A gorgeous, uncrowded hidden gem. Huge snowy mountains, sparkly pristine glacier water, a waterfall, and old growth forest. Paddle over to a beautiful little island for lunch. Duration: half day.

The South Coast Mountains are full of high elevation alpine lakes. There are a few of considerable size (Garibaldi Lake, Duffey Lake, Lake Lovely Water, etc) and Callaghan Lake is one of them. This huge silvery lake sits up in the beautiful Callaghan Valley, a destination for ski touring, snowshoeing, hiking, camping, fishing, and paddling.

Callaghan Lake is one of those places that is still somewhat off the radar for visitors, and it's easy to find a quiet moment here to enjoy the lake undisturbed. The glacier covered Mt. Callaghan towers above the lake, and the Black Tusk comes into perfect view from the far end of the lake. The scenery here is just incredible. The shoreline is gorgeous and rugged, lined with thickly forested steep hills and cliffs, and you'll find a small island that serves up the ultimate picnic spot.

The water warms up enough for swimming in summer, and you can camp (free) beside the lake. A 4WD drive vehicle is required to climb the rough road to the lake. Turn off at the Callaghan Valley exit, 10 minutes south of Whistler and drive up the paved road, turning left onto a dirt road just a few minutes past Alexander Falls (8kms from the HWY99). Staying left, follow this for road for another 8kms to the lake. The road is not plowed, and is usually passable July through October.

If you have the time, Alexander Falls is another bit of rarely visited magic to add to your list. The area is home to many black bears, and there's a very good chance you'll see one eating clover by the side of the road on your way up from HWY99.

(Thanks to my paddling sidekick Susan Osborne for the pics she took of me above!)

Pack List

  • Kayak, canoe or stand up paddle board, plus all of your safety equipment
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Lunch, water
  • Fishing pole
  • Life jacket (the water is incredibly cold in the fall!)
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Activities Stand Up Paddle, Chillin, Camping, Fishing, Photography, Kayaking, Swimming, Backpacking, Hiking, Fitness
Skill Level Beginner
Season Summer, Autumn
Features
Dog Friendly
Family Friendly
Forest
Lake
Picnic Area
River
Romantic
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

Reviews

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Callaghan Trip

Stumbled upon this beauty (2015) taking the callaghan road for the first time. I drove my passat through the forrest service road and made it to the peaceful and beautiful lake. I had to drive very very slowly as the road was really meant for 4x4, there were a lot of potholes. The scene was absolutely stunning, the water so clear and not icy cold. Just perfect for swimming during summer. A perfect place to camp and not very crowded at all. If i had a kayak or canoe, this is the best place to do so... Water is so calm and i believe you can kayak to the other side of the lake, and hike it up to cirque lake. I am planning to go back again this year and definitely will check out the other FSRs that lead to nearby lakes.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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