Burns Lake, British Columbia, Canada

Lake Locations:

Canada - British Columbia -

Surrounded by over 300 fishing lakes in the heart of the Lakes District, he feels like a kid in a candy store. Some of the lakes, like a few of those in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, are only accessible by floatplane. Burns Lake, where he is staying, is very accessible — Highway 16 runs right along the northern shore. He picked the house he’s staying in from a list of vacation rentals and it’s perfect — right on the water surrounded by British Columbia’s majestic wilderness. The only question that remains is where to fish first.

The Lakes District in British Columbia’s heartland is dotted with lakes and streams. Over 3,000 miles of shoreline and thousands of acres of water combine with the wilderness and wildlife to create an amazing outdoor experience. The Lakes District extends from the Stikine Mountains in the west to the Omineca Mountain Range in the east. Burns Lake is affectionately known as the “Heart of the Lakes District” and is the home of the Lakes District Museum and Visitor Center.

In 1866, the Boreland Expedition discovered the 2,916-acre lake during the construction of the Collins Telegraph Line. A disastrous forest fire later gave the lake its name; originally called Burnt Lake, the name evolved over the years to Burns Lake. The lake stayed relatively undeveloped until 1911, when Lyster Trygarn Pelham Mulvaney, also know as “Barney,” won a railway construction camp in a poker game. Mulvaney set up a tent hotel near the railway camp, and the Village of Burns Lake was born. The hotel grew along with the community. Today, visitors to Burns Lake can see the Bucket of Blood, a hand-hewn log structure built for Mulvaney. Used as a gambling den in the 1920’s and 1930’s, the building got its unfortunate name from a particularly gruesome fight that took place on the premises.

Burns Lake no longer has a Wild West feel, but it maintains its historical charm. In addition to the museum and visitor center, there are restaurants, various accommodations — including campgrounds — and outfitters specializing in getting visitors ready to explore the surrounding wilderness. Logging is one of the area’s primary industries, and there are logging roads and trails to explore by car or on foot. The Lakes District Circle Trail passes through the Village of Burns Lake and crosses the lake on its way to the free ferry across Francois Lake.

Trails for hikers of all skill levels crisscross the area, and the opal bed trail leads hikers to the Eagle Creek Agate-Opal Site. It is one of the few known sources for opals in British Columbia, and hoodoos, or columns of eroded rock, mark the end of the trail. The Omineca Ski Club, established in 1927, maintains world famous cross-country ski trails, and there are also trails for snowmobiles. A mountain bike park near Burns Lake has boardwalk trails, jumps and drops and provides a fantastic playground for mountain bikers. There is real estate available for sale for anyone who wants to stay in the area long term.

Considered the gateway to Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, Burns Lake is the perfect home base, making an almost inaccessible wilderness accessible. Established in 1938, the park was named for the fifteenth Governor General of Canada, John Buchan, Baron Tweedsmuir of Elsfied. At over 2,424,104 acres, it is one of British Columbia’s largest parks. The Dean River forms a natural border, dividing the park into north and south sections. The northern section is closest to Burns Lake, and it is surrounded by the lakes that make up the Nechako Reservoir. As a result, it is almost an island with many trails but no facilities. The park is truly wild, and access is primarily by floatplane or boat. Guides also lead visitors into the park on horseback and by canoe. Deer, bear and moose roam the park and hunting is permitted in season. The lakes in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park are full of fish and there is ample opportunity to fish by boat or from the shore.

The Lakes District is known for its fishing lakes, and Burns Lake is no exception. The best fishing is in spring when the char and rainbow trout are plentiful. The lake freezes from November through early April, and the ice fishing is very good. Near Burns Lake, the Fulton River Spawning Channel is the site of one of the largest salmon runs in the world. The salmon run from late August through early September.

The fishing, wildlife and wilderness along with Burns Lake’s accessibility in one British Columbia’s wild places make it an amazing outdoor destination. The breathtaking beauty of the surrounding landscape makes it unforgettable. Come and see what you’ve been missing.

Things to do at Burns Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Provincial Park
  • Museum
  • Playground

Fish species found at Burns Lake

  • Char
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Trout

Burns Lake Photo Gallery

Burns Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 2,916 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 2,299 feet

Average Depth: 30 feet

Maximum Depth: 131 feet

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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