Kayaking to the Tiny Island on Lac Des Arcs

Island on Lac Des Arcs between Dead Man Flats and Canmore

There’s this small island, with a flag and a picnic table, you see on the right hand side of the road between Canmore and Dead Man Flats. Lac Des Arcs Island has been on our family bucket list to head out to this island and explore it (and the geocache on the island) for the last few years, and this weekend, we finally had the chance to do just that.

To get to the easiest (and shortest) access point, skip the popular roadside lookout at Lac Des Arcs and keep going a bit longer until you reach the Lac Des Arcs waterfoul trail. This trail will give you a straight shot at access to Lac Des Arcs island, but beware, is dicey when you’re trying to bring down kayaks, small kids and all the paddles and life jackets. It’s less dicey going up – if you don’t mind a longer paddle, it’s likely easier to put it at the first access point. We were short on time, so we went with the path less chosen. We brought our own kayaks with us, but you can rent kayaks and canoes in Canmore.

Getting Ready to Kayak to the Island on Lac Des Arcs

Making the Trek to the island on Lac Des Arcs

Don’t worry, there is space to pull off and park. First, we emptied out the kids and tasked them with the job to bring down the paddles and life jacket, and keep an eye on the baby at the shoreline. Next, we unloaded brought down the kayaks to the shore.

Ten minutes later, we were in the water. It was windy, and the water was tricky to navigate to the island – I was getting frustrated, as I was having a difficult time paddling with Violet in my kayak (she wouldn’t have been able to navigate to the island with the wind), so Jamie and Olivia both made it to the small island before I did. It was shallow, all the way across, less than the depth of my paddle and really you could probably walk/swim the entire way, but you would get so muddy and that’s not my jam.

Reaching the island at Lac Des Arcs, with Kids

Finally, I reached the island and padded around the back side of it, where there was a small, but overgrown, path upwards to the picnic table and flags. Lots of loose rocks, and very few points to tie up the kayaks meant we took it slow and unloaded the kids, allowing them to go up and explore while we finished up.

With so much goose poop everywhere, we ended up putting Stella on the picnic table, and using her PFD to attach her to the flag pole so she wouldn’t fall off the table.

Carving her name into the Picnic table at Lac Des Arcs

The kids are familiar with geocaching and immediately spotted the cache, spoiler: it wasn’t very difficult to find, and marveled at the treasures inside. Forgetting our treasure to leave in the car, we left the metal keychain we received from the dealership where we bought our Flex, and the kids tried to take something in exchange but I knew it would just get thrown in the lake on the way over, so I encouraged them to leave everything behind.

We carved our name into the table, and I hoped for a second that the kids would come here with their own kids, someday, run their hands across the table and remember the adventures we’ve embarked on in their childhood.

Having a closer look at the flag, the kids noticed it was a pair of granny panties and laughed and laughed, asking if we could leave their own underwear on the flag. To be honest, I would have let them because they would have loved to tell that story, but they packed their own bags, and didn’t pack underwear. Next time, I said, as an incentive to pack underwear instead of toys.

Kayaking back to the vehicle, we joked about how we had probably spent more time unloading and loading the kayaks on to the roof rack, than we did on the island, and kayaking to the island, but that it was worth it because now we were part of the exclusive club, that the kids deemed The Granny Panties Club. 

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