The Ultimate Guide to the 4 Lakes of Whistler
Summer in Whistler is hands-down awesome. The sun is shining, the days are long, and you’re in a world-class mecca of outdoor adventure. And one of the most under-rated, but best parts of summer in Whistler is the lakes.
The locals know it all too well, when the temperatures start to soar, the only place to be is one of Whistler’s clear, cool alpine lakes.
And there’s plenty to choose from. In the valley alone there are five lakes: Alpha Lake, Nita Lake, Alta Lake, Lost Lake and Green Lake. Venture a little further and you’ll find yet more, from secluded, glacier-fed Cheakamus Lake, to the high-alpine, ice-cold Wedgemount Lake, and loads more.
Some are a stone’s throw from Whistler village. Others might take a quick drive or cycle to reach. And yet more will require a bigger commitment: reaching Wedgemount Lake means a full day of hiking up some of the steepest terrain in the area. But take it from us, the views are worth it.
So while you’re grabbing your swimsuit, towel, BBQ and inflatable boat (a Whistler must-have), take a minute to work out which lake is best for you. To help you out, we’ve put together a guide to some of our favourite lake’s here at Forged. We put in some gruelling days researching this one for you. It’s not easy lying in the sun all day, every day, but we did it for you. So here’s what we found out.
What You’ll Find
Lost Lake is a hidden paradise in the summer months. There’s a great park with all the amenities you’ll need too. There are bathrooms, water fountains and an outdoor shower to clean off after your swim. Plenty of picnic benches and BBQ stands make this a perfect location for a cookout. And your four-legged friends will be happy too because there’s an off-leash dog park right there too.
How to Get There
One of the most easily accessible lakes in Whistler, Lost Lake is just a 20-minute walk from the village. From Marketplace, you can’t miss it if you follow the well-signposted valley trail. Better yet, take your bike. We’d definitely recommend leaving the car at home, as parking is limited. But for families and those who’d rather not work, there’s a free shuttle bus that runs from the village every 15 minutes all summer.
Top 3 reasons to visit Lost Lake
- Mountain Biking Mecca
If you’re the kind of person who needs to earn your time lazing in the sun, Lost Lake is the perfect choice. That’s because there are miles of world-class cross-country mountain bike trails surrounding the lake. Get your legs working, your heart pumping and the sweat dripping. That plunge in the lake will feel oh so good afterwards.
- Whistler’s Best Food Trucks
Throughout the summer, Lost Lake plays host to some of the best food trucks in Whistler. Barely 100 metres from the beach, you’ll find tasty treats and refreshing drinks that the whole family will love. So you’ll have the best excuse to spend all day by the lakeside, and eat and drink to your heart’s content.
- The Warmest Water in Whistler
Ensconced in the dense forests, the relatively small lake is one of the quickest to warm up in the summer. Because it isn’t glacier-fed, it’s one of the best places for a dip. The floating docks in the middle of the lake are the perfect place to relax after a swim or stay on the shore and paddle in the fresh water with the kids.
What You’ll Find
For an authentic Canadian backcountry experience, while still staying close to civilization, Cheakamus Lake is a great choice. This enormous, sparkling blue lake is fed by the Cheakamus Glacier, which towers over the far end of the lake. Apart from some backcountry campsites (with very basic bathrooms), there’s not much here. So bring your lunch, plenty of water, and pack out everything you pack in. And remember you’re in bear country, so get prepared by reading our guide to living happily with Whistler’s bears. What it lacks in amenities though, it makes up for in sheer beauty and the tiny number of people you’ll find here.
How to Get There
This one takes a bit more effort, but it’s worth it. Drive 10 minutes south of Whistler village, and head towards Cheakamus. There, you’ll hit the Cheakamus Forest Service Road. A 4×4 is best, but most cars can get up here if you take it slow. A few miles up the road you’ll hit the Cheakamus Lake carpark. From there, you’ll be under your own steam. It’s about a 4km, gentle hike to the first beach or 8km to the second. For what it’s worth, we think it’s worth the longer walk for the chance to have the lesser-known beach all to yourselves.
Top 3 reasons to visit Cheakamus Lak
- Classic Canadian Lake Views
With relatively little effort, Cheakamus Lake rewards you with some of the best views in Whistler. The scale of the lake is awe-inspiring, the colour doesn’t quite look real, and you’re surrounded by towering, ice-capped peaks. Not a bad spot for a photo shoot, we’d say.
- Escape the Crowds
Because there are so many beautiful lakes in Whistler, the ones that require some effort tend to escape the crowds completely. Except for a few campers and other keen hikers, you won’t see that many people here. Sharing these awe-inspiring views with just your nearest and dearest is a pretty special experience.
