Paddling The County Border

2020 is the year to explore close to home, and in our area we are luckier than most in that there are so many options for recreation.  One great choice is to check out the lakes with your personal watercraft (PWC) – a kayak, stand-up paddle board, or go old school with a canoe!  

My personal favorite is a stand-up paddle board.  I like taking in the view while standing, not so close to the water.  However, you can also sit down on your board and paddle away (which I do often when I get tired).  

I also like the convenience of my inflatable board.  After investing in an electric pump that plugs into a 12 volt connection, I have found it is a cinch to pack the board into my car and inflate it at the public boat launch.  No truck needed!

Early morning is my favorite time to explore new places.  Lakes are often deserted (except for a few fishermen) and calm.  There is a strong argument for going in the evening, as well: paddling during the golden hour is magical.  

Either way, August and September are wonderful months for paddling.  Connecting with nature this way is great exercise and also excellent for your mental health, so get out there and find your favorite lake!  

Horseshoe Lake

I’d been there once before and looked forward to seeing the waterfall again.  What I found was wonderful delights such as 10 turtles sunning themselves on a log, sheer cliffs flanking the west side of the lake, and a scent that I like to call “summer camp”.  

This was nature bathing at its best: verdant greens and deep blues, birds singing, ducks swimming.  A female moose met me on the road out to bid me a good day.  

Bear Lake

Try Bear Lake for an early morning visit.  A nice paddle in the sunshine is better than coffee!  Bear Lake is easy to get to, just off Highway 2 in Chattaroy.  Drive around to the west side of the lake for easy access to launch your board.  Don’t forget your mosquito spray!

Bear Lake is small and full of lily pads.  You can paddle the whole thing in under an hour. So why not park in the middle, lay down, and enjoy the sun for a while? 

Loon Lake

From the public boat launch along the west side of the lake, my advice is to paddle to your left (north) – go through the slough by Morgan Park.  You will hear all kinds of birds singing to you and watch the fish and turtles swim under your board.

Or paddle to the southeast towards the iconic Loon Island.  Check out all the cool lake houses – old and new, big and small.  Visit Shore Acres Resort for an ice cream along the way – you deserve it!

Deer Lake

The public boat launch is at the far west side of the lake, off North Deer Lake Road.  Once you get on to the lake, you have a choice: go east along the bays or west along the more populated shoreline.  Go where the wind takes you (or will take you back!).  

A flock of Canadian honkers met me at the launch, freshly off ruining someone’s lawn, I’m sure!   There were some bird calls I’ve never heard before coming from the reeds by the launch.  A bald eagle soared above my head, enjoying the view.  

Eloika Lake

Size-wise, Eloika is in the middle of these lakes – not too big and not too small!  The launch is easily accessible from Highway 2 – just another 10 minutes north of Bear Lake.  

It is very likely that you will find this lake calm as glass, as I did, because it is too shallow for many motorized boats.  There is lots to look at above and below your PWC.  

Helpful tips

Google “public access” and the lake name to get directions.  You’ll need a Washington State Discover Pass for some boat launches such as Loon, Eloika and Horseshoe.  You can check out a Discover Pass at the Spokane County Library: go to and search the site for “Discover Pass”. 

Wash your PWC with hot water between lakes so you don’t carry invasive weeds with you from one lake to the other.

What To Bring 

  • Life jacket (even if you don’t think you need one)  
  • Whistle 
  • Dry bag for your phone – for the pictures!  
  • Sunscreen!

For more inspiration for exploring our area, visit @spokanebasecamp on Instagram.

Photo By Megan Hill

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