Safety updates and trail closures
COVID safety reminder
Buntzen Lake picnic areas, trails and beaches are open. We've implemented safety measures at our recreation sites and ask all visitors to:
- Follow physical distancing requirements outlined by the Public Health Officer.
- Bring hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes to practice safe hygiene.
- Wear a mask while indoors using washroom facilities.
- Stay home if you're sick.
Coquitlam-Buntzen Tunnel Upgrade Project – Water level changes in Buntzen Lake
From January 17 to May 15, 2022, we’ll be diverting water from Coquitlam Reservoir to the Coquitlam River as we work to upgrade the tunnel between the reservoir and Buntzen Lake.
- Water levels at Buntzen Lake are expected to be at low operating levels throughout the tunnel outage. Users are asked to exercise caution and obey safety signs and barriers.
- There will also be higher flow and water levels than normal in the Coquitlam River during this time. With storm season also upon us, we ask that the public be extra careful when active around the river since water levels can rise and fluctuate without warning during rainstorms.
Suspension Bridge closed for replacement
The suspension bridge is currently closed for replacement, which means that it isn’t possible to do a complete hiking loop around the lake at this time. The timeline and schedule for the suspension bridge replacement hasn’t been confirmed. Please plan an out-and-back or alternate hike route.
Trail closures: rockslide
Both the Railway Trail and Reservoir Trail and related parking areas are closed due to recent landslides caused by heavy rain.
Following a rockslide, there’s no pedestrian access on Powerhouse Road between North Beach and Buntzen Dam. Hikers completing the Diez Vistas trail should use the Old Buntzen Lake trail to access either Lakeview trail or the west side of Buntzen Lake trail to get back to South Beach and the main parking lot. Swan Falls trail is also inaccessible to hikers at this time.
BC Hydro's most popular rec area can get very busy
Located just north of Ioco about 30 kilometres (km) from Vancouver, Buntzen Lake is a BC Hydro reservoir that's 4.8 km long and covers an area of 182 hectares.
Buntzen Lake Reservoir's amazing setting, adjacent hiking trails and cooling waters make it a popular destination, particularly on sunny weekends.
Buntzen Lake is located on the traditional territory of Kwikwetlem First Nation, Musqueam Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Squamish Nation and Stó:lō First Nations.
Directions, hours and what to do at Buntzen
Get directions to Buntzen Lake, just north of Port Moody in the Lower Mainland.
Please note that parking lots are located about two kilometres past the entrance gate. Parking is on a first-come basis only. When parking lots are full the entrance gates will be closed for the day. No re-entry is permitted. Please avoid arrving before opening hours as there's no parking in Anmore and it's important to keep emergency access routes clear. Learn more about parking restrictions.
Public transit to Buntzen Lake
The 182 bus operates from Port Moody Centre Station to Anmore daily. The closest stop to the lake is stop #53245, Southbound Sunnyside Road at Anmore Grocery Store. It is a 2 km walk to the main parking area and South Beach. Follow signs that direct pedestrians to South Beach.
Translink offers the 179 seasonal bus that operates on Weekends and Holidays from Canada Day weekend through to Labour Day. The 179 departs from Coquitlam Central Station hourly and takes riders to the main parking area.
For bus schedules and information, visit the Translink website.
Gates typically open at 8 a.m. unless a different opening time is noted. Closing times vary throughout the year.
|November 1 to January 31||8 a.m.
|February 1 to February 14||8 a.m.||5 p.m.|
|February 15 to March 7||8 a.m.||5:30 p.m.|
|March 8 to March 13||8 a.m.||6 p.m.|
|March 14 to March 28||8 a.m.||7 p.m.|
|March 29 to April 25||8 a.m.||7:30 p.m.|
|April 26 to August 8||8 a.m.||8 p.m.|
|August 9 to September 6||8 a.m.||7:30 p.m.|
|September 7 to September 19||8 a.m.||7 p.m.|
|September 20 to October 3||8 a.m.||6:30 p.m.|
|October 4 to October 17||8 a.m.||6 p.m.|
|October 18 to November 6||8 a.m.||5:30 p.m.
|November 7 to January 30||8 a.m.||4:30 p.m.|
Buntzen Lake Reservoir isn't only as a source of hydroelectric power, but is also a popular recreation area featuring:
- Picnic tables, shelter and grass play areas
- Cartop boat and canoe launch areas and dock
- Canoe rentals nearby, available at the Anmore Store located on Sunnyside Road. Call 604 469 9928 for rentals
- Hiking, mountain biking, and nature trails
- Developed viewpoints and interpretive displays
- Designated area for dogs
- Drinking water
Long line-ups can block Sunnyside Road in Anmore and access to the Sasamat Volunteer Fire Hall. In cooperation with the Coquitlam RCMP, who have policing authority for the area, BC Hydro doesn't permit line-ups for parking outside the gate because the line-ups impact emergency access.
