The Small community of McLeese Lake was originally known as Mud Lake. Mud Lake was renamed after Robert McLeese, a nearby resident from Soda Creek in the 1880s. Robert McLeese was well known throughout this region; he owned a hotel, store and was the postmaster of Soda Creek for over 25 years. He also owned the Sternwheel River Boat and was a member of the Legislative Assembly.
Today McLeese Lake is a popular recreation area. People come here to enjoy the breathtaking rugged scenery and remote wilderness setting.
McLeese Lake is located on the Cariboo Highway 97, between Quesnel to the north and Williams Lake, 44 km (27 miles) to the south.
This picturesque provincial park boasts fabulous fly-fishing conditions in one of its many lakes. Notably the large and deep Horsefly Lake is very popular among fishing enthusiasts. The park has many hiking trails as well as a number of campsites, picnic areas and a boat launch. Access to the park is on a well-maintained gravel road, which is situated east of McLeese Lake.
The community of Williams Lake, located south of McLeese Lake, has been a service and supply centre for the Cariboo and Chilcotin regions for over a hundred years. This scenic town is situated in the middle of many lakes and ranches and offers a wide range of outdoor activities. Visitors flock here very summer for the annual Williams Lake Stampede held during the July 1st holiday weekend. www.williamslakestampede.com.
Outdoor enthusiasts flock to Tyee Lake, due east of McLeese Lake, to enjoy the excellent fishing conditions and water sports. Surrounded by forest, rivers and ranches, Tyee Lake is scenic and beautiful.
McLeese Lake is one of the best fishing lakes in BC. Rainbow Trout and Kokanee Salmon are the two main species of fish found in McLeese Lake, and have been known to reach up to 40 pounds. The lake is monitored and stocked as needed. The nearby Quesnel Lake, east of McLeese Lake, is the largest lake in the Cariboo region. This is another favorite amongst fishing enthusiasts.
The area surrounding McLeese Lake offers many logging trails which are ideal for hiking or biking. Many of these remote trails provide access to breathtaking views, hidden fishing holes and wildlife habitats.
McLeese Lake offers a vast range of activities for visitors to enjoy during the winter months. Cross-country skiing, ice skating, hockey, snowmobiling, tobogganing and dog sledding and are popular. The Bull Mountain Trails, situated 20km north of Williams Lake, are excellent for cross-country skiers with over 30 km of well-maintained trails. The Mt. Timothy Ski Area is located south of McLeese Lake is popular amongst skiers and snowboarders.
McLeese Lake, Blue Lake and Williams Lake are just some of the many lakes in this region that are frequented by paddlers. Experienced kayakers enjoy the challenge of the Quesnel River from Likely to Quesnel Forks. For more information please contact the Cariboo-Chilcotin Voyageurs Club for details on lake and river canoe camping.
The area surrounding McLeese Lake offers great potential for wildlife viewing. Bears, moose, mule deer, beavers, wolves, coyotes are just some examples of the vast array of wildlife. Bird watchers will enjoy the many species of birds including, osprey, great horned owls, woodpeckers and hummingbirds. Travel to McLeese Lake in September to witness the Kokanee salmon spawn at Sheridan Creek, which is northeast of McLeese Lake.
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia