Wedgemount Lake – Garibaldi Provincial Park
When I first saw Wedgemount Lake I cried because of how beautiful it was after such a strenuous hike.
Wedgemount Lake is a gorgeous turquoise alpine lake high in the mountains in Garibaldi Provincial Park in British Columbia. It is one of the best backpacking trips near Vancouver and one of our all time favourites!
Wedgemount Lake is one of the lesser known hikes near Whistler and you will feel like you are in the real backcountry at the top. The moment when you finally reach the end of the hike and catch the first glimpses of the glacier and the stunning blue lake might bring you to tears! The views from the top are so incredible and you will feel as though you have made it to paradise.
As Wedgemount Lake is located in Garibaldi Provincial Park, dogs are not allowed on the trail, as dogs are not permitted in Garibaldi. The hike is 12.2km / 7.5 miles return to the lower lake campground with an elevation gain of 1,200 metres / 3,937ft. (These stats were measured by us on the All Trails app).
There is an additional section of the hike that you can do from the campground to Wedgemount Glacier if you have the energy. The lake is encircled by the Wedgemount and Armchair Glaciers which make the views even more spectacular!
Wedgemount Lake is NOT an easy hike, as there is a lot of elevation, making it a steep incline majority of the way. If you are looking to do this hike, make sure you do lots of research and bring along plenty of water and food. We wouldn’t recommend this hike for kids as it is for more experienced hikers.
In this hiking guide, I will detail everything you need to know about hiking to Wedgemount Lake, including how to obtain camping permits, hiking time, and trail conditions and difficulty.
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Distance: 12.2km / 7.5miles return
Time: 6-8 hours
Elevation: 1,200m / 3,937 ft
From Vancouver: 2 hours
Dog Friendly: No
Toilets: Yes, in the carpark and at the lake
What you need to know about hiking to Wedgemount Lake
🥾 How hard is the hike to Wedgemount Lake?
This hike is definitely not for the faint hearted. It is an absolute grind to the top but 10000% worth it! We have done this hike twice now as backpacking trips.
The weight of the backpacks make it that much harder, but it is also so amazing to be able to spend the night by the lake and rest properly before making the trek back down in the morning.
The hike is begins with a steady incline with some flat parts. You will walk through the forest, crossing over about 3 bridges. This “flat” section of the hike doesn’t last very long.
The majority of the hike is extremely steep and it feels like it goes on forever with some more technical sections where you will need to scramble up rocks and roots.
The final section of the climb takes you up a steep boulder field. In past years, this section was a free-for-all where you would have to navigate your own way up through the slippery scree, however, this year a trail has been carved around the side of the shale. This section is definitely still the hardest part as it is steep and still extremely slippery despite the trail maintenance. I recommend using hiking poles for Wedgemount Lake. You will be glad to have them at the scree section.
I’m not going to lie, Wedgemount Lake is that hard that you really need to be determined to reach the top. It is not the sort of hike that you decide to do last minute because you don’t know what else to do one day.
⌚ Wedgemount Lake Hiking Time
It will take you a lot longer to hike up to Wedgemount Lake than back. We recommend allowing for 6-8 hours return. It took us around 5 hours to hike up including breaks and 3 hours back down with our overnight backs on.
👆 Update: We did an overnight trip to Wedgemount Lake again a year later in 2023 and it only took us 3 hours going up.
🕐 When is the best time to visit Wedgemount Lake?
The best time of the year to visit Wedgemount Lake is definitely Summer. In Winter the area becomes extremely icy and snowy so it wouldn’t be a very pleasant or safe hike. We would not recommend doing this hike in Winter. In Fall and Spring, due to the high elevation there may still be snow on the trail and at the lake so the temperatures may be pretty low and the ground icy. If you are determined to do this hike while it is still icy, bring along some micro spikes as you will definitely need them.
❕WARNING: With the beautiful sunny Summer, comes the bugs! Bring bug spray. The mosquitoes and flies are bad at the lake.
🚗 Where to park for the Wedgemount Lake Hike
Wedgemount Lake has its own designated carpark. The is a pit toilet located in the carpark but remember to bring along your own toilet paper as BC Parks no longer supplies this. The carpark is located up the top of a bumpy forest road. There are quite a few potholes and bumps but we made it there fine in our SUV. We also saw a BMW sedan make it there pretty easy.
Click here to open the map in Google Maps!
Parking Update August 2023:
Do not use Google Maps to get to the trailhead pinned on Alltrails or google as it will take you the wrong way.
If you are coming from Vancouver, you will want to turn right onto Gravel Pit Road from the Sea to Sky Highway which is about 50 minutes past Squamish.
Once you get onto Gravel Pit Road, you should start to see signs to Wedgemount Lake. Keep left on Gravel Pit Road as it turns into Riverside Drive and then turn right onto Wedge Creek Forest Service Road. Keep following the Forest Service Road all of the way to the parking lot.
