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Is there anything better than a swim, post-hike?
Hiking in the summer heat calls for drinking lots of water, wearing sun protection, and seeking shade.
It’s also an excellent excuse to take a refreshing dip in a cold lake.
Accordingly, here are four fantastic summer hikes to swimming holes near Vancouver.
Reminders: Check current conditions, take the essentials, leave a trip plan with a responsible person, and make sure to leave no trace. Be bear aware!
Distance: 14.5 km
Elevation gain: 145 m
Location: Garibaldi Provincial Park
Come for the turquoise waters of Cheakamus Lake. Stay for the majestic Douglas-fir and western red cedar giants.
From the Cheakamus Lake parking lot, set off on an old road. In a half-hour, reach a junction. The Helm Creek Trail goes right to cross the Cheakamus River; however, continue straight ahead on the Cheakamus Lake Trail. After little more than an hour of hiking, arrive at the Cheakamus Lake campground.
It’s worth pushing on, following the undulating trail east. After 2 hours on foot, reach the end of the maintained trail at the Singing Creek campground. Wander down to the mouth of Singing Creek, enjoy lunch on the pebbly beach, and head back to the trailhead.
Day-use vehicle passes are in effect this summer. Camping is allowed at designated sites only, and reservations are required year-round. Dogs, drones, and fires are prohibited in the park.
Distance: 10 km
Elevation gain: 510 m
Location: Sumas Mountain Interregional Park
A hike on the Centennial Trail to Chadsey Lake rewards with shady forest for much of the way. From the trailhead on Sumas Mountain Road, enter the mixed woods and take a bridge over a stream. Head up a ravine, cross a creek, and ascend an old roadbed.
Approach a logged area, and emerge on a gravel road, after 1 hour on foot. Turn right then left at an entrance indicated by flagging. Hike up between clear-cuts. From the forest edge, earn southwest views.
Sidehill across steep wooded slopes to reach trail signs and the 4.5-km marker. Cross a log bridge and head upstream under Douglas-firs. Descend into the Chadsey Lake basin. Hit a junction. The Centennial Trail goes left; however, opt right to arrive at the lakeshore. Retrace your steps.
Distance: 11.5 km
Elevation gain: 1080 m
Location: Chilliwack River Valley
The hike to Pierce Lake is a terrifically steep grind. From the trailhead off Chilliwack Lake Road, walk south on Pierce Lake Forest Service Road. In a few minutes, spot the signpost marking the old trailhead to the right. Head into the shady timber on an old road and begin the relentless uphill trudge.
Cross a logging road. After 30 minutes, go across an overgrown road. Reach the Pierce Lake Trail’s 2-km marker after an old boulder patch. An orange arrow points right at a switchback. Enter a big rockslide, and go up and across. A lush forest of old-growth fir awaits on the other side.
Cross Pierce Creek, after more than 1.5 hours on foot. Pay attention to flagging to stay on the switchbacks. More than an hour past the Pierce Creek crossing, look for a trail dropping down to the right in the woods.
Descend the path through thimbleberries and wildflowers to arrive on the north shore of beautiful Pierce Lake. Hiking poles will prove their value as you head back down the way you came.
Distance: 16.5 km
Elevation gain: 480 m
Location: E.C. Manning Provincial Park
The Poland Lake Trail is a breeze compared to many other hikes in E.C. Manning Provincial Park, as it largely follows a fire-access road. Find the trailhead on the north side of Gibson Pass Road, opposite Strawberry Flats.
Spurning the North Gibson Trail, set off west on the Poland Lake Trail. In several minutes, head right on a gravel road, which rises to enter the ski area. Fork right and duck under the Orange Chair. Where the road curves right, 2.6 km from your start, bear left on a path through meadows. (Horse riders and bikers stick with the road.) Switchback up the ski area and follow a double track to rejoin the bike and horse route.
The road curves left to peak near the top of Grassy Mountain. A gentle descent reveals a succession of meadows and vantages of mountains across the valley. The road rises to traverse the south slopes of Bojo Mountain.
From the hitching post at the road’s end (no bikes or horses beyond this point), follow the path up Poland Creek to arrive at Poland Lake, just over 2.5 hours from the trailhead. Round the eastern shore and turn left at a signpost to find Poland Lake Camp (backcountry camping permit required) in a broad meadow. Dogs must be on-leash at all times.
Stephen Hui is the author of Best Hikes and Nature Walks With Kids In and Around Southwestern British Columbia, a new guide to 55 hiking trails in B.C. and Washington.
His first two books, 105 Hikes and Destination Hikes, were #1 B.C. bestsellers.
Find the books: 105hikes.com