Alouette Lake, British Columbia, Canada

Lake Locations:

Canada - British Columbia -

Also known as:  Alouette Reservoir, Lillooet Lake (historic)

Only an hour away from big-city Vancouver, Alouette Lake provides a wilderness experience and a mountain view of beautiful Golden Ears Provincial Park. Originally named Lillooet Lake, the reservoir was renamed Alouette Lake to distinguish it from another Lillooet Lake in British Columbia. The original lake along the Alouette River was much smaller before the building of Alouette Dam in 1928. This first lake in the Alouette, Stave Falls, Ruskin Project chain holds a key position in the BC Hydro-managed project that contains four dams, three powerhouses and a diversion tunnel all built to offer clean, renewable hydroelectric power to British Columbia.

Hydropower isn’t the only benefit that the nearly 4000-acre lake offers to area residents. Flood control, agricultural irrigation, fishing and recreation are all built into Alouette Lake’s design. The lake is nestled within 154,540-acre Golden Ears Provincial Park. This Park is comprised of an area carved out of larger Garibaldi Provincial Park, a 480,990-acre wilderness in British Columbia’s coastal mountains. Most visitors believe the name Golden Ears represents the twin peaks of Mount Blanshard, located near the western edge of the park. In actuality, the name is a corruption of the original Golden Eyries, apparently so-called for the soaring golden eagles in the area. Within Golden Ears Park, Alouette Lake offers three organized campgrounds, swimming, watersports, water skiing, wind surfing, tubing, canoeing and kayaking. Day use areas provide for picnics and swimming. A four-lane cement boat launch provides access to the water, although there is no marina on the lake or overnight docking facilities. A concession rents canoes, kayaks and pedalboats daily during the summer months, and a small concession stand and store provide forgotten camping items or a quick and convenient snack.

A large public beach is adjacent to the main portion of the campground, although no lifeguards are available. A playground, picnic areas, restrooms, RV dump and drinking water round out the basic amenities. A wealth of hiking trails, bike paths and equestrian trails offer miles of access to the park’s rugged back country. Spirea Universal Access Trail is accessible to the disabled, while nearly 15 miles of designated bike trails allow mountain bike fans to enjoy their sport. The park map shows the wide offering of trails, and a separate informational sheet gives the particulars. Walk-in wilderness camping is provided in several areas from these trails, with boat-accessible campsites locate along the far reaches of the lake. Much of the 24-mile shoreline is hard to reach any other way. On summer weekends, power boat traffic can be heavy, but weekdays and cooler weather allow paddlers to enjoy quiet waters and a strenuous workout traveling all the way up the lake. The main campground is open all year, although the auxiliary, overflow campgrounds close in winter. During busy summer holiday weeks, reservations may be needed as early as three months in advance.

Fishermen enjoy Alouette Lake for the wide variety of fish. The lake is quite deep with little vegetation, so cold-water fish are the norm. British Columbia Fish & Wildlife regularly stocks cutthroat trout and rainbow trout in the lake, while Dolly Varden, bull trout, kokanee, lake trout, Coho salmon and Chinook salmon are also present. A BC fishing license is required, and anglers should be alert for any special regulations placed on the reservoir. All boaters should be alert during periods of low water for submerged stumps and rocks just below the surface. As with many reservoirs, Alouette Lake has large variations in water depth depending on the weather, the season and water released for agriculture. A low outflow channel near the base of the Alouette Dam for agricultural use assures there is always enough water to support the fish downstream so the fishery remains healthy.

Golden Ears Provincial Park holds a wealth of native wildlife in its forested expanse. The second-growth western hemlock on the mountainous slopes is home to deer, black bears, mountain goats and a wide variety of smaller mammals. The park’s website provides a list of birds for bird-watchers. Two of the mountains are accessible by official trails but are quite strenuous and require at least intermediate skills. Hikers attempting the mountain trails should have adequate mountaineering gear and be prepared for unexpected bad weather. Upon reaching this watery paradise, it is hard to believe that small cities exist just downstream along the Fraser River less than 10 miles away. Indeed, preventing downstream flooding is part of the purpose for the reservoir, which stores excess water during times of heavy rains. Because there are no lodgings within the Park other than camping, the nearby town of Maple Ridge holds bed & breakfasts, guest cottages, hotels, motels and guest lodges. With Vancouver only an hour away, Alouette Lake is convenient for an afternoon’s visit or a weekend fishing or boating trip.

The Alouette, Stave Falls, Ruskin Project is of interest to those with a curiosity about how water can ‘work’ for people. The diversion tunnel diverts some water from the northern end of Alouette Lake through a steep mountain ridge to a powerhouse on the shore of Stave Lake where it produces electricity. A second dam and powerhouse at the southern end of Stave Lake uses the water again to produce electricity before it flows into Hayward Lake to produce power at Ruskin Dam. Thus, all of the water is returned to the river after completing its work. A Visitor and Information Center near the Stave Lake Dam provides full information.

A visit to the Alouette Lake area provides the ideal opportunity to view the magnificent scenery and impressive height of the majestic Garibaldi Mountains. Most of the land in the area belongs to the Crown and provides many locations and venues for hiking, nature photography and mountaineering. All of this-and ‘civilization’ only a few miles away.

* Statistics for Alouette Lake disagree in some cases. We have used figures provided by BC Hydro and British Columbia Travel Guide.

Things to do at Alouette Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Wind Surfing
  • Tubing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Provincial Park
  • Playground

Fish species found at Alouette Lake

  • Bull Trout
  • Chinook Salmon
  • Coho Salmon
  • Cutthroat Trout
  • Dolly Varden Trout
  • Kokanee Salmon
  • Lake Trout
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Trout

Alouette Lake Photo Gallery

Alouette Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: BC Hydro

Surface Area: 3,958 acres

Shoreline Length: 24 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 412 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 423 feet

Average Depth: 233 feet

Maximum Depth: 522 feet

Water Volume: 161,048 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1983

Drainage Area: 100 sq. miles

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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