Camping at Little Douglas Lake

Camping at Little Douglas Lake

Camping at Little Douglas Lake is incredible. The campground is quiet and easy to reach but it has fantastic views and is at high enough elevation to be cool in at night even during a heatwave. It is the best effort-to-view ratio camping trip we’ve ever done; You only need to hike for 1.75 km, to reach this mini paradise. We didn’t plan to camp here, but during the heatwave here in BC, we were too hot to hike up to our original destination, so we had to change our plans. I am really glad we did.

We found this hike in the fantastic new book Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia by the lovely Taryn Eyton. If you like the idea of camping near Vancouver, you should totally pick up this guide!

Little Douglas Lake Trail Map

Little Douglas Lake trail – the basics

Distance: 3.5 km 
Elevation Gain:
High Point:
Time: 40 mins – 1 hour each way
What to bring:
The 10 essentials, plus bug spray, bear spray and swimming things.
If you want to camp, you’ll want camping gear
Facilities: There loos near the trailhead at Zum Peak Recreation Site. There are bear lockers, a loo and six tent pads at the Little Doyglas Lake Campground. 
Dogs: Yep, dogs are welcome, but it’s a delicate alpine ecosystem so pick up their poop.
How hard is it? Easy, apart from the creek crossing, which can be difficult in the springtime.
Extra notes: If you plan to swim, remember to wash off your sunscreen and bug spray before you step into the water!

Little Douglas Lake trail – Getting Started

It’s surprisingly easy to reach the trailhead. You need to exit the Coquihalla Highway at exit 228, then drive down Upper Coldwater FSR. The road is a bit bumpy in places but I think you’d be okay with most cars. Just drive slowly and be ready to get dusty. There is a small sign at the trailhead (almost 7km down the road.)

Escape the Heatwave

The main reason we chose this trail was because it has been VERY hot in BC for the last week. We were melting on the trail that morning, so we changed plans and drove down the Coquihalla Highway to come here. We arrived at about 2pm, but it was still far too warm for us to carry our backpacks. Luckily, there was still snow at the Zum Lake Recreation Site (next to the trailhead.) We stopped for an hour to have a drink (and a snow-cooled orange) while we waited for the heat to subside.

It was still pretty warm when we got started, but as the hike is only 1.75 km, we decided to get going anyway.

Marshy Area

The trail to Little Douglas Lake is gorgeous. It starts going through a muddy, marshy area that has great views of Zum Peak and the surrounding mountains.

In June, there was still plenty of snow along the trail. However there are markers to show the way. We were there at the weekend, so there were also footprints of other hikers we could follow.

Fording the creek

Later in the summer, it is probably super easy to cross this creek. However as we visited at the end of June (when the heatwave has caused massive snowmelt in the mountains), the creek was raging! We had plenty of practice creek-crossing in the last week, so we were confident we could manage it.

Marc took off his socks (he changes into waterproof socks once we’re across the water) and I changed into swimming shoes. My friend Lisa taught us to face up the river, in a line (with the strongest person at the front, taking the brunt of the flow.) Using that technique, we were safely over the creek in no time.

Hike through the forest

Once you’ve crossed the creek, the rest of the hike is a pleasant stroll through the forest. You’ll need to clamber over some fallen trees, but other than that, the trail is in great shape.

Little Douglas Lake Campground

Even including the creek crossing and climbing over fallen trees, it took us less than 40 minutes to reach this secluded campground.

Campground Facilities

There is an outhouse, bear lockers (there are 4 large lockers, although one had been locked with a padlock, so there are three available.)

We found two tent pads in the woods surrounding the lake, as well as four tent pads on the marshy area right next to the lake. The tent pads in the trees might be better if you think you’ll need to run to the outhouse lots in the night, or if you need a bit of shade.

We went with a tent pad by the lake for the views!

I mean look at this view! Isn’t it incredible!?

Stunning Mountain Views

Little Douglas Lake is nestled into a high valley, and surrounded by imposing rocky peaks. I was delighted to realize that we’d already hiked up one of them, Zoa Peak. Zopkios Peak looms over everything on the opposite side of the lake. This links up via a long ridgeline to Zum Peak behind the campground.

Swimming in Little Douglas Lake

In springtime the lake is cold (it’s filled by melting snow from the surrounding mountains). Still, it is perfect for a quick dip! Just be aware there is a lot of soft mud at the edge of the lake. You need to stand on one of the many logs if you don’t want to sink into the silt.

There are beavers that live by the lake, as well as teeny salamanders. If you do decide to swim or paddle, make sure to rinse off any sun screen and bug spray well away from the water so you don’t pollute it.

