Canoes and related gear can be rented in Clearwater, or at Clearwater Lake Campground from Clearwater Lake Tours. They also offer daily boat tours and taxi service to Rainbow Falls.
Clearwater and Azure Lakes offer a family friendly camping experience, with outhouses and picnic tables at every campsite, as well as ground mounted bear proof food caches, and fire rings. Campsites are patrolled and maintained daily. There will be toilet paper in the outhouse.
The portage trail between the lakes is good, but not very level. This is where you’ll do most of the work on your trip. Canoe carts are pretty much a waste of time on the main portage because of rocks and some small stairs. Boardwalks cover any wet areas. The portage is about a 20 minute walk one way. I’ve heard everything from “not a problem” to “what a pain” to describe the portage.
There are no cabins for public use on the lake. Ivor Creek and Osprey campsites are designated “canoe only” as an added bonus for canoeists trying to completely avoid power boats.
The fishing is pretty good! It’s all rainbow trout, and several locations yield 1-4 lb fish. Locations? Ask the PFO staff when you meet them on the lake, they’ll tell what gear is hot and where the bite is on.
The busiest campsites are generally Huckleberry and Barview on Clearwater Lake and 4 1/2 Mile on Azure. Ask your PFO daily for updates on site use.
Round tripping to Rainbow Falls by canoe?
4.5 Mile Campsite is the “bottleneck” for this trip, so ask the PFO Patrol if it’s busy. Osprey and Indian Point are your close alternatives.
Get going early. On travel days, don’t dawdle! Get on the lake early if you want to avoid windy conditions. On hot days, a moderate wind usually comes up about 1 pm and lasts for a couple of hours. Wind direction is very unpredictable, especially on Azure Lake. If you are canoeing do your best to stay off the Navigation route marked on the map between Clearwater and Azure Lakes. This line is marked for power boaters and does not apply to canoes. THE WATER TAXI CANNOT STOP IN THE RIVER CHANNEL, SO TAKE CARE TO AVOID IT. During parts of June and early July, water levels in the river channel between the lakes can be too high and swift for passage by canoes. See Clearwater Lake Tours for Water Taxi options, or for info on the extended portage route.
The River Channel
Only EXPERIENCED BOATERS with a 9.9 horsepower engine or stronger should attempt to navigate the River Channel. Maps are available.
Use the Park Patrol to your advantage. The PFO staff are on the lake every day. They can travel much faster than visitors and have current knowledge of which campsites are busy and which are free. They can also tell you the weather forecast, fishing conditions, about firewood, where that big group of kids is camping, and other information that may affect your plans, plus, they’re very friendly!