It’s Throw Back Thursday! Here’s a post from around this time last year that I published on an old camping blog. This is before we moved into our Boler but we had a great time at Hicks Lake and want to share the experience with you. Where’s your favorite campsite in BC?
We decided to start our camping season as early as possible this year with the long weekend landing so close to my birthday. We had some extra money and got ourselves really set up for camping, purchasing a camp stove, kitchen stand, a plug-in cooler, a huge tarp to make a canopy from the van (aka Rose), a good quality axe and combo machete/saw, some extra weights and lures for fishing, and other accoutrements – I even bought myself a little pocket knife. These items made all the difference in both our preparedness and enjoyment for the weekend so they were definitely a worthwhile investment.
My original idea was to camp at Golden Ears Provincial Park, which is about an hour east of Vancouver just north of Maple Ridge but with its higher elevation the weather forecast wasn’t very desirable for this time of year (think sleet). The best forecast within a reasonable distance was out toward Harrison Hot Springs and a bit of searching lead me to Sasquatch Provincial Park, located on the east side of Harrison Lake above the resort town (the opposite side of the lake as our previous trip). A bonus was that Hicks Lake had been stocked with trout roughly a week earlier and I learned on Fishing with Rod.com that we could fish for both cutthroat and rainbow trout species. The rainbow trout are released at catchable size (200 – 300 grams) while cutthroat are released in the 50 – 150 gram range.
Sasquatch Provincial Park includes three lakes – Deer, Hicks and Trout – with three campsites: Hicks Lake campground as well as Bench and Lakeside campgrounds at Deer Lake for a total of 178 sites. Hicks Lake is the largest campground with 72 sites and costs $21 per night for vehicle accessible camping, which is less expensive than the $30 rate found at many provincial park campgrounds. Amenities at the campground include pit toilets, fresh water, sani-stations, a picnic area, boat launch and amphitheatre in the forest which seems to be set-up for projecting video.
The lake wraps around the campground so that many sites have little trails leading down to the water’s edge while others are set back into the trees. Even though it was early in the season, the proximity of the park to the city makes it a popular destination and all of the reservable sites were booked – my guess is that reservations pour in as soon as they open at the end of March. Our site was near the campground’s entrance between two roads but had plenty of room and trees around it.
We weren’t too close to our neighbours but still managed to make friends with another couple from Vancouver who taught us how to play Kubb (pronounced ‘koob’), a 1000-year old viking game where the object is to knock over wooden blocks by throwing wooden batons at them (only underhand tosses are allowed). It’s kind of a combination of bowling and horseshoes and I was terrible at it but Ryan’s aim was pretty good – probably because of his viking blood.
We arrived at the campground around 10:30 am on Friday and once our site was in working order and we had tested out our new camp stove with some grilled cheese sandwiches we struck out for some afternoon fishing. There are several good fishing locations along the shoreline near the campground, with large boulders to set up on and steep drop-offs in the lake that are easily reachable. There were plenty of small boats out on the lake during the weekend fishing these spots as well. On our first evening we fished with both a bobber set-up and a spinner lure in a small inlet near the dam and fish ladder. The fish were active but they seemed to be just out of our reach and the spinner kept getting caught up in the lakeweed so we switched both rods to bobbers for the rest of the weekend.
After some Saturday-morning fishing we decided to walk the Hicks Lake Trail (click here to view the map), which is a moderate, roughly two-hour long hike that follows the shoreline and also joins up with a gravel logging road on the north side of the lake. The trail also joins Beaver Pond Trail but by the time we were around the lake it was raining and our feet hurt from the large rocks on the logging road. It rained steadily all afternoon and into the evening and, unable to have a fire, we reinforced our tarp structure around the van to give us better cover and ended up falling asleep early.
The weather on Sunday was glorious and we went fishing for a few hours before making breakfast, exploring some new spots around the campground. We fished for the rest of the afternoon and a light rain cleared out out many of our fellow anglers – but we were determined. We moved to a spot popular for families fishing the lake on a day-use basis in the late afternoon where the rocks jut out into the water and there is a steep drop-off. The water was calm and as I was slowly reeling in the last cast of the day – we were down to one rod and it was starting to get dark – I suddenly got a bite. I had a couple of nibbles earlier in the day but nothing like this. I managed to sink the hook in and began reeling the fish toward the rocks. Ryan sprang into action – grabbing the club we had fashioned from a branch in our campsite, he jumped down onto the rock in front of me without realizing that it was mostly covered in water, totally soaking his feet – it was all a frantic scramble. He managed to get a hold on the line and was drawing the fish toward the rocks when it got loose and swam away with the worm. It was perfect though – my first catch – a beautiful rainbow trout that was around a foot long! I am actually happy that it lived to swim another day rather than having to watch Ryan club it to death, though I’m sure it would have been tasty.
We fished a bit more on Monday morning but the fish were wise to our game so we packed up our site and headed for home. I would definitely revisit Sasquatch Provincial Park – we saw stellar jays, humming birds, huge ravens, a beaver and our fish, and there is a lot more to explore. There are hiking trails around Deer Lake and south to Moss Lake, which lays outside the park’s boundaries. The day use area at Trout Lake also borders Harrison Lake where I would love to take a swim in the summer months.
Sasquatch Park is located off of Highway 7, six kilometres north of Harrison Hot Springs. Follow the signs through Harrison Hot Springs and Green Point.