One fine spring weekend I decided to load up my camper and with a couple of close friends and their campers head to the Muchalat Lake Campground about 15 km NW of Gold River. Having been there only to take photographs on a day outing previously, I was looking forward to spending a few days there to acquaint myself with the lake and its surroundings.
Having lived in Gold River for over 20 years I’m a little embarrassed to say I’ve never camped on the lake. However, I have done a lot of watershed restoration projects around it on various rivers and streams. Of course I had heard all the stories from my friends and locals about how beautiful it was and how great the trout fishing was also.
So it was decided to join my friends and go see what all the fuss was about. Well I was pleasantly surprised by the remoteness of the lake even though a well used logging road ran alongside it. The noise levels were so low that I forgot all about the road. Mind you we weren’t camping in the beginning of the campground either. So that would probably make a difference. However, keep in mind that during the summer months the loggers are usually shut down because of the heat.
The campground was empty thanks in large part to the time of year we were there (early May). So we had our choice of sites and we chose one large enough for all three campers and our 10′ aluminum boat. The spot we decided on was towards the southeast end of the campground and there was a natural boat launch there which was an added bonus.
After setting up our camp and getting organized with everything else that was needed to do, I decided to take a walk around the campground shooting a video to show you just how nice the place really is.
The first thing I noticed was a memorial cairn next to our site dedicated to a young man who perished when trying to land his float plane on the lake a good number of years ago. Apparently the plane and his body still rest on the lake bottom due to the depth of the lake and difficulty trying to remove them. A very sad story indeed and I paused for a moment of silence before moving on.
There are over 40 campsites with fire pits, picnic tables and pit toilets are conveniently placed throughout. There is also a proper boat launch with a wooden float dock and boomed in swimming area. The swimming area has a very nice sandy beach suitable for children and adults alike.
I found the campsites to be very spacious and set back off the road in the trees which covered the whole campground. The campground is very well maintained and I didn’t see any garbage at all which speaks volumes for the campers who use this campground.
During the months of May through September there is a camp host and a fee of $12 per night is charged to stay. You can cut that in half ($6) for seniors which is a great idea to promote the site and very affordable for a demographic that sometimes is kept from doing the things they enjoy and benefit from because of the expense. There are bins for your garbage and the garbage is disposed of by the camp host to alleviate the potential bear issues.
Muchalat Lake Statistics
The lake itself is 554 hectares and lies in an southeast to northwest line with the Muchalat River entering from the mountains in the northwest and also leaving from the southeast right beside the campground on its way to meet up with the larger Gold River. The mean depth is 109 ft and the maximum depth is 204 ft. Just to the west side of the campground another good sized river named the Oktwanch runs into it.
It is here in front of the Oktwanch that my good friend and I decided to try our luck trolling for trout. It didn’t take us long to land and release four beautiful 3-5 pound Rainbow Trout. We were fishing with a gang troll and no weight about 15-25 pulls behind the boat. There are also some very nice sized Cutthroat Trout and Dolly Vardon also. During the fall season Sockeye Salmon fill the lake heading back to the upper Muchalat and Oktwanch Rivers to spawn.
Both rivers are well know for Steelhead fishing also during the winter months of December through March. Apparently there is also a summer run on the nearby Gold River and remnants of the same on the lower Muchalat. However, the effort for fishing them is very low and not encouraged because of the low numbers and the desire to increase the stock.
How to Get There
To get to the Muchalat Lake Campground, you bypass the village of Gold River and follow the signs to Tahsis. Once you cross the Gold River bridge and come to the Tee Intersection, turn right and follow the gravel road for about 12 km. You will follow alongside the Gold River and be able to see it occasionally on your right.
You will cross another bridge over the Muchalat River and turn left shortly thereafter. From there the lake is only a few km and there will be a sign that identifies the Muchalat Lake Campground entrance. The road into the site branches to the right towards the beach area and loops back towards the main portion of the road which also heads down to the southeast side of the lake.
Use the form below to find out how to get to Muchalat Lake Recreation Site using Google Maps.
To Sum it up
Overall, I found the campground to be one of the nicest in the area to stay at and if you are able to make there outside the May to September window, it won’t cost you a dime to stay there. Although the price to stay during the peak season is very reasonable when you consider there is plenty of room for large motor homes and rv’s.
If you and/or your family are planning to visit the Gold River area then make sure to include this beautiful little spot in your plans for a week or a couple of days as you won’t be disappointed. The gravel road into the site is well maintained and shouldn’t pose a problem for your equipment when driving over it.
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