⛺ Camping at Wedgemount Lake
There are 20 campsites in total. 10 tent pads are located at the top near the emergency hut and pit toilet and another 10 down by the lake. We stayed next to the lake which was super convenient to cool off. It is quite a walk from the top campground to the bottom and after a long hike you probably won’t feel like making this trek more than once. You are only allowed to camp in the designated camping spots.
💻 Reserving a Campground
In 2023, in order to camp at Wedgemount Lake, you will need to reserve a campground 4 months out from your booking date on the BC Parks website. You will need to go to the backcountry camping section and pick Garibaldi Provincial Park to find the Wedgemount Lake campground. The reservation system opens up at 7am exactly 4 months before each booking date. Bring along a screenshot or print out of your reservation in case BC Parks staff ask.
Storing your food
There are a couple of man-made bear hangs at Wedgemount Lake at each of the campground spots. All you need to bring is a dry bag that you can attach to the hang.
When it comes to finding water to filter and drink, there is no shortage. There are plenty of streams running off the mountains into the lake. You will need to bring a water filter with you and filter the water prior to drinking.
There are two pit toilets in total. One is located at the upper campground. This is a proper pit toilet. The other is located at the lakeside campground but this one is a smaller pit toilet with material walls and a zip to open and close the door. Not the nicest but it’s still better than nothing. BC Parks do not supply toilet paper so you will need to bring your own.
There are no garbage facilities, so always pack out what you pack in!
There is a small hut available as an emergency shelter. This is located at the top campground which is where you arrive when the lake first comes into view.
🐻 Wildlife in Garibaldi Provincial Park
There are mainly black bears but also some grizzlies in Garibaldi Provincial Park as well as chipmunks, marmots, mountain goats, deer, squirrels and more. We actually saw a couple of groundhogs while we were up at Wedgemount Lake which was exciting! Other than the groundhog, we only saw a chipmunk. Please never feed the wildlife and leave them alone to do their thing.
You are unlikely to see any bears on your hike, as it is quite a popular trail, however you should always bring along bear spray when hiking in Garibaldi Provincial Park.
👚 What to wear
We took all of our layers on our hike to Wedgemount including our puffer jackets and beanies. We only almost needed our puffer jackets right before bed after the sun had gone down. As soon as the sun goes down, the temperatures drop and it gets quite chilly. You may want to also bring along some swimmers to cool off in the lake when you get there. Beware though, the lake is absolutely freezing the water is coming directly from snow and glacier run off.
Hiking Boots – Kerry’s loves the Oboz Bridger Mid B-Dry Boots and Dave’s favourite boots are his Scarpa Kailash Plus Gore-Tex Backpacking Boots.
Hiking Socks – Good hiking socks are important to make your boots as comfortable as possible! Our favourite hiking socks are Smartwool Hike Classic Edition Light Cushion Crew Socks and the Darn Tough Hiker Midweight with Cushion Micro Crew socks.
Merino Top / Tee – Merino is a great material to hike in so we use Merino tops to hike. Our favourite Merino tops are the Tech Lite II Crewe T-Shirts from Icebreaker! Mens is linked here and Women’s is linked here.
Kerry’s Leggings – Kerry wears leggings on every hike and her favourites are the Lululemon Align pant.
Men’s Hiking Pants – A great option for men’s hiking pants are the KUHL Renogade Rock Pants.
Fleece – Our favourite fleeces are the Patagonia Better Sweater 1/4 Zip (Kerry’s) and a Mac Pac Fleece from Australia (Dave’s).
Puffer Jacket – Dave’s favourite puffer jacket is the Arcteryx Cerium LT Hoody and Kerry’s favourites are the Eddie Bauer CirrusLite Down Hooded Jacket and Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket.
Rain Jacket – We bring our raincoats along on all of our hikes, because you know.. just in case!
Beanie – Some of our favourites are from Dakine and Eddie Bauer.
Hat – A hat is so so important when hiking during Summer in BC as the sun is extremely strong. Tilley makes some really great hats for hiking.
Check prices for Tilley hats on REI here.
Check prices for Tilley hats on MEC here.
Day Backpack – Our favourite backpack for day hikes is the Osprey Tempest 20 Backpack.
Overnight Backpacks – Both of our camping backpacks are from Osprey. Dave has the Osprey Exos 58 Pack and I have the Osprey Aura AG 65 Pack.
Your Camera Gear! We never go anywhere without ours! Check out our camera gear here.
🥾 The Wedgemount Lake Trail
The majority of the hike takes you through the forest up rocks and roots on a pretty steep trail. Most of the trail is at a steep incline, however, there are a couple of spots near the middle of the hike that are flatter and will give your legs a bit of relief. One of these flat sections actually goes for about 700 metres which is amazing!
