Maple Lake is situated in the forested lands just north of the Village of Cumberland. Officially it is located in the political boundaries of the village. It is in the private forested lands of the Hancock Timber Company.
For those fortunate enough to fish its productive waters we do so at the permission of the owner. The lake is stocked generously with catchable trout by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC. The society will only stock privately owned lakes when public access is allowed.
It is rated as the sixth most popular lake on Vancouver Island. The reason the Freshwater Fisheries Society stocks the lake on a regular basis is because the forest company allows access for anglers and others who use the lake for kayaking, canoeing and hiking. As an aside, I urge all the users of this privately owned water to treat the surrounding forests and lands with respect and use it as the owner requests on the sign at the entrance road. We should try to use the lake with the motto of “leave no trace of your visit except your footprint.”
For people new to the Valley, you get to Maple Lake by turning right off the Comox Valley Parkway onto Minto Road if your are travelling from Courtenay to Cumberland. The turnoff is just past the large gravel pit on your right. Stay on this road until you pass the Cumberland Cemetery, then turn right and go under Highway 19 underpass.
This will bring you to a gravel road that has a large turn-around parking area. I recommend you park here and walk down to the lake to assess the challenge of launching a small boat at the bottom of the small hill. Maple Lake is approximately 1km from the Minto Road turnoff on the Comox Valley Parkway.
It is a beautiful, idyllic small lake of approximately 182 acres including wetlands. The 40-year-old evergreen forest around it has been logged; however the loggers left a significant buffer zone of trees around the lake.
Once you are on the water you are surrounded by a standing forest that blocks your view of the logged area. By any measure it is a jewel of an urban lake in the middle of three urban areas – Cumberland, Courtenay and Comox – which also form part of our regional district.
My particular interest in Maple Lake is primarily fishing, followed by watching birds and other forms of wildlife. A few years ago I had a memorable experience of watching one of the little islets that was just overcrowded by small bats that were quite vocal as they continually moved about the small trees to get a more secure branch to hold onto.
The picture with this column is one I took from an on-shore fishing clearing reached by walking south along the path from the boat launch at the lake. In a later column I plan to list the total number of shore fishing stations found around the perimeter of the lake.
On my recent visit, there were no shore anglers and only one couple fishing from a kayak. The shoreline I walked along was quite brushy with spaced clearing for shore fishing. The slope of the land into the waters edge was quite steep and for young shore anglers a life jacket may be suitable.
I cannot but think about how I spent my early childhood days fishing such magic places and the wonderful contacts I made with nature that still resonate today even though it is eight decades since my nature-enriched childhood.
Maple Lake is about 15km from downtown Comox, about 10km from Courtenay and maybe 2km from downtown Cumberland. Children with the mobility of two-wheeled bikes are within the range of this wonderful little urban lake.
The Comox Valley is blessed with streams, rivers, ocean beaches, and an annual Bullhead Derby in the harbour and a Family Fishing Weekend at the Courtenay and District Fish and Game club. The pond at the club holds trout for about two months if we are lucky. Maple Lake is a jewel in our midst that holds trout 12 months of the year and is rich in the magic of nature.
Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.