Buntzen Lake, British Columbia, Canada

Lake Locations:

Canada - British Columbia -

Also known as:  Trout Lake, Lake Beautiful-historic

Nestled beneath lush green mountains near the British Columbia coastline, beautiful Buntzen Lake offers a wealth of hiking enjoyment to recreation seekers. Located less than 30 miles by car from Vancouver, Buntzen Lake is one of the main storage reservoirs for hydro-power generation in the metropolitan area. It is hard to believe that this lovely lake is located so close to civilization; the heavily wooded surroundings lend a wilderness feel, as do the steep mountainsides that provide the backdrop for the scenic rocky shore. Buntzen Lake Reservoir Recreation Area provides many opportunities for water lovers to enjoy the pristine waters and natural surroundings. South Beach Day Use Area at the south end of the lake holds a number of family attractions.

Buntzen Lake’s South Beach Day Use Area is often very busy on warm summer days. BC Hydro limits visitors to those who can find parking space in the designated parking areas nearly a mile from the shore. When parking is full, the gates are closed. This allows lucky park visitors to enjoy a sandy beach for swimming, a cartop boat and canoe launch area, dock, picnic tables and shelters, a designated dogs-allowed area, grassy playgrounds, drinking water and rest rooms. Only electric motors are allowed on Buntzen Lake with canoe and kayak rentals available at the Anmore Store nearby. A second beach area is found at the north end of the lake and can be accessed via trails. Probably the biggest attraction other than the swim beach is the wealth of trails in the area open to hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. Trails that begin in the Buntzen Lake Recreation Area include the Energy Trail and the Buntzen Lake Loop Trail for hikers only. Shared-use trails include the Old Buntzen Lake Trail, Academy Trail and Lakeview Trail. Occasionally 10k and 15k races are held along some of the trails.

The Buntzen Lake Recreation Area is bordered on two sides by the Indian Arm Provincial Park and Belcarra Regional Park to the south. Other popular trails meander through Buntzen Lake Recreation Area but end up within Indian Arms Provincial Park. Some of these include the popular Diez Vista Trail (4.4 miles) which crosses the north terminus of the lake and includes a hanging bridge. Swan Falls Loop (12.4 miles), Linsay Lake Loop (9.3 miles) and Dilly Dally Loop (15.5 miles) also begin here. More precise information for all of the trails in the area, including a grueling 42-mile trail along the mountain ridges, can be found on the BC Hydro Trails webpage and at the Indian Arms Provincial Park webpage. In winter, a few of the more accessible trails are open for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Known for its trout fishing, Buntzen Lake is regularly stocked with rainbow and cutthroat trout. The waters also hold a few kokanee and a number of rough fish not usually the prime target for anglers. Boats work best for fishing the lake, but there are a few places along the shoreline that can be fished, including some floating docks that can be reached only by hiking trail. Steep rocky drop-offs along many areas of the shore offer great fishing opportunities for the experienced fly fisherman. BC Hydro provides two campsites within the Recreation Area, but these don’t appear on most maps; those wishing more information would be well-advised to contact the Buntzen Lake Warden Office.

Buntzen Lake was once called Trout Lake and later, Lake Beautiful. The current name came from the first general manager of B.C. Electric Co., Johannes Buntzen. Most narratives refer to the lake as an artificial reservoir, however it appears that there was a lake here before it was developed for hydroelectric power. A small gas-fired steam generation plant produces power at Buntzen Lake. Contrary to popular belief, most hydroelectric power is not produced at the dam on the north end of the lake. Instead, a tunnel from dammed Coquitlam Lake two miles to the east was dug under Eagle Mountain in 1905. Excess water from Coquitlam Lake flows to Buntzen Lake. The small dam outlet at the north end of the lake opens into McCombe Lake then enters a pipeline, partially underground, that carries the water down the mountainside to two generating plants on Indian Arm. Indian Arm is a narrow bay of Vancouver Harbour and a major spot for recreational boating.

There are no lodgings available on the deserted shores of Buntzen Lake. In the past a few resorts shared the waters, but they no longer appear to be available. And although there is little camping available in Buntzen Lake Recreation Area, plenty of camping is available nearby in Indian Arm Provincial Park. The village of Anmore just downstream also holds RV campgrounds and other guest lodgings. And with metropolitan Vancouver less than 30 miles away, all types of lodgings, entertainment and fine dining are available, along with boat tours, whale watching excursions, saltwater fishing and pleasure boating. Vancouver’s mild climate allows for the development of several world-class botanical features that are always a hit with visitors. Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island is accessible by a delightful ferry ride and offers tours of the greenhouses and gardens. The architecture of Victoria is easily enjoyed by bus tour, and a whale watching cruise on Hero Strait is one of the most popular attractions in the area.

Surrounding Vancouver are numerous outdoor adventures just waiting for nature lovers, including the Refuge for Endangered Wildlife on the North Shore. If heights and sights are your passion, the world’s longest suspension footbridge, Capilano Suspension Bridge, awaits. The Grouse Mountain Skyride glides above the temperate rain forest where unusual plants and birds abound. Many hiking trails and lovely scenic vistas await anyone who explores the area around Vancouver, not the least of which is Buntzen Lake Recreation Area. So come hike the trails where the rainbow trout await.

Things to do at Buntzen Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowshoeing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Provincial Park
  • Playground

Fish species found at Buntzen Lake

  • Cutthroat Trout
  • Kokanee Salmon
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Trout

Buntzen Lake Photo Gallery

Buntzen Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: BC Hydro

Surface Area: 450 acres

Shoreline Length: 7 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 403 feet

Average Depth: 98 feet

Maximum Depth: 213 feet

Water Volume: 36,758 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1903

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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