Hubbles Lake

The contents of this online version has not been altered or modified from the original 1990 publication. It is reasonable to assume that much of the data e.g. water levels, camp grounds/boat launches, etc. is out of date. For updated or additional information on any of the lakes in this atlas please go to Environment Alberta's water web site.

Basic Info
Map Sheets83G/9
Lat / Long53.5666667, -114.0833333
53°34'N, 114°4'W
Area0.40 km2
Max depth30 m
Mean depth10.1 m
Dr. Basin Area8.33 km2
Dam, WeirNone
Drainage BasinNorth Saskatchewan River Basin
Camp GroundPresent
Boat LaunchPresent
Sport FishYellow Perch, Northern Pike
Trophic StatusMesotrophic
TP x27 µg/L
CHLORO x9.0 µg/L
TDS x383 mg/L
Photo credit: unknown


Hubbles Lake is a peaceful, clear little lake nestled in trees in the rolling country just west of the town of Stony Plain. To reach the east end of the lake, drive 5 km west of Stony Plain on Highway 16, then 3.0 km north on a local road (FIGURE 1). Hubbles Lake is located in the County of Parkland.

The lake was named for the founder of a resort on the southeast shore in the early 1950s (Holmgren and Holmgren 1976). All of the land around the lake is privately owned except for two undeveloped road allowance easements. There is no public access to the lake, but two commercially operated resorts offer campgrounds with a total of 280 sites, boat launches and beach areas. One resort is at the southeast end of the lake and one is on the northwest shore (FIGURE 2). About 40% of the shoreline has been developed as resort area or for private cottages and residences.

Hubbles Lake is popular for camping, picnicking and beach activities. Canoeing is also popular, partly because only electric motors are allowed on the lake (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1988). The water in the lake is very clear and quantities of algae are usually low compared to the other lakes in the area. The clear water and surprising depth of Hubbles Lake (30 m) make it a popular destination for SCUBA divers. Northern pike and yellow perch support a moderate sport fishery. Provincial sport fishing regulations apply to Hubbles Lake, but as of 1989, there were no specific restrictions (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1989).

Drainage Basin Characteristics

The Hubbles Lake drainage basin is 20 times the area of the lake (Tables 1, 2; FIGURE 1), but only 1.36 km2 of the basin contributes runoff to the lake (Alta. Envir. n.d.[b]). Therefore, the effective drainage basin is very small, less than 4 times the area of the lake. The lake is a pothole, so it has no defined inlet or outlet stream. Groundwater inflow likely provides a significant amount of water to the lake (Prepas n.d.).

Hubbles Lake is nestled in hummocky terrain. Surficial deposits consist of glacial till overlying bedrock of Upper Cretaceous age (Alta. Res. Counc. 1972). The land north of the lake is hilly, with slopes over 15%; south of the lake, it is rolling, with slopes of 9 to 15% (Lindsay et al. 1968). The highest hill in the basin is south of the lake; it rises 26 m to an elevation of 755 m.

The drainage area is in the Moist Mixedwood Subregion of the Boreal Mixedwood Ecoregion (Strong and Leggat 1981). Vegetation is primarily trembling aspen and secondarily balsam poplar. Willow, alders and birch grow in less well-drained areas and peat moss and sedges grow in wetter areas such as the low-lying area at the southwest end of the lake (R.L. & L. Envir. Serv. Ltd. 1987). Soils are Orthic Gray and Orthic Dark Gray Luvisols, which typically develop under deciduous trees. The arability rating is good to very good. An area of Organic soils composed of an accumulation of Sphagnum peat is found in the depressional area southeast of the lake (Lindsay et al. 1968).

Approximately 60% of the drainage basin has been cleared for agriculture, primarily cereal crop production or mixed farming. Numerous residential acreages have been developed in the basin and approximately 40% of the shoreline has been developed for cottages and resorts (R.L. & L. Envir. Serv. Ltd. 1987).

