Read on for route descriptions for each segment of the Powell Forest Canoe Route. All distances are in metric except for road mile markers.
The main campsite at Lois Lake has a large parking area and day-use and overnight camping areas. Caution should be used when paddling Lois Lake due to numerous submerged stumps and snags. Be aware that winds can make crossing the main, northern section of the lake quite challenging.
A nice side trip can be taken to Khartoum Lake via an obvious narrows on the far northeast corner of Lois Lake. Along the way, consider stopping at the Lois Point Horsemans Camp, an alternate site for the paddler who prefers a quieter, more peaceful experience. To get there, travel eastward from Lois Lake main camp along the southern shoreline, approximately 500 m just to the left of a small point of land, and here you will find a campsite with an outhouse.
Lois Lake – Horseshoe Lake Portage, 1.7 km
The trail begins at a small bay on the northern end of Lois Lake. This scenic portage parallels the river on its eastern bank, with a small, rustic campsite approximately halfway along. There is also a campsite at the end of the portage. Under certain conditions, this southern end of Horseshoe Lake can accumulate a lot of driftwood, therefore four different launch points have been established along the southern shore.
Horseshoe and Nanton Lakes
Any activities on Horseshoe Lake should be taken with great care when windy. There are numerous sheltered bays and coves and small islands suitable for refuge if unfavourable conditions occur. At the northern end of Horseshoe Lake, just east of the narrows is Little Horseshoe Creek recreation site. It is a small rustic site and is only accessible by canoe. It is an alternative to the Nanton Lake site, which can sometimes be overcrowded. This site is also at the beginning of the Little Horseshoe-Beaver Lake alternate portage route.
Once into Nanton Lake, you have a choice of two recreation sites: the main Nanton site is on the west side of the lake (and has vehicle access), or a small site that is canoe-only access and is 300 metres up from the entrance of the connector stream. At high water, one can canoe to the site on the stream, but during long periods of dry weather, you may have to use the low-water portage.
Nanton Lake – Ireland Lake Portage, 2.4 km
This portage follows along the western edge of the Horseshoe River and passes through a moist, deciduous, lowland ecosystem that supports an abundance of wildlife. Numerous cedar walkways and bridges cross a network of feeder streams and marshes. There are two recreation sites along the portage.
This is a small, shallow lake with a recreation site at the southern end. The next portage begins on the eastern shore at the mouth of a small connector stream adjacent to a small rest area. There is also a remote access recreation site at the north end of the lake.
Ireland Lake – Dodd Lake Portage, 0.8 km
This is a relatively short portage with a gentle adverse grade built to avoid a portion of the Horseshoe River which has several large log jams and is very dangerous to canoe at any time. It terminates at the Dodd Lake (vehicle access) recreation site.
Dodd is a large, open lake that, in warm afternoons, can be subject to sudden wind squalls. Either shore can be followed, and winds usually abate by 5 pm. There are three recreation sites on Dodd Lake. The large main site on the southwest end can be accessed by vehicles, so it is not favoured by paddlers seeking a solitary, wilderness experience. The two small campsites at the southeast corner and northeast end of the lake are accessible by water only and offer a good alternative to the main site.
Horseshoe Lake – Dodd Lake, 3.5 km (Alternate Route)
This route starts at the Little Horseshoe Creek recreation site and travels in a northeast direction to Little Horseshoe and Beaver Lakes, terminating at the recreation site at Dodd Lake. There is more portage than paddling, but it allows paddlers with limited time to start at either the Nanton or Dodd recreation site (both have vehicle access) and circumnavigate a smaller area.
Dodd – Windsor Portage, 0.7 km
This is a short portage that follows an old road built in the 1930s for the extraction of forest products. The portage starts at the recreation site located on the small lagoon at the north end of Dodd Lake. The landing at Dodd Lake is the original landing site used to supply old logging camps in the area.
Windsor Lake is the highest lake in the circuit at an elevation of 196 m. It is one of our colder lakes and has a small recreation site at the north end, which is only accessible by water.
Windsor Lake – Goat Lake Portage, 2.4 km
This is the most difficult portage on the route. It descends from Windsor Lake (elevation of 196 metres) to Goat Lake (elevation of 85 metres). The beginning of the portage climbs slightly to where it crosses a logging road before it begins a rapid descent to the Goat Lake recreation site. Caution should be taken when crossing the active logging road.
A large, fjord-like lake with two recreation sites, which are only accessible by water. A side trip may be taken up the lake to the mouth of the Eldred River. At the southwest end of the lake, you will pass through a narrows linking Goat Lake to Powell Lake. Caution should be taken when paddling through the west end of the narrows due to submerged stumps and snags.
This lake should be paddled early in the morning or late afternoon since the winds may be strong. Winds usually pick up around noon and abate by 5 pm, but extra care should be taken at all times on this section.
Approximately a quarter of the way down Powell Lake from its connection with Goat Lake is Fiddlehead Landing, the site of a small hut built for hikers on the Sunshine Coast Trail. Approximately halfway along the southern shore of Powell Lake, east of the small, unnamed island, is the Powell Lake recreation site. This small, rustic site has a sandy beach and provides good refuge from the afternoon winds.
Powell Lake has many privately-owned cabins along its shore, and except for emergencies, their floats and facilities should not be used. The sites on this lake are all user-maintained by paddlers and local cabin owners.
The southern shore is the preferred route while canoeing west on Powell Lake, and the eastern shore should be used when paddling south. There are two other campsites on Powell Lake—one is situated at the beginning of the Powell-Inland portage and the other is located at Haywire Bay at the southeast end; it is a Regional District Campground so there is a fee for its use.
Powell Lake – Inland Lake Portage, 0.7km (Alternate/Additional Route; Unmaintained Trail)
A short portage with a slightly adverse grade for the first 200 m. The trail follows an old railroad grade used for hauling logs from the Inland Lake drainage to Powell Lake. There are camping/resting areas at each end of the trail.
Inland Lake (Alternate/Additional Route)
A beautiful recreational lake with several sandy beaches and good fishing. The lake has two Provincial Park sites; a remote access campsite on Anthony Island and a vehicle-access campground on the southern end. The site on the island is accessible by boat or by hiking. It is located just off the northeastern shore and connected by a bridge to the trail. The Inland Lake campground is a large vehicle-oriented site with ample parking and unrestricted vehicle access—a good alternate termination point for the canoe route. This site has a caretaker, and the gate is locked at night. Inland Lake also has a level, 13 km trail completely surrounding the lake with several rest areas along the way. There is also a short trail to Lost Lake, which is a small, marshy-edged lake that drains into Inland Lake.