7 Great Paddling Lakes


Horseshoe Lake: Members of the Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club consider this small lake (128 acres) one of the best for paddling. It’s a designated no-wake lake with a 5 mph speed limit located in Pend Oreille County 4 miles north of the Spokane County line to the west of Highway 2. Horseshoe Lake has a WDFW gravel boat launch on its east side.

Medical Lake: This small, spring-fed lake is a paddlers’ haven because only non-combustion motors are allowed. Launch your canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard from the gravel boat launch (no fee) on the east side of Waterfront Park (medical-lake.org). The park has it all – a large sandy swimming beach, playground, restrooms with showers, picnic tables, and a lakeside trail for biking, walking or running. During summer, the average water temperature is 74 degrees, which makes it enjoyable for swimmers of all ages.

Silver Lake: This long and narrow lake situated east of Medical Lake has a WDFW boat launch on its northwest side. On its east side is Picnic Pines Resort (picnicpines.com), which offers a boat lunch ($5 fee), restaurant, RV and tent campsites, and day-use park.

Bonnie Lake: A haven for kayakers and canoers in the “heart of the channeled scablands, this lake is a unique fishery and geological experience,” according to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. Only boats 14-feet and smaller are recommended for the launch area into Rock Creek. The only way to access Bonnie Lake is by paddling up the creek – visit the WDFW webpage for full details because crossing private property is necessary (and the landowners allow it).

Note: A Discover Pass is required for Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife water access sites (www.wdfw.wa.gov).


Fernan Lake: This small, 300-acre lake is located northwest of Lake Coeur d’Alene, east of I-90’s Sherman Street exit. More than half of its northern shoreline borders the Idaho Panhandle National Forest. Fernan Park (kcgov.us) at the lake’s west end, in the Fernan Lake Village community, has a public boat launch and docks.

Swan Lake: This remote lake is part of the Chain Lakes area – a series of lakes with channels connected to the Coeur d’Alene River that flows into Lake Coeur d’Alene near Harrison. It’s only accessible by paddling up the river. Look for the poles that mark the channel’s entrance. Because Swan Lake is shallow, it’s not suitable for motorized boats, which makes it a paddler’s haven. The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes also travels through this area.

Killarney Lake: Another of the chain lakes, whose channel is upriver from Swan Lake, is another favorite among local paddlers. Its shoreline is overseen by the Bureau of Land Management (blm.gov), and you can also drive here – via Idaho State Highway 3 off I-90 (Rose Lake exit) – to access a boat ramp, dock, picnic area and primitive, year-round campground.

Note: All non-motorized watercraft in Idaho waters must have an Idaho Invasive Species Fund sticker (www.idwr.idaho.gov). //

Share this Post

Scroll to Top