Buntzen Lake is so beautiful, it's hard to believe it's man-made.
You may not believe this (because this lake is so god-damn beautiful) but Buntzen Lake is actually man-made. Created in 1903, the Buntzen Lake hydroelectric project was the first hydroelectric generator to provide electricity to Vancouver. Back in the day, the lake used to be Vancouver's main source of electricity. Nowadays, the lake produces less than 0.4% of the power created by all BC Hydro generating stations. In 1972, BC Hydro completed the development of the Buntzen Lake Recreation Area and to this day still maintains the trails within the area.
One of the most popular trails in the area is the Buntzen Lake Loop. With a distance of approximately 8km, an elevation gain of 100m and a return time of 4 hours, it is the perfect cruisey day hike. We opted to go clockwise. Follow the 'Bunzten Lake Trail' signs and you will weave along a path parallel to the water. Shortly after beginning your hike, you will reach a floating bridge. Walk across this bridge and turn right onto a gravel road. Follow this gravel road until you arrive at a pump house. Turn right again and you will be back on the Buntzen Lake Loop trail, which encircles the lake in its entirety. And about halfway through the hike, you will reach North Beach - a quieter beach compared to the one near the parking lot.
The Buntzen Lake Loop trail allows you to walk between magnificent Douglas Fir trees and mighty Cedar trees, almost through small trickling creeks and over a number of wooden bridges that look like they could be pieced together to form an old school rickety rollercoaster. All the while (or most of it), the trail offers spectacular views of pristine water, dramatic mountains and the occasional kayaker.
Being only a 45 minutes drive northeast of the city, Buntzen Lake makes for a great day trip.
NB: A more challenging and uphill hike in the area is Diez Vistas. Suitably named as its Spanish translation is 'ten views'. We will definitely be coming back to do this one.