Wedgemount Lake: Whistler’s Most Bucket List-Worthy Hike

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Whistler, British Columbia is known for being jaw-droppingly beautiful, with dramatic mountains, dense pine tree forests, and alpine lakes. Hiking to Wedgemount Lake, tucked high in the Cascades, affords you the ability to experience all of these stunning features on one trail, including a lake with milky robin’s egg blue water, surrounded by glacier-laden craggy mountains. So lace up those hiking boots—here’s everything you need to know about hiking the Wedgemount Lake Trail, one of the most stunning hikes in British Columbia.

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Woman standing on a wooden tent platform at Wedgemount Lake in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
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About Wedgemount Lake

  • Distance: 7.4 miles (11.9 kilometers)
  • Elevation gain: 4,196 feet (1,278 meters)
  • Difficulty: Challenging. Like, REALLY challenging. I read some reviews on AllTrails that suggested that novice hikers have successfully tackled this hike, but I personally wouldn’t recommend it unless you have some difficult hikes under your belt already.
  • Dog-friendly? Sadly, you’ll need to keep the pups at home for this one.
  • Permits? You do not need permits to day hike here, but you do need permits to camp overnight by the lake, which you can get here.
  • Trail map
Man stepping on rocks towards a woman, standing on a rock, in Wedgemount Lake in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

How to Get to Wedgemount Lake

The Wedgemount Lake trailhead is located here in Garibaldi Provincial Park, about 20 minutes northeast of Whistler or two hours north of Vancouver along the Sea to Sky Highway. 

If you’ve never driven along the Sea to Sky Highway before, a 74-mile (120 kilometer) road that stretches from West Vancouver to Whistler along the Howe Sound, buckle up—it’s SO stunning! You’ll get views of pine-tree covered islands, rising out of the Pacific; huge granite monoliths, towering out of the earth; and massive mountains, covered with ancient glaciers. It’s one of the most beautiful drives that my husband, Justin, and I have ever done—and as a couple that lives in our RV, we’ve done a LOT of scenic drives!

Mountains along the Sea to Sky Highway in British Columbia

Once you’re past Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway, you’ll turn right onto Wedge Creek Forest Service Road and follow that for about 1.3 miles (2.2 kilometers). The road is steep, made of gravel, and has some SERIOUS ruts in it about 0.7 miles (1.1 kilometers) from the highway. 

Unless you have a high clearance, four-wheel drive car, you’ll likely need to pull over and park along the shoulder here, about 0.6 miles (1.1 kilometers) from the trailhead.

Potholes along a forest road in Garibaldi Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada

Be forewarned that we noticed signs in the parking lot that indicated that roadside parking is only allowed on weekends. For what it’s worth, my husband, Justin, and I didn’t feel comfortable driving over the potholes and parked along the shoulder on a Wednesday through Thursday when we visited. We didn’t receive a ticket (or God forbid, get towed) and read many other AllTrails reviews from other hikers who have done the same thing without issue—but just be aware that, per the signage at the trailhead, it may be prohibited when you visit. Additionally, this will add about 1.2 miles (1.9 kilometers) roundtrip and a bit of elevation gain to the total hike.

Parking lot for Wedgemount Lake Trail in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

If you have a vehicle that can make it over the potholes, there’s a large gravel lot, right by the trailhead, that holds about 60 cars. We visited on a weekday in September and there was only a handful of cars in the lot, but I imagine that the lot fills up on weekends during the summer. So if you’re visiting during that time frame, I’d suggest getting here on the early side!

What to Expect Along the Wedgemount Lake Trail

From the trailhead, the path starts by climbing gradually through a dense forest, with a few old wooden bridges over muddy gullies.

Woman hiking in a forest along the Wedgemount Lake Trail in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

After 0.6 miles (1.1 kilometers), you’ll start climbing the spine of a hill, which kicks off the beginning of one of the butt-kicking portions of the hike. 

Over the next two miles, you’ll be climbing steeply uphill, oftentimes with over a 40% grade, over roots and rocks in loose soil. There’s occasional short stretches (usually, around 0.2 miles (0.3 kilometers)) with flat or minimal elevation gain, but, for the most part, the climb is pretty unrelenting and definitely one of the most challenging hikes I’ve done. 

