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The Cheakamus Lake trail is one of the few hikes accessible hikes in Garibaldi Provincial Park that I hadn’t hike 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 a beautiful lake and a relatively easy trail that’s snow-free earlier on in the year than most hikes in Garibaldi National Park so be sure to check it out.
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 a the glacier-fed Cheakamus Lake which lies at 915 metres 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 and so it’s a great family-friendly hike near Whistler.
How to get to Cheakamus Lake
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 7km until you come to a 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.
The Cheakamus Lake hike
Starting from the Cheakamus Lake trailhead and 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. 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 view, 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 early lunch and a break from biking. There was a couple in a canoe speeding down the lake with the wind, 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 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
What to know before you go
- 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
- Pack your 10 essentials
- 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
- Cheakamus camping is available at two campsites. Reservations through discovercamping.ca 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 Discovercamping.ca 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.
What to pack for hiking near Whistler
Make sure you look at these packing lists for your Cheakamus Lake hike.