- Accessible Backcountry Camping
If you want to take it to the next level, why not camp here? The hike in isn’t difficult, and when you wake up on the shore of this stunning lake, you’ll be pleased you decided to stay. If you do plan to camp, make sure you’re prepared with the right gear, maps and knowledge before you head out: you are in the backcountry here, even if it’s close to Whistler. For more great camping trips, check out our guide to some of Whistler’s best camping spots.
What You’ll Find
Green Lake lives up to its name and wins the award for the prettiest lake in Whistler. That’s thanks to its stunning turquoise colour, that gets brighter throughout the summer. There are a few different spots to explore Green Lake. The small park, about halfway up the west side of the lake along Highway 99, has docks, washrooms and picnic tables. There’s also a boat launch here, and it’s a great spot for fishing.
How to Get There
Green Lake sits just north of Whistler village, the largest of the lakes in the valley, and often the quietest too. In your car, head north on Highway 99 and drive for 10 minutes. Soon, you’ll see the lake sparkling to your right hand side, flanked by Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. There’s a pullout on the side of the highway where you can park up and head down to the park. If you’re on foot or bike, follow the valley trail north from the village. You’ll pop out at the south end of the lake by Nicklaus North Golf Club. You can explore the lake from here, or follow the trail a little longer along the shore to reach the park.
Top 3 Reasons to Visit Green Lak
- Float the River of Golden Dreams
The best way to reach Green Lake is via the River of Golden Dreams. As delightful as it sounds, this is the fast flowing river that connects Alta Lake and Green Lake. You can canoe, kayak or paddleboard between them – there are plenty of rentals available at Alta Lake. Or, make like a local and take your trusty Explorer 300 up the river. Check the conditions before you go, as when the water levels are low you may have to carry your vessel for a while
- Go Fish
Green Lake boasts some of Whistler’s best fishing for Rainbow and Bull Trout, as well as one of the best backdrops for your day. Chill out on one of the floating docks, or rent a boat and head out to the centre of the lake for a really secluded day. Read our guide to fly-fishing in Whistler to get a better idea of what to expect, and make sure you get a licence to fish before you go
- The Best Patio Views in Whistler
Nicklaus North Golf Club, on the south end of Green Lake, has got to be one of the most desirable spots in Whistler. Their patio gets the evening sun, and you’ll be perfectly situated to admire the alpenglow on the surrounding mountains. Plus, they serve some great cocktails, tasty food, and often have live music too.
Alta Lake – Rainbow Park
What You’ll Find
Close to the heart of the village, Rainbow Park is one of the liveliest, most vibrant places to catch some rays in Whistler. The beach boats plenty of swimming docks and picnic tables. The beach volleyball courts draw a lot of visitors, and you’re likely to meet some friendly locals there. Food trucks and a concession stand keep everyone fed and watered, and there’s a dog-friendly private beach here too.
How to Get There
Rainbow Park is on the west side of Alta Lake, but it’s easy to reach. There is parking available, so you can drive up Alta Lake Road and park if needs be. But the better way to arrive is by bike on the valley trail, either from Creekside or Whistler village. It’s an easy cycle and won’t take long. Or better yet, for the ambitious, rent a canoe or paddleboard on the other side of the lake at Lakeside Park and paddle your way over to the park.
Top 3 Reasons to Visit Rainbow Park
- Perfect BBQ and Picnic Location
With its spacious park, long beach and plenty of sunshine, Rainbow Park is the best place to BBQ in Whistler. Bring all your friends and family and take over a picnic bench or two for the whole day. There’s something to please everyone, whether they want to run, play or just soak up the sun.
- Stop by on a Bike Tour of Whistler
Rainbow Park is on the far shore of Alta Lake, giving you an excuse to explore some more of Whistler. Why not rent bikes and head off for a full day adventure? Cycle from the village south to Creekside, then loop around the south of the lake and head back up the far shore to Rainbow Park. By the time you arrive, you’ll be ready for a dip and a few hours lying in the sunshine, before finishing the loop back to the village.
- Best Views of Whistler and Blackcomb
Its prime location gives Rainbow Park one advantage over all the other lakes in Whistler: the view. Spend a day there and you’ll get to know the contours of Whistler and Blackcomb pretty well. Watch the Peak 2 Peak gondola soaring far above the valley, and try to work out what your favourite ski run looks like in summer. We love these mountains, and we won’t complain about any chance to revel in their beauty.
Whistler Lake Days – A Must-Do Summer Activity
While we’re an adventurous crowd in Whistler, we love to relax as much as the next person. And we have to say, we’ve got some pretty great option for a lazy day. A lake day in a Whistler summer must-do activity that everyone will love. And when you’re fully relaxed, check out some more of our favourite Whistler summer activities to complete your trip of a lifetime.