British Columbia, Canada
Joffre Lakes is a popular hike located just north of Pemberton in Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. Easy trailhead access and gorgeous views make this a busy and well traveled trail during the summer. It is also a popular destination for ice climbers during the winter months for the same reasons.
An hour north of Whistler, this hike is pushing the boundaries of being called 'near' Vancouver. But, it is worth the trip, it is simply too spectacular not to hike.
There are three lakes you will pass on this hike, aptly named Lower, Middle and Upper Joffre Lakes. From the trailhead, Lower Joffre Lake is a flat 5 minute walk. The view from Lower Lake will give you a good vantage point of your end goal; the spectacular Matier Glacier that looms high above Upper Joffre Lake.
Joffre Lakes offers a little bit of everything you could want in a day hike. At 11km, its not too long, but with a steady uphill climb and several technical sections (including a moraine), it still offers a challenge. There are three turquoise, glacier-fed lakes, each more spectacular than the last. Along the way you are also rewarded with creek crossings, a waterfall, and several viewpoints of the surrounding mountain range. Finally, there's the scenery at the top, an up close view of the Matier Glacier and a rugged campsite for those wanting to spend the night.
Walking season is short in Joffre Lakes Provincial Park: in autumn you'll find snow. During the winter months its a popular destination for ice climbers.
Take the Sea to Sky highway north past Whistler to Pemberton. At the Pemberton Junction (Petro Canada gas station) follow the signs that take you bearing right, towards Mount Currie. After about 7km you will turn right on Duffey Lake Road. Once on Duffey Lake Road, you will wind up on paved road for about 21 km before seeing the signs for the Joffre Lakes Provincial Park parking lot. The trail starts right from parking lot.
Joffre Lakes is a moderate hike. Parks Services recently upgraded the first section of the trail to Middle Joffre Lake, and it is now well groomed and easy to follow.
The trail is very well marked and maintained. Navigating the trail between the three lakes is quite easy.