One of the easier hikes in Garibaldi Provincial Park, Cheakamus Lake offers beautiful views of a turquoise lake surrounded by towering mountains and lush forests.
Nestled in Whistler’s interpretive forest, you will find the Cheakamus Lake trail. It’s a relatively easy hiking trail with tons of photo opportunities and a beautiful reward at the end.
The trail itself is well maintained and it promised to make you feel like you’re walking into the summer version of The Chronicles of Narnia.
Know before you go
It’s always good to be informed about the trail and its conditions before you head out on your adventure. The BC Parks website is always updated with the most recent trail conditions. Knowing how to prepare for your day hike is key to having a great adventure day.
The next best thing to do before you head out on any hike is to notify someone of your plan. Let someone know where you are going, when you are leaving and what time you are planning on coming back. Fill out a Trip Plan before you go!
And last but not least, know how to pack for a day hike with this hiking checklist.
Cheakamus Lake is located south of Whistler Village and it is only a short 15-minute drive before you get to the Cheakamus Lake Forest Service Road (FSR). Drive on the gravel road for a good 15 minutes and you will get to the parking lot at the end of the road. It is recommended to drive a high clearance vehicle to drive this road.
The Cheakamus Lake trail
From the parking lot, it is easy to find the trailhead. Have a look at the big sign at the entrance in case there is an important message. It’s also nice to know where you are going!
The complete Cheakamus Lake trail goes the whole length of the lake and totals 16km. It is an enjoyable hike with many different viewpoints and camping spots along the way. But if you just want to see the lake and enjoy a nice view, you can stop halfway and call it a day.
Right from the start of the trail, you will get immersed in the old-growth forest covered in moss. The deeper you get into this majestic forest, the more you will start hearing the Cheakamus River rushing below you. Although the trail elevation change is minimal, it is a nice walk downhill to the lake from here. This also means that you will be hiking uphill on the way back – fun!
There will be many picture opportunities amongst the tall trees, but watch where you walk, the forest grounds are always rejuvenating and the new growth can be damaged if you walk off-trail.
The densely forested area is also a perfect climate for mushrooms to grow. Do you know the name of these mushrooms? I would love to know! Leave a comment below if you know how they are called.
After about 1.5 km into your hike, you will come across a sign that points the way to Helm Lake (right) or Cheakamus Lake (straight ahead). If you turn right, there is a suspension bridge about 5 minutes into the trail. If you have extra time, it offers nice views above the Cheakamus River.
The Cheakamus Lake trail can also be used by mountain bikers looking to escape the busy Whistler biking trails. Be careful during your hike, sometimes they show up out of nowhere!
After about 4km of walking through the luscious green forest, you will start seeing the entrance of Cheakamus Lake. The river is roaring beside you and you can’t help but wonder where all the water comes from.
The stunning turquoise colour of Cheakamus Lake can be attributed to the small rock sediments that slide down from the glacier during rainy days or snowmelt. Every time I go on this hike, the colour of the lake is always different. If you are lucky enough you might even see the Cheakamus Glacier at the far end of Cheakamus Lake.
The Cheakamus Lake hike in Whistler is considered a family-friendly hike with a moderately easy trail and a pleasantly rewarding view at the end. Although not very common, bears can sometimes be seen on this trail. Please be reminded that bears love food leftovers so make sure not to leave anything behind after you snack!
After enjoying a lunch break in these peaceful surroundings, follow your footsteps back along the trail where you came from but don’t forget to bring your rubbish with you!