Sept 25th, 2022: Newt Lake is a fantastic, emerald coloured and very hidden lake up on the far side of Cougar Mountain.  In the busy summer months you are not likely to see anyone on the trail or at the lake.  In the much quieter fall months, you almost certainly won’t.  The unmarked trailhead is found at the end of the Ancient Cedars trail between the “TREES IN THE ANCIENT CEDARS… DOUGLAS-FIR” info board and the bridge.

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Unmarked and obscured by deadfall, the Newt Lake trail is actually very well marked with ribbons and tree markers.  After you climb over or around the fallen tree that blocks the trailhead, the trail is pretty easy to follow.  As long as you hike roughly parallel to the small creek which can be seen and/or heard on your right for a couple hundred metres.  The wildness of forest is readily apparent as the trail zig-zags around fallen trees and the creek is a continuous tangle of criss-crossing trees.  The sky is almost entirely blocked by the tangle of trees above and what light that does get through reflects off the sea of yellow, fall leaves.  Devils club grows in big patches at Ancient Cedars and along the start of the Newt Lake trail.  The Newt Lake trail is pretty tough, steep and wildly overgrown, but at just 2.4 kilometres it is short enough to be more fun than difficult.  And owing to the wildness of the forest and chaotic terrain, you focus a lot on the next tree marker and constantly changing topography and never get bored.  One minute you are marvelling at an ancient, fallen tree lined with dozens of baby trees growing out of it, the next you are staring at a decades old, octopus-like tree with roots grasping a car sized boulder.  In another moment the trail takes you up a sharp ridge and above the dark canopy of trees and you find yourself blinded by the sun and surrounded by weather battered, mangled trees(aka: krummholz) covered in usnea(aka: old man's beard).

Ancient Cedars Trail to Newt Lake

The Ancient Cedars trail is 2.5 kilometres and the Newt Lake trail is 2.4 kilometres.  The Ancient Cedars trail is somewhat steep, but easy to follow and well laid out.  It takes about 40 minutes to hike to the end of the trail and the hidden Newt Lake trailhead.  Though similar in length, the Newt Lake trail is a lot steeper, wilder and exhausting.  It takes about 1 hour, 20 minutes to hike.  As you approach Newt Lake, the forest opens up to a thick carpet of green and a brutal looking, crumbling mountain a few hundred metres away.  The trail then dips back into the forest and soon emerges along the left side of Newt Lake.  Cougar Mountain rises almost vertically to the left, with giant boulders sloping down into the emerald coloured water.

Amazing Newt Lake

Crazy Huge Boulders at Newt Lake

Standing on a truck sized boulder, piled on other truck sized boulders that you can see disappear into the startlingly deep water.  Looking down into the lake's near vertical slope you can see the brilliant green water fade to black several metres down.  Monster pieces of the mountain piled up under and all around.  Looking back you see these rocks continue sharply up to the crumbling mountain ridge high above.  Each one precariously propped up against, on or underneath another.  Walking along this side of Newt Lake involves a lot of crawling, climbing and jumping from boulder to boulder while wondering if your weight will tilt one and fling you into the lake.  The fact that many weigh thousands of kilograms gives you some hope that your light steps won't budge any. 

Spectacular Boulder Shore of Newt Lake

Newt Lake's Wonderful Boulders

You feel much safer when reaching the rock outcrop jutting out from the boulders and stand on solid bedrock.  This little dome shaped hill is covered in moss and hardy krummholz trees.  It slopes into the emerald abyss and after you jump in, a marvellous, natural staircase a few metres away allows for a easy exit back to your little hill in the sunshine.

Newt Lake Sunny Cliff

Newt Lake Camping in Wild Paradise

Behind you the hill slopes down to a small grassy area before rising to the boulders and then up to the cliff far above.  With some work and creative positioning, you can manage to fit two, possibly three tents, despite the uneven ground and tangle of trees and bushes.  When you finish situating your campsite and look up at the surroundings, you can't help but feeling in the midst of paradise.  The brutal looking boulders rising to the ridge that extends to one end of the lake where it slopes down and meets the opposite shore.  This south facing mountain gap allows the sun to reach the lake all day and even in late September makes it feel like July.  The opposite, tree lined shore bends around to face you with an unbroken wilderness that the sun will soon set behind.  Fall camping in Whistler is pretty amazing and Newt Lake is a perfect combination of hostile wilderness and idyllic alpine paradise.

Newt Lake Tent

Ancient Cedars Newt Lake Map v10

More info, details and directions to Newt Lake..

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