About 10 kilometers west of Ma-Me-O Beach lies Battle Lake, a pleasant, and usually calm, lake that provides a solid alternative to the much larger, and busier, Pigeon Lake. Battle is a long, and thin lake, where you can easily see the shore across from you, but will have to spend some time making it from one end to the other.
The main place to stay is at Battle Lake Park, a decent little campground that is actually kind of tough to find, due to poor signage in the area. It’s maybe a 10-15 minute drive from the Pigeon Lake Village, down some of the gravel roads off the main highway.
Here are the good and bad about the campsite:
- Lots of spots (about 40) for trailers.
- There is an indoor washroom, if you don’t want to brave the outhouse for an extended number of days.
- Free firewood, which saves a lot of money.
- Proximity to Edmonton. It is only about a 45-minute drive away, which is nice.
- The lake itself is solid. The waters are usually calm, and it is not infested with boats. There is plenty of space. There are often canoes or dingies out there fishing, which speaks to the calmness of the lake.
- The fishing is pretty good. There is a zero limit on walleye, however, which is unfortunate, because you can catch some pretty decent ones out there. You can keep jackfish if they meet the length requirements.
- The day use area has a small little beach, some spaces for cooking, and some grass to lounge on. Battle Lake isn’t nearly as busy as other places, so there always seems to be lots of room for people just out for the day. The water is a decent temperature during the day.
- Some of the camping (tenting) sites allow you to park your boat in the water right at your site. This is extremely convenient, but only available at a few of the dozen campsites.
- $25/night is reasonable.
- Closeness to Pigeon Lake Village. If you forgot anything and feel like overpaying for it, you aren’t far away.
- All tent sites are right on the water. There may be trees in the way, but it is right there. You aren’t buried in a forest at Battle Lake.
- The price is per unit, meaning if you have two tents, all of a sudden you’re paying $50/night. This is not good, and that is too expensive for this campground. At that rate, you might as well just take up extra camping spots instead of putting up two tents on one site. Then you would get double the space.
- Some of the tent spots are just field, with trees obscuring the view to the lake. Others provide you with direct access to the water. Choose well!
- All tent sites are in a long row. This means that you will have people walking past you all day. Only a mild nuisance, but one nonetheless.
- The owner is not the friendliest man.
- There seems to be very little upkeep to the sites when there are not people there. Meaning, the fire pits are consistently filling up with ash, the sites are littered with goose feces, and other minor problems that could be fixed with some TLC by management to make for a more pleasant camping experience. I understand that geese make a mess, but if there was someone cleaning up now and then, it would allow you to set up without having to take an hour cleaning up bird crap before putting any of your belongings on the ground.
- Not much for privacy. Because the sites are in a row along the lake, you had better hope your neighbors are cool. Sound travels, and you will be seeing a lot of them.
- Unloading your stuff. If you are in the first couple of sites, you are okay. You have to haul all of your stuff from the parking lot, which is extremely inconvenient. We load everything in our boat and drive it up to the site. Much easier, if you have a site with boat access. It can be painful watching people make 20 trips to get all their stuff to one of the distant sites.
- Pay showers. If you want to get clean, bring loonies.
- Cash only, no change. The owner will not make change for you, claiming that he “never carries cash,” even though all he accepts is cash. Make sure you have the right bills to pay for your stay.
- No power at the site, including for RVs and trailers. If you need it, you’ll need a generator.
- Parking. There simply isn’t enough spots for people tenting. Even though people aren’t supposed to park there for day use, they do. This leaves the possibility of having to park near the entrance to the camp site, which is a long ways from where your tent would be.
The Battle Lake campground has its issues. By no means is a perfect place to camp, but some of its advantages are worth the trip. Going during the week would be nice, to avoid some of the crowded problems, but in the end, this really is a quiet alternative to Pigeon Lake. I’ve never seen all the tenting sites filled up, which is always good. With a few minor adjustments, this campground could be extremely good. For now, it is simply okay, and a decent place for a quick escape from the city.