Madeley Lake Hiking and Camping in Whistler
Madeley Lake(mis-labelled "Powell Lake" on Google Maps) is a well hidden, though easily drivable lake in the beautiful Callaghan Valley. Unlike the terrible gravel road (4x4 recommended) to Callaghan Lake, the relatively smooth gravel road to Madeley Lake is drivable by car (relatively easily and safely). Just a 10 minute drive from the main, paved road to Whistler Olympic Park, Madeley makes a great side-trip on the way to or from the very popular 2010 Olympic attraction.
Just metres past the turnoff to Alexander Falls, turn left at the sign for . Cross the bridge and follow the terrible logging road for about three minutes, turn right at the first logging road that branches off to the right. Follow this logging road for about 10 minutes until Madeley Lake appears on your right. There is a large map board at the trailhead to Hanging Lake, Provincial ParkRainbow Lake and Sproatt Mountain. You can park here or continue past this and drive to the end of the lake and small campsite area. This is an unmaintained area and there are no facilities.
This is an amazing place to camp. If looking for solitude at a paradise, mountain lake, Madeley Lake is hard to beat. Though somewhat popular with fishing, you are still likely to rarely see anyone at the lake in the summer and never in the fall. Once in a while you will see a car or two at the trailhead to Hanging Lake. If you have a canoe, Madeley is a great place to paddle around.
Hanging Lake Near Rainbow Lake is Camping, Fishing and Dog Friendly
Hanging Lake is located just before Rainbow Lake. Though ugly in comparison to Rainbow Lake, Hanging Lake has a nice camping area and is dog friendly and swimming friendly. Rainbow Lake is the source of Whistler's drinking water and camping, dogs, swimming and fishing are prohibited. Though all of these prohibitions are unfortunately, routinely flouted at Rainbow Lake, Hanging Lake is a good alternative. The dividing line for dogs allowed and not allowed runs between Rainbow Lake and Hanging Lake and is marked with a huge sign.
The trail from Madeley Lake to Hanging Lake is nice, however at times muddy. Free of snow only from late July to early November most years, this trail is a great way to avoid the much busier Rainbow Lake trail that starts from the Whistler side of this area.
Directions to Madeley Lake Trailhead to Hanging Lake:
From Whistler drive 20km towards Vancouver on the Sea to Sky highway, then turn right at the sign for Whistler Olympic Park. Drive up the beautiful, winding road for about 8 minutes. The sign for Callaghan Lake will be just before Whistler Olympic Park, you will turn left, cross a bridge and after a couple hundred metres turn right onto another logging road. Follow this for 5k until you come to Madeley Lake and a large info board and signs directing you to Hanging Lake and Rainbow Lake. There is lots of parking here.
Other Hikes and Sights Near Madeley Lake..
Alexander Falls is a very impressive 43 metre/141foot waterfall just 30 minutes south of Whistler in the Callaghan Valley. Open year-round and located just before Whistler Olympic Park where several of the 2010 Olympic events were held. There is a nice viewing platform on the edge of the cliff across from the falls which crash fantastically into the valley below. The parking area and viewing platform at Alexander Falls is one big area just 40 metres from the main road (to Whistler Olympic Park). The adventurous can find the obscure trail that leads to both the top of the falls as well as, with great difficulty, to the base of the falls. For a unique and breathtaking spot to share a beer on the outskirts of Whistler, Alexander Falls surely ranks quite high. Of impressive waterfalls in the Whistler area, Alexander Falls is one of several spectacular ones. Others in the area include the amazing Brandywine Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Nairn Falls. Along very difficult hike to Wedgemount Lake you will see the incredible Wedgemount Falls. Down in Squamish, 45 minutes south of Whistler, you will find Shannon Falls.
Callaghan Lake is not really a hiking destination but more of a drive to campsite on a beautiful lake, and gateway to some beautiful intermediate hikes. The campsite is small and looks a bit like a parking lot with about 6 spots to put up a tent. There is a proper boat launch at the campsite and the lake is large and beautiful to paddle. Surrounded by snowy mountains and nice rock outcrops the lake is good for fishing. The hiking trails are minimal here due to the steepness and deep forest surrounding the lake. At the far end of the lake the rustic and steep Cirque Lake trail runs along the side of the crashing waterfall all the way to the breathtaking Cirque Lake. If you are motivated and have a canoe this is an amazing area to hike in mostly untouched wilderness where the alpine allows for hiking in several directions to countless lakes and glaciers beyond. The Callaghan Lake campsite is free to use and is notorious for being a bit rowdy during summer weekends, which does make it a friendly and fun place, but if you are looking for quiet and peace you may find it bothersome and should seek out one of the many, extraordinarily beautiful, boat accessed, backcountry tent sites.