Living in the interior of British Columbia we are blessed with mountains and lakes and scenery that can take your breath away. Johnson Lake BC is known around our area as the “Caribbean of the North” with its unbelievable crystal clear water (you have to see it in person to believe it) and the multi-coloured shades of blue and green.
People often wonder in amazement about how the water gets its beautiful colours which is a result of the underground spring water flowing up through the surrounding limestone rock formation.
Big Johnson Lake BC is situated remotely between Barriere and Adams Lake, is 5km long and is approximately 200 feet deep. Johnson Lake BC is located at 3800 feet elevation so the weather from Sun Peaks is the most accurate as they are both at similar elevations.
How to Get to Johnson Lake BC
Johnson Lake BC is a ninety-minute drive from Kamloops and Shuswap and the best way to get there is to take Hwy 5 to Agate Bay Road at Louis Creek. Agate Bay Road is a paved road with lovely scenery for 22 km along the way until you reach Minnova Road which becomes a gravel road for the remainder of the 16 km to Johnson Lake.
It is a beautiful drive to Johnson Lake and along the way, we saw lots of cattle on Minnova Road. The cows lined the road, blocked the road and napped in the grass on the side of the road. It made for an entertaining drive!
Once you arrive at the turnoff to Johnson Lake BC you will have two choices. You can access the lake at the privately owned Johnson Lake Resort if you are a guest. Otherwise, you can access Johnson Lake by the public side which is an additional 6 km drive along a gravel road with major potholes and downed trees. There is a very small campground and minimal public parking so get there early for the best access.
What to Bring for a Day at Johnson Lake, BC
Johnson Lake is remote and takes effort to visit. We must all do our part to protect the fragile ecosystem while enjoying the clean wilderness area. There are no garbage cans so what you pack in, you must pack out. There are a couple of picnic tables on the public side of Johnson Lake and bathroom facilities but you must bring your own toilet paper. Here is a list of suggested items to bring to make your visit an enjoyable one:
- Camping chairs to sit and relax when not on the lake
- Picnic blanket
- Cooler and lots of food and water for the day at the lake as well as snacks for the drive
- Waterproof sunscreen and hat
- Bug Spray
- Sandals or flip flops
- Life Jackets
- Extra layers depending on time of year
- Garbage bag for any trash made during your visit
- Toilet paper for bathroom facilities
Paddle Boarding at Johnson Lake BC
There are very few parking spots at Johnson Lake so we highly suggest that you arrive early! Once we arrived and parked on the public side of Johnson Lake, we unpacked our truck and were lucky enough to score a picnic table near the water. The trees line the lake so there is no beach and there are only a couple of small spots to launch kayaks, small boats and paddleboards.
We brought an inflatable paddleboard with us which is amazing to travel with because it easily folds up into a travel bag. It takes roughly ten minutes to inflate and we all took turns pumping the air into it.
The day we visited Johnson Lake there were only a handful of people there so we pretty much had the lake to ourselves. The water was ice cold but it does warm up a little in the middle of summer. The top of the water gets warm but the bottom is still quite cold. Regardless of the temperature, the colour of the water is exquisite and the surroundings are so remote and peaceful.
Fishing at Johnson Lake BC
The fishing at Johnson Lake is best in June and July where 1.5 to 2 lb. trout are common. If you have a special fly or lure, you may be rewarded with a 3 to 5-pound trout. We brought along our tackle box to do some fishing and see if we could catch some fish. We came a bit early in the season and our boys are young and restless so they didn’t catch anything but certainly enjoyed trying!
Hiking and Biking Trails at Johnson Lake
While we did not do any hiking or biking during our visit to Johnson Lake, there is the Johnson Lake Trail System that offers trails in varying lengths from 3 km to 22 km long. The Johnson Lake Trail System was originally established in 2006 for horses but it is suitable for all levels of hiking and biking. The trail options are:
- JOHNSON LAKE LOOP TRAIL – 22.4 KM
- HAGGARD CREEK TRAIL – 8.7 KM
- JOHNSON VIEW TRAIL – 3.4 KM
- SOUTH BARRIERE LAKE – 5.9 KM
- SOUTH BARRIERE-JOHNSON CONNECTOR – 3.6 KM
- NORTH VIEW LOOP – 4.1 KM
- SOUTH BARRIERE TRAIL – 5.9 KM
Johnson Lake, BC Activities
Johnson Lake is a stunning lake worth seeing but it is remote and there isn’t much else around other than the crystal clear water. The activities to be had at Johnson Lake are mostly water-based so make sure you come prepared for a full day on the water.
- Canoe & Kayak
- Stand Up Paddleboarding
- Swimming and snorkeling
- Splash around in the shallow water near the edge of the lake
- Fishing for Trout
- Cruise the lake in a small motor boat or inflatable dinghy
- Take advantage of the bird watching and look for wildlife
- Bring your camera for epic landscape photography
Is There Camping at Johnson Lake, BC?
There are only 12 campsites available at Johnson Lake Forestry Rec Site and they are on a first-come, first-served basis. The owners of the Johnson Lake Resort on the other side of the lake have decided to keep the resort closed again for the 2021 season and will provide their next update regarding the resort in February of 2022.
How Far is Johnson Lake BC from Kamloops?
Johnson Lake is an easy ninety-minute drive from Kamloops. The final 6kms to the lake are full of potholes and makes for a rough drive but otherwise, it is a pleasant road trip.
How Far is Johnson Lake BC from Sun Peaks?
Johnson Lake is roughly 70 minutes from Sun Peaks. There is not a lot of room to turn around for large rigs so stick to your car or truck and you will easily make it in and out safely.
After a full day on the water, it was time to pack up and begin the drive home. We deflated the paddleboard and put it back into the travel bag and loaded everything back into the truck including the garbage that we made during our time there. As the day progressed, more and more groups of people arrived and the parking lot was full by late morning. When we left in the late afternoon, there were cars lining the road into Johnson Lake so we made the right decision by getting up early and arriving before the masses appeared.
One last look at the beautiful water of Johnson Lake. It requires effort and planning to get here but once you arrive you will be glad you did! Although Johnson Lake in BC has gained notoriety in the last couple of years, it is still considered a hidden gem and worth exploring with your family and friends.