green lake and amazing mountains in the background.

The beach is gravel and rock but very shallow so launching is a snap. We saw all manner of water craft on the lake.

You can also access the lake of you are camped in the Two-Jack Lake Lakeside Campground on the southern end of the lake. A full paddle around the lake is about 90 minutes.

It was lovely all day when we were then.

The northern end of the lake includes a dam and some interesting rock formations on the west side of the lake.

Immediately beyond the dam is Lake Minnewanka proper. Minnewanka is a pretty huge lake that can really roll in the right wind (or really any wind). Two Jack offers a very similar experience with much calmer waters (although a big blow can be pretty rough).

Overall, this is a lake we'd go back to on a sunnier day. Truly lovely clear water, interesting bottom and shore line and lots of see.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Bow River, Banff National Park

This summer, we had a chance to float down the Bow river in Banff, downstream of Bow Falls. You can also paddle upstream of the falls as well as into the Vermilion Lakes. Instead of putting our kayaks in, we decided to take a raft trip. You could easily duplicate this one-hour trip in your own boat or float all the way down to Canmore (maybe three hours).

We launched on the Spray Creek but lots of folks were launching directly onto the river from the Bow Falls parking lot.

Floating downstream, you get to see the Banff Springs as well as the golf course and several views of Mount Rundle.

We had a pretty smoky day for our trip so the mountains were a bit obscured. The river was lovely and quite crowded.

The paddling here was fairly easy. There were some gentle rapids (we never got a drop on us) and a few sweepers to be mindful of. Overall, though, this wasn't much more adventurous than the North Saskatchewan.

The most interesting feature we passed was some hoodoos. Apparently animal sightings are pretty common but the smoke and the late season meant we didn't see anything too interesting.

The pull out is a small beach (complete with stairs) on the righthand side of the river. This is right beside golf course road, which leads back to Bow Falls.

Overall, a nice easy trip with the option to extend to Canmore. Probably not the best place for a first river paddle (upstream of Bow Falls would be better--fewer rapids and other hazards).

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Johnson Lake, Banff National Park

Earlier this summer, we had a chance to visit Johnson Lake, just NE of Banff on the Minnewanka Road loop. This small lake offers a nice paddling opportunity close to the townsite but far enough away to eave behind the crowds.

There is a fair sized parking lots with new washrooms under construction. There is also a boat and foot-rinse station as the park tries to control the spread of whirling disease and invasive species.

It is a short (200 feet?) carry down a gentle slope to put in off a sandy beach. There are picnic tables here. You can also access the 3.5km walking trail that loops the lake from here.

We arrived on a very smoking day, thus our pictures are dull and didn't show off how beautiful the lake normally is to look at. There is a nice bay to poke around in immediately to the left of the beach when you launch.

At each end of the lake, there is a small dam and a bridge. Halfway up the lake on the south side there is a rope swing out over the water.

The rest of the lake is a gentle paddle in the mountains (alas, invisible due to smoke in those pictures).

It is about an hour down the lake and back at a very leisurely pace (about the same time to walk the perimeter trail). Overall, a nice place to kayak or paddle board. If the wind is coming from the right direction, the lake can get a touch rough.