Kayaking Jarvis Lake- William A. Switzer Provincial Park

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Kayaking Jarvis Lake is one of the most enjoyable ways to experience the peaceful beauty of William A. Switzer Provincial Park near Hinton.

Kayaking Jarvis Lake.

Jarvis Lake is one of five lakes in the park but is a top choice for kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding thanks to its scenic shoreline and wildlife viewing opportunities. The lake is longer than it is wide and has two arms you can explore.

Mountains and forests overlooking Jarvis Lake.

As you paddle across the flat water of Jarvis Lake, you’ll be surrounded by foothills and conifer forest, and get some glimpses of the Rocky Mountains in the distance. If you’re lucky, you could even spot a moose and some swimming loons.

Loon swimming with a chick on its back.
Loon swimming with a chick on its back

Jarvis Lake also connects with the park’s other four lakes via Jarvis Creek. Experienced paddlers can embark on this more challenging route from the northeast side of Jarvis Lake.

Forested shoreline of Jarvis Lake.

Kayaking Jarvis Lake in William A. Switzer Provincial Park

The access point to Jarvis Lake is at the Jarvis Lake Day Use Area. Here there’s a small beach you can launch your kayak from, as well as a floating dock and boat ramp. 

Boat launch and floating dock.
Floating dock on the lake.

If you arrive early enough in the morning, you might snag one of the five parking spots right beside the lake. From here it’s just 30 or 40 steps to the beach, so you won’t have to carry your boat very far. There is another small parking area a little further from boat launch, across from the playground and swimming area.

Parking lot at the Jarvis Lake Day Use Area.

Once you’re on the water, a nice route is to paddle along the eastern arm of the lake in a counterclockwise direction. By exploring this longer arm, you’ll get to experience the very best of what Jarvis Lake has to offer.

Kayaking on Jarvis Lake.

From the beach, start paddling straight towards the forested section of land that separates the two arms of the lake. Before heading right to follow the curve of the shoreline, take some time to look behind you at the foothills that frame the south end of the lake.

Forested hills overlooking the lake.

Now that you’re paddling east, it won’t be long until the lake curves left and then narrows. Paddling north up this channel is one of the most enjoyable parts of kayaking Jarvis Lake because of the lovely reflections and calm water.

Trees lining a narrow part of the lake.
Trees lining a narrow part of the lake.

Exiting the channel, the lake widens to a lovely panoramic view of the surrounding scenery. Trees densely cover the shoreline, while hills and mountains appear in the background. 

Hills and forest reflecting on Jarvis Lake.
Lakeshore with a mountain in the background.

This is a great spot to sit and float for a while, taking in the 360 degree view before proceeding north up the lake.

Kayak on the lake's perfectly still water.

Continuing your paddle along the eastern shore of the lake, you’ll eventually come to the access point for Jarvis Creek on the right. The approach is wide at first, but you can see it gradually narrowing as it gets closer to the creek. 

Kayak heading towards the forested shore of Jarvis Lake.

Instead of turning right, keep straight to paddle across the opening to the creek. You’ll once again follow the shoreline as you make your way towards the north end of Jarvis Lake. 

This stretch of shore is heavily forested, but eventually you’ll arrive at a small meadow. Keep an eye out for moose as they’re sometimes here nibbling on the shrubs.

Moose eating shrubs.

Beyond the opening in the trees, it’s not much further until you reach the end of Jarvis Lake. You’ll see a wooden bridge crossing over the opening to Kelley’s Bathtub, but it’s too low to paddle underneath.

Footbridge crossing Jarvis Lake.
Kelley's Bathtub.
Kelley’s Bathtub

If you want, this is a nice place to pull up onto shore and go for a short walk on Kelley’s Bathtub Trail, the 1 km long interpretive path that circles the “bathtub”. 

Kayak on shore by the bridge at Kelley's Bathtub.
Kelley's Bathtub Trail.
Kelley’s Bathtub Trail

After your break at Kelley’s Bathtub, continue paddling counterclockwise around Jarvis Lake, returning along the west shore. This side of the lake is fun to explore since there are several sheltered bays you can visit as you paddle the curvy shoreline.

Kayak on the lake heading towards the forested shore.
Kayaking on the tree framed lake.

Just like before, there will be a lot of trees to look at, but some of the bays have lily pads floating on the water surface for a change of scenery.

Lily pads.

As you paddle south down the lake, you’ll get more views of the mountains through gaps in the forest. Still keep your eyes open for wildlife, including deer and bald eagles.

Mountain seen through a gap in the trees.
Curvy shoreline of Jarvis Lake.

After you return through the narrow channel, you can decide to continue your kayak trip by exploring the western arm of the lake, or head back to the beach. The other side of the lake has similar scenery, but is maybe not as pretty, so you probably won’t see as many paddlers here.

Kayaking Jarvis Lake.
Swimming area at the beach.

Review of Jarvis Lake Kayaking

Jarvis Lake is one of the best places to go kayaking near Hinton thanks to an interesting shoreline, beautiful reflections, and scenic coves. 

Trees reflecting in the still water.
Kayak on the lake with mountains in the distance.

Even though Jarvis Lake is a popular place for paddling, there are plenty of opportunities to find a secluded spot to be alone with nature. It’s these quiet moments, especially early in the morning, that provide the best chances for wildlife viewing. 

Kayak on the tree-framed lake.

From being immersed in the forest at the foothills of the Rockies to hearing the echoing calls of loons, kayaking on Jarvis Lake just feels so…Canadian. And if you’re lucky enough to see a moose, that’ll make for a perfect day out on the water!

Jarvis Lake with mountains in the background.

Tips for Kayaking Jarvis Lake

Location: Jarvis Lake is located northwest of Hinton in William A. Switzer Provincial Park. It’s about a 25 minute drive from Hinton to the Jarvis Lake Day Use Area, which is at the south end of the park.

Getting There: To get to Jarvis Lake from Hinton, go north on Highway 40 (signs for Grande Cache/Grande Prairie) then turn left onto Township Road 515A. Next take the first right to get to the day use area.

Launching Area: There is a boat launch and beach at the Jarvis Lake Day Use Area.

Motorized Boats: Gas powered boats are allowed on the lake, but they’re most often fishermen who aren’t speeding around creating wake and other disturbances for paddlers.

Facilities: There are outhouses, picnic tables, and water pumps at the Jarvis Lake and Kelley’s Bathtub day use areas.

Canadian geese with their goslings.

Nearby Activities

You may also enjoy these other things to do in William A. Switzer Provincial Park:

Here are some more places to go kayaking nearby:

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