On these hot summer days, Morton Lake Provincial Park just north of Campbell River on Vancouver Island is an ideal swimming destination. It’s a bit of an adventure getting there, but the 14 km drive on logging roads is well worth it.
We made family day trip out to the lake in early August—there is a small BC Parks campsite but it is popular with locals (for good reason) so a reservation is recommended if you’re planning on staying overnight. There are only 24 sites (10 are reservable).
The beach is perfect for swimming. The shallow lake makes for warm water and sandy bottom is excellent for young children. There are plenty of sticklebacks and freshwater clams for kids to search for.
In addition, the botanizing is very good along the lakeshore. At the picnic site near the beach look for both great sundew (Drosera anglica) and water lobelia (Lobelia dortmanna). Both of these unusual wet loving plants can be found at Morton Lake Provincial Park.
Great sundew is different from the more commonly found round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia). Both of these sundews are insectivores—they trap insects on their sticky leaves and then slowly digest them. The great sundew has leaves that are long and narrow in shape.
Water lobelia is an aquatic plant that grows partially submerged at the edge of the water. It is easy to miss—a plant with small white flowers (1-2cm long) and submerged leaves that form a basal rosette.
While both of these interesting plants make Morton Lake a botanical destination, the swimming is definitely memorable.
On Highway 19A approximately 27 km north of Campbell River look for the Menzies Main logging road turn off to the left. Follow the gravel logging road (good condition) for about 9 km. Watch for signage for Morton Lake pointing to the right. Continue on the Morton Lake Road for just over 5 km to the provincial park. This section of the road was more pot-holed but definitely passable in a regular 2-wheel drive vehicle.