Lake Basin Characteristics

Hubbles is a tiny lake with a surface area of only 0.40 km2 (TABLE 2). It has an irregular, elongate shape and an irregular bottom with several deep holes, two of which are 30-m deep and two of which are 25-m deep (FIGURE 2). The maximum length of the lake is 1.61 km and the maximum width is 0.48 km. There is one small island near the north shore. The littoral zone, which extends to a depth of about 4.9 m (calculated from Chambers and Prepas 1988), is 34% of the lake area (FIGURE 3). The substrate is rich organic material at depths below 5 m. In shallower areas, the substrate is mainly fibrous organic material, with sandy areas along the east end of the lake and along parts of the north and south shores and clay in one area along the north shore (R.L. & L. Envir. Serv. Ltd. 1987).

The water level of Hubbles Lake has varied only 0.30 m since mid-1974 (FIGURE 4). From 1968 to 1973, the level was as much as 1.25 m lower than levels in the late 1970s and in the 1980s. The level rose in 1974, a year of exceptionally heavy snow accumulation and torrential spring rain. Because there is no surface outlet, the residence time of the lake water is likely very long, but as the amount of groundwater inflow or outflow is not known, the water residence time cannot be accurately calculated. Based on surface flows, it is estimated to be more than 100 years (TABLE 2).

Water Quality

Because Hubbles Lake is small, deep, and protected from wind by hills and trees, the water does not mix from top to bottom in most years. Consequently, the water quality of the lake is quite unusual and the nutrient and algal dynamics were a focus for intensive study by the University of Alberta in the summers of 1980 and 1981 and in the fall and winter of 1982/83 (Prepas n.d.; 1983[a]; 1983[b]; Prepas and Trew 1983; Babin 1984; Prepas and Vickery 1984; Babin and Prepas 1985).

Hubbles is a well-buffered, freshwater lake with major ion concentrations that are relatively high for fresh water. Sulphate, bicarbonate, calcium and magnesium are the dominant ions (TABLE 3), and their proportions and concentration likely reflect local groundwater conditions.

Lakes in temperate areas such as Alberta often mix vertically when the temperature of the water column is uniform. This often occurs in spring and usually in autumn. Many of Alberta's lakes are so shallow or in such windy areas that they mix occasionally in summer. In contrast, Hubbles Lake is small, quite deep and well sheltered from wind. When the ice melts, usually in mid-April, the lake water warms rapidly at the surface. In 1981, the lake was strongly stratified as early as 3 May (FIGURE 5) and there was no evidence of mixing below 8 m. The lake remained strongly thermally stratified until late October. During this period, there was no dissolved oxygen from the lower reaches of the thermocline to the bottom of the lake (FIGURE 6). The lake mixed briefly in early November 1981, but ice covered the lake by midmonth, so the mixing time was brief. In November 1982, the lake did not mix completely and at no time was dissolved oxygen detectable at depths below 23 m (FIGURE 6). The average dissolved oxygen concentration in the whole lake at freeze-up was only 53% of saturation (Babin and Prepas 1985). By late March 1983, there was little dissolved oxygen remaining in the lake (FIGURE 6). Winterkills of northern pike and perch occur frequently (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. n.d.). Oxygen depletion rates under ice are difficult to evaluate as the sediments are rarely oxygenated.

The algae in Hubbles Lake are inconspicuous and the water is clear, with Secchi depths reaching 5 m in midsummer (TABLE 4, FIGURE 7). The lake is ranked at the low end of the mesotrophic range. Total phosphorus concentrations in the euphotic zone are highest in spring and autumn when some phosphorus is mixed from the lower strata into the upper strata (FIGURE 7). Chlorophyll a in the euphotic zone reaches a maximum in autumn in response to the autumn phosphorus peak; for example, in 1981, the highest chlorophyll a concentration of the year, 25 µg/L, was recorded on 14 November, only days before freeze-up. chlorophyll a concentrations appear to stay relatively high in the upper 4 m of the water column long after ice cover, as on 10 December 1982, when chlorophyll a was still 9.3 µg/L. Chlorophyll a concentrations decreased through the winter to a low of 3.2 µg/L on 2 March 1983 (Babin 1984).

