Cheakamus Lake is a an easy, family-friendly half-day hike that takes you to a beautiful remote lake in the wilderness of Garibaldi Provincial Park. Skiers will be familiar with the elongated bright glacial blue lake, which can be seen from various points on the upper portions of Whistler Mountain. Only about an hour’s walk from the trailhead, the lake offers great fishing and swimming, beautiful views, and it is one of the most accessible and popular hikes in the park and the Whistler area.
Roughly 6 kilometers long and 1 kilometer wide, the lake is ideal for backcountry camping, but campers must use one of the two designated campsites and must abide by the rules of Garibaldi Provincial Park. This means dogs and fires are prohibited. Mountain biking, which is banned on most of the trails in the provincial park, is allowed here, so hikers and bikers should be cautious and respectful of each other on the trail. The trailhead is accessed via the Cheakamus Lake Forest Service Road (Eastside Main), which gets quite bumpy toward the end, so high clearance is recommended.
The first 3.5 kilometers of the trail is undulating but mostly flat and traverses through coastal rainforest ecosystems that have benefited from the protections offered by Garibaldi Provincial Park. The moss-carpeted forest is home to some very impressive western red cedar and Douglas fir trees, and you’ll see a diverse array of flora and fauna along the way ranging from birds, fish, and bears to various medicinal and edible species of lichen, mushrooms, and berries. After 2 kilometers you’ll reach a junction with the Helm Creek Trail. Take a left here, and after another 1.5 kilometers of meandering through mossy forest you’ll reach the headwaters of the middle section of the Cheakamus River, where still blue water of the long narrow lake stretched out in front of you begins to pick up speed and form ripples on the surface.
There is a small beach area here, and another larger one at the first designated campsite about 300 meters farther up the trail. The trail continues 4 kilometers along the north shore of the lake, passing by too many beaches and viewpoints to mention before arriving at the second and nicer of the two designated campsite at the mouth of Singing Creek. This is where the trail ends. Because of sensitive habitat, the upper headwaters of the Cheakamus River a restricted area; however, there are some reports that it is possible to follow a defunct trail leading up the Singing Creek drainage to Russet Lake.