This year I spent the New Year’s weekend with some friends up at a cabin near Pemberton, BC. It was a great weekend full of good food, board games, snowshoeing at Joffre Lakes, and snowboarding at Whistler.
Location: near Pemberton (map)
Description: The hike through Joffre Lakes Provincial Parks takes you by three stunning lakes under the Matias Glacier. The best part of the hike is the view you get from each lake, with the glacier visible in the background at every lake. The hike is short enough to do as a day hike, and the vast majority of hikers do, but because it is a 3 hour drive from Vancouver many take their time and spend a night at the 3rd lake.
The first part of the trail up to the 2nd lake will take you up forested sections with bad bugs, over giant boulder fields home to cute little pikas, and along picturesque waterfalls. The 2nd lake makes a natural break and a great place to eat lunch, and as I overheard another hiker say “this is the place where people take their Facebook profile pictures”. After the 2nd lake, the trail flattens out and the bugs start to disappear (at least they did when we were there in September).
The 3rd lake is the end of the hike and the place to pitch your tent. The campsite is nestled on a flat, but rocky patch along the Upper Joffre Lake right below the Matias Glacier. There are 24 campsites cleared amongst the rocks and along the edge of the lake. The campsite is pretty bare-bones, but there are pit toilets and a bear cache to store your food. When we were there on the September long weekend, the wind was extremely cold and we even had a good hail storm, so be prepared. From the campsite there is a steep trail up a ridge to the foot of the Matias Glacier. I didn’t make it all the way to the Glacier, but I did make it high enough to hit snow and get a good view of two of the Joffre Lakes.
Time: 3 hours of hiking up and 3 hours down
Lower Joffre Lake to Middle Joffre Lake: 2 hours
Middle Joffre Lake to Upper Joffre Lake: 1 hour
Optional hike from campsite to Matier Glacier: 2 hours roundtrip
Transportation: Joffre Lakes is a long way from Vancouver. To get to the parking lot and trail head you need to drive 2 hours and 45 minutes along the Sea to Sky Highway, past Whistler and Pemberton. Driving directions.
Cost: Parking and camping at Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is free, so the only cost is transportation. Gas for the return trip cost us $30 per vehicle.
Pictures: Joffre Lakes 2010