How to Hike the Conflict Lake Trail – Callaghan Valley

Last Updated: April 2021

Conflict Lake Trail Quick Guide

  • Location: Callaghan Valley, British Columbia
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 7.5 miles (12 km)
  • Elevation Change: 590 ft (180m)
  • Time Needed: 4.5 hours
  • Crowdedness: Low
  • Type of Trail: Out & Back
  • Camping Allowed: Yes        
  • Dogs/Pets Allowed:  Yes (must be on leash)
  • Trail Head Location: Callaghan Lake Trailhead Parking
  • Best Time to Go: June - September

About Conflict Lake - Callaghan Valley

conflict lake trail

Photo: Stephen Sullivan

Nestled in the beautiful Callaghan Valley located just southwest of Whistler, British Columbia, you can find Conflict Lake.

A little way off the beaten path of the more manicured hikes in the region, you can still get your fix of mountain views, wildlife sightings, and fresh air with this gorgeous subalpine adventure (with a lot less foot traffic). 

This hike offers an excellent alternative without much elevation gain if you are not in the mood to exhaust yourself and still want to experience some of that Pacific Northwest magic.

That said, the hike involves an easy-to-follow but technical trail in terms of roots, rocks, and wet marshy areas where one can quickly lose their footing. In some areas, flags are used to make sure you don’t lose the trail.

The 7.5 mile (12 km) out and back hike offers you more solitude than you will find on most other hikes within the region, with no compromise on beauty. 

Mostly because of this, you can bring your dog for company; please make sure they are leashed – there are bears in the area. Check out our guide to Hiking with Your Dog.

This hike can be completed from June – September, although snow lingers in the earlier weeks of summer. Bugs can get notably bad in the area around this time as well. 

Additional benefits for hiking this trail in the later summer months is the beautiful display of subalpine wildflowers that August brings. 

That said, the trail is always quiet, offers a stunning hike through fascinating landscapes, all the while a beautiful, serene lake waits for you at the end of the trail. 

Ring lake lies roughly 2.5 miles (5 km) beyond Conflict Lake. This offers an enticing option if you have the sunlight and energy for it.

Although not much different, Ring Lake provides a different view of the meadows as you gain an additional 1107ft (310m) of elevation.

The trail there is easy to follow and is an extension of the same trail you were already on. 

conflict lake hike

Conflict Lake / Photo: Stephen Sullivan

How to Hike the Conflict Lake Trail

Once you have parked your vehicle, you will want to spot the large firepit located on the opposite side of the parking lot from Callaghan Lake. Behind this firepit is where the trail begins.

Shortly after entering the trail and crossing Callaghan Creek on a large log bridge (stop and take a picture), you will see signs nailed to a tree.

Follow the one that vaguely states “hiking trail.”

From this point, you dive into the forest. Make sure you are paying attention to your footing as the trail is not regularly maintained. Often there are rocks, roots, branches, and mud in your way.

You will also encounter a series of planks that are numbered (#1 being the closest to the trailhead).

The planks are laid down to assist in crossing some of the marshier bits on the trail. They also serve as reference points throughout your journey. 

About an hour into your hike, you will reach a junction. Left leads you 4.5 miles (9 km) further to Alexander Falls while right continues to Conflict Lake, about 1.7 miles (2.7 km) away. 

After this junction, the trail begins to open up as you walk through gorgeous subalpine meadows.

Keep an eye out for large boulders scattered across the landscape. They add to the character of the area and speak to a rich history of glaciation. 

There is a lot more to see throughout this section of the hike. If you visit in late July and throughout August, you will be treated to scenes of wildflowers and berries that help sustain the local wildlife population.

Conflict Lake Is located right near Journeyman Lodge, a popular touring location for the cross-country skiing community throughout the winter months.

It is unoccupied in the summer. This is an excellent landmark to know that you have arrived at your destination!

When ready, follow the trail back to the parking lot to return home.

conflict lake trail

Photo: Stephen Sullivan

What You Will See When Hiking the Conflict Lake Trail

Before starting the hike, be sure to take a minute to check out Callaghan Lake.

This lake is the main attraction of Callaghan Lake Provincial Park for campers throughout the summer.

It will be obvious why.

The first section of the hike offers you a chance to admire the large trees and lush green vegetation of the forest. 

The small creeks and ponds of the subalpine bring this landscape to life. Large boulders are deposited throughout this meadow and are an exciting feature in addition to the wildflowers.

Keep an eye out for birds and bears. Callaghan Valley is one of the only places where grizzly bears still roam within the Whistler area. However, sightings are rare, and their population is small.

Conflict Lake itself is very picturesque, quiet, and undisturbed, with mountains in its backdrop. 

Best Photo Spots

  • Callaghan Lake
  • Conflict Lake
  • Ring Lake
  • Journeyman Lodge
Callaghan Creek conflict lake trail

Crossing Callaghan Creek on the log bridge / Photo: Stephen Sullivan

How to Prepare to Hike the Conflict Lake Trail

Bug spray is essential for this hike.

Due to the hydrology throughout the subalpine area, there are many breeding grounds for mosquitoes and black flies. If you are really bothered by bugs, you can pack bug nets, although they are typically bad in early summer. 

Although not required, it is recommended that you drive a vehicle with some clearance.

Due to the unpredictable nature of the logging road, it usually is best to drive SUVs, trucks, and vans. That said, it is passable in some cars as well.

Since this hike is somewhat of a hidden gem, you must have proper food storage equipment as there are no bear lockers.

Whether you have bear canisters or a bag and sting, make sure you practice good food handling! 

What to Pack for Hiking the Conflict Lake Trail

  • Bear spray
  • Whistle
  • Food
  • Camera
  • Water (You can drink water from one of the streams nearby or the lake itself but make sure to bring water tabs or a filter)
  • Sunscreen
  • Food storage equipment

Never forget to pack out what you pack in.

Looking for some new hiking gear, then check out our best of the best gear list.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a hike that offers a serene escape from some of the busier trails in the area, you have found it!

Conflict lake is a dog-friendly, moderately long hike that does not include much elevation gain. It offers various landscapes from forest to marshes and subalpine meadows, all the while offering views of surrounding mountain peaks.

Some of these mountains hold their snow well into summer.

You end your hike at a calm, isolated, and beautiful lake with the option to carry on or to set up camp for the night.

Pack your bug spray and take a hike into the Callaghan Valley! 

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