Top 10 Glacial-Fed Lakes in BC

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Paddle them in a canoe, stare at them from a dock, or—if you dare—jump into them for a swim. We asked you, our Facebook fans, to share your favourite glacial-fed lakes in BC. Slip into the dreamy waters of these ten turquoise wonders.

1. Emerald Lake

Canoeing through Emerald Lake, lined with dense vegetation and snow-capped mountains.

Canoeing on Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park. Photo: @goldiehawn_ via Instagram

Emerald Lake is regarded as a sight to see, and rightfully so. The otherworldly, calm green waters of this lake lap against a shoreline of thick forest and a backdrop of massive glaciers and the impressive Canadian Rockies. Jump in a canoe for a peaceful glide, treat yourself to lunch on the patio at Cilantro on the Lake, or take the hiking trail that circumnavigates the entire lake.

2. Berg Lake

Placid waters reflect glacial mountains at sunset.

Berg Lake in Mount Robson Provincial Park. Photo: @stevint via Instagram

The 23-kilometre (14-mile) backcountry trek to view Mount Robson towering over Berg Lake is a bucket-list hike for trekking enthusiasts from all over the world. Before reaching the lake, the trail passes through three bio-climatic zones, traces around the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies and peaks at the Berg Lake campground. Here you can view icebergs that have broken off the Berg Glacier to float around in the turquoise water. This is a popular trail, so don’t forget to reserve your spot well in advance.

Don’t miss: a night at Emperor Falls campsite, close to the highest waterfall in the Valley of a Thousand Falls, on your way to Berg Lake.

3. Garibaldi Lake

Turquoise waters run through snow-capped mountains.

Garibaldi Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park. Photo: @stevenofnorth via Instagram

This iconic BC lake is a popular stop for day hikers and overnight campers along the Sea-to-Sky Highway en route to Whistler. From the trailhead, this 9-kilometre (5.6-mile) trail gains 900 metres (2,952 feet) of elevation before reaching Garibaldi Lake. Once you arrive, pitch your tent, have a picnic on Battleship Islands or tackle some of the surrounding trails. During peak season (June 29 – September 30) reservations are required at Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake campsites. Be sure to make one. You don’t want to get turned around by a friendly BC Park Ranger after setting your sights on this lake.

Don’t miss: the 6.9 km (4.3-mi) hike up to the Black Tusk view point from the Garibaldi Lake campsite.

4. Harrison Lake

Aerial view of a densely forested island surrounded by emerald blue water.

Green Point on Harrison Lake. Photo: @brynnstonephoto via Twitter

This 60-km (37-mi) lake stretches from the village of Harrison Hot Springsnorth towards a backdrop of snow-capped coastal mountains. In the summer months, the spring run-off from Mount Breckenridge turns the water its azure colour. Circumnavigate Eco Island by boat or head for Long Island to hide away in protected bays. Green Point, on the east side of Harrison Lake, is a great day use area in Sasquatch Provincial Park.

Don’t miss: a boat tour of the lake and river to view pictographs (ancient First Nations rock paintings) with Harrison Eco Tours.

5. Frozen Lake

Calm green waters reflect a rugged landscape.

Elk Lakes Provincial Park. Hike a little further to reach Frozen Lake. Photo: Jomac Photography/KootenayRockies.com

n far southeastern BC sits the lesser-known Elk Lakes Provincial Park. This provincial park is a hidden wonder 2.5 hours north of Fernie, down a series of dirt roads and past the tiny towns of Sparwood and Elkford. To reach Frozen Lake, start at the Elk Lakes trailhead and make your way toward Lower Elk Lake. Follow the trail to West Elk Pass and then head west toward Fox Lake before meeting the chilling waters of Frozen Lake.

Don’t miss: bringing all your own supplies and being emergency prepared. This is a remote area, with no cell reception, and walk-in/wilderness camping only.

6. Chilko Lake

A young bear fishes in Chilko Lake.

Bear fishing in Chilko Lake. Photo: @daveprothero via Instagram

Chilko Lake is found in Ts’il?os Provincial Park, in a remote area of BC’s Chilcotin region. The lake is bordered by the rugged Coast Mountains to the west and the dry, Interior Plateau to the east. A contrast of frozen peaks and massive glaciers to alpine meadows and arid landscapes.

7. Joffre Lakes

A hiker stops to take in calm waters that reflect snow-covered mountains.

Joffre Lakes Provincial Park north of Pemberton. Photo: @goldiehawn_ via Instagram

The rewards on this hike, one the shortest alpine hikes in the Sea-to-Sky corridor, are impressive. This 5-kilometre (3-mile) trail wanders past two turquoise lakes before ending at Upper Joffre Lake with the truly remarkable backdrop of Matier Glacier. On hot summer days, you can hear the sound of crashing ice and rocks as the glacier melts. For this reason, scrambling up the slope to get a closer look is not recommended. Just stay put and admire the beauty of this place from the trail and campsites below.

Don’t miss: a cool-down dip in Middle Joffre Lake before continuing along the trail.

8. Atlin Lake

An densely forested island with snow-capped mountains rising behind it.

Atlin Lake in the northwest corner of Northern BC. Photo: @safereturndoubtful via Instagram

The town of Atlin sits in an isolated corner of northwestern BC, on the east side of Atlin Lake. This 6.5-km (4-mi) wide and 136-km (85-mi) long lake is surrounded by snow-capped mountains for a truly spectacular setting. Only 400 full-time residents live in this town, so you’ll likely be one of only a few people out exploring this lake. Your Instagram pictures of this incredible place will have to wait—there is no cell phone service here—but you’ll be happy there isn’t. A place like this deserves all your attention.

Don’t miss: the Atlin Arts and Music Festival that takes over this tiny town every July. It’s the perfect time to plan a visit.

9. Lake O’Hara

Traditional log cabins are nestled in a dense forest along placid waters.

Lake O’Hara in Yoho National Park. Photo: @mitchpopilchak via Instagram

Another one for your BC bucket list. Here you’ll be surrounded by many other nature-lovers with the same idea, but it’ll be worth it. There are four ways to visit this place, so choose wisely. Come for the day by booking a reservation with Parks Canada. Camp for up to three nights in the park. Stay at the Elizabeth Parker Hut, run by the Alpine Club of Canada. Or go all out and stay at the Lake O’Hara Lodge for a unique wilderness experience.

Don’t miss: the bus to take you there! Hiking the 11-km (6.8-mi) access road is permitted but please note that buses will not stop for walkers and a ride out is not guaranteed. You must be prepared to walk the entire way.

10. Comox Lake

A solitary wharf sits in calm waters under a stunning purple sunset.

Comox Lake on Vancouver Island. Photo: @nikdunn via Instagram

After a day of mountain biking the trails in Cumberland or hiking the mountains in Strathcona Provincial Park, Comox Lake is the go-to spot to cool down and chill out. Your best access point is near the campground and RV park located on Comox Lake Road, just west of Cumberland.

Don’t miss: grab a paddleboard and take to the water for a soulful glide along the lake.

Are any of your favourite glacier-fed lakes missing? Let us know in the comments below.