We pick up our canoes at Bear River Mercantile, a restaurant and general store with cabins, run by Dick & Sandy Phillips, where we have a complimentary Day 1 send off breakfast. Then on to the Park Registration Centre where canoeists register. There is also a park campground for RV’s and a parking lot for canoeists arriving by car.
Our trip starts with a portage to Kibbee Lake, named after Frank Kibbee who guided hunting parties and became the first long-term game warden in the early 1900’s. He was also instrumental in having the interior of the lake chain set aside as a game reserve in 1925. We pass pretty Thompson Lake, on our way to our first night camp at the start of the portage to Indian Point Lake.
- Bear R. Mercantile
- Park Registration
- Thompson Lake
- Kibbee Lake
- 1st night campsite
- Indianpoint Lake
- 2nd night campsite
- Wolverine Mountain
- Isaac Lake
- Betty Wendle Creek
- 3rd night campsite
- 4th night campsite
- Isaac R. & The Chute
- Trail to Isaac Falls
- McLeary Lake
- Cariboo River
- 5th night campsite
- Lanezi Lake
- Sandy Lake
- 6th night campsite
- Unna Lake
- Cariboo Falls
- Babcock Lake
- Skoi Lake
- Spectacle Lake
- 7th night campsite
- Bowron River & marsh
- Bowron Lake
We canoe Indianpoint Lake, the site of the ruins of Thomas and Eleanor McCabe’s log home. From this lake, there is a portage to Isaac Lake. Our second night campsite is at Nigoo Creek in Wolverine Bay, a good place to fish.
The whole day is spent paddling on to Isaac Lake, the largest lake on the circuit (38 km) named after George Isaac, a logger and sawyer. Our third night is at a nice, sandy beach directly opposite Betty Wendle Creek, named for the wife of Joe Wendle. Together, they spent 20 years as guides in the area and were instrumental in having the interior of the lake chain set aside as a game reserve in 1925.
We paddle the rest of Isaac Lake and spend our fourth night at the chute, where Isaac Lake empties into the Isaac River.
Isaac River and the chute: Here there is a stretch of white water (about .8km) which can be canoed or portaged. For those who choose to run it, we go over all the strokes you will need and teach you how to read moving water, followed by some practise runs. From the chute to McLeary Lake, there are two short portages and two short stretches of river. Just before McLeary Lake, there is a side trail leading to Isaac Falls. McLeary Lake is a beautiful, small lake with a great view of the mountains and the Cariboo Glacier.
It is also the site of Freddie Becker’s first cabin, built in 1935. We paddle the swift-moving Cariboo River, whose source is the Cariboo Glacier and which leads us to Lanezi Lake, the second largest lake on the circuit with spectacular mountain peaks towering over it. Here, we may encounter a number of log jams but we know all the right channels and will see you through with no problem. We spend our fifth night at the Turner Creek camp site on Lanezi Lake.
Today, we pass along Sandy Lake, fringed with aspen trees and beautiful beaches all along one shore. Our sixth night camp site is at Rum Lake, which has the warmest water – the best for swimming – on the circuit. It is connected to Unna Lake by a channel. From Unna Lake there is a lovely, 1.2 km. hiking trail eading to the impressive 24-metre-high Cariboo Falls
Next, via a portage, is Babcock Lake, named for J.P.Babcock, a B.C. Fish Commissioner, who was instrumental in having the interior of the lake chain set aside as a game reserve in 1925. Then, we walk a short portage to Skoi Lake, the smallest lake on the circuit, and then, do another equally short portage to Spectacle Lake. We have left the mountains now and are into more open, marsh-type country where, if you’re watchful, you may see a moose.
Our seventh night camp site is at the birches, a beautiful spot amidst birch trees. The campsite offers a great view of the mountains in the middle of the lake chain and access to the Bowron marsh.
We enter the Bowron Marsh, teeming with birds and wildlife, where you are likely to see moose, beaver, muskrat, and marten. Wolves can be heard and salmon spawn in the river. Finally, we are on Bowron Lake, formerly known as Bear Lake. It was named for John Bowron, one of Barkerville’s residents in the 1860’s. He held positions such as postmaster, fire warden, government agent, and gold commissioner. Our trip ends on the morning of the eighth day, enjoying a breakfast, compliments of Bear River Mercantile.
Shelter, Equipment, Food
Bowron Park has granted Pathways prime reserved campsites, eliminating the competitive “first come first serve” syndrome. This allows us to enjoy a more leisurely pace each day and the security of a private site each night. Canoes and double-occupancy tents are top-of-the line models for comfort and safety. You need bring only your personal gear. Sleeping bags, pads and backpacks are available for rent. Each day, we cook and provide you with wholesome, hot meals.
Our route includes 108 km (65 miles) of paddling and 8 km (5 miles) of portaging. To assist with portaging (the longest is 2.4 km), each canoe has a two-wheeled carrier, allowing canoe partners to pull their share of the group gear over the portages, thus avoiding heavy shoulder loads. Clients will be required to carry their own back pack. Some portages are hilly, however and, when wet, can require considerable energy.
Good health, reasonable fitness and plenty of enthusiasm are your only requirements. Although it’s an outdoor adventure for all ages, including seniors, take into account that this is a wilderness experience. Paddling distances range from 2 to 17 kms per day, and inclement weather can make even a short day challenging.
We’d be happy to send client references for you to contact.
To find out more about another remarkable adventure take a look at our Pelly-Yukon Canoeing Tours