Elk/Beaver Lake Paddle

  • Parking and Launching: Victoria City Rowing Club
  • Launching type: options of beach or dock
  • Difficulty – easy, medium sized lake with rare encounters with boats
  • Boat traffic – faster power boats required to stay on the northwestern corner of Elk Lake (the northern portion of the amalgamated Elk/Beaver Lake)
  • View – above average lake views with explorations of corners and islands
  • Facilities – flush toilets and a walking trail
  • Overall score – 5/10

Elk/Beaver Lake is a Regional Park in the Capital Regional District, located halfway between Sidney (and Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal) and Victoria. The lake derived its funny name when the two once-separate lakes became dammed and the water level rose to flood the marsh land between them. Instead of renaming the newly formed lake, they kept both names and continued to call the northern portion “Elk Lake” and the shallower southern portion “Beaver Lake”.

During the Sidney Leg of our BC Coastal Circle Tour, we found a few hours of downtime in an afternoon and hopped over for a quick paddle.

The lake is right off the highway, which provided very convenient access, but also made the paddle noisy with highway traffic. We aimed for Victoria City Rowing Club to park and launch.

Parking lot and washroom at Victoria City Rowing Club.

When we arrived, Big Bro was fast asleep so I took Middle Bro out for a paddle.

Launching from the low profile docks at the Victoria City Rowing Club was very easy. I now prefer the docks because I can keep my legs much drier.

Intrepid Middle Bro

There’s also a small beach nearby if you prefer a beach launch.

A small sandy beach near the rowing club for an alternative launching option.

I was aware of the speeding boats in the northern section of Elk Lake, and frankly there’s not much of a view paddling around the monotonous Elk Lake. It’s much more interesting to head south and explore the channels and Beaver Lake.

Almost immediately after launching, Middle Bro started swaying on the board. I convinced him to lie down on his back by reminding him that he has a pillow in his PFD. He obliged and quickly fell asleep for the entire paddle.

Because of the geography, the connecting section was very marshy and shallow, with overgrowing algae. I was glad I brought my short-finned Body Glove Performer 11. Even then, I was dragging a bunch of grass.

It’s not like this for the entire section, but this gives you an idea of the marshiness of the connecting channel
Paddling through piles of these globs of mess was not very fun.
For a balance in reporting, here’s a cleaner section of the channel.

The zigzagging course and a few islands in the channel provided a fun sense of exploration. Pretty soon, we got to Beaver Lake.

Beaver Lake

Both Beaver Lake and Elk Lake beaches are open for swimming, but the water looked quite green and muddy especially in Beaver Lake. A quick internet search revealed that the lake had been closed to swimming due to bacteria in the past, so I would double check for signage before swimming here.

Due to time constraint, I turned around after getting to the middle of Beaver Lake, and looped back.

My turnaround point
Paddling back

We hit a glassy windless section, so I took this photo.

Middle Bro didn’t move an inch during his entire nap.

The wind was picking up, but still quite manageable. I docked after about 1 hour of paddling. Middle Bro sensed that we were done, woke up, and hopped off the board without incident. An hour of paddling session to him was the perfect afternoon nap.

Tina reported that Big Bro woke up and they walked north to Hamsterly Beach on Elk Lake, where beginner paddleboarders were practicing close to shore. She thinks the shorter walk from the car to the sandy Hamsterly Beach is a better option for beginners.

Big Bro playing on the sandy beach on Hamsterly Beach

This is a part of our 2022 BC Coastal Circle Tour. Read on!

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