Lake Lovely Water is a jaw-dropping alpine lake in southwestern British Columbia, roughly 11.5 km northwest of Squamish and 36.5 km southwest of Whistler. Lake Lovely Water sits in a large subalpine cirque at 3822ft in the rugged Tantalus Range in Tantalus Provincial Park. The mountains here are made of mostly granite topped with ancient sprawling glaciers. The Lake Lovely Water area provides excellent opportunities for hiking, fishing, mountaineering and advanced backcountry skiing for those well versed in backcountry travel in wilderness areas.
Good to know: Lake Lovely Water is a remote wilderness area with limited access and there are no public park facilities.
Large jagged ridge lines of the Tantalus Range can be seen from the Tantalus lookout points on Highway 99 going between Squamish and Whistler. From this lookout, you cannot directly see Lake Lovely Water as it is hidden in the cirque below Alpha Mountain in front of Serratus Mountain, but we recommend stopping there for the views on your drive.
Moving continents, rising and falling mountains, vast volcanic eruptions, and continental ice sheets have all played a role in shaping the diversity of landscape that we see in southwestern British Columbia today. For instance, did you know that southwestern BC is made up of landmasses that were once isolated exotic islands sitting offshore in the middle of the ocean?
We mentioned at the start that the mountains of the Tantalus Range and the area surrounding Lake Lovely Water are made mostly of granite rock. Granite is a light-coloured igneous rock composed mainly of quartz and feldspar with minor amounts of mica, amphiboles, and other minerals. Igneous rock is formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava associated with the movement of tectonic plates.
Lake Lovely Water was formed from the pooling of glacial meltwater towards the end of the last ice age. The meltwater from the original glacier that made the cirque, plus other nearby glaciers, collects in the dramatic bowl-shaped valley. Cirques like the one holding Lake Lovely Water typically form on northern and northeasterly slopes and are a common feature around Squamish, BC.
Lake Lovely Water, Sigurd Lake, and several other smaller lakes in Tantalus Provincial Park drain from the park east into the Squamish River that flows out to the Howe Sound fjord.
In the 1930’s a trappers’/prospectors’ trail to the upper Sigurd Creek valley was cut out and later used by climbers and hikers. Over time a rough recreational trail was developed to Lake Lovely Water, that trail is still used today.
“Several archaeological sites have been identified adjacent to Tantalus Park along the Squamish River. The ‘Squamish West’ Síiyamín ta Skwxwú7mesh cultural site is situated adjacent to the boundary of the park in the vicinity of the Lake Lovely Water access trail. This cultural site was established under the Sea to Sky Land and Resource Management Plan to maintain natural Brackendale Eagles Park, Baynes Island Ecological Reserve and Tantalus Park Management Plan 9 areas for spiritual and cultural use.” – Tantalus Park Management Plan, BC Parks
There is so much to see, do and enjoy at Lake Lovely Water and in the surrounding parkland. Here are a few of our favourite summer activities there. It is worth noting that it is not easy to get to Lake Lovely Water and anyone heading into the backcountry should have appropriate knowledge, skills and equipment for self-rescue.
Lake Lovely Water Hiking: The hike into Lake Lovely Water is via a very steep and rugged 6.5km trail (one way). Once you’re at Lake Lovely Water (a great place to set up camp so you can explore further) there are more steep and rugged, but established, trails heading out to Mt Niobe and Lambada Lake Meadows.
Climbing & Scrambling: Tantalus Provincial Park is known for its challenging climbing and scrambling routes. We suggest getting a copy of Matt Gunn’s book “Scrambles in Southwestern British Columbia” for scrambling routes. For climbing routes, BC Parks recommends getting in touch with Alpine Club of Canada or BC Federation of Mountain Clubs.
Canoeing: Canoes secured and only available to paying guests at the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC)
Tantalus Hut: The Tantalus Hut is a backcountry hut located at the north end of Lake Lovely Water. The hut is exceedingly popular in summer months and can sometimes be fully booked months in advance. To book spots at the hut visit the ACC website.
Fishing: Lake Lovely Water is one of many alpine lakes in this region (also Phantom Lake) that is stocked for fishing. The lake is stocked with trout and a fishing licence must be obtained.
Sightseeing by air is the easiest way to see the landscape around Lake Lovely Water in one go. And one major advantage of a birds-eye-view is that you get a much better understanding of the landscape’s geography, and the orientation of the mountains and features, that you would on the ground.
To help feed your curiosity, here is a map showing all the major peaks and mountains around Lake LovelyWater.
The hike to Lake Lovely Water can take between 4-6 hours (one way) depending on fitness, hiking ability, and how much load you’re carrying. The trail to Lake Lovely Water is considered too long for an out-and-back single day hike and most hikers camp at designated sites along the shore of the lake. Space can also be booked in the AAC’s Tantalus Hut ahead of time.
There is no car or road access to the trailhead, which is located on the west side of Squamish River. Crossing the Squamish River to get to the Lake Lovely Water trailhead is where the adventure begins. The Squamish River flows very fast and we do not recommend trying to cross by yourself in your own watercraft. The best and safest option is to pay for a jet boat crossing. The most popular jet boat service used by most Lake Lovely Water hikers is Jay Bricknell who can be reached at 604-815-9647 or 1-866-466-2628.
Below is a concise review of the Lake Lovely Water trail from a Lake Lovey Water trip report on The Outbound:
“Once at the trailhead, the trail is straightforward up to Lake Lovely Water. The trail begins relatively flat for the first 0.5 km / 0.3 mile and then turns steep as the trail climbs its way up the valley wall. The trail is rugged making progress slow. The large old growth forest and rushing river below create a great ambience while you stop to catch your breath. The trail only flattens out once you reach the bottom of Lake Lovely Water.”
Camping is available at Lake Lovely Water. There are a limited number of walk-in sites around the lake and the sites are user-maintained, so always pack out what you pack in. Two pit toilets have been installed at Lake Lovely Water, like the campsites they are user-maintained and you will need to take your own toilet paper and means of sanitizing. BC Parks says that the lake water is potable but strongly advises filtering, boiling or otherwise treat the water before consuming it.
Lake Lovely Water’s close proximity to the coast combined with its elevation means the weather can change very quickly. Sometimes you will experience all four seasons in a day, so pack and dress accordingly.
Visitors should also consider that for every 1000ft of elevation you lose around 10ºC in air temperature. Which can mean that even on the hottest summer days, nights at Lake Lovely Water can get cold and chilly.
If you’re planning on hiking Lake Lovely Water, mountain-forecast.com is a great resource for checking forecasts for the freezing level, temperatures, snow and rainfall, and sunrise and sunset times.
Sea To Sky Air is proud to have a permit issued by BC Parks that allows us to offer seaplane flights into Lake Lovely Water. Floatplane fights will start at the beginning of the summer when the lake is free from ice, this usually happens mid-June to mid-July depending on the temperatures and snowfall from the previous winter. Floatplane flights will stop into Lake Lovely Water in the fall when ice returns to the surface of the lake. This is also weather dependent and can be any time in October or November.
Now is the time to become more knowledgeable about your local area, however now is not the time to travel. BC’s public health officials are continuing to advise that all non-essential travel needs to be avoided. Please stay close to home, limit your social interactions, and continue to support local businesses.
We look forward to welcoming visitors back to our community once the current health order is lifted.
Public Health Orders are changing regularly, be sure to check he current restrictions before making any travel plans.