Stave Lake and Hayward Lake, British Columbia, Canada

Lake Locations:

Canada - British Columbia -

Also known as:  Stave Reservoir, Hayward Reservoir

Stave Lake and Hayward Lake are reservoirs located about an hour east of Vancouver in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley. Managed by BC Hydro, these lakes provide many recreational opportunities as well as a healthy portion of BC’s hydroelectric power. A corner of Golden Ears Provincial Park encloses a portion of Stave Lake’s northwestern shoreline, and a few private cottages cling to the steep hillsides on the eastern shore. Other than roads to the designated recreational facilities on the lakes, there is little access to the shore except by boat. The scenery is truly wilderness.

With over 14,000 surface acres, Stave Lake covers a large part of the former Stave River Valley. The name originated because this area was once a major supplier of the lumber needed to produce barrel staves that were used for shipping salmon. The original lake was only about a third of the size of the current reservoir; building of the Stave Falls Dam and powerhouse flooded nearby low-lying valleys and increased the lake’s size considerably. In keeping with British Columbia’s commitment to providing recreational access to such water bodies, the Stave Lake recreation area offers a swimming beach, picnic tables, restrooms and a campground reserved for group camping. A two-lane boat ramp allows for boat launching with convenient floating boat docks. Stave Lake permits motorized boats, while Hayward Lake immediately downstream does not. A camp for special needs children occupies a small portion of the southwestern shore of Stave Lake. Mud flats at the south end are popular among off-road vehicle fans, who often collect here to face off in friendly competition.

Fishing is a popular pastime, with rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, kokanee and cutthroat trout being the most popular prey. Catfish, northern pikeminnow, chub and suckers are also present, but these fish are not in great abundance because the lake does not contain the necessary vegetation for spawning and protection of fry. The best angling luck is usually expected near the mouths of the several inlets into the lake from the Stave River, small creeks and the Alouette Diversion Tunnel. That shouldn’t prevent fishing fans from trying their luck while enjoying the large lake and its spectacular scenery.

The surrounding forests blanket the steep slopes of the nearby mountains in a sea of dark green. Small waterfalls often carry incoming streams over the last few feet to the lake. Wildlife are plentiful, including deer, black bear and smaller mammals. Boating on Stave Lake is enjoyable on calm days, but weather conditions can change quickly; the narrow valley funnels winds that can raise large waves in a matter of minutes. Old cedar stumps protrude from the water in several near-shore areas, making boating caution extremely important.

Immediately downstream after a three-mile stretch of river, Hayward Lake is enclosed by the Ruskin Dam. Hydropower produced at the Ruskin Dam is ‘run of ‘river’, meaning large stores of water are not required for operation. Instead, Hayward Lake’s 716 acres serve mainly as flood control for densely populated areas downstream. The lake also provides a recreation area which includes a swim beach, picnic area, boat ramp, fishing dock and lakeside trail. A fish spawning channel is located at the Ruskin Dam and is always interesting to observe during annual migration periods.

Several trails exist around Hayward Lake, including a four-hour day hike that circles the lake utilizing two separate trails. The Hayward Lake Trail along the east side allows hiking and mountain biking. It intersects the Railway Trail that skirts the west shoreline. Along the route, small waterfalls, ravines and stunning scenery make this well worth a day’s outdoor adventure. Near the Stave Falls Dam upstream, the Stave Falls Interpretive Trail ventures a bit over a mile along a moss-encrusted rain forest trail accompanied by native bird songs. Along the trail ten stops with signage describe various aspects of the forestry resource management practices at the Mission Municipal Forest. The rural township district of Mission holds a number of ‘tree farm’ properties where sustainable forestry is practiced.

Stave Lake and Hayward Lake form a part of the Alouette-Stave-Ruskin Hydroelectric Project. The Stave Falls Dam was built originally in 1912 to provide electrical power to operate the interurban railway and electric street cars of Vancouver. The project was enlarged by the British Columbia Electric Railway (BCER) and eventually passed into the hands of BC Hydro. The Alouette Dam was built in the late 1920s and water diverted via a diversion tunnel to feed Stave Lake. The diversion tunnel supplies about 20% of the lake’s water. Hayward Lake and Ruskin Dam followed in 1931. A fourth dam in the system, the Blind Slough Dam, separates Stave Lake’s water from an adjacent lowland area. In times of high water this dam’s floodgates can be opened to flood the slough and relieve water pressure on the dams and downstream areas. The Stave Falls Visitors Centre offers tours, exhibits and historical perspective centered around the hydroelectric system. It is open daily March into October. The Railway Trail traces the path of an old railroad line built to ferry materials and labor to the dams being built. Rail transportation still carries daily workers from the small cities along the Fraser River into Vancouver each day.

Although there is no camping at either Stave Lake or Hayward Lake, two small provincial parks nearby provide camping. Rolley Lake Provincial Park is located near the south arm of Stave Lake and offers swimming and fishing. Davis Lake Provincial Park is located east of the southern part of Stave lake and also offers lake swimming, fishing and rustic camping. Davis Lake is particularly good for bird viewing among the western hemlock forest stands. Camping at Davis Lake Park is walk-in only. Rolley Lake is stocked with cutthroat trout and rainbow trout, while Davis Lake is stocked with cutthroat trout.

Several bed & breakfasts exist near the two lakes, with hotels and motels located downstream along the Fraser River. One resort spa with lodging offers its services near Stave Falls. Guest rentals and short-stay rentals can be found in the area. The entire area is geared toward vacationing visitors, with plenty of small restaurants and convenience stores ready to provide food and supplies. So, come and experience this scenic and diverse area.

* Statistics listed are for Stave Lake only. All statistics are as listed by B C Hydro.

Things to do at Stave Lake and Hayward Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Provincial Park

Fish species found at Stave Lake and Hayward Lake

  • Carp
  • Catfish
  • Cutthroat Trout
  • Dolly Varden Trout
  • Kokanee Salmon
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Sucker
  • Trout

Stave Lake and Hayward Lake Photo Gallery

Stave Lake and Hayward Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: B C Hydro

Surface Area: 14,332 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 262 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 239 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 269 feet

Average Depth: 115 feet

Maximum Depth: 331 feet

Water Volume: 6,191 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1912

Water Residence Time: 6 months

Trophic State: Ultra-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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