Brew Lake is a hidden gem situated just south of Whistler. Unlike other popular hikes in Whistler, Brew Lake is much less-travelled AND it is dog-friendly! The scenic subalpine surroundings of the lake make it an ideal location to pitch a tent for a night or two. Alternatively, you can hike further up towards Mount Brew to stay in a hut!
As perfect as this spot is to camp, the hike up to Brew Lake is quite the gruelling trail. Its difficulty is probably what keeps the trail relatively lightly trafficked. I would only recommend it to very experienced hikers. I found it even more physically and mentally demanding than Eaton Lake, “the trail from hell”. I’d also recommend avoiding hiking Brew Lake Trail when it rains, as it would make a couple of the steep sections quite slippery and sketchy.
The folks at Whistler Hiatus has provided some great information on the Brew Lake Trail and how to find it. However, the bridge along the forest service road is now out of commission and the roads are of worse wear. High clearance 4x4s can park at the bridge, but other vehicles should park 2.5-3km before the bridge. This is where we parked our Subaru Forester. There is only space for 3-4 vehicles at each one of these spots. One group we met who had a low clearance 2WD even have to park at the beginning of the forest service road and walked up the additional 5.5 km to the trail head.
Finding the trailhead was the next challenge. Again, follow the map provided by Whistler Hiatus. There is an unmarked trail just before turning onto the “undrivable old logging road”. If you accidentally start walking down that trail like we did, you’ll quickly realize there are no markers and turn back. Keep on walking up the FSR and you’ll eventually see a trail marked by blue and pink marking tape. This is the trailhead for the Brew Trail.
The trail is very well marked all the way to the lake. Follow the yellow reflective tree markers, orange tape and rock cairns (the blue/pink tape eventually departs from the main trail). The first part of the trail is a relatively easy hike through the forest. Eventually you’ll reach an opening to a boulder field. You may look up and wonder if you’ll have to climb up and over this enormous boulder field – the answer is yes. This is where the hike becomes very difficult and gruelling. As soon as you climb up to where you think is a peak, you’ll realize it was just a ridge obscuring the view another climb ahead of you. This repeats a few times, which can lead to a rollercoaster ride of emotions. There were also some VERY steep sections, which require grabbing on to rocks and plants to pull yourself up.
After a tough grind up, you’ll eventually and suddenly reach Brew Lake! Once you get here, it makes the trail up worth every single gruelling step. There were only a handful of other groups camping, and we were spoiled for choice of where to camp around the large lake. With our overnight packs, it took us four hours from the trail head (or 4.5 hours from where we parked). We thought about hiking up further to the hut, but we were eager to start cooking dinner and enjoy being at our destination.
Brew Lake would be a great destination to bring a group of friends for a three-day adventure. After setting up camp for the first night, the second day would be ideal for exploring the trail up to the Brew Hut and the surrounding area, as well as just relaxing by the beautiful lake.
On the way down the next day, Rey ran circles around us. Having four legs is apparently pretty handy (no pun intended)!