When the hypolimnion is anoxic, total phosphorus is released from the bottom sediment and accumulates in the overlying water. Immediately below the thermocline, total phosphorus concentrations are 4 times greater than they are above the thermocline (Prepas and Trew 1983). Phosphorus is the nutrient primarily responsible for controlling algal biomass in Alberta lakes. In Hubbles Lake, a delicate balance is established between abundant phosphorus available in the deep water and the diminished light available at that depth. As is shown in Figure 8, there is adequate light and abundant phosphorus at a depth of 8 m; this is the optimum place for algae to grow and consequently, there is a peak of chlorophyll a at this depth. There was a smaller maximum at 5 m where more light was available and the total phosphorus concentration was 50% greater than at the surface.

Total phosphorus is also released from the sediment into the overlying anoxic water in winter. On 16 March 1983, the total phosphorus concentration at a depth of 26 m was 470 µg/L, whereas it was 19 µg/L just below the ice (Prepas n.d.).

Biological Characteristics


Purple sulphur-fixing bacteria accumulate in Hubbles Lake where there is a rapid gradient of temperature, oxygen and nutrients, usually at about 7-to 9-m depths. Water samples from this stratum appear pink because of the high concentration of bacteria, and SCUBA divers descending in the lake notice a sudden decrease in light below this layer (Prepas n.d.).


The phytoplankton in Hubbles Lake was sampled on 19 July 1981 by Alberta Environment (Alta. Envir. n.d.[a]). The total phytoplankton biomass in Hubbles Lake (0.105 mg/L) was the lowest of all 31 lakes in the Edmonton-Cold Lake area sampled between 4 July and 25 August 1981. The assemblage was dominated by Cryptophyta (Cryptomonas Marsonii), which formed 45% of the biomass. The remainder of the biomass was 30% diatoms (mostly Asterionella formosa), 20% Chrysophyta (Dinobryon sociale) and 5% Chlorophyta.

The aquatic macrophytes in Hubbles Lake form a narrow band around most of the shore. Most of the inshore areas less than 1-m deep support a narrow band of emergents dominated by common cattails (Typha latifolia) and sedges (Carex sp.), with patches of common great bulrush (Scirpus validus), arrowhead (Sagittaria cuneata) and giant bur-reed (Sparganium eurycarpum). Stonewort (Chara sp.) is the most abundant species of submergent vegetation along most of the shoreline. Northern watermilfoil (Myriophyllum exalbescens) and Sago pondweed (Potamogeton pectinatus) occur commonly but at low densities (R.L. & L. Envir. Serv. Ltd. 1987). Substantial areas of aquatic vegetation have been removed by cottage and resort owners.


The zooplankton was sampled from May through September in 1980 and from May through August 1981 by researchers at the University of Alberta (Prepas 1983[a]; Prepas and Vickery 1984). In both years, the larger zooplankters were concentrated in the surface waters in May and September, and moved into deeper water (5- to 10-m depths) from June through August. On 24 June 1981, a species of large cladoceran (Daphnia pulex) was the most abundant zooplankter, followed by phantom midge larvae (Chaoborus sp.) and the cladoceran (Ceriodaphnia sp.). The copepods Diaptomus oregonensis and Macrocyclops albidus were also present. There are no data on the benthic invertebrates in Hubbles Lake.


