The Jones Lake campground is a popular destination located about an hour outside of Chilliwack British Columbia. This mountain lake comes with amazing mountain views, and beautiful clean water, and offers an escape from the surrounding cities without straying too far off of the Trans Canada Highway. This free-to-use campground also means a camping getaway without the issue of costly reservations. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about camping at Jones Lake!
We may have chosen the worst weekend of the summer to go camping because of the weather, but regardless it still ended up being a lovely and cozy trip. On the plus side, we were able to get a campsite at 8 pm on a Friday night because of the not-so-desirable forecast. I’ve spent time at Jones Lake during the peak of summer, and now in the rainy and chilly late summer weather, but it was still equally beautiful. Note to self, always bring a tarp! There is a little less to do unless you come prepared with your own entertainment, due to it being a bit too cold to swim. On a hot day, Jones Lake is a great spot to lay out on the beach and splash around on the lake all day. In the late summer and fall, it’s great for kayaking, hiking, and taking in the beauty of the mountains surrounding the lake.
Where is Jones Lake?
Jones Lake or Wahleach Lake is about 1 hour east of Chilliwack in British Columbia. Jones Lake is accessed by a logging road that stretches about 9km from Highway 1 up to the lake. There are two campsites on the southern end of the lake, the east campground, and the west campground, as well as a day-use area. Jones Lake, a reservoir managed by BC Hydro, is surrounded by dense forest and sits at a nearly 640-meter elevation.
Getting to Jones Lake
The access road for Jones Lake is located along Highway 1 between Chilliwack to the west, and Hope to the east. Laidlaw Road connects the highway to the Jones Creek Forest Service Road. The Jones Creek Forest Service Road is an active logging road, though logging traffic is minimal.
The road is incredibly steep in some areas, and a 4-wheel drive vehicle is absolutely recommended. There are some serious potholes as well, so having good suspension on your vehicle will also be helpful. The road can be challenging for inexperienced drivers, so definitely come with the understanding that is quite the climb to access Jones Lake. I promise the top is worth it, but drive with caution and know the limits of your vehicle.
About Jones Lake
Wahleach Lake, more commonly known as Jones Lake is a reservoir managed by BC Hydro. The lake contains a large manmade dam, that at the time of its completion in the 1950s produced 14% of the overall power for the energy company. Now the dam produces just about 1% of BC Hydro’s energy but is still a functioning part of its dam network. Besides producing energy, Jones Lake is popular for swimming, kayaking, camping, and its beautiful mountain views. Jones Lake is flanked on 3 sides by a large mountain range, including Cheam Peak, Lady Peak, and Conway Peak, which make for some incredible views, especially on clear days.
There are two campsites at Jones Lake which are separated by the BC Hydro dam, which is very clearly marked. The reservoir is just one of many dam networks in the area that generate hydro power for the province. On either side of the dam at each campground are small sandy beaches perfect for laying out in the sun, or launching your kayak.
About the campground
The campground at Jones Lake is simple and isolated but surrounded by beauty. Jones Lake is a reservation-free campground, meaning it is first come first serve. For this reason, it is also a free campsite, so you can save some cash by choosing to camp here. It’s recommended to arrive early in the morning to claim a spot, as in the summer the spots can fill up quite quickly. We were very lucky to find a spot at 8 pm on a Friday because of the rainy forecast. If you can’t find a spot at the western campground you can always check out the east side campground as well.
There are double and single-car campsites, all of which come equipped with a picnic table, and typically with a fire pit, however, due to the campfire ban the firepits have been removed.
There are several bear-safe garbage and recycling bins along the campground to safely dispose of any trash, as bears do live in the area. The campground, because it is isolated, is not maintained every day, so garbage bins can fill up. If you have this issue, walk to another garbage bin, or pack out your garbage with you to prevent attracting any bears or other wildlife.
There are 2 outhouses located at the center of the campground on both the west and eastern campgrounds. Jones Lake is a pretty no-frills campground, so there are no sinks with running water, just good old outhouses, and hand sanitizer. The outhouses aren’t maintained every day, but they aren’t overly dirty.
The pros and cons of the Jones Lake campgrounds
PRO: Gorgeous mountain views
You can’t beat the views you find at Jones Lake. Surrounded on 3 sides by beautiful mountain ranges you truly feel completely immersed in nature. Additionally, there are plenty of trailheads in the surrounding area to explore further.
PRO: Free to use
Jones Lake is completely free to use and is limited to 14 stays per year per group because of this. Free campsites can be hard to come by in BC, so it’s an added bonus as you get most of all the amenities you would get elsewhere. However, because it is free it can fill up quickly, and there is no way to save a spot with a reservation.
PRO: Clean and crisp lake
Because Jones Lake is difficult to access, it is pretty uncommon to see any boats on the water. The majority of lake users are either swimming, kayaking, or using other non-motorized boats. Therefore the lake stays pretty clean and clear because of the minimal boat traffic.
CON: Difficult to access
It would be very difficult to access Jones Lake without a 4-wheel drive vehicle. It can be difficult and even dangerous to access this lake, which can turn some people off. If you come prepared with a vehicle able to make the trip and know your vehicle’s limits you shouldn’t run into any problems, just look out for potholes!
CON: Low maintenance
Jones Lake isn’t as regularly maintained as other campsites, because it is free to use and there are no parks and recreation staff on site. Because of this garbage cans can sometimes fill up, and outhouses are not as well maintained. Litter can sometimes be left at campsites, so be sure to pick up after yourself, and pack out any garbage if you cannot properly dispose of it on site.
CON: No-frills campground
A no-frills campground is a plus for some people who want a truly natural experience, but for some, it can be difficult. There are no showers, sinks, flushing toilets, or potable water at Jones Lake, so come prepared with everything you need in terms of hygiene, like extra hand sanitizer, and plenty of drinking water for drinking and brushing teeth. There is a water pump at the entrance of the campground for washing dishes, but all drinking water must be brought in.
- Wikipedia. “Wahleach Lake“