Alice Lakes is the name of a Provincial Park located between Squamish and Whistler. There are several different trails in this area, but the most obvious is a loop called the Four Lakes Trail, which takes you through pretty forest past four lakes; Alice Lake, Edith Lake, Fawn Lake and Stump Lake. This whole area was created by the collapse of Mount Garibaldi’s lava flows hundreds of thousands of years ago; Leaving mini hills and lakes as the glaciers receded. Nowadays the Four Lakes Trail is a calm, relaxing walk through mossy forests on the way to each lake. It must fantastic for hiking, biking and swimming in the summertime!
This was the last walk we did in the wilderness (although this real trail isn’t particularly wild!)
Alice Lakes – Four Lakes Trail map
Four Lakes Trail the basics
Distance: 6km in a loop
Elevation Gain: 140m
Time: 2- 2.5 hours
What to bring: 10 essentials, and your camera.
Dogs: Its perfect for dogs, but they need to stay on leashes.
How hard is it? Pretty easy. We saw a few families walking with kids.
Getting started – Alice Lake
We parked close to Alice Lake, so started the Four Lakes Trail from there. This was a slightly chilly winters day, so it looked a bit grey and sad. Don’t judge this walk by my rubbish photos. I bet it is more picturesque on sunny days.
Once you’ve met the Canada geese on the beach, you follow a path around the lake in the trees. I quite like looking out to Alice Lake from inside the trees as you get to peek out the mountains. There are loos and loads of picnic benches at the beach on both sides of Alice Lake. There were a few people hanging out as families, so we kept our distance and crossed straight through onto the Four Lakes Trail towards Edith Lake.
The Alice Lakes Provincial Park is right below (the amaaazing) Garibaldi Provincial Park and the giant dormant Garibaldi Volcano. 11,000-13,000 years ago, the Squamish Valley was covered by a receding glacier. Back then, Mount Garibaldi was more active, so it spilled lava out over the ice, and created a huge dome at its peak. Then, as the climate warmed, more and more of the glacier melted leaving gaps under the lava flows that could no longer support the rocks above them.
This resulted in a giant landslide where a huge section of Garibaldi mountain slid down into the valley. The debris from that slide created all the mini hills in this area that cyclists love to explore. Lastly the melting glaciers carved a channel into the volcanic debris. Alice Lake and Stump Lake are the remnants of that melt-water channel. Cool eh?
Four Lakes Trail – Forest time
The forest must have been logged in the last century as most of the trees are a bit spindly. It’s still a gorgeous area to explore though, all covered in moss. You need to follow the path up a gentle hill, so you can get your heart pumping slightly.
I loove how mossy this whole area can be! The forest floor, the boulder and the trees are all wrapped in fuffy green moss-blankets.
I thought the second Lake, Edith Lake was the prettiest of the four. It is quite small, so calm and great for reflections. We went the wrong way, so walked the whole way around this lake, rather than following the official trail straight to the next lake.
We did take a wrong turning, but the sign posts around the Four Lakes Trail are pretty decent. Even if you are direction ally challenged, you can do this one!
Alice Lakes for Cycling
The path between Edith Lake and Fawn lake is really wide and easy to follow. It seemed like it would be great for getting started mountain biking. If you look at the map above, you can see there are quite a lot of bike friendly trails here. They seemed pretty easy compared to the more advanced forest trails in Whistler or Vancouver.
This lake is teeny, and easy to miss, as you need to take a mini detour off the main trail. We met a few very happy dogs who’d just been swimming, so I liked this lake!
The trail wiggles through the forest beyond Fawn Lake.
I suppose this is the furthest area from the car park and camping areas, so it was really quiet and serene.
The only slightly odd thing was all the trees that had fallen down. I’m not sure if there are always piles of moss-covered logs on the forest floor, or this was from a big storm recently. Some parts of the forest felt like a skinny-tree-graveyard.
Painted rocks – Leave No Trace
We started to find painted rocks hidden in the moss, or placed on stumps along the trail. I didn’t see this mentioned in previous trail reports, so maybe someone placed them recently.
I don’t want to encourage more people to leave painted rocks in the forest, as it doesn’t really follow ‘leave no trace’ principles. But I have to admit, it was fun to watch out for these flashes of colour. We found quite a few. Since then I have found loooads around Vancouver, so maybe it is some kind of project for kids during self isolation? If you have kids and want to put their painted rocks out, please leave them in the city, rather than the wilderness.
The most Northerly part of he trail brings you up to a fantastic view of the Cheekye River and the spiky Alpha Mountain. Even on a grey day, I looved this mountain view.
The last of the four lakes is Stump Lake. There are two ways to head back to the car park. We chose the slightly longer walk so we could see more of this lake. You actually can’t see much through the trees, but every so often there are spots where you can sneak down to the water.
The views through the trees give you some idea of how pretty (and busy) this area must get in the summertime!
After that weekend, more and more of the trails and parks closed here in BC. Since then, we’ve not left Vancouver or been anywhere near mountains or forests for a month now. There were quite a lot of cars in the car park when we visited, but the area is large enough that we didn’t meet many other people on along the trail. I initially thought it was pretty easy to practice social distancing in these kind of Provincial Parks. But I guess once you add in the possibility of people meeting up for picnics, as well as the chances of people getting lost/needing search and rescue…I can see why they decided to close everything in the end.
I’m sad to not be out on the trails in this lovely weather, but it’ll be worth it if people in BC avoid this virus. I’d love to hear how you’re all staying sane and healthy during the lock down in your part of the world?
Click on the pins above to save them for when you can walk again!