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Buntzen Lake

Find out about recreation area closures and restrictions.


Directions from Vancouver:

  • Go east on Hastings, which becomes Barnet Highway (No.7A)
  • Turn left onto St Johns Street
  • Turn left onto Ioco Road, which becomes Heritage Mountain Boulevard
  • Turn right at onto David Avenue at the roundabout
  • Turn left onto Forest Park Way
  • Turn left onto Apsenwood Drive, which becomes East Road. Follow East Road to its end
  • Turn right onto Sunnywide Road, and continue to the entrance gate

Directions from Port Mann Bridge:

  • Go west on Highway 1 and take Exit 44, the first exit after the Port Mann Bridge
  • Follow signs to Lougheed Highway (No.7), heading east
  • Turn left onto Barnet Highway (No.7A) at a major intersection
  • Turn right onto Ioco Road, which becomes Heritage Mountain Boulevard
  • Turn right at onto David Avenue at the roundabout
  • Turn left onto Forest Park Way
  • Turn left onto Apsenwood Drive, which becomes East Road. Follow East Road to its end
  • Turn right onto Sunnywide Road, and continue to the entrance gate

Note: Parking lots are located about 2 km 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.

Gate opening and closing times change throughout the year. To find out the current times, please call the Buntzen Lake Warden's office at 604 469-9679.

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 is a 1.8 km or 15 to 20 minute walk to the South Beach area. During weekends and holidays from July until September, the C26 bus will continue all the way into the South Beach area. For bus schedules and information, visit the Translink website.

Multiple Use

Today BC Hydro's Buntzen Lake Reservoir serves not only as a source of hydroelectric power but also as an attractive recreation area for public enjoyment. To add to your enjoyment of the area, BC Hydro provides the following facilities:

  • picnic tables, shelter and grass play areas
  • cartop boat and canoe launch areas and dock
  • Canoe rentals are 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

History and Hydroelectric Operation

Buntzen Lake, located just north of Ioco approximately 30 kilometres (km) from Vancouver, is a BC Hydro reservoir. It is 4.8 km long and covers an area of 182 hectares. Formerly known as Lake Beautiful, the lake is named after the first general manager of B.C. Electric Co., Johannes Buntzen. In 1903 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 55,000 kW of power. In 1972 one unit at Buntzen No. 2 was shut down but the two remaining units (86 years old at the turn of the century!) can still produce 17,800 kW. Both plants are monitored and operated by a remote control facility in Burnaby.

In addition to powering the two hydroelectric plants, water from Buntzen is an essential part of the operation of the Burrard Generating Station. Fresh water from Buntzen is used to produce the steam to power Burrard's generators. The natural gas-powered Burrard Generating Station plays an important role to provide back-up for the hydroelectric system during low water years, and also to provide transmission support and electrical supply security for the Lower Mainland.

Safety Around Water

Since operations of the hydroelectric facilities on Buntzen Lake and Indian Arm are remotely controlled, they are 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.

All lakes, rivers and streams represent a potential danger to public safety. Please note the following:

  • There are no lifeguards on duty at Buntzen Lake. In the event of an emergency, contact the Recreation Area Warden or phone 911. Visitors are required to obey the safety directions of all on-site BC Hydro Recreation Area staff.
  • 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 are not prepared to get wet, you are not prepared to go out on the water.
  • Be back on shore 30 minutes before posted closing times.

Visitor Information Specific to Buntzen Lake

To assist BC Hydro in maintaining the best possible outdoor recreational areas please observe the following rules:

  • Please help keep the area clean by placing refuse in the containers provided.
  • Dogs are not permitted in the main beach area. The map shows three areas where your dogs may picnic with you. The trail to the right leads to the dog off-leash area beside Buntzen Creek. Please do not 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.
  • Use of the picnic shelter is on a first-come first-served basis with no formal reservations. The Warden may be contacted to inform him that a large group will be using the picnic areas and avoid many groups wanting to use the areas on the same day. The entire group must still arrive before the parking area fills.
  • Open fires are not allowed in the recreation area. A few tables are equipped with metal stands to support barbecues.
  • The use of power boats is prohibited on Buntzen Lake. Small battery-powered electric motors are allowed. While boating observe all water safety regulations.
  • For public safety, firearms are prohibited.
  • Overnight camping is prohibited. Vehicles left in the area overnight may be towed away at the owner's expense.
  • Trails are closed to all motor vehicles.
  • The consumption of liquor is prohibited.
  • Vending is prohibited.

Trails Around Buntzen Lake

Whether you are planning a short stroll through a coastal lowland rainforest or a more adventurous hike into the surrounding mountains, the Buntzen Lake area offers a hiking trail to suit you. There are numerous trail loops to follow, depending on your time and fitness level. Plan to be back at the parking lot 45 minutes before the recreation area closes.

Mountain Bikers

For safety reasons and to limit damage, some trails are closed to mountain bikes. Bicycles are not allowed on the hiking trails. Please obey all posted signs.

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