The Watersprite Lake trail is one of the best Squamish hikes and among the best hikes near Vancouver. It’s a long hike that requires a 4×4 (or at least a car you don’t care about) to get to but the view of Watersprite Lake is so worth it. It’s one of the best hikes near me that I’ve done so far! If you’re looking for more information on one of the best Vancouver hikes check out this guide to the Watersprite lake hike.
As of summer 2022, you will need a camping reservation for tent camping (different to reserving the hut). This will cost $15. You can now book Watesprite here.
The hike to Watersprite Lake differs from North Vancouver trails in that you get a great view for a lot of the trail. You’ll be able to see Mount Garibaldi and other peaks from the southern region of Garibaldi Provincial Park.
Whilst the hike is long, it’s a fairly gentle incline as BC hikes go and only the last portion has any serious climbing in terms of elevation. However, because the trail is open, it’s essential that you take plenty of water and sun protection in summer.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Watersprite Lake hiking trail in Squamish.
How to get to Watersprite Lake
Watersprite Lake is in Squamish, BC and is one of the best hikes around Vancouver, BC. To get to the Watersprite Lake trailhead takes about 2 hours and you’ll need to take a 4×4 or at least have the skills to drive something with high clearance and good suspension on very rugged, often steep, terrain. This is the case for a lot of hikes around Squamish. The trailhead lies around 20km up a series of Forestry Service Roads east of Squamish and it’ll take you the best part of an hour to do just the logging road section.
From Vancouver, drive Highway #1 westbound towards Squamish, merging on the Highway #99 at Horseshoe Bay. Follow the Sea to Sky Highway until you the Sea To Sky Gondola.
1.5km after passing the gondola, turn right onto the Mamquam River forestry service road. This turnoff is just before the crossroads by Chances Casino and the gas station. If you’ve passed it you can use this junction to turn around.
Travel the forest service road for just over 13km. At this point, it’s mostly passable in a standard vehicle but you’ll soon see why you’ll be glad you’ve taken a 4×4! At 13.2km, turn left and drive over a bridge crossing the Mamquam River. Here you’ll pass a parking lot for a kayak put-in and then cross over a second bridge.
After the second bridge, you’ll soon come to a junction with two large signs on your left. Make a left turn and go between the two signs. At this point, you’re now on the Skookum Dam forest service road. Carry on driving until you reach a huge metal air vent and then go left at this junction to the new trailhead for Watersprite Lake. The road continues through a relatively flat section before climbing up a very steep hill and coming down pretty soon after.
Once you’ve descended the hill it’s a short drive to where there’s a large parking lot by the Skookum Dam. Park here and begin the Watersprite Lake hike by the metal gate. There are some pit toilets here, but none on the trail until the end so make the most of them!
Know before you go
- The Watersprite Lake trail is managed by BCMC. Use this Facebook Group to check Watersprite Lake trail conditions before you go.
- As of summer 2022, you will need a camping reservation for tent camping (different to reserving the hut). This will cost $15. Book Watersprite here.
- Always practice leave no trace ethics. Not sure what those are? Get a refresher here.
- Carry bear spray with you on all BC hiking trails. Get more bear safety tips here!
- Wondering what to pack for Vancouver day hikes? Here’s a hiking packing list!
- Refresh your memory about hiking safety with BC Adventure Smart.
- Don’t leave home without your 10 essentials. They could save your life!
- Dogs are allowed on a leash but really not recommended due to the fragile ecosystem.
- There is no cell service beyond the 17 km mark of the Mamquam forest service road
- There isn’t a great Squamish hiking trails map that I could find. Make sure you’ve downloaded the AllTrails map to your phone before setting out and switch the battery-saving mode/turn off data to save battery.
Watersprite Lake Squamish hike
The current summer route to Watersprite Lake was completed in September 2016 by the BCMC and is therefore easy to follow and well maintained. The route follows deactivated logging road routes before crossing a boulder field towards the end.
From the parking lot, go past the metal gate and follow the old gravel road which veers off the right up a slight incline. You’ll pass the Skookum Dam below and to your left before the trail narrows and joins up with an old logging road. On this part of the trail, you’ll pass a couple of creeks and a bridge which goes over Skullhead Creek. In some parts, there are platforms to help you cross over the sections which get a bit boggier. Use them as not doing so will damage the vegetation.
Around the 30 minute mark of hiking, you’ll make a slight left on the trail and descending quickly before making up for the lost elevation by climbing through the forest. Look for the orange tree markers until you reach a junction at a wide trail. Go right on the wide trail and continue hiking.
After crossing another bridge, the trail goes sharply left again and climbs up a steep, rocky area before making a right and coming out to an opening. Just beyond this clearing, you’ll cross another small creek next to a waterfall.
600 metres on from the creekbed, you round a corner and come out to a ridge known as “The Prow Lookout”. Enjoy the valley views here; they’re beautiful! This ridge looks down as far as Mamquam River Valley and Squamish. You can even spot other hikes in Squamish, BC such as The Chief (another of the best hikes in BC)!
For the next couple of kilometres, you’ll be treated to great views of the surrounding mountains and the Watersprite Creek Valley area below. Then, you’ll reach a rockslide area which will slow your pace a bit. It’s not too difficult to traverse but do take some extra care not to slip.
After the boulder field, you’ll come through a forested section and a second boulder field. This final (and steep) climb is the last part before you come out at the lake. The views of this beautiful turquoise lake with Watersprite Tower in the back, Martin Peak and Dreadnought Peak are more than worth the effort in climbing those boulder fields!
Watersprite Lake trail statistics
Watersprite Lake Cabin
The Watersprite Lake hut is a beautifully constructed hut just a few steps away from the lake. It’s owned and managed by the British Columbia Mountaineering Club (BCMC) and you must reserve online. Reservations can be made by non-members of the BCMC, but it’s a great organisation to join and I’d highly recommend doing so if you’re a local. There are 10 beds and pets are not allowed inside the Watersprite Lake cabin. It’s $10 per night for members and $20 for non-members.
Watersprite Lake camping
Camping is permitted at Watersprite Lake and there’s no reservation system. That means it’s best to head up early on nice weekends to secure your spot as space is limited. Do not to camp too close to the lake, this breaks leave no trace rules and potentially pollutes water than everyone on the trail is using for drinking.
What to pack for the Watersprite Lake hike Squamish
- Your 10 essentials for all day hikes
- Here’s a hiking packing list!
- Essentials for this hike: suncream, hat, sunglasses, camera/phone, bear spray, warm layers even if it’s hot as it’s often chilly by the lake.
Hikes near Squamish and Watersprite Lake
If you’re looking for other local hikes and more of the best hikes in Vancouver, Squamish and Whistler check out these hiking guides.