It’s safe to say Joffre Lakes is one of the most beautiful hikes in BC and this hiking guide is perfect to plan your trip! If you’re in BC and want to see a few glacial lakes with little hiking effort then this is the one for you. Most of our glacial lakes are far to reach unlike places like Banff so Joffre Lakes is a happy medium.
As always, please practice these Leave No Trace Principles and don’t feed the wildlife. When we do our part, we will protect the beauty of the outdoors for future generations.
Length: 10.9 km
Elevation Gain: 370 m
Best Time to Visit: May – October (open year round)
Total Hours: 4 hours to visit all 3 lakes
What to need before you go
Since the Joffre Lakes Hike is one of the most popular in BC from June – September, BC Parks has implemented a day use pass system. Free day passes are released at 7am the day prior so that you can reserve a pass, it is mandatory. They sell out within minutes in July and August so be prepared at 7am.
Once you get the confirmation, all you need is a screen shot of your confirmation number to show the park ranger at the trail head. There is no service at the park, therefore, have your confirmation number saved somewhere or else you won’t be let in.
Even with a day use pass the parking situation can be tricky since it does not guarantee are parking spot. They have a main area and then across the street is more parking. Once these lots fill up you will need to go to the over flow parking and then use the shuttle to get to the trail head. Arriving early is the best plan, I suggest by 10am on weekdays and 9am at the latest on weekends.
If you’re wanting to camp, it is possible at upper lake, you need to reserve a tent pad ahead of time. The reservations are released at 7am 2 months prior to the date you’re intending to camp. For example, if you want to camp on July 1st, then that date will be released on May 1st at 7am.
How to get here
It’s a little bit of a drive to get here and it’s seemingly in the middle of nowhere but worth the scenic trip. It’s about a 3 hour drive from Vancouver and 1.5 hour drive from Whistler. If you don’t have a car than you can take Park Bus from downtown Vancouver to Joffre Lakes, it will cost around $60 per person round trip and then if you’re solo you can go hiking on your own since it’s such a busy trail.
Lower Lake is only a 5 minute walk from the parking lot on a flat trail. There’s a small viewing area and a bench for people to relax at if they don’t want to hike.
Middle Lake is 2.5 km from lower lake and takes about 45min – 1 hour. Its a steady incline and you can get some beautiful views of lower lake and the surrounding mountains. There are some switch backs, larger boulders and stairs. Going back down can be hard on the knees because of this and so next time I am definitely bringing poles. As well, I’m sure you’ve seen all the Instagram photos of people walking on the log to get that one iconic shot, well you find it at this lake just past the small bridge.
Middle to Third Lake is only another 20 – 30 mins one way and you pass Holloway falls. It’s a little steeper and more stairs but worth the extra amount of time. Many people skip this lake but it’s really beautiful and lots of vantage points for photos around the lake.
What to bring
Day Trip List
- 2L of water
- Purification Tablets
- High protein lunch and snacks
- Emergency Kit
- Bug Spray
- Hiking Poles (optional but recommended for the large stairs)
- Swim Suit (try and take a dip in the glacial water)
Even though this hike is one of the most popular in BC, it is completely worth it! It’s a great one for all fitness levels and the constant views are mesmerizing. If you’re in the area when visiting BC then make sure you add Joffre Lakes to your hiking list.