Joffre Lakes was simply one of the most beautiful hikes we’ve done on our entire trip and that it quite an achievement. It is one of the most instagrammable places I’ve been in my entire life. In fact, Instagram is where I found out this place even exists. When you see pictures of Canada online they are often of outstandingly gorgeous turquoise blue lakes and by gosh they actually exist in real life! Combine viewing these beauties with a great hike and you’ve got a fantastic day out.
However, this hike was also where I had my biggest strop. The information board at the start of the trek claims it can take six hours, as we’d arrived at around 2pm I didn’t feel we had enough good daylight left to complete the hike (You can see from the pictures… we had plenty of time!) As an overly cautious hiker in the land of bears and coyotes Matt and I argued over how far to continue for quite a large chunk of the walk. Of course, he was correct we had time and it didn’t take us six hours at all! My anxiousness was not a welcome walking companion at all. However, as there were plenty of other tourists continuing along the trail we continued… I will be eternally grateful for Matt pushing me to carry on and witness the stunning views!
This hike is an extremely popular trail all year round, although June to September are best to see the colours of the water nice and blue. Located just north of Pemberton, B.C. this 10km hike has something for everyone. The first lake is easily accessible via a flat pathway just 500 metres from the carpark. From the first lake you can see the end point of the hike Matier Glacier and gives some great inspiration.
From the Lower Lake you’ll turn back on yourself and join the main trail to the middle and upper lakes. This is where the trail starts to get more challenging and rugged so be prepared with proper footwear. I saw some tourists attempting it in ballet pumps rather than shoes with ankle support. They were an accident waiting to happen as you climb over boulders and rocky paths. As you go up the trail you’ll wander through forests of Hemlock and Spruce trees.
This section climbs sharply uphill until you reach the Middle Lake. It was at this point that I had a mini breakdown. It felt like the hike was never going to end and dusk was settling in. We had not had lunch yet, so hanger was starting to settle in. Luckily, we reached the Middle Lake in time for a late lunch whilst viewing the second lake.
It’s pretty busy during the summer so can seem less peaceful because of the crowds. In fact, one tourist was complaining about all the tourists ‘just taking pictures.’ To be fair there, isn’t much else to do than enjoy the view, have a picnic, take a picture and carry on to the next lake. (check out my article on why you shouldn’t be ashamed to be a tourist here. )
The main part of the hike is now behind you, several other hikers informed us that it was a much shorter distance between lake two and three with much less elevation gain too. As you continue along the trail you’ll come to a beautiful waterfall.
Past this point the terrain becomes rockier and there are more roots on the ground, but it’s a relatively short distance to get to the Upper Lake. once your get past the trees you get to the last lake.
The view here was worth all my moaning, it was absolutely breath-taking. Again, there are lots of other people enjoying the view but there is plenty of space for everyone. Whilst we were there, there was a couple having a wedding photo shoot. What a stunning backdrop!?
You can view the Matier Glacier from here as well as Joffre Peak which stands at 2,721m elevation.
From here you can either turn around and make the return journey or you can continue to the back-country camp site. This site is perfect for small tents, remember you will be having to carry all your equipment to the site so pack light. There are no proper toilets and the park operates a ‘Leave no trace policy.’ Matt and I made our descent and enjoyed the views all over again on the return to base. On the way back down, you can appreciate the talus slopes (slopes formed when debris from weathered rock piles up) even more.
Overall, this was an enjoyable hike and one with massive rewards. I wish I hadn’t complained as much as I’m 100% sure I was big pain on this one. I’ve learnt my lesson… do your research and learn how long hikes are going to take. For us it took less than 4 hours, this may vary depending on your fitness and ability.
Pack snacks, it’s a day hike so be prepared to have a picnic along the way.
Go early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Make sure to take insect repellent to deter mosquitoes and black flies.
Leave enough time for the return journey.
Wear suitable footwear.
Leave no trace- take a plastic bag to collect your rubbish and take it back with you.
Go to the bathroom before you leave the car park- the next opportunity is at the Middle Lake.
Have you ever done this hike? Would you stay for the camping? What’s the most beautiful hike you’ve ever done?
Thanks for joining me for A-Z Travels. Next week will be K for Kettle Valley Railway, where i worked at conquering my fear of heights. Happy Travels 🙂