Buntzen Lake

BC Hydro's most popular rec area can get very busy

Buntzen Lake Reservoir's amazing setting, adjacent hiking trails and cooling waters make it a popular destination year round. Particularly on hot weekends, get there early to ensure you get a parking spot and a nice spot on the beach.

Note that work on trails and bridges that has been going on for months is now complete. Enjoy.

Trail and bridge upgrades

West Buntzen Trail

West Buntzen Trail is now open with these bridge upgrades:

  • West approach to Suspension Bridge
  • Sitka Creek Bridge
  • Trillium Trail
  • Umbrellawort Creek Bridge
  • Willow Creek Bridge
  • Xanthoria Creek Bridge

East Buntzen Trail

Southern section open with upgraded Powerhouse Connector #1 Bridge and Lower Elderberry Creek Bridge removed for forest reclamation.

Halvor Lunden Trail

Halvor Lunden Trail is now open with the upgraded Halvor Lunden Bridge.

Trail closures

East Buntzen Lake Trail

  • Trail is now open with a new staircase connecting to Powerhouse Road at the north end of the trail.
  • The small trail section immediately north of the stairs is closed until further notice.

Reporting fire & contacting the Buntzen Lake Warden

  • In case of fire, call 911
  • Forest fire reporting line: 1 800 663 5555 (*5555 from cell phone)
  • Buntzen Lake Warden's Office: 604 469 9679

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. Learn more about parking restrictions.

Public transit from Coquitlam Centre

The C26 bus operates from Coquitlam Centre to Buntzen Lake daily. Normally this bus stops at the turnaround before the recreation area entrance gate. It's a 1.8-kilometre or 15 to 20 minute walk to the South Beach area. During weekends and holidays between July and August, the C26 bus will continue all the way into the South Beach 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.

Timeframe Open Close
January 14 to January 20
8:30 a.m.
4:30 p.m.
January 21 to January 27 8:00 a.m. 4:30 p.m.
January 28 to February 17 8:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m.
February 18 to March 3 8:00 a.m. 5:30 p.m.
March 4 to March 9 8:00 a.m. 6:00 p.m.
March 10 to March 24 8:00 a.m. 7:00 p.m.
March 25 to April 14 8:00 a.m. 7:30 p.m.
April 15 to August 11 8:00 a.m. 8:00 p.m.
August 12 to September 8 8:00 a.m. 7:30 p.m.
September 9 to September 22 8:00 a.m. 7:00 p.m.
September 23 to October 6
8:00 a.m. 6:30 p.m.
October 7 to October 20 8:00 a.m. 6:00 p.m.
October 21 to November 2 8:00 a.m.
5:30 p.m.
November 3 to December 8
8:00 a.m. 4:30 p.m.
December 9 to January 19 8:30 a.m. 4:30 p.m.

If you have further questions about Buntzen Lake's hours of operation, you may call 604 469 9679.

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, equestrian and nature trails
  • Developed viewpoints and interpretive displays
  • Parking and equestrian staging area
  • Designated area for dogs
  • Drinking water
  • Pay phone 

Parking guidelines

Street parking in Anmore is largely prohibited, particularly from May 1 to October 1. Violators in the no parking zones may be ticketed or towed by the Village.

Please refer to the Village of Anmore's website for additional informaiton on parking bylaws.

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. Although Buntzen Lake Reservoir has close to 600 parking spaces, BC Hydro encourages visitors to arrive early. 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 or briquette barbecues are prohibited. Please remove all used or empty propane cylinders from the recreation area and take them to an appropriate recycling facility. Contact Recycling BC at 604 732 9253 to find a location near you.

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. If you're part of a large group coming to Buntzen, contact the recreation area warden to avoid the potential for many big groups trying to use picnic areas on the same day. And remember, the entire group must arrive before the parking area fills.

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.

In the event of an emergency, contact the Recreation Area Warden (604 469 9679) or phone 911. Visitors are required to obey the safety directions of all on-site BC Hydro Recreation Area staff.

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.

Information on the status of Buntzen Lake water quality can be found on the Fraser Health Authority website.

History and hydroelectric operation

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.

'Lake Beautiful' started powering Vancouver in 1904

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.

There used to be two powerhouses at Buntzen

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.