While there are a lot of very refreshing swimming holes near Vancouver, there aren’t many swimmable lakes near the city (other than Trout Lake… if you’re a dog). Luckily, however, there are a few little AWESOME lakes that are a relatively short drive or hike away.
So, if you’re not the type who enjoys swimming in the ocean, there are a few great lakes near Vancouver to take a day trip to when you’re itching to jump into a lake. Pack a cooler, buy a bunch of chips, and head to one of these lakes near Vancouver.
Found on the top of Mt. Seymour, this lake is a hidden gem that’s fairly simple to get to. Head over to North Vancouver and take the long, winding road up to the top of Mount Seymour. From the parking lot, Mystery Lake is a good 15-20 minute hike away. It’s easy for kids, but also easy if you’re lugging in some lunch. There are quite a few flat rocks for sunbathing or picnicking around the lake, so this is a great half or full-day activity.
Cabin Lake is a great place for a dip after a hike up to the top of Cypress Mountain. A great trip plan is to hike up to Eagle Bluffs, then back up/over for a cooling dip in Cabin Lake to wash off all the sweat. Be warned, lots of people like to do this in the buff. So, join in!
The trail to Whyte lake (that is sometimes more a brown lake) was first created after the 2010 Olympic Games, this lake has become a popular swimming hole for many Vancouverites. The Whyte Lake Trail is accessed from Westport Road just south of the Upper Levels Highway at Nelson Canyon. It’s an easy 3km to get to the lake, and it’s worth the walk between old-growth trees.
A bit of a farther journey, Brohm Lake is located in the Squamish district. From North Vancouver, it takes around 45 minutes to get to Squamish by car. Or, you could always try to hitch a ride. Brohm Lake is popular amongst the outdoorsy Squamish locals and has a few awesome rope swings and accessible cliff jumping locations. From Vancouver, drive up Highway 99 until you see the Brohm Lake sign, park on the side of the highway and trek up to the main swimming areas.
Cat Lake is a great alternative to Brohm Lake or Alice Lake if you’re heading to the Squamish area. This little lake is incredibly warm, but can get crowded. Bring a floaty! Or, grab a piece of floating log to paddle around the perimeter. Access is off Highway 99 via Cat Lake Road, drive all the way up the dirt road to the parking lot, and follow the sounds of happy screams.
Another one to add to the list, just because its there. Alice Lake is also located in Squamish and is a good lake to go to with a family or a big group of friends. You can also try camping at the lake, if you can get there early or reserve a spot ahead of time. This lake can get extremely crowded on hot, sunny weekend days — so be warned. There was once a 2.5 hour wait just to get into the parking lot (!) So, Cat Lake or Brohm Lake are often better bets.
White Pine Beach
Located on Sasamat Lake near Port Moody, White Pine Beach has beautiful, warm water and a white sandy beach. It also has TONS AND TONS of people. If you’re lucky enough to not have to work Monday to Friday, you’ll have a great time at White Pine Beach, it’s very beautiful. The problem is, everyone already knows that. However, if you want to get away from the crowds, you can try to walk around the perimeter trail that circles the lake. It’s an easy 1.5km walk that may offer up a few secluded areas to dive into the refreshing water.
One of the best things about Pitt Lake is the canoe rental and the destination you can take your canoe to. If you want, you can try swimming in Pitt Lake, but it can be rather cold. Best bet is to rent a floating boat that will get you to a secluded sandy beach or good cliff for jumping off of. Or, best of all, you could canoe to the Widgeon Falls campground area that has an awesome swimming hole at the bottom of a waterfall. It’s great for a jump in — but be prepared, it’s quite refreshing!
Another very popular lake destination, Buntzen Lake is located near Port Moody and is a favourite of the weekend-warrior crowd. However, this small lake is also a great place to do some hiking around and it is also fairly dog-friendly, so don’t be afraid to bring Rover. Did you know that this lake was used for the filming of the movie Lake Placid? Now you know!
Lindeman Lake (and Greendrop Lake)
Located in Chilliwack, Lindeman Lake is a much less busy alternative to the nearby Cultus Lake. It’s an easy few kilometre hike in, and offers great views and chilly water. You can also continue to Greendrop Lake if you want to walk a bit further to avoid the crowds. Both lakes also offer some great camping.