The trailhead is located from the upper carpark. Walk up to the pit toilet and go past it. You will see a bridge crossing a river. Cross over the bridge and continue down the fire trail. Enjoy the beautiful wildflowers on your way and shortly you will come to the start of the trail sign on your right. The trail takes you up through a denser forest path. There is a small incline on this section but the trail stays relatively flat for a while.
Keep going up!
Soon you will notice that the incline becomes progressively steeper and you will start feeling relieved that you brought along your hiking poles. We stopped every few kms for breaks and snacks along the trail and also brought along electrolytes to help keep us hydrated.
There are a couple of sections along the trail where the markers are harder to find but there should be plenty of people around to see where to go. We also found that although there were a lot of different trails at times, they all lead to the same place in the end.
Once you come out of the forest, you will walk across a small creek next to a boulder field on your left. This is similar to what you will be climbing up at the end of the hike, however, the boulder fielder that you will be hiking up has been newly maintained and a path formed to make it easier to navigate and less dangerous. Cross the lower part of the boulder field and head back into the forest. From here, the hike through the forest continues for a little longer, before you exit and begin walking directly up a stream.
The Last Climb – The Boulder Field
The last and hardest part of the hike should now come into view, the boulder field which you will be hiking up. In the past, you would have to navigate your own way up the slippery shale, however there is now a bit of a path that has been built up the side of the boulder field to make it easier and safer for hikers. Be extra careful on this section of the trail as it is still very slippery and steep. Going back down is even tougher than going up.
Finally, once you reach the top, you will be greeted by a view of the glacier. Congratulations! You have made it to Wedgemount Lake! This is where I almost cried because it was just so unreal to believe that we were in such a beautiful place!
The trail from Wedgemount Lake to Wedgemount Glacier
To get to the glacier, walk from the hut down to the lakeside campsites. Follow the trail around Wedgemount Lake, and scramble up the ridge on the far side. From here you will see the glacier and above the glacier you will see the top of Wedge Mountain.
Commonly Asked Questions
Should I do Wedgemount Lake as a day hike or a backpacking trip?
Both options are great but there is something super special about spending the night at this magical lake high in the mountains. When I first decided that I wanted to hike to Wedgemount Lake, I actually never even considered that this could be done as a day hike. I had it in my head that it was a backpacking trip and that was the way we were going to do it. We saw plenty of people doing Wedgemount Lake as a day hike and we think that it would actually probably be easier this way as you would be carrying a lot less. On the other hand, you don’t get an entire nights sleep to recover from the climb up before heading back down again.
Do I need a day pass?
For the 2023 season you do not need to book a day pass to do Wedgemount Lake, however we can imagine that as it becomes more and more busy, a day pass system might be put into effect. You can check for updates on the BC Parks Website here.
Are there bears?
There are mainly black bears but also some grizzlies in Garibaldi Provincial Park. As this is quite a popular trail, it is likely that you will not see any bears but you should always bring along your bear spray just in case.
Can you swim in Wedgemount Lake?
A refreshing dip in the lake is the perfect way to cool off after your hike. HOWEVER this is the coldest water I have ever been in! We could barely keep our feet in the water for more than a few seconds before they started to hurt. The refreshing water was worth the few seconds of pain though!
Do I need to reserve a campground?
You will need to reserve a campground to stay at Wedgemount Lake. The reservation system opens 4 month out from your booking date and you can book on the BC Parks website. You will need to go to the backcountry camping section and pick Garibaldi Provincial Park to find the Wedgemount Lake campground. Camping is only permitted in the designated camping spots and you will need to bring along proof of your reservation with you.
Is Wedgemount Lake dog friendly?
Dogs are not allowed in Garibaldi Provincial Park and therefore not allowed on the Wedgemount Lake Trail. The reason for this is to keep the vegetation pristine, as it is sensitive due to the limited snow free period in the mountains.
Can you stay in the Wedgemount Lake Cabin
You cannot stay in the hut at Wedgemount Lake as this is purely to be used for emergency situations. We didn’t realize this until we arrived at the campground as many other blogs say that you can stay in the hut on a first come first serve basis. There is however, a sign on the front of the hut which notes that it is to be used for emergencies only.
This is an absolutely insane hike and one that we will never forget! It is our on our of favourite backpacking trips that we have ever done because of the wild beauty of the lake and the mountains.
Even hiking to Wedgemount Lake a second time a year later, the entire experience was incredible! We happened to be there while there was a meteor shower and so we stayed up cozied up in our sleeping bags watch the sky. It was truly magical.
You might also enjoy:
- Golden Ears Summit – The Best Backpacking Trip in Vancouver
- Everything You Need to Know About Hiking to Panorama Ridge
- 7 Beautiful Hikes in Garibaldi Provincial Park
- Joffre Lakes – Hiking and Camping Guide
- How to Find the Secret Horseshoe Bay Lookout
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