Wedgemount Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park
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 Wedgemount 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.
Wedgemount Lake Campsite & Trail Details
The free parking at the trailhead to Wedgemount Lake, or Wedge as it's more often called is easy to find as there are easy to spot Garibaldi Park signs on the Sea to Sky Highway. Located just a short and scenic, ten minute drive north of Whistler Village. An excellent place to see Wedge Mountain on the way to the Wedgemount trailhead is the Green Lake viewpoint at the edge of Highway 99. Look for the obvious and large pullout on the right side of the Sea to Sky Highway at the edge of Green Lake. The pullout is easy to spot shortly after you can see Green Lake. The views across to Whistler, Blackcomb and Wedge Mountain are amazing. There is also a nice information board indicating what you are looking at. Also, just after the highway turnoff to Wedgemount Lake there is a beautiful picnic area on Green River. Picnic tables, serenity and the hugely crashing Green River make this a great spot to relax before your hike. This is also a superb and free place to camp before and/or after hiking Wedgemount Lake. Beautiful freshwater river and lots of places to put up a tent near the Green River bridge make it an ideal setting. From Whistler Village at Village Gate Boulevard, zero your odometer proceed north on Highway 99. At 11.3km a sign will direct you to turn right to "Wedgemount(Garibaldi)". Cross the train tracks and the bridge over Green River and immediately (11.5k) turn left onto the Wedge Creek Forest Service Road. At 11.7km turn right and head up the bumpy but drivable to all types of cars to the parking lot at 13.2km. In the winter months (December to March) this last portion of road will likely be too deep with snow to drive, so parking here at the 11.7km mark may be as close as you can get. The trailhead parking lot is large and well maintained with an information board and outhouse. Though crime is almost non-existent in Whistler, be sure to secure your vehicle as leaving valuables visible in your car at a hiking trailhead is asking for trouble.
Camping in Garibaldi Park is generally very good and at Wedgemount Lake the facilities are spectacular. There are 20 designated tent spots and each one with a million dollar view of paradise. Half of these spots are located near the Wedge Hut, up along the dramatic scree, boulder and enormous erratic field about 300 metres from Wedgemount Lake. These tent spots are made of beautiful, wooden tent platforms and arranged to maximize both privacy and view. Nestled in alpine trees about 50 metres up the slope from the hut, three wooden tent platforms hide. Closer to the hut, nestled in the massive erratics are three more platforms. The more you explore among the gnarled and dramatically beautiful krummholz, the more perfectly positioned tent platforms you find. Down at the shore of Wedgemount Lake, just across from the foot of the glacier are several wood framed, gravel tent platforms lined majestically along the shore. Strategically positioned to line your tent view directly across the lake to the breathtaking Wedgemount Glacier. The wonderful silence broken only by distant waterfalls and the occasional rock slide from across the lake. The foot of the Wedgemount Glacier is just a short walk away. Hotels, B&B's and hostels are of course plentiful in Whistler.
Garibaldi Park is home to an ever increasing number of mountain huts. Russet Lake has one, Elfin Lakes has a massive one, Garibaldi Lake has one at the far end of the lake mainly used in the winter. The Spearhead Range that connects Blackcomb and Whistler mountains has a current proposal that may see the construction of several more huts. The Wedgemount Lake hut is free to use and there is no reservation system. It has an upper loft area that could fit four people in a pinch and the main floor has two large tables that are used as beds as well. The hut can comfortably accommodate 6 people, however more can fit if needed. Due to the tent pads being so numerous and beautiful, the Wedge Hut often goes unused. It is of course quite dark inside despite having some small windows and is just equipped with a shovel, broom, logbook and a few odds and ends left by previous hikers. The door locks from both the inside and outside making it secure from rodents, bears, sasquatches and mosquitoes. Due to the Wedgemount Lake trail being so steep, the Wedge Hut allows you to lighten your load by not having to carry a tent if you choose to. Also, in poor weather the hut is a wonderful, dry and secure retreat from the elements. Hikers often hike to Wedgemount Lake without a tent, hoping to sleep under the stars with just a sleeping bag. Relying on the Wedge Hut as just a backup in the event of rain or snow. In the spring and winter months, when Whistler is deep with snow, the Wedge Hut is an indispensable refuge for skiers and snowboarders.
There is an outhouse (toilet), at the trailhead to Wedgemount Lake. Another one a few metres from the Wedge Hut and tent platforms at Wedgemount Lake. And a third, almost hidden toilet down near the lakeside tent platforms. You will spot an unusual looking, plastic box in the scree slope along the trail to the lake. This is a futuristic looking outhouse that is more convenient to the campsites at the lake. All the outhouses in Garibaldi Park are serviced frequently and even equipped with toilet paper, however, bringing your own is always a good idea as it inevitably runs out sometimes.
Dogs are not permitted on the Wedgemount Lake trail or any other Garibaldi Provincial Park trails out of courtesy to the resident animals of the park. There are a large number of black bears in the park and encounters with dogs result in unpredictable and potentially dangerous conflicts. There are quite a few excellent hiking trails in Whistler that are dog friendly. Whistler's Valley Trail and Lost Lake Trails are dog friendly and run throughout Whistler. The Sea to Sky Trail, which runs over 30 kilometres through Whistler is a paradise trail for dogs as it runs through numerous parks, beaches and forests. Ancient Cedars is a nice, dog friendly hike that is 5k roundtrip and takes you into a thousand year old forest. Train Wreck is also dog friendly. The trailhead, marked Flank Trail is located in Function Junction, just a short drive south of Whistler Village. Further south you will come to Brandywine Falls, which is a short, 2k (roundtrip) dog friendly hike to the amazing falls. About 25 minutes north of Whistler, Nairn Falls is another beautiful and dog friendly hiking trails. For a look at some of the best dog friendly hikes in Whistler try here.. And for some more challenging dog friendly hikes try here..
Trailhead Directions to Wedgemount Lake
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