Paterson Lake Campground Remote Camping On Vancouver Island

photo of inclement weather over Paterson Lake Campground

Paterson Lake Campground on Vancouver Island is somewhat more remote than other lakes in the same area

The reason is due in large part by the lack of clear cuts visible and by geography of the lake.

I saw two clear cuts from the water and only one hadn’t starting growing back yet.

A bit further off the beaten track than most of the other lakes in the same area, Paterson Lake offers a more remote experience.

There are three different campsites in the campground with one of them being a short distance away from the other two. 

All three have a fair amount of room to accommodate more than one camper depending on the type and size.

How to Get To Paterson Lake Campground

Paterson Lake is a short distance from Campbell River as is all the lakes in the Sayward Forest District.  I found it by taking hwy 28 towards Gold River and turning right at the Strathcona Dam turn off. 

From there I crossed over the dam and took the Greencreek mainline to the Marsha Lake junction.  This section of the road is in rough shape so drive accordingly.

At the Marsha Lake junction, I kept to the right on the Paterson mainline and traveled for another 25 minutes until my arrival at the first of three campsites on Paterson Lake. The Paterson Lake mainline is in much better shape.

Use the form below to find out how to get to Paterson Lake Campground using Google Maps.

First Campsite

Because the campsite was occupied, I walked in for a better look.  The short road in was very rough with large holes the size of a Volkswagon Beetle and full of water.  I walked around them to find a camper with a truck and tent set up.

He had a small car topper anchored on the beach.  It is a very nice campsite with the exception of the road in. 

I imagine when it is not raining the road would be easier and more forgiving for your vehicles.

There is another couple of spots that could hold a truck and camper or small trailer but the room is limited.

I didn’t see any picnic tables, pit toilets or fire rings just rock built fire pits.

I continued on for another km and turned left into the west Paterson Lake campground at the km 9 marker.

There I passed by the second campsite to the right but not next to the lake so I kept driving.  Further down the road I came to the boat launch and the main campsite with enough area to support two or three large recreational vehicles.

photo of the boat ramp at Paterson Lake Campground

Paterson Lake Campground

I unloaded my boat and set up camp.  There is enough room to back a boat and trailer down the gravel to the lake but turning around to back down might be an issue when the sites are full.

Therefore I would suggest walking down towards the boat ramp to ensure enough room is available to turn around.

Just to the right of the boat launch is an old dock in rough shape. 

photo of paterson lake dock on vancouver island

I spent a whole day moving it off the beach and repairing some of the soft spots so I didn’t fall through.  All in all it is still usable as long as the lake level doesn’t drop too much.

Keep an eye on children and dogs so they don’t fall through the soft spots that still need repair. 

Hopefully someone else will come along with more materials than I had and do some more repairs.

Exploring The Lake

I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the lake by boat. The weather held for me with overcast skies giving way to bits of sunshine occasionally.

Paterson Lake is a very beautiful lake with a number of islands that offer campsites for boaters, canoers or kayakers.

The dilapidated man made docks around the lake and on the islands was my only disappointment.

It seems that over the years those who chose to enjoy this lake thought they should build places to park their water craft.

These forgotten docks have become weathered  and broken.  The blue barrels used to build them stand out against the shoreline.

I arrived back at Paterson Lake campgrounds just before dusk.  The view of my camper along the shoreline provided me with a sense of remoteness.

I started the campfire, fixed a bite to eat and sat back to relax. I heard an owl in the distance. I’ve always loved that sound. Seems to make the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

Walk Thru Video of Paterson Lake Campground

Exploring The Second Campsite

The next morning the rain had started making the day a wash.  Therefore I put on the rain gear and walked back to the campsite before mine.

photo of a make shift toilet over a limestone cave on Paterson Lake Campground

Someone had built a pit toilet quite some time ago and it was in dire straits. In what looks like a limestone formation, someone built another toilet facility a short distance away.

A trail leads to the river that exits Paterson Lake.  A number of logs line the mouth of the river and lakeside brought by the current of the river and winds.

This campsite will support a few campers when set up right.  Smaller open areas allow for a small camper or tent.

Nestled in a beautiful forest, Paterson Lake campgrounds is mystic. The road in goes through a tree created tunnel.  Then it opens up by the boat launch.

photo of the road into paterson lake campground on vancouver island

Even though it runs parallel to the Paterson Mainline, a grove of older second growth and old growth mixed trees deaden the sound.

The gate at the end of the road belongs to a family who leases the property beyond the gate.  While I was there camping, an employee of the owner showed up.

