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Conflict Lake in the Callaghan Valley, Whistler

Ring and Conflict Lakes                                             Whistler Area Hiking Trails

Ring Lake is a fantastically beautiful and wonderfully remote lake similar to Cirque Lake but considerably farther to hike to reach it.  The 10k hike takes you through a beautiful forest of cedars then to a spectacular meadow filled with ponds and ringed with distant, enormous mountains.  5k into the hike you come to Conflict Lake Ring Lake Partly Frozen in Julywith trails running around it.

Signs at various junctions indicate which trail to take to reach Ring Lake, a further 5k from Conflict.  The trail from Conflict Lake to Ring Lake passes through a huge valley for a couple kilometres, then abruptly ascends on the right side of the valley.  The trail is poorly marked in this section and you have to keep bearing right to avoid descending back into the valley.  3k of, at times very steep, but not technical trail gets you to the magnificent Ring Lake and the imposing Ring Mountain across the emerald green water.

The trailhead to Ring and Conflict Lakes is very close to the Callaghan Lake Provincial Park campsite.  From the campsite, drive a couple hundred metres as if returning to Whistler and you will see a clearing on the right and a very well worn trail.  From this trail you will see plenty of signs to guide you first to Conflict Lake in 5k, then Ring Lake, another 5k past Conflict.  The 5k hike to Conflict Lake is quite relaxed and easy as you don't gain any significant elevation.

The 5k from Conflict to Ring Lake is very steep, and though marked well with flagging tape and cairns, if often difficult to follow.

Meadow Near Conflict Lake

Conflict Lake

Ring and Conflict Lake Trail

Ring Lake in Whistler

Ring and Conflict Lake Topo Map

Hiking Trails and Sights in the Callaghan Valley...

Cirque Lake near Madeley Lake in WhistlerThe Callaghan Valley lays quietly across from Whistler despite being home to some incredible hikes.  Ring & Conflict Lake and Cirque Lake are two phenomenal hiking destinations in the valley that few people have even heard of.  Cirque Lake resides high above Callaghan Lake at the end of a very steep, though very short hike that runs startlingly close to the almost vertical falls that empty Cirque LakeRing and Conflict Lakes sit high up in the mountains 10k west of Callaghan Lake.  You will never, or at least comparatively rarely see anyone on the trails to Cirque Lake, Conflict Lake or Ring Lake for several Alexander Falls in Whistlerreasons.  First is location.  Despite the Callaghan Valley being tremendously beautiful geographically.  The distant mountains are snow covered, even in September.  The lakes are emerald coloured and crystal clear.  The forests are an untouched blanket of beautiful green.  The creeks, rivers and waterfalls are everywhere in your view or if not in view, heard as distant sounds of running water.  Despite this beauty, it seems that the biggest reason for the Callaghan Valley's lack of use as a hiking destination is its location next to Garibaldi Park.  The beautiful and well known park focuses all the throngs of hikers in the justifiably popular areas of Garibaldi Lake, Black Tusk, Taylor Meadows, Wedgemount Lake andCallaghan Lake Provincial Park near Madeley Lake Elfin Lakes.  Laying outside this monstrously famous Provincial Park exists the relatively untouched and unknown Callaghan Valley.  The second big reason of course is that the hikes in the Callaghan Valley are unmaintained or at least rarely maintained.  The campsite at Callaghan Lake is maintained to a very high standard, however the trail to Cirque Lake evidently doesn't fall into any park jurisdiction and finding the unmarked trailhead is a challenge.  There are flagging tapes Madeley Lake in the Callaghan Valleyalong the trail after the trailhead.  The third reason, at least for Cirque Lake, for being hardly hiked is the fact that the unmarked trailhead starts at the far end of Callaghan Lake.  So you need to canoe or otherwise, boat there.  This added impediment surely contributes to this wonderful trail, continuing to be infrequently hiked.  The fourth, more practical, yet inexplicable reason is that the road to Callaghan Lake Provincial Park is horribly unmaintained.  Obviously grading this poor logging road is expensive, however it is beyond neglected.  Boulders, waterbars and potholes exist on this road to such a high degree that the neglect seems malicious.  In fact, the moment you leave the deluxe road to the Olympic Nordic Centre the monstrous potholes begin, presumably scaring away any 4x4 lacking tourists Callaghan Lake Provincial Park bound.  The Callaghan Valley gets a lot of drive in traffic since the recent paving of the road and installation of the fabulous Whistler Olympic Park for the 2010 Olympics.  This road is open year-round and in the summer is frequented by bear watchers.  The grass along the road is a favourite for bears and in the summer months consistently ensures at least a couple bears along the route to the Callaghan Valley.  Madeley Lake 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 or just float in the sun.

Whistler Hiking Map Guide

The trail from Madeley Lake to Hanging Lake is nice, however at times muddy.  Free of snow, usually early July to 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.  If you can arrange to have someone drop you off at the trailhead you can hike all the way to Whistler Village via the Rainbow Trail and the Valley Trail.  The entire distance is about 23 kilometres and should only take about 6 hours, much of it steadily descending the beautiful Rainbow Trail.  The route is well marked and there are several map-boards along the route ensuring you find your way safely.

Ring & Conflict Lakes Trailhead/Parking                                       Whistler Hiking

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The Callaghan Lake turnoff is 20km south of Whistler Village. From Whistler drive 20km towards Vancouver, 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 drive a bumpy logging road for 6km. This logging road is usually deep with snow until mid June.  The trailhead for Ring and Conflict Lake is on the left, about 100 metres before the Callaghan Lake campsite.  There is room for about 6 vehicles at this trailhead.  There is lots of parking at Callaghan Lake, an outhouse, boat launch and several nice campsites.

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