Champion Lakes Provincial Park takes its name from the lakes and creek by that name and is located in the Selkirk Mountains, 18 km north west of Fruitvale. The special features of this park include the chain of picturesque small lakes, old growth forest and an example of forest succession. It is known for warm water and is popular with the local communities.
Established in 1955. 1,452 hectares. Unusual diversity of vegetation from cedar/hemlock forest to Alpine spruce. Champion 3rd Lake is stocked with rainbow trout and is a host for Family Fishing Day in June. Powered boats are not allowed on any of the three lakes. Campground – 95 drive-in camp sites, 44 reservable, closed October 1-May 16, but rest of park open.
Located in south central BC, access to this park is 6 km north-east of Fruitvale off Highway 3B or 8 km west of the junction of Highway 3 and 3B. From the turn off, it’s a 12 km, 20-min drive to the park entrance.
- History: In the early 1900s, the area belonged to The Columbia and Western Railway but reverted to the crown in 1919. During the 30’s and 40’s the local rod and gun club stocked the lakes and improved trails to allow access for recreational purposes. The park was established in 1955 and the lakes and creek are named for James W. Champion, an early settler and orchardist of the area. Champion Lakes Park lies in the Ktunaxa/Kinbasket, Okanagan and Sinixt first nation traditional territories.
- Conservation: Champion Lakes Park is located adjacent to the Bonnington Range of the Selkirk Mountains. This 1426 hectare park lies in the moist Interior cedar-hemlock biogeoclimatic zone, which accounts for the varied plant species that grow in some profusion in its well-developed lake-marsh-dry land successional sites. Conifers such as alpine fir and yellow pine, which do not normally grow in the same vicinity, may be seen in the park close together. The park also protects old growth forest. Flowers, trees and shrubs are part of the park’s natural heritage.
- Wildlife: This park supports a diverse population of small mammals such as squirrels, chipmunks and porcupines. Moose, deer and bears are occasionally observed. Birds are quite prevalent with nighthawks, woodpeckers, Canada jays, belted kingfishers, western tanagers and oregon junkos being the most common. Loons, mallards, widgeons and the great blue heron are more likely to be seen early in the season. In spring and fall, migrating waterfowl specifically Canada geese rest on the lakes during their journeys north and south. The park does support sites suitable for painted turtles.
Park users should always be aware of bears and other wildlife in our park environment. Never feed or approach bears or other wildlife. Please view all wildlife from a distance.
Hiking. A total of 6.5 km of gentle trails connects the lakes and encompass the second and third lakes. Facility development is concentrated around 3rd Lake. 2nd and 1st lakes remain in their natural states. There is also a trail that leads to a lookout.
3rd Lake Loop trail follows the shoreline, is 1.5 km long, takes approximately 40 min to hike and is popular for travelling from Main beach to Campers beach.
2nd Lake Loop trail is the most popular trail and can be accessed from three locations. The parking lot of Campers beach day-use/picnic area, beside campsite #82 and from 2nd lake boat launch. The trail is approximately 2.5 km with a 45 min hiking time. This trail has several boardwalks, passes through old growth forest and offers scenic views of march grasslands. 2nd lake itself has shallow places covered in pond lilies with reed flats found in the marshy areas.
1st Lake Loop trail starts from the 2nd lake boat launch parking lot. Allow 1 hour for the 2.5 km hike. This trail is the most serene of the three loops and in the fall offers spectacular fall colour when the larch turn yellow and begin to lose their needles.
Lookout Trail is approximately 750 metres with a moderate to steep grade. Depending how long you spend at the top it is a 40 – 60 minute round trip and offers picturesque views of the lakes below.
Canoeing. Canoes, kayaks and rowboats are welcome. Both 3rd and 2nd Lakes have easy access via the boat launches. An approximate 250 metre portage from the 2nd lake boat launch is required to reach 1st Lake.
Bicycles may use trails and roadways. Mountain bikers should always yield the right-of-way to other trail users. Should you encounter hikers on any trail, please yield the right-of-way. Helmets must be worn. Just outside of the park are good cross-country skiing trails that would be suitable for mountain biking.
