The Cheakamus River flows roughly parallel to the Sea-to-Sky Highway between Whistler and Vancouver, but its path is far different than the paved four-lane highway. Much of the river flows through Cheakamus Canyon, where plenty of exciting whitewater rapids and one sizeable waterfall make the river a popular rafting and kayaking route. None of the rapids are too challenging, so the trip is considered suitable for kids and parents alike.
The river is also a favorite spot for local fisherman. Coho and Chum salmon swim upriver between September and December; Bull, Rainbow and Cutthroat trout fishing is strong from late autumn until early spring; and Steelhead season typically lasts from March until May.
The Cheakamus River descends from Cheakamus Lake, located in Garibaldi Park and just behind Whistler Mountain. It’s only a 1.8-mile (3-km), one-hr hike from the trailhead near Whistler’s Function Junction to the lake, but it’s a very scenic trail that winds through old-growth forest before arriving at the emerald-colored lake. It’s an additional 2.5-mile (4-km) hike to the opposite end of the lake; however, the views improve every step of the way. There are backcountry tent sites right on the lakeshore, too, for hikers hoping to spend the night.