Most of this section of the trail is through a dense forest, with orange markers and pink ribbons marking the trail. In some sections of the trail, there seemed to be TONS of markers, whereas other sections seemed to have no markers. There were definitely a number of times that we got a bit lost along the trail, so I’d highly suggest downloading an offline version of the trail map on AllTrails before starting your hike.

Man hiking through a forest along the Wedgemount Lake trail in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
The majority of the hike looks like this. You don’t get mountain views until the last mile or so of the trail!

The most challenging part of the trail comes towards the end of this section (about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) into the trail), where you’ll have to climb and scramble over an INCREDIBLY steep boulder field, with some areas of the trail being almost a 60% grade, to the basin where Wedgemount Lake is located.

It can feel quite daunting when you’re standing at the base of this hill (I definitely shrieked “are you kidding me?!” and let out a few expletives when I saw what we were going to be climbing), but thankfully, it’s pretty short, only lasting for a little over 0.2 miles (0.3 kilometers). 

Woman hiking in a boulder field with mountains in the background along the Wedgemount Lake Trail in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Once you reach the top of the ridgeline where the lake is located, the trail evens out and even climbs a bit downhill until you reach the lake. along a dusty dirt pathway and along a boulderfield. The boulders in this section have been thoughtfully selected, so you’re mostly stepping on flat rocks—it’s definitely not as technically or physically challenging as the previous section of the hike.

And finally, you’ll reach the northern banks of Wedgemount Lake, with its stunningly colored water and jagged mountains, covered in snow fields. From here, you’ll have spectacular views of Rethel Mountain on your right side and Parkhurst Mountain to the left, with Mount Weart and Mount Cook towering above you. And while the Wedgemount Glacier has sadly receded quite a bit in recent years, you’ll still be able to see a massive portion of the glacier across the water.

Couple sitting in a tent along Wedgemount Lake, with mountains in the background

Make sure to bring some snacks to enjoy by the lake or at least take a breather before heading back down the trail. Going downhill is arguably just as tough—if not tougher—than the climb uphill, as you’re constantly climbing down loose, crumbly soil and rocks. 

If I’m making the hike to Wedgemount Lake sound challenging, it definitely is—but it’s still doable! Keep in mind that Justin and I backpacked here and, accordingly, were each carrying at least 25 extra pounds on our backs. So long as you give yourself plenty of time and plenty of water (we each carry these comically giant Nalgene bottles) for the hike, most experienced hikers in good shape should have no problem doing it—you just might be pretty sore afterwards!

Woman, wearing a backpack and smiling in front of Wedgemount Lake in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Tips for the Wedgemount Lake

  • Use trekking poles. I’m usually not a trekking poles user, but on such an incredibly steep, rocky climb and descent, having the extra support DEFINITELY would come in handy. 
  • Wear hiking boots: Listen, this one is non-negotiable—there are some hiking trails where you can squeak by, using tennis shoes or hiking sandals, but this is not one of them. Given all of the loose soil, rocks, and roots you’ll encounter along the trail, you absolutely NEED to have hiking boots that provide sufficient traction and support. Justin has this pair of waterproof hiking shoes and I have this pair.
Man hiking down a rocky slope with Wedgemount Lake in the background
  • Bring warm layers: Once you’ve climbed up to the ridgeline of the lake, the temperature will noticeably drop quite significantly. Even if you’re visiting during the summertime, be sure to pack along a warm jacket and cozy hat to throw on, if you need it, by the lake. It sounds gross, but you’ll probably be pretty sweaty—-which makes the drop in temperature feel that much more marked!
  • Bring enough water: The lake is the only water source we encountered along the trail, so if you run out of water halfway up, you’re kind of out of luck.