The gate remains closed until enough spaces are available to handle visitor capacity for the rest of the day. Parking lots may have a number of spaces available while the gates are still closed. Other non-BC Hydro regional parks in the Lower Mainland have similar policies.
Drop-offs and pick-ups also cause line-ups, preventing emergency access to the park. Parking is on a first-come basis only. No re-entry is permitted.
Visitors are reminded that the footpath near the gate that accesses South Beach is 2.3 kilometres long.
Buntzen Lake rules & considerations
No open fires allowed. Only propane barbecues are permitted - charcoal and briquette barbeques are prohibited. Please remove all used or empty propane cylinders from the area and take them an appropriate recycling facility. Contact Recycling BC at 604 732 9253 to find a location near you.
Report any wildfires to to 911 or Buntzen Lake area staff.
Smoking is not permitted at Buntzen Lake except in designated smoking areas. Designated smoking areas are located in the South Beach Picnic Area and at the North Beach.
Consumption of alcohol and drugs is prohibited on BC Hydro property and is strictly enforced by the RCMP.
This Buntzen brochure [PDF, 346 KB] shows a map of three areas where your dogs may picnic with you. The trail to the right of the beach leads to the dog off-leash area beside Buntzen Creek. Please don't walk your dog through the main beach area.
All dogs must be on a leash except in the two designated off-leash areas or on the dog off-leash trail. All dogs must be under owner's control at all times.
There are no formal reservations for the picnic shelter.
Small battery-powered electric motors are allowed. While boating, observe all water safety regulations.
Overnight camping is prohibited. Vehicles left in the area overnight may be towed away at the owner's expense. The use of drones and/or remote control vehicles is prohibited.
Trails are closed to all motor vehicles including motorbikes, ATVs, Segways, and scooters.
Buntzen is a cold lake: Safety around water
Since operations of the hydroelectric facilities on Buntzen Lake and Indian Arm are remotely controlled, they're particularly hazardous to the public. Sudden adjustments in water flows can occur without warning and cause strong surface and underwater currents in the vicinity of the intake structures and the Coquitlam Lake tunnel outfall. Swimming or boating in these areas is extremely dangerous. For your personal safety, please observe all warning signs and stay well back from BC Hydro operating areas and structures.
We’ve introduced lifeguards from the Lifesaving Society of B.C. to patrol the south beach during during peak times (weather dependent). Visitors should refer to posted signage to determine if lifeguards are on duty. While lifeguards can help improve public safety, lifeguards will only be able to monitor a designated area of the park and visitors are reminded to always use caution around water and wear personal flotation devices.
Depth of water over the drop-offs varies with reservoir levels. Parents should keep small children within arms length.
An approved Personal Flotation Device (PFD) is required by law for each person on board any boat or canoe. This includes inflatables. Remember that it won't work if you don't wear it. A sound signalling device, such as a whistle, is also required by law.
Don't overload your boat or canoe with people or gear.
Small boats with a rounded bottom tip easily. Keep your centre of gravity as low as possible by sitting or kneeling even when reeling in a fish.
Watch the weather. Check the forecast before starting out. Be alert for the wave, wind, and cloud changes that signal bad weather is approaching.
Cold water reduces body heat 25 times faster than air does at the same temperature. Buntzen Lake is cold enough to threaten your survival. Wearing your PFD increases your survival time.
Alcohol affects your ability to function in three critical ways. Your balance, judgment and reaction time are affected almost immediately with the first drink. Remember: alcohol and water don't mix.
Never leave children unsupervised while they are in or near the water.
Children and non-swimmers should wear a PFD.
Two-thirds of people who drown never intend to go in the water. If you aren't prepared to get wet, you're not prepared to go out on the water.
Be back on shore 30 minutes before posted closing times.
History and hydroelectric operation
Formerly known as Lake Beautiful, the lake is named after the first general manager of B.C. Electric Co., Johannes Buntzen. In 1904 the Buntzen hydroelectric project was put in service by the Vancouver Power Company to provide the first hydroelectric power to Vancouver. Previously, the city had to depend on a 1,500-kilowatt (kW) steam plant for its power supply.
The project involved raising the level of the dam on Coquitlam Lake and excavating a 3.6 km tunnel to carry water from Coquitlam Lake to Buntzen Lake. The tunnel runs under Eagle Mountain, reaching a maximum depth of 1.2 km below the surface, and empties into the north end of Buntzen Lake.
Water from Buntzen Lake flows through penstocks down the steep mountain slope to two power plants located on Indian Arm. Buntzen No. 1 was constructed in 1903 with an initial capacity of 1,500 kW. A second powerhouse, Buntzen No. 2, was completed in 1914 with three pelton wheels delivering a total of 26,700 kW to meet Vancouver's continually increasing demand for secure electricity.
The generating equipment in Buntzen No. 1 was modernized in 1951 to produce 60,000 kW of power. At the turn of the millennium Buntzen No. 2 was shut down. Buntzen No. 1 is monitored and operated by a remote control facility in Burnaby.