The Wedgemount Lake Trail Whistler Snowshoeing
Wedgemount Lake is a steep and difficult hike in the summer when there is no snow. It doesn't require technical skill, but it is just exhausting. You gain 1220 metres of elevation in just 7 kilometres and hiking with a backpack takes about 2.5 hours to reach the lake. In the winter, on snowshoes, the Wedgemount Lake trail is considerably harder.
First, the obscured trail is hard to follow, despite the frequent trail markers. Second, on snowshoes, each step on steep ground is one step forward, half a step backward. You plod on slowly and with each step slipping back part way. If you can get past the difficulty of the exhausting winter trek to Wedgemount Lake you will reach an amazing paradise in the mountains.
The Wedgemount Lake Hut is an extraordinary oasis of warmth in the middle of the beautiful Wedgemount Lake valley. Anyone can use the hut, anytime. It can sleep up to 8 reasonably comfortably and consists of two large tables on the lower level and a small loft that can fit four people. Sporadically used by skiers in the winter, though rarely used by snowshoers due to the difficulty of the trail in the winter. If you do make it up to Wedgemount Lake you will be rewarded with a phenomenally beautiful, snow filled mountain paradise of a valley. The
Wedgemount Lake trail is deep with snow from late December to late June most years. If you snowshoe it November to mid December or mid June to early July, you will only need your snowshoes partway up the trail.
Depending on conditions and traffic on the trail, you may get lucky and be able to follow previous tracks in the snow, however this is not reliable. The final kilometre before Wedgemount Lake between the months of November and late June is almost always deep with snow, sometimes as late as mid July. This part is very steep, and even on snowshoes painfully difficult, so consider that if you plan to go.
Also, losing the trail is always a consideration worth worrying about and having a GPS with you is a very good idea. At a good pace, when the trail has snow top to bottom, expect to take over 3.5 hours from your car to the hut. Some take as long as 6 hours. You have to add an extra kilometre or two in the winter as well due to having to park 1.5k below the usual trailhead parking as it is inaccessible due to snow December to May.
One of the defining features of Garibaldi Park, and Wedgemount Lake in particular, is the staggering number of branching hikes from the main destination of the lake itself. For many, Wedgemount Lake and the "Wedge" Hut is the base for hikes to Wedge Mountain, Mount Cook, Mount Weart, Mount Moe, Mount James Turner and Mount Currie in Pemberton, crossing glaciers such as Wedgemount Glacier, Weart Glacier, Armchair Glacier, Mystery Glacier and the Needles and Chaos Glacier to name a few.
Dozens of unforgettable peaks can be reached from this quiet little hut overlooking this perfect, turquoise lake. In short, if you were to design a paradise in the mountains, Wedgemount Lake would be the standard to which all others would pale.
The sheltered valley, beautiful turquoise lake, wonderfully huge glacier across the valley and brutally jagged mountains all around all contribute to making Wedgemount Lake something special. It's challenging and exhausting to hike to and an absolute paradise to relax in. Down by the lakeside you can actually find two recliner chairs, built out of the rocks by the lake. Such a perfect way to enjoy the sun rising over the not-so-distant glacier across the lake.
The hut at Wedgemount Lake is a wonderful thing. Built by the BC Mountaineering Club in 1970, and since donated to Garibaldi Park, it is free to use by anyone. It's cozy with two large tables and a loft. Often, during busy times you will find the tables used as beds, a couple on the floor and four people up in the loft. The
Wedge Mountain Hut is positioned in a spectacular part of the world.
High up overlooking Wedgemount Lake. In the massive shadow of Wedge Mountain, the highest mountain in the entire Garibaldi Range. It's a cozy and compact little house in the middle of the carnage of massive rocks, erratics left over the centuries by glaciers and rock slides.
Back in the late 60's the British Columbia Mountaineering Club went forward with building five huts in the Coast Mountains of BC. Two of the five were built in Garibaldi Park, they were The Russet Lake Hut in 1968 and the Wedgemount Lake Hut in 1970. Because structures like these cannot be owned as they are in BC Parks, they are open for use by anyone. There are two large wooden tables along the left and right walls and a little window across from the door. On entering you notice a ladder going straight up to the loft. Everything is bare, weathered wood, but tidy and secure. It's simply a nice, solid, secure little house in a hostile wasteland of beauty. As you walk in you notice right away a feeling of warmth hits you. The Wedge Hut is as wonderful thing.
Winter Parking Area for Wedgemount Lake:
The trailhead to Wedgemount Lake, or Wedge as it's more often called is easy to find. Located a short, and beautiful, ten minute drive north of Whistler Village. Zero your odometer at Village Gate Boulevard and proceed north on Highway 99. At 11.3km a sign will direct you to turn right to "Wedgemount(Garibaldi) Trailhead". Cross the train tracks and the bridge over Green River. At 11.5km turn left onto the Wedge Creek Forest Service Road, this gravel road is usually plowed in the winter. At 11.7km you will see, on your right, a snowy road going up to the Wedgemount Lake trailhead parking. Park in a way that no other vehicles can be impeded and walk up to the parking lot which is 1.5k from this winter parking area.
Trailhead Directions & Trail Map Printer, Smartphone and Tablet Friendly
Printer, smartphone and tablet friendly. Designed to fit standard printers and copiers. To print: Right Click on the map, save image as, save to desktop, then open the image and print on standard size printer paper. Cell coverage usually reaches to Wedgemount Lake so you will likely be able to access the internet if you have a data plan, however saving this image may be a good idea.