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Spruce Lake, a little-known gem just a few hours north of Vancouver, offers an opportunity for stunning scenery and hikes. Make the area around Gun Lake, British Columbia your base. From there, you can hike, bike or ride on horse back into the lake within South Chilcotin Provincial Park.
I chose to hike, and I survived… I have the blisters to prove it!
My cousin and I started our 26 km round-trip trek at the Jewel Creek Bridge, at the northeast end of Gun Lake, about 240 km from Vancouver. We left our car at the Jewel Creek parking lot. We only planned a blitz, overnight trip to Spruce Lake but an adventurous person could, if properly provisioned, spend weeks exploring the alpine meadows, snow covered passes, and even the slopes of tumbled jade boulders in the South Chilcotin.
Mountain meadow on the way to Spruce Lake
Our first day to Spruce Lake took about five hours. It wasn’t too demanding — in good weather, you could do it in runners, but the weather in the region is notoriously changeable, so it’s a good idea to be prepared for anything from blazing sun to a snow squall at any time of the year.
The earlier you start your hike, the better, in order to avoid a long, hot mid-afternoon up hill hike through a shadeless, but beautiful, mountain meadow in the last hour of your trek. Although you are walking beside Gun Creek for the most part of your hike, it’s best to carry water from the start and have a water treatment kit, just to be safe.
The hike is not demanding, but there are a couple of tricky spots across small slides where carrying a length of rope might offer assurance to the nervous.
The views along the way, especially from the meadow, are awe-inspiring and the crisp mountain air is always rejuvenating.
Our first glimpse of Spruce Lake
Once you reach Spruce Lake, there are two available campsites. The first is situated at the south end of the lake, the second is 1.5 km along the lake to the north. Both are free, have tables, fire pits, a pit toilet and the all important food cache to keep your stuff safe from bears. If you’re planning to swim, the north end campsite is much better.
Our campsite at the north end
If you bring a fishing rod, you’ll probably be able to catch your dinner because there is an abundance of fish in Spruce Lake.
Check out the rock bluffs above Spruce Lake, where 50 million year old fossils can be found, showing that the area was once deep under water.
Fill up your water bottles for the hike down, it’s about an hour faster than the hike up, but it’s still a good idea to start early to avoid the heat of the day. Once down I had a cool soak in Gun Lake and enjoyed a great feeling of accomplishment.