Tenquille Lake is a beautiful subalpine lake with almost unlimited opportunities for outdoor recreation. You'll find hiking, camping, fishing, mountain biking and horseback riding, not to mention a paradise for snowsports during the winter, and there’s a really nice backcountry cabin to boot. The lake is part of the 730-hectare Tenquille-Owl Lakes Recreation Area, and it is accessible from a number of different trailheads. The most popular access point is known as the Branch 12 Trailhead off of the Hurley Forest Service Road, which allows you to skip the majority of the elevation gain and hike 6 fairly flat kilometers to the lake, but this trailhead requires a four-wheel drive vehicle. Two-wheel drive vehicles can park at the trailhead at the first bridge over the Lillooet River on the Lillooet Forest Service Road and hike around 9.5 kilometers with over 1,400 meters of elevation gain (!). If you decide to use this trail, watch for mountain bikers coming downhill. The third option is the Tenquille Creek Trail, pictured above. It is accessible via the Birkenhead Lake Forest Service Road. The trail on this side climbs gradually for 3.5 kilometers through the forest along the creek before emerging on the east side of the lake. It is a fairly easy and pleasant walk through the forest, but it can be muddy in the springtime or after heavy rainfall, and it also requires four-wheel drive to access the trailhead.
The 3-kilometer trail around the lake is lined with wild blueberries and sprinkled with picture-perfect campsites and swimming spots. The water is clear blue and cold, but not unbearably cold, and the fish are plentiful. During winter the cabin and surrounding mountains are frequented by the local snowmobiling community; during the summer months, however, the area is limited to non-motorized recreation. It is a multi-use area however, and you may encounter the occasional mountain biker or a group on horseback.
The cabin, located on the west side of the lake a few hundred meters back from the water, was built by the Pemberton Wildlife Association, and it is definitely among the more luxurious and comfortable backcountry huts in the area. Be sure to respect the rules posted on the wall and honor the time, money, and hard work that it took to provide this amazing public resource. Tenquille Lake also makes a great base camp for further exploration as there are several summit scrambles in the area such as Mount Barbour, Sun God Mountain, and the multi-day Chain Lakes-Tenquille Traverse.