Nestled below Pinder Peak is Atluck Lake. Vancouver Island camping for free in all its beauty with sandy beaches and rocky shorelines. This is one of the islands best kept secrets for a free campground. I enjoyed it so much I came back to it twice.
Atluck Lake has four access points for camping with one of them being a larger sized campsite than the other two and one is just a road down to the waters edge.
As with most BC (British Columbia) recreation campsites the main camping area is small in size when compared to most of the other forest recreation campgrounds. Still it has the potential to accommodate 15-20 campers if you don’t mind close quarters.
The main campground is in a smaller bay on the east end of the lake and when the wind picks up during the heat of the day the campsite remains relatively calm and provides a spectacular area for water activities.
While I was there I saw three kids having the time of their lives while dad and friends pulled them around with their 18’ power boat. Some serious laughter and woot, woots going on for sure.
Another family group camped in the southern part of the main campsite enjoyed kayaking, tubing and water craft paddling while the winds blew outside the bay.
There are a small number of picnic tables, 4 pit toilets and 4-6 fire rings available but not for every site. The whole beach is a gravel/sandy stretch with lots of places to launch a boat but the main launch is straight off the entrance when you first arrive to the campground.
If you’re looking for a more secluded and quieter place to set up camp, than you will have to keep going to the 5 and 6 km signs where there are two smaller campsites for 2-3 campers. However, you will be dealing with the wind that picks up every afternoon.
Personally, I found this to be a plus as it kept the bugs away and not everyday was too windy to get out on the water to do some fishing.
There is an old log dump road about 500 yards past the entrance of the main open camping area. This has been adapted to a campsite also and is still in the calmer waters of the the bay that holds both the open camping area and this campsite.
The first time I visited Atluck Lake, I backed down this short road and set up my camper next to the large rock fire pit. There was plenty of room for another camper and I was able to launch my 12′ aluminum boat on the sandy beach.
I have a winch powered aluminum boat rack so I am unable to confirm backing a trailer to the beach from this site. It is possible I believe if you can move the larger rocks from the fire pit so your trailer axle doesn’t hit them.
Even if you arrive and find no room there are 2 more lakes within a few km of each other that have camping access or recreation campsites similar to Atluck Lake.
Anutz Lake and Huson Lake are two lakes that you pass by when traveling down the Atluck Relocation road just off of the Zeballos Main Road.
Getting to Atluck Lake
To get to Atluck Lake, you have to travel north from the village of Woss on highway 19 about 24km. There you will arrive at the Zeballos Forest Service road where you’ll turn left.
There are two ways to get to Atluck Lake. You can stay on the Zeballos main line or take the secondary road. The first time I wanted to visit the caves so I took the secondary road. My second trip I took the main line which was a lot smoother to drive.
If you choose to stay on the Zeballos main line, you’ll go another 9km to a junction that says Artlish Caves and Atluck Lake. Turn right here and go another 3km to the entrance of the main campground.
If you want to visit Anutz Lake, the caves or just go for a scenic drive than you take the secondary road.
After leaving highway 19, once you cross the second bridge on the Zeballos main line (crosses the Nimpkish River) , keep your eyes out for signs pointing to Anutz Lake and Little Huson Caves.
That road is a secondary road named the Atluck Relocation road and it takes you past the turnoff to Anutz Lake and onto the turnoff for the caves. Along the way about the 8-9km mark if you turn right you’ll be taken to the Huson Lake campsite.
When you arrive at the 10 km mark, turn right at that junction and go a very short distance to the entrance of the Atluck Lake main campground.
Use the form below to find out how to get to Atluck Lake Campground using Google Maps.
Atluck Lake Statistics
The geology of the area is karst as witnessed by all the limestone in the area and the presence of Little Huson Caves Regional Park about 10 km from Atluck Lake.
The gps coordinates for Atluck Lake are: 126° 55’ 00” Lon – W ; 50° 13’ 00” Lat – N.
Fishing in Atluck Lake
My first visit to Atluck Lake I caught only one fish and it was a self release at the boat. It was a nice fat Rainbow Trout about 16 inches long and unfortunately I got so excited that I forgot to take a photo. It came out of the water numerous times which lead to it getting off of my barbless hook at the boat.
I was using a watermelon spoon behind a deep six to get my gear down further. Trolling speed was a little faster than normal to allow the spoon to wobble more. I believe if I had used a shorter leader between my deep six and the spoon I may have been able to net it before it shook itself free of the hook.
My second trip yielded better results with me catching and releasing over 6 trout in total. Nothing in the same size range as the first trip but still some nice Rainbows in the 12-14 inch range.
This time I was using a gang troll with a worm dangling behind it also with a deep six to get it deeper. The setup seemed to produce better than the previously used spoon so I didn’t try anything else.
While I was trolling along the southwest end of the lake, something caught my eye on a rock bluff. When I got closer there was a Gnome holding a fish that someone had climbed up and placed there. Within seconds of sighting the Gnome I was into a fish!
I’m guessing that was their X on the water so to speak as I caught and released 3 more fish in the area. Or it was the Gnome giving luck to all who notice its presence maybe?
Keep an eye out for it and let me know if it provides you with the same luck as it did for me.
To sum up both of my visits to Atluck Lake, I would recommend this lake to anyone who wishes to visit. It will provide you with a great adventure and a relaxing time to say the least.
If you want to stay out of the wind than the main camping area or the old log dump road would be your best bet as they are both in the little bay.
There is plenty of room for larger motorhomes and trailers in the main camping area. The drive in is a relatively smooth one unless it has rained previously or the grader hasn’t been on the road in a while. But with the active logging in the area the grader is usually quite active itself.
If you want a more secluded place to camp then the two sites by km 6 will be the best bet. This is providing that they are available as they are popular despite the windy conditions.
Some of the negatives that I can think of is the dust that floats into the campground from the logging traffic that passes by every once in awhile. Also as is the case with other campgrounds on Vancouver Island there is a need for more picnic tables and fire rings. Other than the windy afternoons, there isn’t much that will disappoint you at Atluck Lake.
It is worth the drive and your time!
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