Horsefly Lake, British Columbia, Canada

Lake Locations:

Canada - British Columbia -

Horsefly Lake is a 34-mile long lake winding gently through the Cariboo Regional District in south central British Columbia. Located approximately one hour northeast of the community of Williams Lake, Horsefly Lake shares its shore with Horsefly Lake Provincial Park, Crown Land wilderness area, and developed cottages and homes. Resting at the base of the Cariboo Mountains, Horsefly Lake surrounds visitors with snowcapped peaks, mountain meadows, sandy beaches and crystal clear water known for hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation.

Originally the home of Canada’s First Nation people, Horsefly, located past the southwest end of Horsefly Lake, was the site of the first gold to be discovered in the Cariboo Gold Rush in 1859. The gold rush was in full swing by 1862 but was short lived. As miners left the district, farmers, trappers and loggers moved into the fertile valleys. Today forestry, tourism and ranching provide the main income stream for the 1,000+ residents living in the rural community of Horsefly.

Named for the biting insect that once frequented the lakeshore, Horsefly Lake fills a glacial basin to a maximum depth of 600 feet (182 meters) and average depth of 216 feet (66.1 meters). The crystal clear water comes from cold mountain streams flowing into numerous locations around the lake. At the southern end of Horsefly Lake the outflow is carried west by Little Horsefly River where it joins Horsefly River and flows north to Quesnel Lake. Near Little Horsefly River, the southwest shore has been developed with private homes, cottages, campgrounds and resorts. Land stretching out from the eastern shore extends into a rare interior rainforest, and along the western shore visitors will find fir, spruce, birch and cedar extending into a wilderness area.

Covering 366 acres (148 hectares), Horsefly Lake Provincial Park sits along the north shore of Horsefly Lake. Where miners once dug for gold, visitors will now find well-equipped campgrounds welcoming campers from mid-May to mid-September. Amenities include vehicle-accessible camping, wheelchair-accessible pit toilet, water, and shower and laundry facilities. Recreational facilities include nature trails, day-use area with gravel beach, dock for swimming, playground with horseshoe pit and basketball net. A boat launch sets the scene for boating, scuba diving, waterskiing, windsurfing and tubing. Boat rentals are available within the park.

There are two unnamed lakes open for fishing within Horsefly Lake Provincial Park, but Horsefly Lake supports the largest population of wild stock rainbow trout up to 8 pounds (4 kilograms), lake trout up to 17 pounds (8 kilograms), Dolly Varden trout and Kokanee salmon. You will often find fly fishermen near the mouth of the mountain streams, but for exceptional fly fishing visitors will want to test their skills in Horsefly River. Horsefly River is the second largest sockeye salmon spawning river in British Columbia and claims to be one of the three most spectacular salmon runs in the world. This pristine mountain river is found flowing through the town of Horsefly 10 miles (16 kilometers) southwest of Horsefly Lake. Every year anglers return to Horsefly River to try their hand at catching rainbow trout and salmon (all catch and release). A fishing license is required and with a sizeable black bear population sharing the river, all recommended safety precautions should be observed.

Horsefly Lake and River offer excellent canoe and kayaking opportunities. Bays and coves lining Horsefly Lake open to photo-ready scenes of mountain peaks and meadows. Novice paddlers will enjoy easy paddling into Little Horsefly River and the 10-12 mile paddle on to Quesnel Lake. For more challenging trips, paddlers may leave Quesnel Lake traveling north on the Quesnel River where it meets the Cariboo River.

If hiking is more your style, you will find leisurely trails along Horsefly Lake beaches, park trails and private resorts. More challenging hikes are found throughout the region. From Suey Bay, near the northeast end of Horsefly Lake, you can follow a four-mile trail leading north through the cedar forest, past Suey Lake to Slate Bay on Quesnel Lake. Across from Suey Bay, Archie Creek flows into Horsefly Lake. A short hike up the creek into the forest takes you to scenic Archie Creek Waterfall. Head north to trails along Horsefly River, and you will find Horsefly Falls and a delightful selection of mountain views.

Abundant wildlife will be found along the shores or in the woodland surrounding Horsefly Lake. Birdwatchers will enjoy viewing Peregrine falcons, bald eagles and golden eagles nesting on the lake’s islands. While hiking or paddling the shores, you are likely to spy a magnificent array of native wildlife from moose, elk, deer, beavers, cougar, coyotes, foxes, wolves and bears.

For trophy fishing and additional outdoor activities, be sure to spend time on Quesnel Lake, a 67,173 acre (27,195.84 hectares) lake sitting immediately north of Horsefly Lake. Claiming to be “the deepest fjord lake in the world,” Quesnel Lake supports about one fourth of British Columbia’s sockeye salmon. In addition to fishing, the lake provides excellent beach access and boating opportunities. With the lake’s north and east “arms” extending into the Cariboo Mountains, sweeping vistas, waterfalls and mountain peaks reaching 7,000 feet (2,134 meters) attract the adventurous and energetic.

When you are in the mood for alternate day trips, the village of Horsefly sits southwest of Horsefly Lake. Here visitors can find cafes, groceries, resorts, bed & breakfasts (B&Bs) and friendly service. Williams Lake is the nearest city, located approximately 44 miles (70 kilometers) southwest of Horsefly Lake. Home to the annual Williams Lake Stampede, the community also sits along Highway 97, Canada’s major north-south tourism and commerce route. Williams Lake population is approximately 10,500, but they service a regional population over 30,000. With a feel of the “old west” Williams Lake provides a multitude of shops, restaurants and attractions that will fill your day.

With accommodations and vacation rentals ranging from campgrounds, bed & breakfasts (B&Bs), resorts, homes, cottages, and occasional real estate properties, Horsefly Lake is more than a destination. With few lights to be seen and stars glittering overhead, Horsefly Lake is a place to peacefully commune with nature. Whether you stay on the shores of Horsefly Lake or enjoy the sounds of Horsefly River, watch the day fade away knowing that the rise of majestic mountains and crystal clear water will greet you in the morning.

Things to do at Horsefly Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Tubing
  • Scuba Diving
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Provincial Park
  • Playground

Fish species found at Horsefly Lake

  • Dolly Varden Trout
  • Kokanee Salmon
  • Lake Trout
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Sockeye Salmon
  • Trout

Horsefly Lake Photo Gallery

    Horsefly Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

    Surface Area: 14,494 acres

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 2,574 feet

    Average Depth: 216 feet

    Maximum Depth: 600 feet

    Lake Area-Population: 1,000

    Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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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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