Camping by Little Douglas Lake

We took one of the tent pads right by the lake. There is a campfire area next to the tent pads, but we decided it was a bit too close to our tent to eat there. This area is home to grisly bears, black bears and cougars, so make sure you eat well away from your tent and store any thing with a scent (food, toothpaste, lotions etc.) in the bear lockers.

Please note, you shouldn’t use the campfire now there is a ban.

Are there many bugs?

The one downside to sleeping right next to the lake is the mosquitoes and midges. Even early in the season there were plenty, so we closed our bug net and watched the sunset and sunrise from the comfort of our sleeping mats.

I loved watching the light change on the surrounding mountains and the cool air (this lake is at 1300m elevation) so incredibly refreshing after a day in the sun. We both slept really well at Little Douglas Lake.

Once you are ready to head home, it is the same quick 1.75km back to the trailhead.

I’ll finish this post with a panorama of the fantastic view of little Douglas Lake from our tent. Not bad eh!?

I was in awe of how gorgeous the views are at Little Douglas Lake. It is mad that such a pretty place to camp is so easy to reach (and that it wasn’t crowded at all!) If you ever want to go hiking along the Coquihalla highway, this is the perfect place to camp.

If you’d like other ideas for hikes near Hope, I have several options on my main Canada page. Or click on the pins below to save this for later.

Little Douglas Lake - Camp right by the water at this pretty alpine lake Little Douglas Lake - Fantastic campground in BC, Canada Little Douglas Lake - a fun easy hike to a beautiful campground

20 thoughts on “Camping at Little Douglas Lake

  1. Josy, I have added 2 different sorts of bears and cougars as well to my worry list. What stops them opening the tent and snacking on a Josy or even on a Marc? Love Lis

    1. Not much to be honest! That is why we’re so careful to remove anything food-smelling from our tent at night! Mostly bears just want to avoid humans though.

  2. Serious question, as I’m scared to death to tent camp in grizzly country…how do you eat and cook “away from the tent”? I’ve always wondered this. Do people just wander off into the woods to cook, eat and clean up and then come back to camp? It seem so impractical (though I completely understand the reason why).

    1. That is exactly what we do. When we were at this campsite we went over to the second camping area (it was about 100m away) and cooked and ate there. This site was set up with the eating area very close to the tents, so it seemed a bit unsafe to us.

      I’ve found most wilderness campgrounds are quite good at having a place to eat away from where people sleep. The loos are normally a bit of a walk away from the tents too.

  3. To me these kind of views and snow on the mountains is so exotic as we don’t have any mountains in Finland. Gorgeous place! I also liked your tips about crossing the stream. That would have been so scary for me.

  4. Absolutely stunning, but I’d be worried about hanging round too long because of the whole bear thing!

    I freaked out when I saw the bear sighting signs on various hikes across Canada. I have absolutely no idea how I would deal with a bear if one ended up in my path, especially seeing as I wouldn’t have a clue whether it was a grisly or a black bear.

  5. Love the effort to reward ratio! What a beautiful campsite. That’s awesome that you at least had a little snow to cool down your drinks on such a hot day. Thanks for the tips on the fire ban and bear/ cougar activity!

  6. It’s great that you were able to get out and hike despite the enormous heat wave that’s hitting that part of Canada right now. I also love that it was a quiet spot to camp at too!

  7. I would love to escape there! Thank you for sharing this place. I would love to visit it one day.

  8. Ooh that looks way prettier than I expected! Those reflections are just gorgeous… What a great place to camp!

    1. I have to admit I did not expect it to be such an incredible area! I’d seen this trail on the map when we visited Zoa Peak, but I never would have visited this one without seeing Taryn’s book!

  9. Wow the photos make me want to head there right now. I’ve never done wild camping before or seen a wild beaver or salamander! The little Douglas trail looks right up my street and good to know you can escape the heat Thanks for the tips.

    1. Thanks for the lovely comment Kerry! This is quite a good option for a first time wild camping (as the walk in is so short)

      Plus, I guess it’s not totally wild as there are tent pads, loos and bear caches. That makes things much easier.

  10. Love your photos and update! I have the same book and this hike caught my eye. Would you have a guess to the difficulty of the creek crossing now (end of July)? Thanks!

    1. I think it will be MUCH easier now! (sorry about my slow reply we were just off in the Rockies for a few days…)

      The only issue now is the fires. We drove down the Coquihalla highway yesterday and there was a large fire between Merritt and Hope. 🙁

  11. Hi there!

    This is an awesome post, thank you for the insight. I am going to be heading out there myself – I was wondering if there was cell service or not out there?

    1. Oooh good question. I don’t think there was at the lake (it is right in the middle of the mountains) but there is when you’re on the coquihalla highway.

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