A MODERATE HIKE THAT DOES NOT TAKE TOO LONG, BUT IT STILL OFFERS A CHALLENGE WITH INCREDIBLE REWARDS
The Joffre Lakes hike passes three exquisite lakes. The first lake, Lower Joffre Lake, is located a few minutes from the trailhead, located next to the parking lot. Lower Joffre Lake is located on a short diversion off the main trail at a elevation of 1,240m. The views from here give you an appetiser of what is to come with Matier Glacier hanging high above.
Walking back from the viewpoint at Lower Joffre Lakes, you will make your way back onto the main trail to start the 5km upward climb towards Upper Joffre Lake. The gravel trail turns into a dirt path and you will cross a bridge crossing over Joffre Creek, below the lower lake. Soon after, the trail starts to climb through old growth forests of hemlock and spruce trees. After the initial half an hour of climbing (or1.5km), you will reach a boulder field (called a 'moraine') that is a mass of rocks and sediment deposited over many years by glaciers.
The path goes over the boulders and provide some sweeping views over the coast mountains and valleys below. A few switchbacks will take you towards Middle Joffre Lake. The section of the trail between the lower and middle lakes takes the longest and are the most challenging part of the trail. Since 2013, a lot of improvement work has been done on the Joffre Lakes trail. Especially the section of the trail between Lower and Middle Lake is rather well groomed with steps in sections to make it easier to climb over the moraine field.
Middle Joffre Lakes is about 3km from Lower Joffre Lake. At the viewpoint of the second lake (elevation of 1,535m), you will notice the majestic glacier-laden peaks towering above. It is worth stopping here to soak up the scenery.
Continue hiking towards Upper Joffre Lake via a relatively short and easier hike. On your way, you will come across a scenic waterfall that rushes down from the upper lake to the middle lake. The final stretch of the hike is a bit more challenging and require some scrambling over roots and rocks. Soon you will get to Upper Joffre Lake at an elevation of 1,600m. Most people make this the final stop of their return journey. For those who would like to explore a bit more and escape the crowds, keep hiking along the upper lake for another 40 minutes or so towards the camping site. There are beautiful spots to have lunch next to the streams rushing down from the glacier towards the lake.
It is possible to scramble over the boulders towards Matier Glacier, however it may be dangerous as large chunks of ice can sheer off at any moment. It is much better to hear the rumble of ice sheering off the glacier and tumbling down the rocky slopes from a distance!
Toilets at Joffre Lakes
Pit toilets are located at the parking area, at Middle Joffre Lake and Upper Joffre Lake. A pit toilet is also available at the campsite at Upper Joffre Lake. During the busy summer season, the line-ups can get very long!
Dogs at Joffre Lakes
Dogs are no longer permitted at Joffre Lakes Provincial Park.
Camping at Joffre Lakes
There is a campsite located at Upper Joffre Lake in a very scenic location nestled among the glacier, lake and mountains. Camping space is very limited (about 26 sites), with no overflow. Campers need to make a reservation in order to get a backcountry camping permit. Reservations can be made up to 4 months in advance your arrival date via the Discover Camping Reservation System.
The summer hiking season is from June to September each year. These months are normally the driest months of the year. It normally starts icing and snowing during the second half of October and the winter season takes effect from November until March. Joffre is also a popular destination for snow shoeing and ice climbing during the winter months. Visit the "Joffre in Winter" section to learn more.
The Joffre Lakes Hike is also a popular hike during winter. Even though you may find a full parking lot even in winter, there are far fewer hikers on the trail than during the busy summer months. Getting to the trailhead is more tricky in winter and you will need winter tires on your vehicle and experience driving on an icy and windy road!
During the winter months (i.e. November to March), the lakes freeze over and the trails are icy or covered by snow. The appropriate winter gear are required such as snow shoes or crampons, layers of clothing, and a winter jacket.
The scenery in winter is just as spectacular as it is in summer and well worth a visit.
The Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is located about 3 hours by car from Vancouver. The trailhead is located off Highway 99, 21km east of Pemberton on the Duffey Lake Road.There is a small parking lot and an overflow parking lot is designated for visitors to the park. It is common to see cars parked along the highway for several kilometres during the busy summer season, so plan ahead and arrive early.