Joe Lake, Western Arm & Narrows – Site 8

Closest Access Point:  Canoe Lake (Access Point #5)
Distance To Access Point:  5.5 KM (1 – 1.5 hours)
Difficulty of Travel From Access Point: Easy
Maintenance Level: Regular
Date of Visit: Spring

This site isn’t much to look at from the water. The shoreline is an intermittent wall of cedar and other trees and it doesn’t look all that great as you pull up. Once you’re on shore, it’s a bit better. Probably the biggest thing it has going for it is that it is big. You can easily fit a cabin of campers here, or a large family. Whether you want to or not is a completely different question.

Terrain: This is a relatively flat site. There’s a bit of a rise up from the water, but nothing too exciting. The ground cover is mostly dirt and rock with a little bit of grass in places. Probably the biggest hill you have to deal with is on the walk back (way back) to the thunderbox, and even that is more mole hill than mountain.

Canoe Landing: The underwater approach to the landing is good. No submerged rockbergs waiting to put a dent in your boat or hidden stumps. The landing itself is fine. It’s a break in the shoreline of which one half is angled rock and the other is more step than slope. You’re not going to be able to ram your bow up on land to unload, but if you pull your canoe up parallel to the shore it’s easy enough to get in and out.

Fire Pit: Rocks in a square, yes
Some logs on which you can rest.
Not much else to say

That’s my fire pit haiku. It pretty much says it all. This pit is basically just a square of rocks. Enjoy.

Swimability: I visited this site in early May, so I wasn’t swimming, but it seems like it would be a reasonably swimmable site. The underwater terrain is mostly sand near the shore, so it would be a good spot to wade out from. The site is east facing, and fairly well covered by trees, so you might not get a huge amount of sun for drying off.

One more thing, this site is on the other side of the island where you’ll find the Joe Lake cliffs. If you’re looking for a fun day trip, paddle around and check them out. The swimming (and cliff jumping) is awesome.

Tent Sites: There’s a decent amount of flat ground on this site. You could get two or three tents up and still have room left over. Almost completely contradicting the previous sentence, as far as I could tell, all the spots were pretty close together. I couldn’t find any secret tent spots down a path or hidden away in the woods. In other words, this isn’t a sprawling site. While there’s plenty of room to pitch tents and sit around the fire pit, it doesn’t feel like one of those sites that goes on and on.

Thunderbox: This is a pretty new looking thunderbox. It’s a good distance back of the site, but there is one of those little yellow diamond washroom signs marking the path to the box.

Accessories: This site is pretty lacking as far as seating areas go. There are a couple of logs beside the fire pit that work as benches, but they’re much closer to the random log end of the bench spectrum than they are a work of backwoods carpentry genius. There’s a small table near the pit that is basically just a piece of plywood nailed into a stump, and a flat stone as well. Both  would work for food prep. Finally, there’s a rusted AF but still sturdy looking grill (with legs!) on the site. I don’t know that I’d want to cook anything directly on it, but it would be great for heating up a pot of water or a pan of food.

Views: Partially obstructed at best. As I mentioned earlier, the shoreline is fairly well covered by cedar trees. If you walk down to the canoe landing and took a seat you’d have a view east across part of Joe Lake, but otherwise once you’re on the site you’re on the site. That being said, if you happen to wake up for sunrise make sure to hop in the canoe and paddle up to the start of Joe’s eastern arm. The sunrise over Little Joe and the east arm is awesome.

Notes: This site is fine. It’s not the nicest spot on Joe. In fact, it’s probably not even in the top 5. But it’s definitely serviceable. If I was trying to find a spot big enough to hold a large group I’d definitely consider this one.

Related Trip Report: The Brent Crawl – Part 1: White Trout or Bust
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