Camping at Joffre Lakes, British Columbia With Friends
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 metres over a 5.5km 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, but I had heard they recently put a new variation on the trail that visited a nice waterfall, so I was very excited to get a chance to see it.
With recent trail work making the trail easier to manage and also more scenic, plus the ease of communication with social media, Joffre Lakes’ popularity has soared in the last few years. If you are planning to camp at the third lake overnight on a weekend, you want to be hiking in very early to ensure you get a spot!
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 new trail work 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 the take your lure. After that nice break, we ascended to the third lake, which now, due to the recent trail work, passes by a beautiful waterfall. At the third lake we found a nice spot to set up camp, and took another snack break.
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, Tiva and I 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!
Published: November 30th, 2015
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