Fishing. Rainbow trout have been stocked in the lakes. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence. Ice-fishing is allowed during the winter season.
Pets on Leash. Pets/domestic animals must be on a leash at all times and are not allowed in beach areas or park buildings. There is no off leash area in this park. You are responsible for their behaviour and must dispose of their excrement. Backcountry areas are not suitable for dogs or other pets due to wildlife issues and the potential for problems with bears.
Swimming. There are two beaches on 3rd Lake: Campers’ beach on the west end and the Main day-use beach on the east end. Main beach has the only buoyed wading area and swim float/wharf. Warm water and a combined 300 metres of compacted sand beaches provide excellent sunbathing and swimming opportunities.
There is a sharp drop-off at the Main beach. There are no lifeguards on duty at provincial parks.
Wildlife Viewing. Viewpoints located at both Second & Third lakes as well as a lookout at the top of the Lookout trail that overlooks the Park, all three locations have a park bench. Loons and Mallards are common through the summer rearing young in addition to a large variety of forest bird species.
Windsurfing. Windsurfing is possible but the wind is not dependable.
Winter Recreation. The Beaver Valley XC Ski Club maintains approximately 5km of set trails within the park throughout the winter months. These trails connect with a further 10 km of trails outside of the park.
Boat Launch. Launching sites for canoes, kayaks and cartop boats are located across from the picnic areas on the 3rd lake and near the westerly end of the 2nd lake. 3rd lake boat launch is a single launch site with a concrete plank ramp. It has a 15-vehicle boat/trailer parking area and vehicles/trailers can be left over night. 2nd Lake boat launch is a rustic, gravel single launch site with parking available above the site. The site can accommodate 15 vehicles/boat trailers. Due to its remoteness it is not recommended to leave vehicles/trailers overnight. The shoreline along both boat launches is in its natural state and is therefore not developed for canoes, kayaks or boats to be beached overnight.
Campfires. While campfires are allowed and campfire rings are provided at each campsite, we encourage visitors to conserve wood and protect the environment by minimizing the use of fire and using campstoves instead. Firewood can be purchased in the park or you may bring your own wood. Fees for firewood are set locally and may vary from park to park. Limited burning hours or campfire bans may be implemented. To preserve vegetation and ground cover, please don’t gather firewood from the area around your campsite or elsewhere in the park (this is a ticketable offence under the Park Act). Dead wood is an important habitat element for many plants and animals and it adds organic matter to the soil.
Main Beach located on the south-west side of the lake near the park entrance is approximately 200 m long with compact sand, grassy areas and a small buoyed wading area. There are 30 picnic tables 25 m back from the water’s edge. A toilet /change house, enclosed shelter with heater, 2 pit toilets, water tap and group picnic area are located nearby. Parking for 180 vehicles is available.
Campers Beach is located on the south-east end of the lake. The turn-off for the access road is located in the campground beside campsite 91. A small parking lot can accommodate 20 vehicles. The beach is approximately 100 m long with compact sand. A large unmaintained grassy area makes up the majority of the day-use area. An adventure playground, set in sand with swing set, slide and monkey bars is nearby. Other facilities on site include 6 picnic tables, 2 pit toilets and a water tap.
Playground. An adventure playground with swing set, monkey bars and slide is located adjacent to the Campers’ beach at the west end of 3rd lake. The equipment is set in sand.
Sani-Station/Dump. During the collecting season a sani-station/dump is available near the campground entrance and a fee is charged for the service. Sani-station Use Fee: $5.00 per discharge
Vehicle Accessible Camping. The park has one campground situated between 3rd and 2nd lake. None of the sites are on the lakeshore but some have lake views with short access trails to the 3rd or 2nd lake loop trails. The campground has 95 vehicle accessible sites, 13 of those are doubles. There are no pull through sites however the campground has an even mix of small to large sites and can accommodate large recreational vehicles. Approximately 10 of the vehicle accessible sites have tent pads with 8 sites designed for tenters only. All the sites are evenly spaced considered shaded and found amongst a predominantly mixed forest of fir, larch and pine.
Vehicle Accessible Camping Fee: $25.00 per party / night