Murtle Lake? Never heard of it!!

Murtle Lake is located in the backcountry of Blue River. BLUE RIVER?? I thought this was Vernon Rocks, not Blue River Rocks?!? We know, it’s a bit of a drive to get there, but well worth the article, and your time to see it. Murtle Lake is the largest non-motorized lake in North America. No, this is not a typo.

What are we in for?

Hit Blue River, and head North at Mike Wiegele’s restaurant (follow the signs). 25 kms in, you will find a parking lot. From the parking lot, there is a 2.5 km walk with boat to the lake. They have carts available, if your canoe or kayak doesn’t currently have a set of wheels! There are 20 campsites spread out all over the lake, ranging in size from 1 to 6 pads per site. From what we saw, there isn’t a bad site on the lake. Each with a great view and relatively flat pads to rest your tired bones.

When should we go, and what will we see?

We were blessed with some blind luck when it came to the timing of our trip. We knew we wanted to hit the lake as the Rug Rats were headed back to school, and did so at the end of the September Long weekend. What the lake had in store for us far exceeded our expectations! First off, no bugs. YAY!

More importantly, Murtle Lake is one of a handful of lakes in BC that attracts juvenile Loons early fall every year. Flocks of these little guys were all over the place (30 – 40 at a time) playing, fishing, chatting back and forth. We didn’t know what to think of what we were seeing until the Ranger explained that this is the norm in early September! It was pretty amazing to witness.The water is very clear, and the lake well stocked with Trout and Kokanee (the fish, not the beer) Eagles are ever present as are Osprey who entertained us while they fished not far from our boats as we paddled the shoreline.

What to pack.

This place is remote. We were a 10km paddle from a 2.5 km hike then a 25km logging road drive to Blue River, which is a 1-hour drive from Clearwater (nearest medical facility). Plan ahead. Pack accordingly and know that you might be your own rescue team. First Aid and general survival gear, full camping kit, extra food in case you end up with an unplanned extended stay, and a water filter.

Why should you go?

This lake truly is a BC gem. Getting away from the masses, and experiencing the outdoors at this level is something everyone should experience at least once! The sense of peace that comes from the quiet is something that cannot be described.

Closing Shout Out!

We cannot wrap this article without saying a big THANK YOU to Hannah and Crew @ True Outdoors for the rental canoe and advice about what to pack to get us into the backcountry in a boat, safely. Check them out if you feel like taking a canoe for a spin, or if you have other backcountry thoughts bouncing around in your head!

Visit them online here.


How did we end up in a canoe? Below is the inside scoop of “the Thompsons on Murtle Lake”. This epilogue breaks down our trip, as canoers. What we went through is pretty common based on the feedback I’ve received to date. Enjoy!

Apparently, my subconscious just took a long, hard look at my healthy 10-year marriage and decided it was time to test my and my wife’s mettle. Can we make it through the toughest of times? Are we REALLY meant to be? Enter the idea of a canoe trip. How hard can it be, right?

  • Day 1 – Dreadful. Lots of bickering, as the boat zig zagged aimlessly across the lake, painfully underpowered.
  • Day 2 – Boat is starting to track “almost” straight, with significantly less energy expended on pointing out the flaws of one’s partner.
  • Day 3 & 4 – Paddling like a team. ACTUALLY commenting on how great this experience is, and how we can’t wait to go again!

It was worth the pain out of the gates to come together as a team and do what we set out to do. Explore and enjoy some BC scenery by boat.



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