Camping at Lake Lovely Water – A Hidden Gem in Squamish
Camping at Lake Lovely Water has been on my BC bucket list for the last four years. I first found out about this lake long before the Covid-19 pandemic and its subsequent increase in popularity. Despite the increase in traffic, I was determined to tick it off.
Flanked by rugged mountains in every direction, Lake Lovely Water is a pristine glacial blue lake tucked away in the Tantalus Range. This turquoise alpine lake can only be accessed by helicopter or by crossing the Squamish River to reach the hiking trailhead. Lake Lovely Water took my breath away and I was stoked to be spending the weekend in an area many will never get to see.
This area used to be one of BC’s best kept secrets but access to the lake has become much easier with the increase in tours. Although Lake Lovely Water has gained a lot of attention and popularity in recent years, it is still somewhat of a hidden gem.
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Lake Lovely Water Camping & Packing Essentials
- Bug spray – I would recommend two bottles of bug spray at least for this lake. We used a bottle of a half on this trip as they were so bad.
- Bug Net – The bugs at Lake Lovely Water were the worst I have ever seen in BC. Bug Spray is only so effective and I really wished I’d brought a bug net!
- Water filtration system – The water from Lake Lovely Water isn’t safe to drink and BC Parks recommends bring a water filtration system. We used the Platypus system and it worked amazingly. We had freshly filtered glacial water in less than 10-minutes.
- Sunscreen – Most of your time will be spent outdoors so sunscreen is super important.
- Bathing suit – Yes Lake Lovely Water is a glacial lake and therefore freezing cold, but a bathing suit is still great for hanging by the lake or for those brave enough to swim.
- Cards/Card Game – A card game is a must. When the bugs get bad at night many people retreat to their tents, a card game is a great way to end the night.
Where Is Lake Lovely Water?
Lake Lovely Water is situated within the Tantalus Provincial Park. Since the Tantalus Provincial Park can only be accessed by air or by hiking (and taking a boat across the Squamish River) reaching Lake Lovely Water is an adventure in itself.
If you’ve ever driven to Whistler from Vancouver you’ve most likely passed by the Tantalus Lookout on the Sea-to-Sky Highway, Lake Lovely Water is tucked away among these beautiful rugged peaks.
How To Get To Lake Lovely Water
There are a few ways to get to Lake Lovely Water from hiking to scenic float plane tours. There is no road access to the lake or trailhead. If you are bringing a vehicle you can park at the lot opposite the Watershed Grill in Brackendale.
The hike to Lake Lovely Water is considered quite difficult and should only be attempted by seasoned and advanced hikers. This hike is a bit unique as getting to the trailhead can be a challenge. You’ll need to cross the Squamish River to reach the official trailhead and the boat does need to be booked in advance.
Lake Lovely Water Hike Stats
Length (Round Trip): 9.8km
Elevation Gain: 1,135 metres
Dog Friendly: Yes
Public Transport: No
If you don’t feel up to the hike, you can book a helicopter in advance. The flight travels over the beautiful Squamish Valley with a total flight time between 5 and 10 minutes. Once you are dropped off there is a short walk to the forest and campground.
Another way to experience Lake Lovely Water is by floatplane. These tours are usually a few hours long and will land on the lake at a spot where you’ll have lunch.
Camping At Lake Lovely Water
If you are looking to stay overnight at Lake Lovely Water you have two options: tenting or booking the Tantalus Hut.
The Tantalus Hut is operated by the Alpine Club of Canada and can be booked through the website. Booking the hut is the better option as you don’t need to bring or set up a tent. It will also give you access to the canoes and boats docked at the lake.
There are a total of 15 tent pads at Lake Lovely Water which is a very small amount. If all tent pads are full, camping is also permitted at the sandpit located around 2.5kms along the lakeshore. Camping is not permitted on the lake shore or the Niobe Meadows.
There are around 3 to 4 tent pads with views of the lake. We managed to snag the best tent pad with phenomenal views of the lake. This is the spot that everyone wants so keep an eye on who is leaving.
