With over 200 miles of forested lakeshore, and fresh water so clean and clear you can see thirty feet down, Sproat Lake is a popular vacation destination on Vancouver Island.
Sproat Lake is located on the highway to Tofino, Ucluelet and the Pacific Rim National Park. Vacation homes and holiday cottages dot the shoreline, but the majority of the foreshore is uninhabited and lined by beaches and Douglas fir forest.
Sproat Lake is noted for its warm water and is favoured for fishing, swimming, water skiing and windsurfing. In the summer, this popular family camping destination can be buzzing with boaters and anglers.
One million visitors a year make the journey on the Pacific Rim Highway to experience the romantic isolation of the west coast of Vancouver Island, and Sproat Lake provides a convenient stop along the way to stretch your legs, breathe in some fresh air, and enjoy the beautiful scenery. As much as visitors are drawn west by the magnetism of Long Beach on the west coast, Sproat Lake Provincial Park has a fine beach of its own, and much warmer water than the ocean.
Petroglyphs: Visit the prehistoric petroglyph, K’ak’awin, on the eastern end of Sproat Lake Provincial Park. Little is known about the age of the petroglyph, who carved it, or why, but you can easily imagine this rock carving depicting mystical marine creatures, perhaps ancient monsters of Sproat Lake. The petroglyphs are easily accessible, and can be viewed from a viewing platform positioned over the water in front of the petroglyphs.
Sproat Lake Provincial Park is a beautiful park on the northeast shore of Sproat Lake with a number of popular attractions, including a wonderful beach, numerous hiking trails, and campsites in two separate campgrounds.
Taylor Arm Provincial Park is a forested site on the north shore of Sproat Lake, about 9 miles (15 km) west of Port Alberni on Hwy 4. The park features an astounding number of undeveloped campsites, and is particularly popular with groups such as the Boy Scouts. Hiking trails lead beside the lake and onto the mountain ridges above the park, which are slowly beginning to regenerate after having being clear-cut in the 1970s.
Fossli Provincial Park is located on the Stirling Arm of Sproat Lake, featuring the numerous waterfalls of St. Andrew Creek as it meanders through the park before spilling into Sproat Lake. Fishing, swimming, canoeing and kayaking are popular pastimes at the lake. Facilities include hiking trails, a picnic area and a pit toilet.
Stamp River Provincial Park is located north of Sproat Lake. Stamp River is an amalgamation of Stamp Falls and Stamp River Money’s Pool. This popular campground is popular as a base camp for anglers fishing the Stamp River.
Flying Water Tankers: The gigantic Martin Mars water bombers use Sproat Lake for their runway as they thunder off to extinguish forest fires. The largest water bombers in the world, these aircraft can scoop up to 27 tons of water off the lake surface. The enormous red and white water bombers are moored on Sproat Lake at the Coulson Flying Tankers visitor centre on Cherry Creek Road, which is open daily in July and August, with guided tours of the Philippine Mars.
Wildlife: During the summer and fall seasons, visitors can relax near the lovely Stamp Falls and watch a parade of nearly half a million salmon as they circle in the pool below the falls before ascending the fish ladders on the way to their spawning beds.
The Robertson Creek Hatchery is the most successful hatchery on Vancouver Island, producing nearly 10 million smolts annually; chinook salmon, coho salmon and steelhead trout. The hatchery is open Monday through Friday from 08:30 to 15:30. If you’re visiting Robertson Creek in the fall, there are underwater viewing areas at each fishway where you can see the fish “eye to eye”. Drive through Port Alberni on Highway 4 and turn right on Great Central Lake Road; follow the signs to the hatchery.
Fishing: Port Alberni offers freshwater fishing that would be the envy of any fishing town anywhere. The Somas River runs through the heart of town, and bank casting is possible from a number of locations beside Hwy 4 and along Hector Road off Hwy 4 west of Port Alberni. Just north of Port Alberni, the Stamp River would probably make every chinook and steelhead angler’s Top Ten list. Beginning in January and lasting through March, a winter run of steelhead occurs in the Stamp River, while April and May are good months for steelhead in Sproat Lake. Sproat Lake also has a solid reputation for rainbow-trout angling, particularly June through September. Use the boat launch here to head out for some trolling or casting.
In late summer, upwards of a half-million salmon make their way to the spawning grounds near the Stamp River Hatchery. Bank casting is permitted downstream from the hatchery. Follow Beaver Creek Road about 7.5 miles (12 km) north from Hwy 4 to Stamp River Provincial Park. Watch for pullouts beside the river along the way.
Saltwater anglers come to Port Alberni year-round to sport fish Alberni Inlet and Barkley Sound for chinook, coho, and sockeye salmon. Salmon school in Alberni Inlet before ascending to the spawning grounds.
Windsurfing: In the late afternoon there is an often predictable breeze on Sproat Lake that is great for windsurfing and sailing. Waterskiing on the lake is awesome as the lake is normally as flat as glass until the late afternoon.
Houseboating: Enjoy a vacation with a difference, with all the comforts of home. Houseboating is very popular on Sproat Lake. The warm water is great for swimming, and the boat provides a great base for freshwater fishing, waterskiing and windsurfing, and for scenic cruises to view the many beautiful homes on the lake.
Houseboating on Vancouver Island.
Golf: The Alberni Golf Club is nestled amongst the evergreens under the ever watchful presence of Mount Arrowsmith. Alberni Golf Club is a fully-serviced, 18-hole par 70 golf course with a pro shop, 18-stall driving range, cart rentals, practice greens, and a restaurant, located at 6449 Cherry Creek Road.
East of Sproat Lake is the town of Port Alberni, nestled in the Alberni Valley at the head of Alberni Inlet, Vancouver Island’s longest inlet. For decades, Port Alberni’s main industries have been mining and logging, but today the town has become a major tourist hub. Visits to active logging and mill operations are available; museums feature heavy equipment as well as First Nations art; and the revitalized Harbour Quay is home to regularly-scheduled cargo and passenger ships serving the scattered communities of Barkley Sound. The Alberni Harbour Quay is a peoples place, with stores and restaurants, art galleries, charter outlets, and a forestry visitor centre.
Sproat Lake is located just off the Pacific Rim Highway 4, which runs from Parksville on the east coast of Vancouver Island to Pacific Rim National Park and Tofino and Ucluelet on the rugged west coast.