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Canoe, Still Lake, Doug Johnson Family Canoeing Bowron Lakes
A canoe on a still lake in the Bowron Lakes Circuit.

The greatest adventures stick with you, long after the trip itself has ended. A recent Bowron Lakes Canoe Trek in British Columbia was such a trip for me. Sitting in my office answering email, my mind wanders and I’m back on Isaac Lake, my paddle entering and exiting the water, in perfect time with my wife, Amy. The canoe glides almost silently across the glassy water. Five-year-old Lily dangles a plastic My Little Pony over the side of the boat, the toy secured to the canoe with a thin string. Henry, age eight, watches the tiny wave created by his long branch, the wake only interrupted by the strokes of my bent shaft paddle. The children are surrounded by dry bags of various sizes and colors, containing the gear and food needed for our ten-day adventure. On either side, the mountains rise with pine and fir forests below and exposed rocky ridges above. Occasional avalanche chutes can be seen from the water; the twisted and broken trees and still-melting snow piled up at the lake a clear indication of the different world that exists here in the winter when the lakes freeze solid and the snow piles deep.

Bowron Lakes Circuit, Doug Johnson Family Canoeing Bowron Lakes
The kids’ t-shirts show the incredible and improbable parallelogram of lakes in the Bowron Lake Circuit.

The Bowron Lakes are a marvel of nature; eight lakes connect with short portages to create a 72-mile parallelogram where a canoeist or kayaker can end a trip exactly where they started. The full circuit typically takes 6-10 days to a maximum trip of 14 days (and the record set at an astonishing 11 hours). The Bowron Lakes are close to Wells, BC, about a 10-hour drive from Seattle, WA. Quesnel is the nearest major town (2 hours), but the cute Wells and historic Barkerville are about 45 minutes away. We brought our canoe and gear, but local rentals are available as well.

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