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Camping at Joffre Lakes, British Columbia With Friends

The new trail from the 2nd to 3rd lake now goes by this beautiful waterfall.
The trail from the 2nd to 3rd lake goes by this beautiful waterfall.

If I could recommend one hike to anyone visiting the Whistler area, it would have to be Joffre Lakes. Located north-east of Whistler off the Duffey Lake Road (Hwy 99), I would say it’s one of the most spectacular hikes of BC, if not Canada, and its popularity has kept it very well-maintained. Climbing 400 vertical meters over a 5.5 km span up to the third and final glacial lake, it is great for everyone, from beginning hikers to veteran backpackers.

Most overnight camping missions I go on tend to be just me, Sara, and our dog Tiva, so it was a fun treat to re-visit Joffre Lakes with a crew of friends. Joffre Lakes is always a beautiful hike to check out, and I have been numerous times.

The trail is fairly easy to manage and very scenic making Joffre Lakes extremely popular. (Note: Camping in Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is only allowed in Upper Joffre Lakes Campground and is only available by reservation).

Sara stops for a fishing break at the second lake while Tiva intently looks on.
Sara stops for a fishing break at the second lake while Tiva intently looks on. (Note: Dogs are no longer allowed in Joffre Lakes Park).

With friends in from Ontario and also up from Vancouver, we started hiking up on a beautiful Sunday morning. On our way up, we counted 45 campers hiking down that had stayed there overnight (there are not that many campsites available)! Luckily, our Sunday-Monday choice was a good one – we only encountered 2 other camping groups up alongside us.

The trail has crushed gravel placed over two large boulder fields, which makes the hike much faster. We quickly reached the second lake, where we stopped for some fishing and lunch. The second lake holds some very nice small rainbow trout, and the water is so crystal clear that you can target cast for them and watch them take your lure. After that nice break, we ascended to the third lake, which passes by a beautiful waterfall. At the third lake we found a nice spot to set up camp, and took another snack break.

Our campsites comfortably placed on the edge of the third and final lake.
Our campsites comfortably placed on the edge of the third and final lake.

Another unique part to this trip that had me excited compared to years’ past was a new toy I had recently acquired, a 10-stop ND filter, which allows you to take long exposures during broad daylight. Once we reached the third lake and set up camp, we took off and explored the neighbouring glacial streams. My hopes for a clear starry night were squashed by the large cloud cover, but it made for a great sunset which was a joy to watch.

If you live in or near the Sea-to-Sky corridor, Joffre Lakes is a must-do for the area, probably the most bang for your exercise buck in terms of a beautiful hike. In addition to the essential hiking gear, make sure you bring your camera and your fishing rod! (Note: Dogs are no longer allowed in Joffre Lakes).

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More information on hiking Joffre Lakes.

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Published: November 30, 2015
Last Updated: May 4, 2022

Eric Poulin by Eric Poulin

Eric Poulin is an outdoor aventurer and photographer in Whistler, BC. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking, camping, and snowboarding, and loves to document the beautiful places his adventures take him to.

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