Hiking Joffre Lakes

Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is an iconic hiking destination located in Squamish-Lillooet, which is about a three-hour drive from Vancouver. I would recommend leaving early in the morning if you plan on spending the day at the park. Known for its three turquoise lakes, the Joffre Lakes offers so many breathtaking views along the entire hike. This hiking trail is an out & back 11km trek that is accessible during the summer months (June-September). I had the chance to hike this trail with some friends in early August, so it was quite hot, but we kept pushing through the heat, knowing there was a glacial lake to jump into at the end.

As of the summer of 2021, BC Parks requires visitors to obtain a day-use pass online prior to arriving. You can book these a couple of days in advance, and be sure to download your pass as there is no cellular or wifi signal within the park. 

The trail head begins at Lower Joffre Lake, the first of the three lakes in the park. Hikers approach this lake very quickly after beginning the trail. This is a great viewpoint for photos and spending time with family if you are not up to do a long, uphill hike. Going forward, you’ll need to tackle a long stretch of uphill climbing of the trail. There are some steps that ease the incline, but if you are a little rusty on your cardio, be sure to take your time.

 

MIDDLE JOFFRE LAKE

Before long, Middle Joffre Lake (appropriately named), is visible and offers impressive scenery and the lake is absolutely stunning. This view is another teaser for the Upper Joffre Lake that takes your breath away even more. We thought it was a good time to take a snack and water break once we reached Middle Joffre Lake before trekking along. 

Joffree Falls

There is a lot to see from this point on. Shortly after hiking past Middle Joffre Lake, you’ll find Joffre Falls. The heavy flow of water creates a lot of spray, and when hiking on a hot day, the mist feels very refreshing. We stopped here briefly to cool off, but continued on after taking a few photos. 

Upper Joffre Lake

Alas, we reached Upper Joffre Lake! At your arrival, you might find small groups of people lounging on the rocks and boulders that line the beach of Upper Joffre Lake. This is a common place to stop and have lunch, then turn back towards the trailhead. My friends and I wanted the challenge, so we set the goal of reaching the glacier on the other side of the lake before heading home. And as a disclosure, please only attempt the extra distance if you are prepared. Having appropriate gear such as hiking poles is important as the climb is quite steep. Be careful of your footing as there are loose rocks along the mildly marked pathway. Only climb if you think your knees can handle the way down!

It’s difficult to describe the beauty of this park. All I could do is stare into the distance, trying to comprehend how this is so close to home. The camera does not do the Joffre Lakes justice in terms of scale and vastness. There were points during the hike when we felt like we hadn’t gotten anywhere as we climbed up to the 1900m viewpoint, but each time we turned around we saw and amazing landscape behind us. Our legs were tired, but we continued with the goal of reaching the glacier.

Once we climbed to the glacier, it was time for lunch. We sat down, ate some burgers, cooled off in a glacial waterfall running off of a rockface. The views were amazing, and we fueled up for the rest of our day. After taking some photos, videos, and appreciating the landscape, we headed back down for a swim in Upper Joffre Lake. It was very cold, but much needed on a nearly 30-degree day. 

Leave No Trace!

If you decide to visit Joffre Lakes, please remember it is crucial that you do not leave a trace. Protect the habitat and environments that surround Joffre Lakes by doing your part and keeping it clean. Remember to pack all garbage and gear you took with you, and dispose of it in an appropriate location back in the parking lot at the trailhead. 

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