When the weather gets hot as it is this summer, we all like to head to a body of water where the breeze and water will cool us down. Antler Lake is just one of a few lakes close by that offers a day area large enough to accommodate a few vehicles and people without stepping on each others toes.
The lake itself is about 1km long and a few hundred yards wide give or take with stands of old growth forest surrounding the edges of the NW side.
Antler Lake Tidbits
There are beaver ponds at both the eastern and western areas of the lake with a beaver lodge at both ends also. There is a family of loons that also frequent the lake on a regular basis and rear their young their every year.
The lake isn’t that deep but holds a strong population of both Cutthroat (natural) and Rainbow (stocked) Trout. On any given day locals can be seen casting a line into the waters to try and catch dinner. The lake is power motor restricted, but a canoe, float tube or row boat can easily cover the whole lake in one outing.
There is a small creek that enters Antler Lake from the northeast side that has water running in it year round. The creek winds through some huge boulders left over from a slide that occurred in the hillside above some time ago. The forest has grown up around the boulders making them an appealing part of the ecosystem. One in particular reminds me of the western days with a large overhang that one could potentially camp underneath with a small fire reflecting heat off of the walls of the boulder to keep you warm. In fact there is a small fire pit and two benches there to sit on.
There is a creek at the opposite end of the lake empties into the Gold River and also runs year round. Coho can be seen spawning in the creek during the fall and Cutthroat Trout are always present in the creek more towards the top end where the beaver ponds reside.
The Antler Lake Trail Loop
One of the best attractions is the Antler Lake Trail that winds its way through the old growth Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar trees just after crossing the lower creek over a beautiful boardwalk. The trail loops around the lake across the upper creek through the rock slide boulders where you stay to your right and walk along another beautifully made boardwalk past the upper beaver pond and follows the lake again.
The trail winds away from the lake and crosses the road again in the southeastern portion of the lake where you climb up to a summit with a sign that points to the Scout Lake trail and from there back down to the pullout where you would have parked to start the hike.
The time to hike the trail is anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours depending on whether you take your time and sit on the many benches along the way to catch your breath and take in the views or motor right through for the cardio workout.
The photo opportunities are endless with excellent light depending on the time of the day. There are many different varieties of flowers, plants and shrubs along the way that provide an excellent backdrop for your image. The canopy of the old growth mixed with the deciduous trees filters light down onto the forest floor illuminating the small flowered plants in such a way that there is always and opportunity for a great photo.
If you haven’t walked around this trail loop then you really are missing out on a special adventure and nature walk. The trail is very well maintained and marked with blue dots on some of the trees to remind you that you are on track. Local volunteers work very hard on their own time to look after it and deserve a lot of credit for their efforts to keep this trail open and in excellent condition for all to enjoy.
How to Find Antler Lake And The Trail
To get to Antler Lake you stay on hwy 28 following the signs to Tahsis and drive ( 3km) past the entrance ( wooden boot/tourist information ) to the village of Gold River towards the upper bridge that crosses the Gold River.
Just before you cross the river on your right is a gravel road with a sign that reads Antler Lake 1km. Stay to your right on the gravel road and about 3/4 km is the pullout on the right side for the beginning of the trail.
You can enter the trail across the road or just behind the pullout where you park. If you continue down the road toward the lake you will arrive at the first day use area to the left. To the right the road will take you to the other day use area where you can launch a car top boat, canoe, or float tube. The road carries on from there to another pullout where you can hike down to the huge boulders from the slide.
Below is a map of Antler Lake in relation to Gold River. The Antler Lake Trail is in black and branches off towards Scout Lake.
To Sum it up
If you’ve never visited Antler Lake you have to see it to believe it. Because it is only 5 minutes from town you will have no trouble walking to it if you don’t have wheels. The trail is something that is great for a daily workout as the elevation goes up and down with a steady climb and decline near the end if you start from the north side and head towards the south side and loop back to the parking area.
It is also a great place to spend the day with your family on a picnic or just a get away together.