Murtle Lake is world-famous as the largest canoe-only lake in North America. Set in a pristine mountain valley, the north and west arms are approximately 20 km long, and the lake averages three kilometres wide.
Murtle Lake Brochure and Map [PDF] (May, 2017)
Campsite locations should be chosen with care. Tents and canoes should be placed a safe distance from potential deadfall. Use extra caution when choosing campsites in windy conditions.
Boil or otherwise purify lake or creek water to reduce risk of Giardia lamblia (beaver fever).
The outlet of Murtle Lake is the swift-flowing and dangerous Murtle River, noted for its many waterfalls. Visitors wishing to hike to McDougall Falls must use caution in Diamond Lagoon.
Murtle Lake is a large lake and subject to gusts of strong wind. The lake often becomes choppy in the afternoon. If moving camp it is best to do so in the forenoon. Never try to out-run a storm; beach at the first available opportunity and wait out bad weather.
The Park Operator has emergency communication and a satellite phone link located in the Ranger Cabin on the south shore of Murtle Lake.
The nearest public telephone is located at Blue River Campground and RV Park, 27 km from the Murtle Lake parking area.
The use of bear proof food caches is mandatory.
Murtle Lake was named by Joseph Hunter of the Canadian Pacific Railway survey crew in 1874, for his hometown in Scotland.
6,900 hectare mid-section of Wells Gray Provincial Park’s 540,000 ha total
There are 69 wilderness/canoe-in tenting sites at 20 locations along the lakeshore. (No vehicle access to lakeshore.) Camping is in designated sites only. No overnight camping on Fairyslipper Island.
New permit system for Murtle Lake: Overnight visitors can now pay at the lagoon with a self-registration system. Cash is the preferred method of payment. Deposit cash in the envelope, fill out the information and place in vault located at the lagoon. Please detach receipt and retain for presentation to Park Operator or Ranger to confirm payment.
While campfires are allowed and campfire rings are provided at each campsite, we encourage visitors to conserve wood and protect the environment by minimizing the use of fire and using campstoves instead. Firewood can be purchased in the park or you may bring your own wood. Fees for firewood are set locally and may vary from park to park.
Limited burning hours or campfire bans may be implemented. To preserve vegetation and ground cover, please don’t gather firewood from the area around your campsite or elsewhere in the park (this is a ticketable offence under the Park Act ). Dead wood is an important habitat element for many plants and animals and it adds organic matter to the soil.
No day-use or picnic facilities; although some day-use visitors walk the additional 1.5 km past the canoe launch to a sandy beach on the lakeshore.
This park only has pit toilets; no flush toilets.
Trailheads are water-accessible only, and are marked by signs. Trails lead to small lakes, alpine wilderness, and McDougall Falls on the Murtle River. For your own safety and the preservation of the park, obey posted signs and keep to designated trails. Shortcutting trails destroys plant life and soil structure.
Trail conditions and updates will be posted on the Wells Gray Park page under the Advisories and Hiking sections.
The hiking trails listed below can be reached only by canoe or kayak. Distances are for one way travel. Trailheads are marked by signs. Trail conditions and updates will be posted on the Wells Gray Park page under the Advisories and Hiking sections.
Be aware of signs of bear activity on any of the trails, and be prepared to take evasive action.
Henrietta Lake: Easy 20-minute hike, 1 km. Trailhead 4 km west of Murtle lagoon. Fishing.
Anderson Lake: Easy 1.5 hour hike, 4 km. Trailhead just west of Smoker Islands. Abandoned cabin; beautiful vista; mosquitoes.
McDougall Falls: Easy 1.5 hour hike, 5 km. Trailhead across Diamond Lagoon. Stay clear of lagoon outlet as fast river current starts suddenly.
Central Mountain: Moderate to difficult 4 hour hike. 7 1/2 km with 1037m elevation gain. Trailhead located on north short of west arm. Steep trail route marked with orange markers. Superb views and alpine flowers. Carry water.
File Creek/McDougall Lake Route: 1.5 km portage trail to bypass rapids on File Creek, then upstream via File Creek to head of navigation. Trailhead at Kostal campsite. Continuation of the trail from head of navigation to McDougall Lake over lava beds from Kostal Volcano is not easy. Carry water and watch carefully for orange markers.
Wavy Alpine: Moderate to difficult 4 hour hike. 7 km with 975 m elevation gain. Trailhead on east shore of North Arm, at end of long sandy beach north of Strait Creek campsite. Extensive hiking and overnight camping opportunities once alpine is reached. Views, alpine meadows, lakes. The Strait Lake access trail also branches off the Wavy Alpine trail.
There are no lifeguards on duty at provincial parks. Murtle Lake is glacier-fed and the water is icy-cold.
Only canoes and kayaks are allowed at Murtle Lake. A canoe launch is provided at the lagoon, 2.5 km from the parking lot.
Murtle is noted for rainbow and kokanee trout. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence.
Murtle Lake is accessed off highway #5 at Blue River. Drive 27 km west on a winding, narrow, gravel road to the parking lot. From there, a 2.5km level trail (canoe-cart accessible) leads to the canoe launch.