McCreight Lake Campgrounds Awesome Vancouver Island Camping

photo of mccreight lake near campbell river vancouver island

McCreight Lake Campgrounds is only minutes from Campbell River and offers amazing free camping on Vancouver Island.

The campgrounds, nestled amongst an older second growth forest follow an old railway grade.

The largest campgrounds end just before an old railway trestle bridge with the timbers all removed.

3 separate campgrounds exist on the lake with the Sitka Spruce Beach Recreation Site at the beginning of the lake.

The Aldergrove Campground is located about  1km further along the lake.

McCreight Lake Recreation Site is located another 2 km along the lake and is the biggest of the three. 

photo of mccreight lake information sign

The lake gets its name from the Honorable John Foster McCreight.

The area around the lake shows signs of past logging history with few if any old growths stands remaining.

The first logging show was in 1869 near Elk Bay 21 km from McCreight Lake and grew from there.

Logging still exists in the area today albeit on a much smaller scale.

On the northern slopes of the lake logging is visible.

In fact, one of the pitfalls of camping here is the traffic noise from the logging trucks during the week.

However, the noise is tolerable due to the time difference between trucks.

We can thank the logging efforts for building roads which gave us access to the lakes in the area.

Other lakes in the area like Pye and Stella are accessible only because of the roads built to sustain the logging industry.

McCreight Lake Is A Deep Lake

McCreight Lake is a deep lake with a maximum depth of 55 meters occurring at the center of the lake.

The shallower ends of the lake reside on the north and south sides where the Amor de Cosmos Creek enters and flows out.

The sandy beaches extend a distance around the southern part of the lake consequently providing ideal swimming areas.

A moderate sized lake with a surface area of 672 acres and perimeter of 38,100 feet.

At an elevation of 180 feet it subsequently provides great fishing opportunities year round.

Only during the rare tough winters fishing opportunities diminish.

McCreight Lake is popular with local anglers because of the low elevation and mild climate.

How To Get To McCreight Lake Campgrounds

From Campbell River drive about 40 minutes and turn right onto the Rock Bay Forest Service Road.

From here it is only another 5 km to the campgrounds.

If you want to take the scenic route turn right at the Elk Bay Forest Service Road at Roberts Lake.

There you will travel 11 km to the Stella Lake turnoff and go 10 km to the Rock Bay Forest Service Road.

Turn Left and drive past the Pye Lake Campgrounds turnoff until you get to McCreight Lake.

GPS coordinates are N 50° 17.030′ W 125° 38.895′.

Use the form below to find out how to get to McCreight Lake Campgrounds using Google Maps.

Fishing at McCreight Lake Campgrounds

photo of mccreight lake shoreline

Fishing at McCreight Lake Campgrounds is very good.

The lake is deep around the east and west sides allowing for fishing right off of the shoreline.

The depths drop off to over 30 feet within 10 feet of the shoreline. This makes for some great bobber and worm fishing.

Even using a spinner or spoon provides some excellent catches of the many Cutthroat that migrate around the lake.

The average catch size is between 6 and 10 inches which is perfect for the frying pan over the campfire.

Once in a while you will see a nice 12-18 inch Cutthroat Trout take your offering by the shore also.

My first morning saw me catch and release 7 Cutthroat in less than an hour using a bobber and worm.

All within 20 feet of the shoreline.

McCreight Lake Fish Species

Coastal Cutthroat Trout reside in the lake thanks to a stocking program.

According to the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC McCreight Lake was stocked with Coastal Cutthroat Trout between 1986 and 2006.

The Coastal Cutthroat Trout originated from the Taylor River on Central Vancouver Island.

Their average weight was 38.14 grams and the avg quantity released was 4,848 yearlings per year.

Although other websites state Dolly Vardon, Kokanee and Rainbow Trout exist in the lake, I couldn’t find evidence to confirm this in my research.

I didn’t catch any of the above mentioned species but I didn’t troll from a boat either.

The Boat Ramp

A boat ramp exists 200 feet east of the largest campground with an old boom stick style dock.

It’s a gravel boat ramp that drops off rather quickly making launching a larger boat somewhat difficult but not impossible.

A small parking area beside the boat launch provides a little room for turning around.

Consequently if this area has a camper in it, you may have to back off of the Rock Bay Forest Service Road.

A larger parking area across Rock Bay Forest Service Road exists to park trucks and trailers.

While I was here a larger camping group had taken up the whole boat launch site.

Even though they were not disruptive in the evenings they did block access to the boat launch.

I imagine a few locals didn’t like driving all the way here to fish only to find no boat access.

