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Cheakamus Lake hike, Whistler hikes

The Cheakamus Lake trail is one of the few hikes accessible hikes in Garibaldi Provincial Park that I hadn’t hiked until fairly recently.

And I guess if I’m honest I still haven’t done the Cheakamus Lake hike; we mountain biked to Cheakamus Lake near Whistler instead!

The trail for both hiking and biking is the same so this Cheakamus Lake hike guide will apply to you whether you’re on two feet or two wheels.

It’s one of the best easy Whistler hikes. Though it’s a long trail, it does not have much of an elevation gain so it’s nothing too strenuous compared to some like the Wedgemount Lake trail or the Panorama Ridge and Black Tusk hikes which are also within Garibaldi Provincial Park.

It’s a beautiful lake and a relatively easy trail that’s snow-free earlier in the year than most hikes in Garibaldi National Park so be sure to check it out.

Looking for a Cheakmus Lake guided hike? Check out my round-up of the best hiking tours near Vancouver!

You will need a day pass to access popular BC parks, Garibaldi (from June 14 – Oct 9), Joffre (May 6 – Oct 9) and Golden Ears (June 14 – Sept 4). The passes are free and available from 7 am two days before your visit. All details & information here

cheakamus lake hike

Cheakamus Lake hike

Cheakamus Lake is in Garibaldi Provincial Park that runs from Squamish up to the north of Whistler. The park is well known for Garibaldi Lake and associated hikes such as Panorama Ridge, Elfin Lakes, and Wedgemount Lake.

The Cheakamus Lake trail was one of the remaining hikes in Garibaldi Provincial Park that I still needed to do and when I saw that you could ride your mountain bike there I knew I’d be able to get Thom to go with me too!

This beautiful hike near Vancouver takes you out to the glacier-fed Cheakamus Lake which lies at 915 meters above sea level and is surrounded by mountains.

The Cheakamus Lake trail, Whistler is a relatively easy trail with not a huge amount of elevation change so it’s a great family-friendly hike near Whistler.

AllTrails is my go-to hiking app for finding, planning, and navigating while I’m out on the trails. With offline maps on AllTrails+ you can be confident you’re still on the right track, even without mobile signal.

cheakamus lake hike
cheakamus lake hike

The Cheakamus Lake hike

Starting from the Cheakamus Lake trailhead and the Cheakamus Lake parking lot you’ll head out to an open trail before entering the forest full of impressive old trees.

There are some small rolling inclines as you wander parallel to the Cheakamus River. If it’s a hot day you’ll definitely enjoy the shade of the trees!

1.5 km along the trail you’ll see a sign pointing to Helm Creek Campground and onto Taylow Meadows.

If you’re planning to hike to Garibaldi Lake via Helm Creek then this is the route you’ll take. To go to Cheakamus Lake, carry on straight.

You’ll soon come to the first Cheakamus Lake campground with some beautiful spots right on the river. We’ve decided these are the ones we’d opt for rather than the Singing Creek campground.

These spots had a much nicer Cheakamus lake view point, were right on the lake, and seemed more private than at the other campground.

Just be aware that they are prone to flooding in spring so your reservation may need to be cancelled.

For the next 4 km, the Cheakamus Lake trail gets prettier and prettier as you get more views of the lake. We stopped at the first campsite and found a peaceful spot on the edge of the lake for an early lunch and a break from biking.

There was a couple in a canoe speeding down the lake with the wind, and snow-capped mountains, and the sun came out just enough that I couldn’t resist a quick swim!

Leaving this campsite we came across lots of downed trees that we needed to transport our bikes over and under.

The wood smelled great though and the old growth forest is beautiful when the sun shines through.

Then you’ll come to the end of the maintained trail at just over 7km from the trailhead.

There’s another campground here, Singing Creek Campground, which is also nice but the camp spots seemed a bit more packed together than at the other Cheakamus Lake campground.

When you’ve had your fill of the views, head back the way you came.

Cheakamus Lake trail stats

  • Distance: 15 km
  • Duration: 4-6 hours
  • Difficulty of the Cheakamus hike: Easy-moderate: Minimal elevation but relatively long
  • Elevation: 402m
  • See a Cheakamus Lake trail map
cheakamus lake hike

How to get to Cheakamus Lake Trail

The Cheakamus Lake trailhead is within Whistler Interpretive Forest (where you’ll find Loggers Lake and lots of mountain biking trails). 

From Vancouver, you’ll take a right-hand turn at the Function Junction/Cheakamus Crossing traffic lights and then keep left onto Cheakamus Lake Road.

This is an unpaved road with quite a few potholes but a 2WD can make it along the road with a bit of care to miss the worst of the potholes!

Drive along this road for 7 km until you come to the Cheakamus parking lot at the end and the Cheakamus trailhead.

