Fourth Lake is a secluded mountain lake that few residents of Nanaimo, let along Vancouver Island, even know exists, and fewer yet have ever seen. Part of the Nanaimo Lakes chain, Fourth lake is a damned reservoir providing drinking water for the City of Nanaimo. Consequently it’s a strange place to paddle. Late in the season the shore can be fifty or more feet below the tree line, leaving and exposed shoreline of drowned stumps and jagged rocks. The Southern shore is marked by a giant concrete damn. For all that, it’s still a fascinating and eerily beautiful lake to paddle.
From TimberWest‘s gate at First Lake, it took me about 45 minutes (~22 km) cautious driving to reach Fourth Lake. There are lots of branches in the road and very little in the way of signage so I was very glad I’d brought along a GPS. Finally I saw the sign for Fourth Lake and followed a fairly narrow steep road up to the Western side of the damn. Looking for a place to launch my canoe, I followed an old disused road beside the damn, but stupidly didn’t go far enough to see the old ramp leading into the lake. Having seen a couple of trucks parked on the Eastern side of the damn, I backtracked and found the rough road leading up to that side where I was able to take my 4×4 right down to the waters edge.
The sun was gloriously warm for a day at the end of October as I paddled down the Eastern shore. Here there are several gorgeous towering rock bluffs which fall, cliff like to the waters edge. While most of the shore is a jumble of jagged rocks and old weathered stumps, in places it’s fine gravel stepped by the receding water level of the lake over the summer months. The hills to the North East, although as yet not touched by snow soon will be. I made it about two thirds of the way down the lake with the wind, ever increasing at my back and before I elected to cross over to the far shore and make my way back. TimberWest closes the gate at 5 o’clock and I was concerned that, fighting the wind, I would not make it back in time. It was on my return trip that I discover the old ramp which I’d missed on my earlier reconnaissance. In the end I made it back to the truck and the gate with time to spare and was very happy that after years of flying over it, I’d finally got to experience Fourth Lake.