Most people know that Danny and I spend a lot of time in the mountains. We really enjoy our backpacking trips into the middle of nowhere. Last year however, I was still recovering from a back injury so we weren’t able to go on any hardcore hiking trips. I’m still a bit nervous about having to carry any weight on my back.
My parents have a canoe that has been stored under their deck for probably the past 15 years with no one taking it out. As Danny does, he was looking through his map books and found Lakeland Provincial Park located about half an hour east of Lac La Biche, Alberta. As the title of this blog post suggests, it is Alberta’s only canoe circuit.
Last July we stole the canoe from my parents place and packed up Danny’s truck and headed north.
We spent the Friday night at a friend’s cabin near Boyle where we may have been convinced to stay up longer than we should have for the canoe ride ahead.
On Saturday we woke up late and drove from Boyle to Lac La Biche and then down the dirt road to Lakeland Provincial Park. We started at Jackson Lake Staging Area. There were a whole bunch of canoe carts available at the start of the trail. We grabbed one and loaded up.
It was a 3.2 km hike through the trees to Jackson Lake. The trail isn’t too steep for normal walking, but with a canoe there was some added effort required. As you can see below, most of the added effort came from Danny.
At the lake there was a board walk to the dock. The dock had a sinking part that you could stand on to get your canoe more easily into the water. Warning: it is quite slippery. When we got there we were presented with some dads and sons that were obviously part of Boy Scouts at one point. The boys were heading back to the trail head to get carts because there weren’t enough there. The dads helped us get our canoe loaded into the water and gave us some expertise: our canoe is a pig. Apparently because it is so heavy it doesn’t glide very well and moves pretty slowly. This was confirmed very soon.
The water in the lake was very clean and is an excellent place for fishing in both summer and winter. The lake was calm and the boat traffic was minimal because it is so secluded. We paddled up a narrow portion to the main part of Jackson Lake. We followed the shore east to a bridge where we went under into Kinnaird Lake. It took us about half an hour of paddling to get to the bridge.
Once we were under the bridge we knew we had to aim south so we headed straight across the lake in that direction. We did not realize how canoeing is so tiring! We were a bit disoriented trying to find where the campsites were located. We found one on an island, but then another canoe headed back that way to ensure we didn’t steal it. We were told by the Boy Scouts that there was a campsite opposite the island where they stayed. We went up and down the length of the peninsula looking for it.
We were discussing going back to another campsite we had seen near the bridge when we spotted a metal post that at one point would have held a campsite sign. We were so thankful to find it! It had taken us about two hours from the bridge to finally get to a campsite.
We pulled in the canoe, climbed up the small bank and looked at the campsite. It was a bit cramped and the fire pit was full of garbage. What kind of Boy Scouts would leave garbage like that?!? We went looking for the bear hanger/locker and found it a bit further into the trees. That’s when we also found another campsite that was a hundred times better. There was more open space and our own private beach! We went back, pulled up the canoe and carried our stuff to the other campsite.
We had an awesome evening of swimming in the lake, cooking supper around the fire and chilling out in our tent. There was even a toilet with a view!
The next morning we woke up, ate some breakfast, packed up all our gear and headed out paddling. We were a lot less tired and Danny actually enjoyed the paddling. To be honest, I did very little paddling that day. It was beautiful weather and we were able to get back to the dock much quicker than finding our campsite the day before.
The disappointing part was that when we got to the dock there was no cart. Danny had to run back the 3.2 km to the trail head and then run all the way back to the dock.
I had a snack and worked on my tan. A guy showed up with a kayak who was going out for the day. He said he met up with Danny close to the trail head so he wouldn’t be too much longer. When he showed up we had another snack and hiked out.
This trip was definitely more relaxing than others we have been on. We definitely imagined that canoeing would be a bit more exciting. Danny already has plans for a couple of canoe trips this year. He even bought a hitch for the truck so we can put a canoe in the box and then another on top. Look out for some pictures of our next canoe trip on Facebook and Instagram.
Do you have a favourite canoe spot? Let us know in the comment section down below.