I have found a new favourite hike!! The walk up to Watersprite Lake near Squamish is simply perfect! I can totally see why the lake has such a fairy-like name; It is ridiculously beautiful, so it really does feel like you’ve arrived in a bright-blue, watery fairyland.
In addition to the epic views at the end of the walk, your eyes will be treated to stunning vistas for the entire hike. There are perfect views of Mount Garibaldi, over to Squamish and the Tantalus mountain range. Then as you get close, you’ll see Martin Peak, Gibson Peak, Watersprite Tower with Dreadnought Peak behind the lake. I was making “squeeee” noises for our entire walk as it was so, so pretty!
Watersprite Lake – the Basics
Distance: 17 km (although my phone thinks we walked more like 19km)
Elevation Gain: 660m
Highest Point: 1465m
Time: 6.5-7 hours (plus plenty of time at the lake!!)
What to bring:
Walking boots. Hiking poles. Plenty of water and food. The 10 essentials.
There is a loo by the lake, and BCMC have a hut by the lake, but you need a reservation to stay in fairyland!! There is a camp site as well.
Dog owners are discouraged from bringing their pups on this hike as it is a sensitive ecological area.
How hard is it?
Intermediate. 17 km feels quite long, although it’s not a huge elevation gain for such a long distance. There are some long flat sections as well as some areas where you need to scramble over boulders. I was pretty exhausted by the end of the day!
You need a car that can cope with dodgy logging roads for this one. We have an SUV, which coped fine, and we did see a couple of regular cars up there…but I wouldn’t attempt it without four wheel drive and high clearance.
Although I always prefer hard-copy maps, I couldn’t find one for this walk in MEC. So, I downloaded an app from Vancouver trails and then also downloaded the trail map for this walk to my phone, so I could view it offline. This worked really well to show how far along the hike we were.
Beautiful views from the trail
The vista below is one of the first views from just above the car park! This sets the tone for how impressive the views can be on the Watersprite Lake trail! Normally we have to hike for miles to see views this beautiful!
Gorgeous Alpine Flowers
We spotted columbia lilies and Indian paintbrushes along the trail to Watersprite Lake. I only know the names because of my blogging friend Andy Gibb. You should follow his blog if you are a fan of amazing alpine flowers!
Brand New Trail
BCMC made a new trail up to the lake in 2016, and they are still working on it and improving it. This means the path is really well maintained and easy to follow. There are some very muddy parts of the path, but they have created boardwalks over the very worst bits, and new stairs in the steep woodland sections.
Mount Garibaldi Views
This is easily the best view we have ever had of the beautiful Mount Garibaldi! Just, don’t come here expecting to see this view unless it is a ridiculously nice day! We had been to Squamish more than six times before we ever caught a glimpse of this mountain as it is often surrounded by clouds! This stunning viewpoint was about 4 kilometers into the hike.
Not *too* steep
Compared to many of the hikes on the North Shore of Vancouver, this hike is not too steep at all! The first big gain in elevation is spread out over several kilometers, so it wasn’t too exhausting. Just be aware, there are some steeper moments right at the end of the hike, just before you reach the lake.
In fact, you can see the path, in the line of trees in the photo below. You do keep going uphill the whole way, but it’s not very steep.
There are also long flat(ish) parts of trail where you can catch your breath and look at flowers and the surrounding views.
Behind my jumping photo is the view back to Squamish, the Stawamus Chief and even Mount Crumpit (which looks more like a pimple than a mountain from up here!) I think we had to travel for 14 km along logging roads to reach the car park. From up here you can see how difficult it would be to reach this trail without those logging roads! They may be bumpy and hard to drive on, but they do allow us to reach some stunning places!
Rock slides and scrambling
There are quite a few places along this trail where you can see some massive rock slides have scarred the mountains in the past! Around 5km into the hike, some massive sections of rock have been cleaved off the mountainside, so you just have to scramble over them. You can even see cracks in the ground where this might happen again! There was quite a steep drop-off at the edge of the path too! You need to be careful!!
After the big rock slide there is a long easy section where you stay at about the same elevation and wind your way up into a valley. We spent quite a long time watching humming birds zoom around. They are so, so tiny (and speedy) that it took me a while to take a photo!
Soon, you get your first view of Martin Peak, and you can just see the top of Watersprite Tower peeking out behind other mountains! This shows you’re only a few kilometers away from Watersprite lake! But, before you can start the last ascent up to the lake, you have to cross a large boulder field. There are markers, so we didn’t find it difficult to find the path, but it was a little tiring in the hot sun.
Doesn’t Martin Peak look amazing!?
The last push
Next you get some shade as you cross and creek, and walk up through the forest. This part of the walk was being improved by BCMC while we were there. Those volunteers are SUCH superstars! We tried to keep out of their way, so I don’t have any photos of this section.
Lastly you need to hike up a steep pile of rocks. But if you get tired, just turn around and admire the view!
The reward – Watersprite Lake
After all that, this is the view that greeted us. How lovely is this!? The lake is filled with glacial water, that is why it is such a pretty colour. It also means it is coooold! The tower behind the lake is Watersprite Tower.
Considering the walk was not crazily difficult, I was surprised how few people made it up here on a Saturday in July. We left Vancouver at 6:30am and started walking just after 9:00am. We were up at the lake by 12:30, and there were fewer than ten other people there! Some of them were serious instagram photographers, letting off flares and posing for photos in their swimsuits…so we just wandered around the lake a little way to find a quiet spot for lunch. The water looks really inviting, but it is sooooo cold!!
Reflections of Watersprite Lake
There is something special about the reflection of mountains into a crystal clear lake. It is just so calming and beautiful! Marc showed me how to take better photos of the reflections by crouching down close to the water. I also love the look of Watersprite Tower reflected in his sunglasses.
We normally don’t spend long enough contemplating the pretty views on our hikes, but this lake was so special, that we stayed for ages. We relaxed up at Watersprite Lake for a couple of hours, before we realised we should probably head home. Before we started our return journey, we climbed a little way above the lake to take a panorama. I love it so much that I’ve changed my blog’s header.
We could not have picked a better day! Seeing Watersprite lake in the sun, was just perfect!
BC Mountain Club Superstars
BCMC (The British Columbia Mountain Club) folks were improving the trail last weekend, so hopefully the last section of this walk will be slightly easier if this post inspires you to explore!! I really appreciate their hard work making such amazing trails for everyone to enjoy. Now I’ve seen them, I am planning to sign up. If you like the sound of BCMC too, you can find out more about them and sign up here.