Tonic and Gin Lakes

October 14, 2006

To reach the trailhead, you need to start first on Rainbow Lake Trail and then cross Twentyone Mile Creek. The stout cable bridge that crosses the creek has its deckboards taken up every autumn. If you don't see deckboards, you need to cross farther downstream.


The cable bridge on Twentyone Mile Creek

After you cross the bridge, you start a short ascend, at around 150 meters the trail levels and 50 meters later you will see a very faint unmaintained trail going to your left. This is the trailhead to Gin and Tonic Lakes.


Gators are highly recommended if you are hiking on a rainy day or in early summer. At this time of this year there is a high chance the meadows are already dry.

If you turn back you can have views of Rainbow Mountain. At 2314 m (7952 ft), Rainbow Mountain is most often climbed via the Rainbow Lake trail. Something that many people don't know is that the lower slopes of Rainbow near Green Lake were the site of one of the first small ski operations in the Green Lake-Alta Lake area, and the baselodge there, Rainbow Lodge, remained in business for many years as a local bar even after the rope tow ceased operations. 


Rainbow Mountain

You will keep going uphill, 15 minutes later you will recrossed the creek to keep following the unmaintained trail. Close to the lakes the trail ceases its steepness and you can keep walking very close to a small glacial stream.


This place is located in the Coastal Snowbelt, ringed by glaciated terrain. As the warm moist maritime air pushes up over the glaciers, the air gets super-cooled, and together with Brandywine and Callaghan, this is one of the first places in Whistler in having the first fall snowfalls.


Follow the glacial carved valley to reach the first and smaller lake, Gin Lake. The trail goes on the right side of the lake.


Gin Lake

You can feast your eyes with the colors of fall.

The most brightly colored autumn foliage is found in three regions of the world: most of Canada and the United States; a small area of central South America; and Eastern Asia, including China, Korea, and Japan.

After leaving Gin Lake, you go down the valley towards Tonic Lake.

After reaching the lake, you can go left towards a lonely rock that can be used to have a well deserved lunch and to enjoy the sorrounding views.

From this point, towards the northwest you can have views of Gin Peak (1803 m - 5915 ft).


Gin Peak, Tonic Lake and Rainbow Mountain

On the southwest there is a small lake feeding Tonic Lake.

If you are lucky, you may be able to see Barred Owls flying around. Barred Owls have been introduced to west coast forests and have been found to kill and out-compete Spotted Owls in their native habitat.

For more views you can keep walking towards Tonic Peak, a flat plateau just west of Mount Sproatt.


Closer view of Rainbow Mountain

You may see other animals such as Mule Deer. The one show on the picture is a young one, most likely it was weaned by his mother in preparation for the mating season. Mule Deer gets its name from its large mule-like ears.


If you are looking for solitude and still want to be close to the civilization, Tonic and Gin Lakes is the place to go.

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There are coordinates available for this hike, however its statistics are very similar to Rainbow Lake Trail

Round trip: 16 km (10 miles)
Elevation Gain: 850 m (2788 ft)
Recommended Time: 6 hours


Driving distance from Vancouver: 122 km (75.8 mi)

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