Kayaking on Islet Lake is one the best ways to enjoy the scenery and wildlife in Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area. Several islands, flat water, and opportunities for bird watching make Islet Lake a popular kayaking and canoeing spot close to Edmonton.
Kayaking on Islet Lake
Islet Lake is the only lake in Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Recreation Area where kayaking/canoeing is allowed (or that can be easily accessed from a parking lot).
The launch point is roughly 110 m from the parking area and it’s a short downhill walk on loose gravel to get to the shore. There’s no dock so you’ll have to wade into the water or push off from the beach.
Once you’re in the water, there are quite a few attractive and enjoyable areas you can kayak on Islet Lake, both along the perimeter and near the middle of the lake.
Near the centre of the lake is the largest island. It’s densely forested with conifer and deciduous trees and is mostly surrounded by reeds, as is the rest of the lakeshore. Keep a lookout for partially submerged logs close to the island, especially on the east side.
Once you get around to the north side of the island there’s a little less vegetation so you can paddle closer to the shoreline. Still, there are only a few places where you could easily land if you wanted to get out and take a walk on the island. The most suitable location for this had a fire ring made out of rocks near the shore and a log to sit on.
The north end of Islet Lake has a few smaller islands that are also a pleasure to kayak around. There are even some little bays where you can paddle or float in calm water to watch the birds.
For a change of scenery, you could paddle to the south end of the lake. While not as scenic or secluded, you’ll see the lakefront homes of Islet Lake Estates.
No matter what area of Islet Lake you kayak, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see birds, as the park is home to more than 200 species. Red-winged blackbirds can be spotted among the cattails and tall grass, while waterfowl float nearby. You may even see other water-loving animals, like a muskrat, go swimming by your boat.
Review of Islet Lake Kayaking
Islet Lake is a great choice for people wanting to paddle in a scenic, quiet location close to Edmonton.
The lake is the perfect size- big enough to make the trip from Edmonton worthwhile, but small enough that the waters are protected and less likely to see conditions that make it hard to paddle. The average paddler could easily spend 1.5- 2 hours kayaking on Islet Lake, especially when there’s so much bird activity to watch.
Even though Islet Lake is a popular place to kayak near Edmonton, it’s not as busy as Astotin Lake in nearby Elk Island National Park (partly because there are no rentals at Islet Lake).
Another benefit of kayaking at Islet Lake is that motorboats are not allowed, ensuring a peaceful, undisturbed outing on the water.
While Islet Lake offers a mostly positive paddling experience, two downsides are that the water is murky in places and there are leeches. Check your boat and yourself for leeches at the end of your trip.
Overall, Islet Lake is a wonderful small lake to kayak for both beginner and experienced paddlers.
Tips for Kayaking Islet Lake
Location: Islet Lake is east of Edmonton in Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area. It’s about a 50-55 minute drive from central Edmonton to the Islet Lake staging area.
Getting There: The Islet Lake staging area can be accessed from Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south of the park.
Launching Area: The launch point is about 110 m from the parking lot at the Islet Lake staging area. You also have to carry down a small hill. If your kayak is on the heavy side, a kayak cart will come in handy here.
Facilities: There are outhouses, picnic tables, fire pits, and a water pump at the Islet Lake staging area.