Salmon Arm

Mabel Lake, a gem worth finding

Beautiful Mabel Lake in the North Okanagan offers everything that makes a vacation perfect.

by Stephen A. White
An aerial view of scenic Mabel Lake in the Shuswap.
An aerial view of scenic Mabel Lake in the Shuswap. — Photo: Stephen White

Just to the northeast of the Okanagan Valley lies a lake in a narrow mountain valley that many travellers miss as they spend their time in the more populated regions of the North Okanagan. To reach this lake, you need to exit Highway 97A at the town of Enderby and follow the meandering Shuswap River along a paved country road for 35 kilometres. Nearing the end of the road, just when you begin to wonder if you may have taken a wrong turn, the Mabel Lake Golf and Country Club emerges on the left. Follow the road around a corner and suddenly the glimmer of Mabel Lake’s pristine blue waters catches your eye. The reward in reaching this gem far exceeds any effort it takes to detour off the beaten path.

Mabel Lake Resort was started in 1925 with a few beachfront cabins, a campground, convenience store and sandy beach. In the 1940s a runway was built adjacent to the resort to accommodate vacationing families. Fifty years later the runway was developed into one of North America’s first true airparks, with taxiways branching off from the airstrip providing access to private lots and hangars.  This grassed airstrip stands out prominently as you make your way from the second green to the third tee on the golf course, offering a spectacular view of Mabel Lake and the mountain valley.  The lake end of the runway has often been chosen for wedding ceremonies.

However, if you are not planning on getting married, moving on to the third tee box will provide you with a scenic par four up to an elevated green. This is all part of an unforgettable golfing experience. The golf course was opened in 1993 and features a par 36, nine-hole, 3,103-yard course with three par fives and four sets of tees. The course was designed by Les Furber who has built 60 courses in Canada including Kananaskis, Bootleg in Kimberley and St. Eugene in Cranbrook.

Over the years Mabel Lake Resort & Airpark has developed into a thriving family vacation centre, including a 90-site RV park, over 160 golf course sites, an airpark and Airpark West building lots, 36 condominium units at Lakeside Estates, and a 260-slip concrete marina. The property is intersected with, and surrounded by, walking/cycling/golf cart paths, and lush greenways create a park-like setting and provide ample room for family games.

Mabel Lake is part of the Shuswap River system. The river originates in the Monashee Mountains, flows south to Sugar Lake, then west and enters the south end of Mabel Lake. The Shuswap exits Mabel Lake at the mid-point of the western shore and then flows into Mara Lake and eventually enters Shuswap Lake.  Mabel Lake is 35 kilometres long and has one of the most productive fisheries in the Shuswap and Okanagan regions of B.C. Trout, kokanee, chinook salmon and lake trout thrive in Mabel Lake. The chinook salmon return every year from July 25 to September 12 to spawn in the tributaries and range from 15 to 25 pounds. In the spring the lake trout feed on salmon fry and reach eight to 18 pounds.

Mabel Lake Resort and Golf Course offers all of what destination seekers are looking for. You can land a lake trout in the morning, go for a water ski, enjoy lunch at the clubhouse, golf a spectacular course in the afternoon and finish off just relaxing on a sandy beach.  All this, by just leaving the busy Okanagan highway behind and following the Shuswap River along a quiet country road.

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