Watersprite Lake has rapidly gone from obscurity to one of the most popular hikes near Vancouver. All summer it’s a busy trail. The immensely photogenic lake at the top has started to pop up everywhere, further expanding the popularity of this area. Recent trail work by the BC Mountaineering Club and Chasing Sunrise has been immensely helpful and has made what was a pretty ragged trail far more accessible.
The trail is a bit of an adventure to get to in the first place. You need to follow the Mamquam Service Road for nearly an hour just to get there. The road is mixed condition and has huge potholes and the odd steep climb. Low-clearance two-wheel drives have been known to make it, but it’s risky as a there are few sections that are going to do a number on your vehicle. High-clearance all-wheel drive should be considered the minimum. The road only appears to be getting worse for the moment, so be wary.
Heading up on a clear November day, the crowds were mostly gone and there were only 12 cars in the parking lot. The start of the trail is pretty dull, but the old logging road is quickly stalled by alders, and the forest is reclaiming huge chunks. The recent boardwalks and well-marked trees make the terrain easy to follow.
It’s a gentle trail at first that gradually gets steeper. Eventually you gain a long stretch of worn road that rounds the ridge. Up here the views are incredible. Pretty much the whole way you are treated to absolutely fantastic vistas of Mountt Atwell, Garabaldi, the Neve, and Mamquam Mountain. The ugly scar of the logging road passes unnoticed as the alpine air takes over.
The trail keeps following along mostly flat before getting to a boulder field where it can be easy to lose the trail. The woods thicken on the other side, and you’re in familiar Coastal Temperate Rainforest. It’s a steep climb up more recently reinforced trail to another short boulder field. Just beyond this is the lake.
It’s a beautiful spot, to be sure. Short mountains encircle the small alpine lake. The clear water is incredibly photogenic, as is the spire of Dreadnought Peak that makes it easy to compose some cool photos.
Just above the lake perched on a hill is the BCMC Watersprite Hut. It’s a cozy hut that was recently built and that makes for a super overnight stay. Be sure to book properly at BCMC.ca. Huts are expensive to maintain, and using it without permission reduces the chances of new huts being built in the area. Also remember to conserve firewood because it’s all flown in by helicopter.
This trail has become very popular in the winter...so popular that a couple days after new snow you often need nothing more then microspikes on the packed-out trail. But we warned. This trail crosses two avalanche slopes. Both the boulder fields are near terrain that is steep enough to slide. Ideally one person in the party should have a Avalanche Safety Training 1 course under their belt so they can advise the correct way to identify exactly where this risk starts and how to mitigate this risk. Because conditions change to often, it would be impossible to provide the right advice, so please make sure at least someone is trained and that everyone has the right equipment.