Paarens Beach Provincial Park is situated on the south-west shore
of Stuart Lake, near the community of Fort
St. James about 65 km (41 miles) from Vanderhoof.
To get here from Prince
George, travel west on Hwy 16 towards Vanderhoof; once past
Vanderhoof, drive about 8 km (5 miles) to the turnoff for Hwy 27
to Fort St. James. After travelling 50 km (30 miles) north on Hwy
27, take the exit for Sowchea Road and go another 7 km (4.4 miles)
to the park entrance.
The features found at Paarens Beach Provincial Park include the
amazing, uncrowded campground on beautiful Stuart Lake (one of the
largest natural lakes in British Columbia), easy access to the national
historic site at Fort St. James, and an opportunity to explore recreational
possibilities in an area of British Columbia where so few people
attempt to visit.
With the appropriate license, the fresh water fishing found in Stuart
Lake and the area is perhaps some of the best you can find in British
Columbia. Species of fish taken from Stuart Lake include Lake Char,
Dolly Varden, Burbot (Ling cod), Kokanee, and Rainbow trout. The
size of fish is varied but stories of 10 kilo (20 pound) Rainbow
trout and Dolly Vardens are not unheard of. Also, if you include
Stuart River, 90 km (56 miles) long, Tatla Lake, and the many other
smaller lakes in the area, the endless fishing just keeps getting
better and better.
There is a concrete boat launch situated at the south end of Paarens
Beach Provincial Park. Windsurfing, waterskiing, kayaking, canoeing,
and exploring are also very popular on the 70 km (44 mile)-long
Stuart Lake. A word of warning, though: keep an eye on the weather
if you are boating. A sudden change can occur rapidly, turning a
peaceful and calm lake into a nasty situation with plenty of strong
winds and hazardous whitecaps.
The campground found at Paarens Beach Provincial Park offers 39
vehicle-accessible campsites of which 17 are reservable, with the
rest being on a first-come, first-served basis. Many of the campsites
found at Paarens Beach Provincial Park are very private, treed,
with some having proper tent pads available and many being located
on the shores of Stuart Lake. Each campsite has a fire-pit, picnic
table, large parking area with fresh water taps, and pit-toilets
One of the main highlights of the park has to be the beautiful sandy
beach found at the day-use, picnic area of the park. Here you can
find a roped-off section of the beach for swimming, picnic tables,
log shelters, changing rooms, and a children's adventure playground.
Just remember as with all areas in the BC Parks system, there are
no lifeguards present, so please keep an eye on all children and
non-swimmers. Another highlight has to be the small number of the
campsites located near the shore of Stuart Lake, absolutely breathtaking
and relaxing, especially on a clear summer night.
Pope Provincial Park
Although there are no hiking opportunities at Paarens Beach Provincial
Park, there are at nearby Mount Pope Provincial Park, located 7
km (4.4) miles north-west of the community of Fort St. James. Here
you can find a 6.5 km (4 miles) long trail that takes you to the
top of the mainly limestone formation of Mount Pope, where you can
find a panoramic view of Fort St. James with Stuart Lake in the
background, and of the mountains towards the north.
Just remember if you are enjoying the provincial parks and the countryside
around British Columbia, please remember this is bear country. Try
to avoid the rivers during heavy salmon spawning times unless you
feel comfortable with bears around and take the usual precautions.
There is also the possibilities of encounters with wolves or cougars
so please play it safe.
Picnic Site at
at Paarens Beach
Provincial Park Campsite