The small lakeside community of Canim Lake in the Cariboo is located at the southwestern end of Wells Gray Provincial Park.
The 23-mile (37 km) long Canim Lake is one of the larger lakes in the Cariboo, surrounded by expansive meadows, mountains, rolling hills, and forests of pine, spruce and Douglas-fir trees. Numerous resorts dot the shoreline of the magnificent Canim Lake, which has a distinctive lushness to it due in part to its lower elevation.
Canim Lake is the traditional territory of the Secwepemc (Shuswap) First Nation. The Native people of Canim Lake and their ancestors are a part of what is known as the Lake Division of the Shuswap Tribe within the Interior Salish Nations in B.C. Archaeological evidence of ancient habitation in the Soda Creek region of the Cariboo during the summer of 1995 was carbon dated at approximately 4,300 years old. The name Canim appropriately means canoe in the Chinook language.
Canim Lake has a great pebble beach remnant of the glacial age, and during summer this beautiful area is fantastic for hiking, canoeing, boating and fishing. Winter brings fabulous backcountry skiing, snowmobiling, skating, snowshoeing, dogsledding and sleigh rides.
Location: Canim Lake is located on Canim Lake Road, approximately 35 km northeast of 100 Mile House in the Cariboo. Three kilometres north of 100 Mile House is the turnoff that heads east via Forest Grove to the community of Canim Lake, on the southern tip of Canim Lake.
Canim Falls at the east end of Canim Lake in Wells Gray Provincial Park is reached by a trail that starts from the logging road that parallels the south side of Canim Lake. Other magnificent waterfalls in the area are Deception Falls and Mahood Falls.
Other local attractions in Canim Lake include the volcanic cones near Spanish Creek and ancient native pictographs and ancient pit houses at Deception Creek. You can also look for native pictographs on the rock face of both the north and south sides of Mahood Lake near its midpoint.
Skiing: Downhill skiers and snowboarders can head to the Mt. Timothy Ski Area, a family ski hill featuring a snowboard park and a seven-minute scenic t-bar ride up the 1,635-metre Mt. Timothy hill. Overnight RV plug-in sites are available.
Skiing & Winter Activities in the Cariboo and BC Interior.
Cross-country skiing: Purists can cut their own cross-country tracks around Canim Lake. Once the huge lake freezes over, the landscape turns into significant backcountry touring turf. Arguably the best track-set cross-country skiing in the Cariboo is found at 108 Mile Ranch, west of Canim Lake on the Cariboo Highway. Nordic enthusiasts can particpate in the Cariboo Marathon, a popular cross-country event held near 100 Mile House in late January. Snowshoeing is another adventurous way to experience the beauty of the Canim Lake area, and Dogsledding and dog sled tours are also available. Several lodges at Canim Lake and nearby subalpine lakes remain open year-round.
Snowmobiling: Guided snowmobile tours for beginners and advanced riders are available, from one-hour trips to day tours. Ride the trails or venture into the alpine. Snowmobiles available for rental.
Fishing: Canim Lake is serious angling country in summer, offering some of the finest freshwater flyfishing in BC. Canim Lake is the angling centre of a region famed for the size of its char, or laker, as the fish is referred to locally. Anglers look for kokanee, rainbow, lake trout up to 25 pounds, or lingcod. Car-top launching is possible from the provincial park at the south end of the lake. Ice Fishing season on Canim Lake runs from mid December to mid March, offering Rainbow Trout, Lake Trout, Kokanee and Burbot (freshwater Ling Cod).
Hiking: Trails abound for hiking and mountain biking, and hundreds of kilometres of logging roads lead far into the wilderness providing good access to the backcountry.
Horseback Riding: The surrounding mountains and ranch country offers superb terrain for horseback riding. If you want a horse adventure, this is the way to go. Local lodges offer rides for both novice and experienced riders, as well as overnight packtrips that offer camping under the stars after a day in the saddle. One-week trips through the beautiful Cariboo Mountains provide the ultimate Cowboy experience.
Canoeing & Kayaking: Canim Lake is very scenic, and offers great paddling. Due to the significant size of the lake, it’s advisable to remain close to the shoreline in case the wind picks up. Large waves can develop quite suddenly and present risky paddling conditions.
Wildlife: Wildlife is abundant in the Canim Lake area, including black bears, moose, mule deer, wolves, coyotes, cougars, beavers, otters, waterfowl, hawks, bald eagles and song birds.
Recreation Sites: A number of Recreation Sites are located around Canim Lake: Greenlee Lake near the southern end of Canim Lake is a small, clear lake offering good fishing for Rainbow Trout; Howard Lake has a beach, a good small boat and trailer launch and capacity for around 15 camper type RVs.
Canim Beach Provincial Park offers very limited camping, at the beach on the south end of Canim Lake, despite the popularity of local angling. Competition for the available campsites is intense, but should you find yourself frozen out, there’s plenty of private accommodation nearby.
Wells Gray Provincial Park is one of British Columbia’s largest and most spectacular parks. There are five major lakes here, as well as two large river systems, numerous small lakes, streams, and waterways, and a multitude of waterfalls, rapids, and cataracts. Although boating and paddling are major attractions for campers, the area has something for everyone. In winter, there are just as many opportunities for recreation as in summer, with the advantage of no bugs! This park is as ideal as any you will find in the province, with a climate and terrain varied enough to suit the most demanding backpacker or mountaineer.
Southwest of Canim Lake is the town of 100 Mile House, once a major hub on the Cariboo Wagon Road and now a major service and commercial area for outlying communities and industries within the Cariboo.
The small community of Forest Grove is located about halfway between 100 Mile House and Canim Lake, offering a service station and grocery store/cafe for those venturing into the area.
The Cariboo Highway 97 runs north from Cache Creek to Prince George, across the lake-studded Fraser Plateau. This is a classic 275-mile (445-km) ramble through the heart of the Cariboo region, with branch roads that lead west into Chilcotin country, one of British Columbia’s most thinly populated outbacks.