The campground at Lake Lovely Water is one of the strangest I’ve ever seen. To access the dining area you will need to intrude through other peoples campsites. It is impossible not to walk through another site at this campground.
What to do at Lake Lovely Water?
For those who opt to book the hut, you’ll get access to all the boats and canoes docked at the lake, and who wouldn’t want to canoe this beautiful lake?
There are some hiking trails in the area too, these are very rugged and the terrain is actually quite scary in some areas. The easier hikes include the Lambda Lake Trail (3.5km one way) and Niobe Meadows (2.5km one way).
You can also hike to a small quiet beach just to the left of the lake which is approximately 1.5km one way. This short trail passes by a cute suspension bridge and some sections of this trail are steep, slippery and narrow. Careful footing is really important when hiking in the area, all three of us fell at some point on this trail.
We spent quite a bit of time at this beach, as the flies were not as bad as the lake shore. It is a really nice spot to relax and enjoy the nearby waterfall. The water in this area is absolutely stunning and so perfectly clear.
If there are any fisherman or hunters in your party, these activities are also permitted. Dogs are also permitted in the Provincial Park on leash.
It’s important to note that no inflatable watercraft such as paddle boards or boars are permitted at Lake Lovely Water. Please respect this rule as every year there are so many discarded within the Sea to Sky area.
Are There Any Facilities At Lake Lovely Water?
Lake Lovely Water is a backcountry campground and has basic camping facilities such as tent pads, bear hangs, an area to prep food and two outhouses.
Unlike Garibaldi Provincial Park, which is well equipped with shelters and picnic tables, Lake Lovely Water does not have anywhere for campers to sit and eat (unless you have booked the hut). There is a bench just by the food prep area or you can sit on the driftwood on the lakeshore.
Leave No Trace
Lake Lovely Water is a remote area with very little funding. It is up to the people who use this area to keep it pristine. The Alpine Club of Canada have been generous enough to maintain the Tantalus Hut and have even hiked in canoes for the public to use. Please ensure that all garbage is taken down with you.
While I had a great experience at Lake Lovely Water and the majority of people were respectful, there were a few incidents that I found very disappointing.
People had defecated by the waters edge, an area where many people will be refilling water bottles. This type of behaviour is so absurd, I just don’t understand it. There is an outhouse and many places to do this, it is just disrespectful to other campers and to this beautiful place.
There were also fireworks that were set off from what looked like the boat dock at around 10pm. Considering that BC had some of the worst forest fires in 2021, this was incredibly sad to see.
Lake Lovely Water Camping – Important Things To Know
- There are no campfires permitted at Lake Lovely Water – this is year-round.
- There are no trash facilities – you need to pack in what you pack out.
- Camping is free. No permit needed and you do not need to book.
- Campsites are first-come-first-served.
- Overflow camping is permitted at the beach.
- No camping permitted on lakeshore, foreshore or Niobe Meadows.
- Dogs are permitted in the Provincial Park and must be kept on leash.
- Getting to the trailhead requires crossing the Squamish River.
- Using the cable car to cross the river is not permitted.
My trip to Lake Lovely Water was originally planned for two nights but it ended up being rescheduled and we spent one night here instead. One night was more than enough to really experience the lakes beauty and I think I would have been bored had the trip been two nights long.
The hikes in this area are very rugged and wild, many of them also require mountaineering experience. There are some smaller hikes but even these can be sketchy in areas. Camping with such a spectacular view was a once-in-a-lifetime experience but staying in the hut also has its perks, if just for accessing the canoes alone.
The bugs here are insane. I’ve already mentioned this before in this post but I can’t explain just how bad. There were very few moments where my hat did not have 50-60 bugs on it at one time. We didn’t seem to have gotten the memo as other campers around us had bug head nets, some even came with the full body net! I would say the crazy amount of bugs was the biggest low of my trip and I have never packed up a campsite so fast just to get out of here!
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