Cirque Lake: Have you Explored this Stunning Alpine Lake?
Have you ever been up the Callaghan valley? It’s a large, beautiful and remote area nestled between Squamish and Whistler. Cirque Lake a particularity beautiful spot and considering it’s remote feel it’s relatively accessible to reach. It sits high above the picturesque Callaghan Lake, (which can be accessed by car), and reaching the trail-head involves a fun paddle and then a short but steep hike.
One of the unique features about Cirque Lake is its nearly perfect circular shape and steep, rocky shoreline. Did you know that a cirque is an amphitheater-like valley formed by glacial erosion? Its emerald waters, grassy meadows and rocky cliffs create a humbling and breathtaking sight.
Parking and Camping
There is a small parking lot at Callaghan Lake and no camping/parking permits are required. There are also no camping fees for the area. At Callaghan Lake, there are ample campsites and depending on the time of the year these can fill surprisingly quickly. Each campsite features a tidy fire ring and you can park your vehicle beside your campsite. For a more remote experience I recommend paddling to the other side of Callaghan lake and setting up camp there.
Reaching the Cirque Lake Trail-head
At Callaghan Lake, you will find a functional boat launch where you can drop your canoe for a day on the water. The trailhead to Cirque Lake is located in the furthermost corner of Callaghan Lake and will usually take you forty-five minutes (depending on winds and your fitness level) of paddling to cross. When you hear the crashing waterfall of Cirque Falls then you know you are near the trailhead. Drag your canoe up to the campsite located near the falls and towards to start of the trail.
Hiking the Cirque Lake trailhead is not for a novice hiker. The trail is steep and crumbling. It should not be undertaken alone. During the second half of the trail’s length, the going becomes quite cumbersome and the chances are good that you will have to pull yourself up the trail’s embankments using handholds on tree roots and rocks. There is also a knotted rope provided to help hikers gain a foothold and traverse the difficult terrain.
The last leg of the trail is dotted with large boulders that you will need to maneuver around and across. Always watch your footing because it’s not uncommon for a rock to shift and you could suffer a sprain or a broken leg if you are not mindful of each step
The trail markers are often difficult to locate and sparse. The region’s heavy snowfall during the winter months frequently breaks down or bends the signs from view. Generally, it takes a little over an hour to hike the trail even with a heavy pack if you are in shape.
During the spring months, blueberry bushes adorn the trail’s sides. However, remain vigilant for wildlife such as bears when hiking. Remember that many creatures enjoy snacking on the succulent and bountiful berries.
If you are seeking a nearly deserted lake, then Cirque Lake is the place to be. Its remote location almost always guarantees privacy. The quiet and awe-inspiring beauty is an ideal spot to pitch a tent and spend a night or two. Trust me, it’s worth finding a boat and making the journey.