Saturday, September 26, 2020

Islet Lake

We popped out to Islet Lake for a late afternoon paddle recently. A rain shower gave way to bright blue skies just as we pulled in.

The staging area and boat luncheon the east side of the lake includes pit toilets, fire pits, picnic tables and a picnic shelter. The boat launch is 500 feet or so down a trail immediately behind the truck in the picture above.

There is a bit of an elevation drop as you walk towards the lake. The launch is just a small beach with a coupe of picnic tables. The lake was a bit green at the end of summer. 

Usually we see a fair bit of wildlife here but today it was just waterfowl. The wind was really uneven, with calm period (shown) intermixed with a really stiff breeze (had to put camera away and paddle).

The islands make for an interesting bit of poking around (and welcome wind break).

While the lake isn't big or very deep (maybe 90-120 minutes to paddle the edge, we cut the trip short as the waves were giving Jess trouble. They were fun enough but it was hard to track very effectively and we were getting pretty wet.

I'd say this is more of a spring paddle, when animals have young about as the water isn't quite so green or maybe an autumn paddle when birds are migrating and there has been a good frost.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Black Nugget Lake Park

Just south of Tofield is Black Nugget Lake Park. This flooded coal quarry offers an interesting paddle.

To access the lake, you need to enter the campground and check in at the office (form but no fee). Then you get directed around the west side of the lake to the boat launch. There is a nearby parking rea with picnic tables and pit toilets.

The most interesting aspect of the lake is that is follows the old coal seams so the lake has a lot of reaches and narrow passages. Basically, you are almost always going around a corner or past an island and seeing a new view. The trees and grade mean there is little wind to worry about despite the lake being located in the middle of a prairie.

There is a campground here that you can reserve spots in (meh). The water is not suitable for swimming and you wouldn't want to dump or pitch off a SUP. 

There is probably about 90-120 minutes of gentle paddling here if you do the whole perimeter. We were the only boats on the water most of the time. A couple of folks fishing out of canoes arrived as we were finishing up. There are no motorized boats.

Overall, this was a neat and easy paddle with lots of birds to watch and chase. I'm not sure we'd go back any time soon but I'm happy we went.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Heritage Lake

Every time I come back from Athabasca and pass through Morinville, I look to the west and think that I should stop and paddle at Heritage Lake. We recently had the chance to do that.

The easiest access is north on Highway 2, leaving the highway right before the overpass and entering Morinville, and then take the Highway 642 underpass to the west. 

Turn left (south) at the first intersection and follow the public fishing signs to the south end of the lake. (There is a beach and launch site in the RV park at the north end but there is no public access.)

In the public park, there is a boat launch with parking, washrooms, and picnic tables. The launch is a bit sketchy with no real bottom support once you get into the water. The bottom looks sandy, but that is silt on top of sucking mud. (Wear shoes that are on your feet pretty good!)

A quick circuit of the lake take about 30 minutes as a slow pace. Lots of ducks, some weeds, muskrat and lost fishing tackle. This would be a good first paddle for someone. But this is mostly just a local fishing hole.

Better options nearby include Cardiff Pond, the Sturgeon River or even Hermitage Pond.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Nakamun Lake

Jess and I went out to Nakamun Lake for a paddle. We'd previously been here in the winter when I was a chaperon at band camp (sadly, sober) and I've always meant to come back in summer. The drive is about an hour--better to drive up to Morinville or Legal on Highway 2 and then west than trying to work you way up from Highway 16.

The only public access appears to be on the south side of the lake in the summer village of Nakamun Park. There is a boat launch here with conflicting signage: one says residents only and another says use at your own risk. Overall, there were a LOT of rules and speed bumps in the community.

The launch is very long and ends in a hard-to-read ramp.

Sadly, the lake was in the middle of an algae bloom when we arrived so we decided to not paddle.

It looks like a nice enough lake with a fair bit of boat traffic. I'm not sure it was interesting enough to come all the way back for, though.

After a quick snack in the park, we headed to try our luck on Heritage Lake by Morinville.