Pitt Lake - Trip Description
Circumnavigation distance (return trip): 65 km
Distance to Dark Creek: 8.7 km
Distance to Raven Creek: 8.7 km
Distance to Osprey Creek South: 16.0 km
Distance to Osprey Creek North: 16.7 km
Distance to Vicker's Creek: 24.3 km
Distance to top of lake: 28.4 km
(All distances one way from Grant Narrows)
Coordinates (WGS 84):
N49 20.958 W122 36.934 - Put-in location (Grant Narrows boat launch)
N49 25.164 W122 34.855 - Dark Creek campsite
N49 23.907 W122 31.913 - Raven Creek campsite
N49 23.907 W122 31.913 - Osprey Creek South campsite
N49 28.010 W122 30.863 - Osprey Creek North campsite
N49 30.795 W122 34.707 - Vickers Creek campsite (informal)
Lower Mainland Location:
- No. 3062 Small-Craft Charts: Pitt River and Pitt Lake (1/25,000)
Canadian Topographic Maps:
With stories of First Nations heritage, alien and sasquatch sightings, lost gold mines, and even murder, Pitt Lake has a long and interesting history that rivals the tales of any other location in British Columbia. The mountainous, forested area around Pitt Lake is also known to be some of the most brutal and unforgiving topography in the entire province of British Columbia and has claimed the lives of many rugged men (most of whom died looking for Slumach's famous lost gold mine).
The 30 kilometre long lake is the largest fresh water tidal lake in North America and holds the distinction of being the second largest lake (next to Harrison Lake) in the Lower Mainland. Ocean tides push back the Fraser River which in turn force the waters of the Pitt River back towards, and into Pitt Lake creating a very different fresh water paddling experience. It takes a bit of getting used to regularly seeing seals, and having to pull your boat up above the high tide line in a fresh water environment.
Expect to experience currents from Grant Narrows until about 5 kilometres up the lake. At times when the tide is dropping, current can be fairly strong but not so much that you can't paddle against it. The nearest tide station is located at New Westminster -- tide levels at Grant Narrows are generally 4 - 6 hours behind those at New West.
Despite the quirky ocean-like qualities of the lake, Pitt Lake is one of the nicest and most picturesque paddling destinations in the Lower Mainland. The lake is also one of the coldest in the BC Lower Mainland with icy waters flowing in from the Mamquam Icefield, some 35 kilometres north of the top of the lake. Pitt Lake is not a lake where you'll spend a lot of time swimming -- even during the summer.
If you're planning to travel and camp at Pitt Lake during winter, spring, or fall, it would be a good idea to have your tarp setting skills well honed as this area gets a LOT of rain. Even when nearby Vancouver is experiencing beautiful sunshine, it is not unusual to encounter hard rain and sudden downpours on Pitt Lake. Note that winter storm weather conditions on Pitt Lake can be extremely brutal and have been known to keep cottage owners with large boats holed-up for several days without being able to travel.
There are four Provincial Marine Parks on Pitt Lake located at Raven Creek, Dark Creek, Osprey Creek South, and Osprey Creek North that have clearly defined tent spots and outhouses. There is no fee to camp at these locations.
There is also limited camping in unofficial campsites at Vickers Creek. There are two small spots, each at opposite ends of the log strewn beach that are generally taken early on weekends by power boaters. Each site can accomodate a couple of tents. There are no facilities at Vickers Creek -- these are primitive campsites.
Just south of Raven Creek, there are about three or four unofficial primitive spots suitable for camping. Note that there are no outhouses or other facilities at these locations.
In summer months, Pitt Lake is a popular location for power boaters and you many have a difficult time if you're expecting peace and quite -- especially on the lower half of the lake. On any given summer weekend you can expect to find a crowd of power boaters enjoying the warmer shallower waters at Raven Creek, but they are generally picnicers who pack up and leave towards the end of the day.
Warning: Wind can pick up quickly and fiercely on Pitt Lake. Always check weather forecasts and be prepared for sudden changes in the weather -- especially in the spring, fall, and winter months
N49 20.922 W122 36.934
From Lougheed Hwy in Pitt Meadows, turn north on Harris Road and proceed for 1.4 kilometres and then turn right on Dewdney Trunk Road. Follow Dewdney Trunk Road for aprox 3 kilometres and turn left on Neaves Road. Follow Neaves Road to the end (approx 13 km), where you'll enter the Grants Narrows Provincial Park.
Day parking is free. Overnight parking is $5.00 per night.
Trip date: Aug 4-7, 2008
Submitted by: Dan Millsip
Images copyright: Dan Millsip