Elfin Lakes, Garibaldi Provincial Park, British Columbia - Hiking Trails Near

Elfin Lakes, Garibaldi Provincial Park, British Columbia - Hiking Trails Near

2391 Miles of you

A spectacular hike to Elfin Lakes take about 2-3 hours and leads to 2 lakes one of them for drinking and the other one for swimming.

The first four kilometres or so from the trail head are the steepest and last until you reach Red Heather Meadows.

There will be an easy descent down to Elfin Lake, through meadows of heather.

Follow Mamquam Road which will become a gravel road.

The trail to Elfin Lakes starts out ascending through deep forest, reaching the Red Heather Hut after 5k.

The final 6k from this hut to Elfin Lakes takes you along a beautiful ridge with amazing views of snowy mountains all around.

Expect to take four hours to reach the Elfin Lakes Hut as you are almost constantly ascending a gradual, though consistently uphill trail.

Making their way to the Elfin Lakes hut in the dead of night seems to be a pastime of quite a few local skiers and boarders.

As the trail is within Garibaldi Park, dogs are not allowed.

The gravel road runs deep and high into the mountains to the trailhead parking lot.

You should be prepared with tire chains and may have to walk from the lower parking lot below the main, usually deep with snow trailhead parking lot.

Elfin Lakes are two small lakes located in the scenic alpine setting of Garibaldi Provincial Park near Squamish, British Columbia.

From the parking lot, pass the yellow gate and begin heading uphill along the wide gravel road.

After hiking for just over an hour, you arrive at the shelter at Red Heather Meadows.

The shelter is used in the winter by snowshoers and cross-country skiers as a place to warm up and in the summer months as a place for hikers to use the outhouse just beyond the building.

As you continue up the trail past the shelter, follow the narrow hiking trail for the next kilometer.

The narrow trail eventually joins back up with the wide gravel road.

As the trail begins to level, the two huts at Elfin Lakes can be seen off in the distance.

For the next 30 minutes, the trail descends towards the Elfin Lakes before arriving at a view above the lakes of the surrounding area.

People are allowed to swim in the top lake the lower lake is reserved for drinking water only and must be kept clean.

After stopping for lunch at the lakes, head back onto the trail in the direction you arrived from.

Pass the warming hut and head back downhill towards the parking lot where you began your day.

Elfin Lakes is a popular hiking destination located in Garibaldi Provincial Park near Squamish, B.C.

There are two lakes (one swimmable, and one reserved for drinking water), a well-equipped shelter, and a campsite available in a beautiful, subalpine area.

Camping at Elfin Lakes also opens up the opportunity to tackle other hiking destinations in the area, such as The Gargoyles, Opal Cone and Mamquam Lake.

With only about 600 meters of elevation gain, this is one of the more moderate hikes in Garibaldi Provincial Park, but no less spectacular than any of the others.

The Elfin Lakes hike starts from the gate at the end of the Diamond Head parking lot.

From the parking lot, the trail begins behind the yellow gates onto an old road and immediately begins climbing upwards.

This first stretch of trail is the remnants of a road that was built to bring guests and supplies into the Diamond Head Lodge which thrived between the 1940's and 70's before being left to decay1.

After a few hundred meters, the trail sharply turns to your left, increases in grade, and wends its way up through the forest and into the subalpine.

You will follow the road all the way to Red Heather Meadows and shelter.

Once you reach the Red Heather Meadows area you can use the outhouse, grab a snack in the shelter, and hang out with the resident Whiskey Jacks, before moving on.

The highest concentration of black bears within Garibaldi Park is found within this area around Red Heather Meadows - so be aware while traveling through - especially in September and October.1

The shelter is primarily used in the winter for skiers and snowshoers to warm up using the wood furnace.

Follow the trail as directed to the left, and you'll quickly come to a view of Atwell Peak - often mistaken for Diamond Head - which is the southern summit Mount Garibaldi.

After the trail merges back up with the mountain biking route, you will be on a wide gravel road with expansive views around.

From the trail continues to follow Paul Ridge, and dips back down before reaching Elfin Lakes at an elevation of 1,470 m.

As you descend the trail towards the lake you will have amazing panoramic views - notably, Mount Garibaldi to the left and Mamquam Mountain to the right.

The top lake is a perfect place to take a dip on a hot August day the lower lake is reserved strictly for drinking water for the campsite.

Well the title of this post is Elfin Lakes in fall, but really what I think I mean is Elfin Lakes in almost winter.

The first few kilometers of the trail are on an old road in the forest and there isn't much scenery.

Near the five-kilometer mark we stopped at the Red Heather hut, a small warming hut, for a snack.

Shortly after leaving the Red Heather hut the trail gains Paul Ridge and breaks out into the alpine above the treeline.

The trail undulates along the ridge for about 6 kilometers before reaching Elfin Lakes.

The trail is tucked away on the north side of Paul Ridge, which means for much of the time on winter days, the trail is in the shade.

I had only ever seen the lakes smothered in so much snow so that I didn't even know they were there or in the fall, surrounded by blueberry bushes and meadow.

Elfin Lakes is located at the south end of Garibaldi Provincial Park, just outside Squamish.

The trail to the lakes is 22km return with about 600m of elevation gain.

The trail is an old road for its entire length as it used to service a private lodge.

If you are fit and can handle the distance, Elfin Lakes is definitely doable as a day hike rather than staying overnight.

Trail name
Awesome destination
2 hours 45 minutes
2.5 km
Main destination
Additional destination

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