Alternatively, if you’re cycling to Cheakamus Lake you can park up along the road before the parking lot and cycle up the logging road to the parking lot.

Cheakamus Lake parking is free and there’s a pit toilet here too.

What to know before hiking Cheakamus Lake

  • Best time for Cheakamus Lake: The Cheakamus Lake trail is usually snow-free by late May. Check AllTrails reviews and BC Parks, for up-to-date information regarding Cheakamus Lake trail conditions and take microspikes when hiking in spring/fall as there may be snow/ice on the trail. In winter the 7km road to the parking lot is usually gated, adding distance to your hike.
  • Be adventure smart: Remember to respect the terrain, environment, and other users while you are enjoying the trails. Follow the three Ts—trip planning, training, and taking the essentials AdventureSmart is a great resource to help you get informed before heading outdoors
  • Take bear spray, you’re hiking in bear country! And remember your bear safety tips.
  • Remember to leave no trace
  • This trail is not dog friendly as dogs are not allowed into Garibaldi Provincial Park
  • Cheakamus camping is available at two campsites. Reservations through are required.

Cheakamus Lake camping

There are two Cheakamus Lake campgrounds to choose from Cheakamus Lake Campground and Singing Creek Campground.

Both should be reserved in advance through as they fill up, especially at weekends.

The Cheakamus Lake campground is said to be the busiest, and though we didn’t camp, these spots did seem to be more private than the Singing Creek campground. This campground is just 3km from the parking lot and has 10 spots along the shore. There are pit toilets and bear hangs too.

At the end of the maintained trail (7km in), is Singing Creek campground. There are pit toilets, bear hangs, and 7 tent spots.

This is one of the best backcountry camping spots near Whistler.

cheakamus lake hike

What to pack for hiking near Whistler

Below is a rough idea of the top 5 things you should pack for hiking in Whistler.

For more detailed hiking and packing guides, be sure to check my list of essential items for a day hike, and learn more about the 10 essentials you should take hiking.

  • Appropriate Clothing: Layering is key. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, add an insulating mid-layer (like fleece or down), and finish with a waterproof and windproof outer layer. Given Whistler’s variable weather, this allows you to add or shed layers as necessary.
  • Good Footwear: Waterproof hiking boots or trail running shoes with good grip are essential. Whistler’s trails can range from muddy and slippery to rocky and steep.
  • Navigation Tools: A detailed map of the area and/or a good GPS device or smartphone with hiking apps can be useful. Ensure you’re not solely reliant on technology, as batteries can fail and signals can be lost.
  • Hydration and Nutrition: Always carry sufficient water, even if you’re planning a short hike. A refillable water bottle or hydration bladder is recommended. I always take my Sawyer squeeze so I can refill water if I run out. Add some energy-rich snacks like trail mix, energy bars, or dried fruits to keep your stamina up.
  • Emergency and Safety Gear: This includes a basic first aid kit and headlamp with extra batteries.

FAQs about the Chekamus Lake hike

Can you swim at Cheakamus Lake?

Yes, Cheakamus Lake swimming is possible, but the water is glacier-fed and can be very cold even in summer.

How deep is Cheakamus Lake?

Cheakamus Lake has a maximum depth of approximately 103 meters or 338 feet.

Where is Cheakamus Lake?

Cheakamus Lake is located in Garibaldi Provincial Park, near Whistler, British Columbia, Canada.

Do you need a pass for Cheakamus Lake hike?

Yes, in summer you need a free day pass for the day hike to Cheakamus Lake.

Is Cheakamus Lake hike open?

Cheakamus Lake hike is typically open from late spring to early fall. However, always check current trail conditions and any local advisories as bears and floods can often lead to trail closures here.

Do you need a 4×4 for Cheakamus Lake?

No, a 4×4 is not mandatory for Cheakamus Lake, but the gravel access road can be rough in spots, so a vehicle with good clearance is beneficial.

cheakamus lake hike

Final thoughts on hiking Cheakamus Lake Whistler

This Whistler hiking guide for Cheakamus Lake has hopefully provided you with all the information you need to get out and enjoy the lake.

Make sure you’ve got your Cheakamus Lake hike day pass for free through the BC Parks website before you go, and be sure to pack bear spray as there are often bears around here.

If you’re staying in Whistler for a while, you might like these posts on the best Whistler summer activities, what to do in Whistler in winter, the best coffee shops in Whistler, and this guide to where to find the prettiest Whistler waterfalls. Or, get off-road and have fun on these Whistler ATV tours!

If you’re looking for more awesome hikes near Whistler, check out these hikes in Squamish. Or, for more hikes near Vancouver, I’ve got a list of the best Vancouver hikes as well as tonnes of hiking guides for the best Vancouver spring hikes, the best hikes in fall near Vancouver, and winter hikes in Vancouver too.

Last Updated on September 5, 2023 by Hannah

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