Trip Prep

For the Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit

Preparing for Portage
On the portage trails, the park regulation allows maximum 60 lbs. in the canoe (full canoe or kayak capacity is allowed while on the lakes).

The 40 liter (blue) container holds your breakfast and dinner food. The 20 liter (white) bucket carries your lunch, camera, binocular and things that need to be waterproofed. Both containers, which make up the 60 lbs. limit, stay in the canoe during portaging. As well, personal water bottles, paddles and life jackets, not considered part of the weight limit, stay in the canoe. Each canoeist also carries a 115 liter or 70 liter SeaLine drybag with sleeping bag and personal clothing etc.

If you pack your gear like this, each portage can be made in one trip. All waterproof containers, buckets and bags can be rented here.

Weather Overview
With long hours of daylight and warm temperatures during the summer, you might enjoy a swim in the lakes, basking in the sun, or chats at the campfire long into the night. The end of May and early June are usually warm and sometimes hot, as are August and early September. In late September the temperatures usually dip to freezing at night. The benefits of the later season are clear and crisp days with a significant decline in the insect population. Even perfect weather can change suddenly making it windy, rainy and cold, and even hail. If this happens you may want to pause on your journey to rest, relax, or explore one of the points of interest.

Due to possible changes in the weather, a variety of clothing is required. The lakes can churn into a wild ocean if it gets windy, it may rain or turn chilly, and it may even get very hot and sunny. Bring extra running shoes or “Aqua-socks” to wear in the water when you line your canoe. Light hiking boots are recommended, but rubber shoes or rubber bottom boots also work well (not gumboots). Bring underwear, shirts, sweaters, and a good waterproof rain jacket. An effective strategy is to wear layers of clothes to stay warm. In case you capsize, take extra clothes made from material which can dry quickly. Wool or nylon gloves are good for paddling, and you should wear a hat or a cap.

Other Things to Bring
Bring a sleeping bag, knife, biodegradable soap, a towel, a bathing suit, camera and film or a video camera, sun screen, sun glasses and a hat. You should abstain from using perfume or deodorant as this could attract bears. Remember, there are no stores once you are out on the circuit. Most supplies are available at our General Store.

Personal Fitness
A person in good physical condition will enjoy the trip more. The 116 km of the circuit consists of 108 km of paddling and about 10 km of portaging. While on the portages the heavy gear can be carried in backpacks and light gear (up to 27 kg) may be placed in the canoes. Canoe carts will effectively transport your canoe and gear in one trip. Paddling itself is not very hard if you know the basic strokes, but this also depends on the weather conditions. If it is very windy you need stamina and strength. In rough weather, you may want to go ashore and wait for better conditions. Safety should always be put first. We offer canoeing lessons, with a certified canoe instructor if you would like to take some lessons before you start your trip.

Canoeing Lessons
We offer a paddling course for beginners. Our certified canoe instructor will teach you the basic strokes before you start your journey. The course runs between 5:30pm and 7:30pm every day except Tuesday and Wednesday nights.  Cost is $30/hour, per person, paid directly to your instructor.

Food Preparation
Bring lightweight equipment and food. Don’t rely on firewood for cooking. On a dry summer there may be a campfire ban. During a wet summer, firewood is not dry which makes starting a cooking fire very difficult. Bring your own or rent from us a good cooking set. This is the most efficient way to quickly get a hot drink or meal in any weather condition. Check with BC Parks (ph. 250-398-4648) for an update on tin-can and glass-bottle regulations.