Sitka Spruce Beach Recreation Site

Walk Thru Video of Sitka Spruce Campground

The first campground you see is the Sitka Spruce Beach Recreation Site at the beginning of the lake.

The boardwalk on the trail to the beach was in poor shape so be careful when crossing over it.

Room for a few tents exist away from the beach if one chooses to stay overnight.

Amor de Cosmos Creek enters the lake here at Bear Beach which is a tent only campsite.  

A small trail leads to this campsite just before the parking area for Sitka Spruce Beach Recreation Site. 

Across the Rock Bay Forest Service Road is a pit toilet that needs some repair when I visited it.

Aldergrove Campground

Walk Thru Video of Aldergrove Campground

The second campground is just a small dirt road that leads off of the Rock Bay Forest Service Road.

Appropriately named it passes through a grove of alder trees and dead ends about 500 feet from the beach.

2 campsites exist at this campground with 1 pit toilet and a picnic table.

No fire rings but rock pits only for your campfire.

A small trail leads to the beach and room for a couple of tents there.

Near the campsite with the picnic table I discovered evidence of an old bear den under a cedar stump.

However, it didn’t look like a bear used it recently.

photo of the Aldergrove Campsite on McCreight Lake

McCreight Lake Recreation Site

Walk Thru Video of McCreight Lak Recreation Site

The largest campground is further down the Rock Bay Forest Service Road.

4 campsites are available with 3 of them having picnic tables.

The last campsite at the end of the road provides little room to turn around. 

photo of rough picnic table at last campsite in McCreight Lake Campground

There’s a picnic table in poor shape but usable.

I wanted to try and fix it up a little but used all my 2×4’s at a previous campsite on a different lake.

Only smaller camping vehicles like truck campers and vans should use this campsite.

A pit toilet closer to the entrance of the campground was in good shape when I was there.

Fire pits built with rocks only no fire rings.

The only access for a car top or trailered boat would be at the boat launch.

Three of the four campsites have beach access for canoes, inflatables or kayaks with little difficulty.

One that I stayed at had a bedrock based shoreline with a make shift trail to the waters edge.

Therefore, this campsite provides more of a challenge getting your watercraft to the water but doable.

Wildlife At McCreight Lake

The area around McCreight Lake is in the Coastal Western Hemlock Biogeoclimatic Zone.

The zone provides the most productive region on Vancouver Island for Columbia Black Tail Deer and Roosevelt Elk.

I witnessed a couple of deer and a small herd (4) of elk in the estuary of Amor de Cosmos Creek.

While there, I got visits from a Blue Grouse, Black Bear, Osprey, Owl, Pileated Woodpecker, Ravens and Squirrels.

Apparently a Grizzly Bear frequents the area occasionally so keep your wits about you.

Hiking through the forest provides a better chance of witnessing the wildlife.

Especially on the southern side of the lake near the Amor de Cosmos estuary.

I saw signs of cougar and what looked to be wolf tracks but I’m no expert.

However, the length of the wolf track when measured using my thumb and index finger almost touched my index finger.

Living in Gold River I’ve seen many cougar tracks and the odd wolf track around Malispina Lake.

photo of Bear Beach on McCreight Lake by the mouth of Amor de Cosmos Creek

McCreight Lake Summary

McCreight Lake offers a great camping adventure with excellent fishing for Cutthroat Trout.

You’re only a short distance from Campbell River or Sayward.

Therefore, more supplies or medical assistance won’t be far away.

I found the campgrounds to be relatively remote other than the noise from the Rock Bay Forest Service Road.

However, after a while I didn’t notice it anymore.

If you find the campgrounds full it’s only a short distance to Pye Lake Campgrounds or Stella Lake Campgrounds.

You could also drive back towards Campbell River and turn off on the Blackwater Forest Service Road by Roberts Lake and head to the Amor Lake Recreation Site just 9km down the road.

The campgrounds at the south end of the lake have nice sandy beaches but only tenting access.

Still the outdoor solitude of sleeping in a tent is worth the effort.

The campgrounds need some maintenance but can’t complain too much because they’re free.

Kudo’s are in order for Recreation Sites and Trails BC for their hard work maintaining these campgrounds.

I like to pack some extra 2×4’s, nails and a hammer so I can fix things like dilapidated picnic tables.

I only use lumber given to me or that I find in free bins.

If you too have these skills than by all means please do your part so these campgrounds remain free.

Or you could visit the Recreation Sites and Trails BC website and volunteer if you want to give back.

I highly recommend giving McCreight Lake Campgrounds a visit you won’t regret it.

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