Cultus Lake Paddle


Quick Facts

  • Parking and Launching:
  • Launching type: beach
  • Difficulty – generally easy especially in the morning before motorboats and wind pick up
  • Boat traffic – many motor boats, jet skis especially on a weekend afternoon. Water-skiers get up surprisingly early.
  • View – lakeshore houses, lush forests, snowcapped mountains in the distance
  • Facilities: flush toilets, picnic area, lawns, beaches at Entrance Bay and Maple Bay.
  • Overall score – 7/10

Cultus Lake is a developed, medium-sized lake in Chilliwack popular for paddling, boating, and camping. We stayed at Delta Grove, Clear Creek, and Maple Bay Campgrounds on 3 separate occasions (camping reports to follow), and of course paddleboarding the lake is one of our primary focuses.

Access Points

There are several public access points to the lake:

  • Entrance Bay Picnic Area – very large parking lot with close to 500m of beach. Flush toilets, many picnic tables, playground, sandy beach. Very heavy boater traffic in the afternoon, including jet skis.
  • Jade Bay Boat Launch – concrete boat launch, trailer parking only
  • Spring Bay Picnic Area – much smaller parking lot and smaller beach, just before Delta Grove and Clear Creek Campgrounds. Minimal facilities, but may be less busy and shorter distance to the water if all you want to do is launching onto the lake.
  • Maple Bay Picnic Area – another large parking lot with good beach access. Flush toilets, many picnic tables, pebbly beach. The view from Maple Bay is better than Entrance Bay, since you can look down the entire length of Cultus Lake.
  • Maple Bay Boat Launch – concrete boat launch, trailer parking only

Besides the public beaches, there are many small access points at Delta Grove Campground which are accessible to campers.

Condition

Cultus Lake is usually very calm in the morning, and the wind picks up from the south in the afternoon.

Tranquility in the morning.
Choppy waves in the afternoon.

However, going early in the morning is not a guarantee for a perfect paddle. On more than one occasion, I have been greeted with water-skiers at 6:30 am in the morning! They seem to hug the more populated eastern shoreline for some reason. Perhaps they launched from either Entrance Bay or Maple Bay, and didn’t bother to hop on over to the less populated western shore. Maybe they have a specific route that they like to practice on. Or maybe they just wanted the audience. In any case, their roaring engines and boat wakes are probably a nuisance for the campers and paddlers who need to get back to their pullout point (which are all on the east shore).

It looks pretty cool in the photo but when it comes too close to a paddler, it begs the question: why not go to the middle of the lake with much more open space to do cool turns?

Full Lap

On the last morning of our camping trip at Clear Creek, the rain let up and it was a great morning for a paddle. Our campsite was close enough to Delta Grove so I just hopped over the highway and launched from there.

I started around 5:30 am and went counter-clockwise for a full lap. The usually busy Entrance Bay was completely deserted.

Entrance Bay Picnic Area.
A new lakefront condo development features its own private marina.
RVs at the massive, privately owned Sunnyside Campground.
Jet skis and speed boat rental. Source of many paddlers’ headaches.
Colorful houses on Cultus Lake
Turning the corner and heading south
Group campsite on the west shore.

The full loop was close to 13km and took just over 2.5 hours. The less populated western shoreline is much more rugged and natural. The eastern shoreline is noisy with highway traffic. The northern and southern ends of the lake are developed neighborhoods.

I wanted to go do the loop again when we camped at Maple Bay, but the water-skiers came out again. As a result, I stuck to the western shore and did an out-and-back paddle instead to avoid them.

Family Paddle

During our Maple Bay camping trip, we had a blast with the grandparents paddling Cultus Lake.

Little Bro getting the paddleboard ready
Grandma and Grandpa on a fishing mission. No bite.

This is also the first time both Tina and I carried a kid each, marking the first ever whole-family paddle trip!

Both kids were busy goofing around with their little toy spades as paddles.

Even Junior got a chance to practice standing up and paddling. Tina reported that he was in fact propelling the board forward.

Overall, this is a nice destination for camping and paddling. Most days the lake is calm enough for beginners. I would recommend going further into the provincial park and launching at Maple Bay for its better views and equally great facilities compared with Entrance Bay. Being at the very end of the lake, motor boats can’t go too fast in this area. When the southerly wind picks up in the afternoon, the southern end of the lake is the most protected as well.


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