Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
1,297.00 m (4,255.25 ft)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
13.50 km (8.39 mi)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The enticingly named Lake Lovely Water is an increasingly popular location to visit in Southwest British Columbia, despite being one of the hardest to access trails. Perhaps the adventure of just getting to the trailhead has built up its popularity. Located in Tantalus Provincial Park, the lake itself is a big draw with its stunning glacial views and pristine alpine wilderness. The trail to access the lake is very steep, and requires some awkward moves up steep roots. The hike takes between two to six hours depending on packed weight and level of fitness.

At present all watercraft are banned on Lake Lovely Water. Leave your floaties and inflatable rafts behind. Bear proof containers are required to store food. BC Parks has ticketed folks for not bringing them. There is also limited space near the lake, and camping offsite is illegal. Be sure to have a back up plan if the tent sights are full. The Russian Army Camp about 3km north of the Lake Lovely Water sight is a good backup. Otherwise you will need to turn around. Some people have been camping on the beaches, which is not allowed, and the trash left and damage to the ecosystem is severe. Bears have started to frequent the area more and unless behaviour is improved it's possible this area will get shut down. 

The trail to Lake Lovely Water is located on the west side of the Squamish River and BC parks recommends it be accessed by watercraft. The trailhead itself starts on private property and is unmarked for the first two kilometers. Access to the river from the east side is on the traditional lands of the Squamish First Nation and permission should be sought to cross. There are three ways to get to Lake Lovely Water:

  1. Canoe crossing, formely by jetboat. Contact [email protected] Drop off is at 9am and pickup is at 8am. 
  2. Float plane to the lake with Whistler Air.
  3. Helicopter access with Black Tusk Helicopters or Blackhomb Helicopters. 
  4. Personal crossings can be done if you bring your own boat. As this is Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw land it is recommended to reach out to the band office ([email protected]) and ask for permission first. It's a 10-20 minute walk, so be prepared for a solid protage from the parking area. 
  5. Crossing the cable car wires is a common access point, though it is technically trespassing. This is not recommended as it is tough on the hands even with gloves, and exhausting. It should not be attempted without the proper equipment. 

Once on the other side of the river it is a quick walk through flat sandy woodland to the trailhead proper. The trail begins with a sign board for the park. Here the trail heads up a drainage before the climb begins in full. The trails begins with only mild steepness, but gradually gets steeper and steeper. The understory brush is limited, so it is not uncommon for folks to wander off trail. Keep an eye out for the orange trail markers fixed to trees. The ground is heavily rooted, creating steps on some of the steeper sections. Proper hiking footwear is recommended. 

The upper section of the trail is the steepest, traversing a incredible scenery that runs alongside dramatic waterfalls. Many of the sections get quite steep, and while not truly exposed, those not used to narrow trails might feel nervous. Suddenly the trail evens out, and follows a creek. At the top a short suspension bridge crosses near the river near the lake and the trail ends beside the ACC Tantalus Hut. There are several tent platforms scattered around this area as well.

In recent years increasingly more people have been lighting fires, camping in unregulated areas and leaving trash. If you visit this incredible place, please respect the parks rules and leave Lake Lovely Water better than you found it. 

The descent follows the same trail. 

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Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

Backcountry BC Parks Pass

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Incredible views. Great nearby scrambles and short hikes.

Cons

Major River Crossing. Accessing trail is difficult/expensive. Steep trail.

Trailhead Elevation

98.43 ft (30.00 m)

Highest point

4,035.43 ft (1,230.00 m)

Features

Vault toilet
Near lake or river
Glacier
Backcountry camping
Shelters
Waterfalls
Big vistas
Wildlife
Wildflowers
Old-growth forest

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

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