I got a brief history lesson about the property and the burned out buildings on the small island in the lake.  The original lessee of the property and the homesteaders on the island didn’t get along.  Rumours abound surrounding the disputes but I won’t post them here without confirmation.

Over the years the feud fizzled out and the homesteaders left the island.  Unfortunately the island is a mess with metal, an old boat, an old camper and the remnants of a burned down cabin.

Fishing Opportunities

photo of a nice Cutthroat Trout caught at Paterson Lake on Vancouver Island

I caught some very nice Cutthroat Trout while staying at Paterson Lake campground. 

One was over 12 inches and the others were not too much smaller.  They all put up a good fight leaping out of the water at times.

Trolling along the 30 foot contour line about 8-13 feet down seemed to produce the best. I used a bronze colored gang troll setup with a worm.

There are lots of areas around the lake with weeds that extend towards the surface like a kelp bed does in the ocean. 

Consequently, you have to raise your fishing level to avoid snagging the weeds.

Another photo of a nice sized Cutthroat Trout caught at Paterson Lake Campground on Vancouver Island

I will try my luck with a fly rod next time along these weed beds as I saw numerous trout rising to the surface.

Paterson Lake is a fairly deep lake with shallow shoals along the edges. I sounded 140 feet on my depth sounder.

The maximum depth falls off to 42 meters. This area is in the center of the lake north of the largest island.

The lake is roughly 3-4 km long with a river entering from the south end and exiting from the north end. 

I found the south end of the lake to be my favorite part. The lake is deeper at this end and fishing is better.

Summary of Paterson Lake Campground

All in all, I would say that Paterson Lake Campground is a nice spot to stay.  Albeit, there isn’t much room to turn around when the site is full. However, there are other campsites near by to offer more room without a boat launch.

Don’t let this deter you from trying to enjoy this beautiful lake.  The fishing is excellent and the lake isn’t that far from other popular lakes in the area.

If you find there is no room try out Gray Lake, Brewster Lake, Mohun Lake, Merrill Lake, Boot Lake or Gosling Lake which are all within 20 minutes. Also there are many campgrounds on Campbell Lake to choose from.

The lack of picnic tables, fire rings and pit toilets is a concern but you are on your own with little room for many campers. The best thing is it is still free to camp at Paterson Lake Campground.

A brilliant photo of the sun light reflecting off the clouds into the calm waters of Paterson Lake

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10 thoughts on “Paterson Lake Campground Remote Camping On Vancouver Island”

  1. I can’t wait to check a lot of these spots, I just bought a camper van this year . Your description s are thorough and detailed . Which I find to be helpful. Thank-you.. great site.

    1. Van Isle Camping

      Hi Angie, You’re very welcome and enjoy your new camper.

      Looks like we’ll be allowed to camp again come June 1, 2020 according to a press release from the government.

  2. The homesteaders of the island did not leave because they wanted to they were burnt out. My grandparents were the homesteaders I spent my life there up until 14 years ago. The gentleman who lived at the other end of the lake was an unwanted Parisian who harassed my grandparents on a daily basis and we believe he was the lookout or the culprit who set our family home ablaze! If my grandparents were ever to leave the island for forever it was noted that I the eldest grandchild would move there. Our family misses this place on the daily. We enjoyed the lifestyle of being self sufficient

  3. I’m so sorry for your loss… I met a friend of your family up there years ago who shared the whole story,.
    Heading up there again in a few days…
    Love kayaking over to the homestead. I have chives from your Grandmothers garden still growing in mine❤️

    1. Van Isle Camping

      Hi Ellen, thanks for the comments.

      I am sure Tanya will appreciate your condolences.

      Let us know how everything went and if the dock is still there or not.

      Have fun.

  4. Danielle Flynn was very cruel on how my grandparents lost their entire home by a suspicious fire. That place is so dearly missed all year round. Paterson Lake is a place I learnt how to fish, swim, cook, braid hair, farm and so many other wonderful things. So many great memories.
    Paradise Island forever

  5. Dianne Kovasin

    A lot of misinformation about the homesteaders and the “owner” of the cabin at the end of the lake. I know the true story, my parents were the homesteaders.

    1. Van Isle Camping

      Hi Dianne, please let me know what misinformation in the article you are referring to and I’ll correct it.

      I had contacted your brothers for accurate information to write about it but decided not to do an in depth article for personal reasons (your families not mine).

      It was not my intention to stir up old wounds and I apologize if this has happened.

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