    Justin and I hiked this trail on a crisp autumn day and kept remarking how grateful we were that it was so cool—the hike would be absolutely BRUTAL in warmer weather. So make sure you bring plenty along (and a water filter, just in case!), especially if you’re hiking during warmer weather.
Woman hiking up a boulder field with mountains and Wedgemount Lake in the background

Camping at Wedgemount Lake

You are allowed to camp by Wedgemount Lake, only in designated campsites, so long as you get a permit. The reservation system opens at 7 AM four months before each booking date. For what it’s worth, Justin and I were able to get a permit just a week ahead of time (and there was only one other camper staying at the lake while we were there!), but I imagine it would be a bit more competitive during the weekends in the height of summer. 

There’s ten wooden tent platforms in the Upper Campground, which overlooks the lake and has an emergency hut, bear hang, and vault toilet. If you continue to hike along the trail for 0.3 miles (0.4 kilometers), there’s ten campsites in the Lower Campground, along the lake’s shoreline, which also has a bear hang (which was inoperable when we visited) and a smaller pit toilet that’s largely open to the elements.

Woman standing on a wooden tent platform overlooking Wedgemount Lake with mountains in the background

To be honest, we wildly underestimated how long it would take us to climb up to the lake and got to the lake in the dark using headlamps (definitely don’t do this!). Accordingly, we literally didn’t see the tent pads at the Upper Campground when we initially arrived and chose a campsite down by the lake instead.

In my opinion, the tent platforms of the Upper Campground are a bit more picturesque than the rocky campsites of the Lower Campgrounds, but you’ll have much better proximity to the lake in the latter option. There’s really no bad choice here!

Couple sitting in a tent in front of Wedgemount Lake with mountains in the background

What to Bring When Camping at Wedgemount Lake

We have a full backpacking list for beginners, but here’s a quick snapshot of everything you’ll want to bring:

  • A screenshot or print-out of your permit: In case rangers ask for it
  • Tent: Justin and I have this one and we really like it. There’s nice, big vestibules to set your boots and backpack in; doesn’t weigh a ton, given its price point; and is pretty darn cute!
  • Sleeping bag: We both have a synthetic down sleeping bag, made by REI, like this one.
  • Sleeping pad: I have this one and Justin has this one.
  • Inflatable pillow
  • Campstove: burner, propane canister, and lighter
Couple using a campstove next to Wedgemount Lake in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
Man pouring coffee in a cup in front of Wedgemount Lake
  • Dry bag: While some places in bear country require you to have a bear canister, Wedgemount Lake has a bear hang, to ensure all of the good-smelling stuff of the campground is in one elevated place. So just put all of your food and other items with an odor in a drybag and hang away!
  • Bear spray: The area around Wedgemount Lake is definitely bear country, with both black bears and some grizzly bears.

    Just remember that if you’re driving in from the United States, you’re not allowed to take bear spray over into Canada. There’s a couple different outfitters in Whistler that you can pick it up from, like Escape Route or Whistler Hardware.
Man looking at scree field along the Wedgemount Lake Trail in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
  • Trekking poles
  • Poop kit: This kit does exactly what it sounds like—it’s there if you need it to poop in the woods! We keep a lightweight trowel, toilet paper, and a couple of small Ziplock baggies in a larger baggie in case nature calls along the trail. While you’re at the campground, use the vault toilet and remember to stay at least 200 feet away from any water source if you’re peeing.
  • Large baggies to store any food waste you generate (friendly reminder to always pack out whatever you pack in!)
  • Food: Think dehydrated meals (like this one or this one).
Couple eating backpacking meals next to Wedgemount Lake in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
Man hiking down a boulder field along the Wedgemount Lake Trail in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
  • Satellite Communicator
  • Snacks!: Our family consumes a ridiculous amount of Cool Mint Clif bars.
  • Camera
  • Warm layers of clothing
  • Hiking sandals: Listen, this one is a bit extra and if you’re trying to limit the weight of your pack (and given how much of a bear this hike is, I don’t blame ya!), this one is definitely not necessary.

    But Justin and I always take hiking sandals with us while we’re backpacking, given it feels AMAZING to take your hiking boots off after a long hike and you don’t have to fart around with putting on your boots every time you get in and out of your tent. We both have a cult-like love for Tevas—here’s my pair and here’s Justin’s.