There are reports of only two species of fish in Hubbles Lake: northern pike and yellow perch. No forage fish were caught during shoreline seining in 1986 for a Fish and Wildlife Division study (R.L. & L. Envir. Serv. Ltd. 1987). It is not known whether pike or perch were indigenous to the lake. Adult pike were stocked by Fish and Wildlife Division annually from 1957 to 1960. Perch were stocked in 1959. Both pike and perch spawn successfully in the lake but partial winterkills are fairly common (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. n.d.).

In an attempt to improve or create habitat for pike and perch, 2,000 old tires were chained together and sunk in the lake in 1967 as a community centennial project (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. n.d.). The success of this venture has not been evaluated.


There is no available information on wildlife at Hubbles Lake.

J.M. Crosby and E.E. Prepas


Alberta Environment. n.d.[a]. Envir. Assess. Div., Envir. Qlty. Monit. Br. Unpubl. data, Edmonton.

-----. n.d.[b]. Tech. Serv. Div., Hydrol. Br. Unpubl. data, Edmonton.

-----. n.d.[c]. Tech. Serv. Div., Surv. Br. Unpubl. data, Edmonton.

Alberta Forestry, Lands and Wildlife. n.d. Fish Wild. Div. Unpubl. data, Edmonton.

-----. 1988. Boating in Alberta. Fish Wild. Div., Edmonton.

-----. 1989. Guide to sportfishing. Fish Wild. Div., Edmonton.

Alberta Research Council. 1972. Geological map of Alberta. Nat. Resour. Div., Alta. Geol. Surv., Edmonton.

Babin, J. 1984. Winter oxygen depletion in temperate zone lakes. MSc thesis. Univ. Alta., Edmonton.

----- and E.E. Prepas. 1985. Modelling winter oxygen depletion rates in ice-covered temperate zone lakes in Canada. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 42:239-249.

Chambers, P.A. and E.E. Prepas. 1988. Underwater spectral attenuation and its effect on the maximum depth of angiosperm colonization. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 45:1010-1017.

Energy, Mines and Resources Canada. 1974. National topographic series 1:50 000 83G/9 (1974). Surv. Map. Br., Ottawa.

Environment Canada. 1982. Canadian climate normals, Vol. 7: Bright sunshine (1951-1980). Prep. by Atm. Envir. Serv. Supply Serv. Can., Ottawa.

Holmgren, E.J. and P.M. Holmgren. 1976. Over 2000 place names of Alberta. 3rd ed. West. Producer Prairie Books, Saskatoon.

Lindsay, 1.D., W. Odynsky, J.W. Peters and W.E. Bowser. 1968. Soil survey of the Buck Lake (NE 83B) and Wabamun Lake (E1/2 83G) areas. Alta. Soil Surv. Rep. No. 24, Univ. Alta. Bull. No. SS-7, Alta. Res. Counc. Rep. No. 87. Univ. Alta., Edmonton.

Prepas, E.E. n.d. Univ. Alta., Dept. Zool. Unpubl. data, Edmonton.

-----. 1983{a]. The influence of phosphorus and zooplankton on chlorophyll levels in Alberta lakes. Prep. for Alta. Envir., Res. Mgt. Div. Rep. 83/23, Edmonton.

-----. 1983[b]. Orthophosphate turnover time in shallow productive lakes. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 40:1412-1418.

----- and D.O. Trew. 1983. Evaluation of the phosphorus-chlorophyll relationship for lakes off the Precambrian Shield in western Canada. Can. 1. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 40:27-35.

Prepas, E.E. and 1. Vickery. 1984. The contribution of particulate phosphorus (>250 µm) to the total phosphorus pool in lake water. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 41:351-363.

R.L. & L. Environmental Services Ltd. 1987. County of Parkland fisheries inventory - Hubbles Lake. Prep. for Alta. For. Ld. Wild., Fish Wild. Div. and Alta. Rec. Parks Wild. Foundation, Edmonton.

Strong, W.L. and K.R. Leggat. 1981. Ecoregions of Alberta. Alta. En. Nat. Resour., Resour. Eval. Plan. Div., Edmonton.