LIFESTYLE: Joffre Lakes Hike

If there are ever must-see hidden gems of British Columbia, the crystal-clear turquoise waters of the Joffre Lakes are it. I recently hiked the Joffre Lakes this past August with some close friends of mine. It was truly a sight to be seen. I was in absolute awe when we approached the first of 3 beautiful translucent lakes. I think I exclaimed “Is this for real?!” at least five or six times – and we had only just begun. Joffre Lakes is an ideal hike for easy-going outdoor adventure seekers. The hardest part really, is convincing your pals to drive the 2.5-3 hours there (from Vancouver). But as you can see, it is well worth the trip.

The drive itself to the base of the hike is a straightforward one. It took us about 2.5 hours to get to the parking lot from downtown Vancouver. It is roughly about 30 minutes past Pemberton, British Columbia.

Upon arrival, Lower Joffre Lake is a short 5 minute walk away from the parking lot. If you carry on, the more “challenging” trek to Middle and Upper Joffre Lake is well worth the reward: a sweeping view of rugged peaks, icefields and cold, rushing streams beneath the Matier Glacier. I used quotations around “challenging” because it is not actually very difficult. I would rate it as 6.5/10 on the hiking difficulty scale.

Continuing on from Lower Joffre Lake, the trail winds casually upward through old growth forests of hemlock and spruce and along talus slopes. After a semi-steep and rooty section, the trail emerges into a sub-alpine forest with views of the Matier Glacier.

At Middle Joffre Lake, you will want to stop to photograph the scene in front of you: with the Lake’s pristine turquoise waters fringed by sub-alpine forest and rugged Coast Mountain scenery. Stunning!

As you can see, this log is perfect for your “Kodak” moments. Take a second to dip your hand or foot in the water and feel the temperature. Brr!

The final stretch of the hike brings you to the largest and perhaps most breathtaking of the three lakes: Upper Joffre Lake. Here you stand beneath a frozen cascade of the Matier Glacier, with a fine vantage of 2,721m. (8,927ft.). Welcome to Joffre Peak.

Round trip is roughly 4 hours. But I highly recommend staying at the top for a few and enjoying your delicious picnic lunch. If you have more than 1 day to spare, then spend the night! Camping is free, and there is an outhouse located at the very top of Upper Joffre Lake for your convenience.

Note: Be aware of the potential for icefall at Upper Joffre Lake, especially if staying overnight. Falling ice may have the potential to overrun the campsite. Also, make sure to bring 30 deet bug spray, as the mosquitos can get a little feisty at the top.

Just beautiful!

Directions: To get to the trail-head, when approaching Pemberton from Whistler (from the South), turn right at the T-junction towards Mount Currie. In town, turn right again towards Duffey Lake and Lillooet. You will travel along a gravel road along the Lillooet River, crossing to the north side river just before Lillooet Lake. The road climbs steeply (paved), follow this and continue a short distance to the BC Parks Joffre Lake parking area. Have fun!

*Directions courtesy of


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