When to Hike Wedgemount Lake

The hiking season at Wedgemount Lake is unfortunately pretty short–the lake is at 6,100 feet (1,859 meters) of elevation, so it receives ice and snow a LOT earlier than a trail at lower elevations might.  The trail should generally be clear of ice and snow from July through early October, when the weather in British Columbia is warm and the skies are generally clear.

Man walking across boulders in front of Wedgemount Lake in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

During the shoulder months (e.g., June and mid through late October), you might be able to get away with hiking here, but I’d definitely bring along]]microspikes, at the very least, in case you encounter ice along the trail and check for recent trail conditions on AllTrails. Just be aware that, given its steepness, this trail could easily become, like, mega dangerous in icy or snowy conditions.

During the winter and spring (November through early June), the trail will be covered with significant amounts of snow and is inaccessible. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Wedgemount Lake

Can you swim in Wedgemount Lake?

You can swim in the lake but, as a glacially-fed lake, the water is COLD—like, you-might-be-at-risk-of-developing-hypothermia-after-jumping-in kinda cold. So, I generally would advise against it.

If you must swim in the lake for TikTok or whatever, be sure to have a towel and some clean, dry clothes (and ideally a tent and sleeping bag) at the ready to decrease your chance of getting hypothermia. This is one of the last places you’d ever want to be if requiring emergency services.

Woman looking at Wedgemount Lake in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Can you stay at the hut at Wedgemount Lake?

No. While there are some blogs that indicate that you can stay at the hut on a first-come, first-serve basis, both the Garibaldi website and the hut itself indicate that you’re not allowed to camp in the hut and that it’s only for emergency purposes (e.g., some really gnarly, unexpected weather).

Hut along the Wedgemount Lake Trail in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Is Wedgemount Lake better as a day hike or backpacking trip?

Dude, that’s tough. 

Justin and I had a HARD time on this hike and I think it was, in part, due to our heavy packs. We might have had a much more pleasant experience without almost 30 pounds on our backs.

On the other hand, if I’m being honest, I’m not sure that the challenging nature of the hike would have been worth it (for me, anyway!) as just a day hike—there’s something super special about waking up, just a few hundred feet from one of the most beautiful lakes I’ve ever seen and sleeping in the shadow of dramatic mountains. We had the lake to ourselves for several hours in the morning, just drinking coffee, eating breakfast and taking in the views—pure Pacific Northwest magic.

Couple cheersing coffee cups along Wedgemount Lake in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Plus, if you do this as a backpacking trip, you’ll have a night of recovery under your belt for the hike back down. 

So, while it’s a close call, I’m giving the edge to doing Wedgemount Lake as a backpacking trip.

Where to Stay in Whistler

If you’re visiting Whistler to enjoy its natural beauty, like Wedgemount Lake, you’re gonna need someplace to stay while you’re in town!

Check out:

  • Cascade Lodge: This is where Justin and I stayed after our hike to Wedgemount Lake. We actually wrote a whole post all about our experience at the Cascade Lodge in Whistler, but in sum, it’s an affordable option that has a ton going for it—from being right across the street from Whistler Village to a heated pool and hot tub, with mountain views, to soak your aching muscles. 
  • Nita Lake Lodge: Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Whistler Village, the Nita Lake Lodge is a boutique hotel, with a restaurant that focuses on using locally raised ingredients and an outdoor heated pool, hot tub, and spa to indulge in after your hike.
  • Fairmont Chateau Whistler: If you’re looking to splash out, the Fairmont is the place to do it in Whistler. Located at the base of Blackcomb Mountain, the luxurious rooms feel like you’re in a bougie alpine castle, complete with spectacular mountain views and impressive wood furnishings. Given it’s a luxury hotel, it, of course, has every amenity you can think of, from an award-winning restaurant to underwater music in the heated lap pool(!!!).
View of Whistler from the Cascade Lodge
Our view from our room at the Cascade Lodge

Now, get out there and conquer Wedgemount Lake! Do you have any questions about this trail? Let us know in the comments below! 

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