I love to hike and spend time in the Mountains of British Columbia, Canada. As an Assistant Organizer for the Vancouver Hiking Meetup Group in Vancouver, I lead various groups of 8 – 16 people on hikes each weekend. Usually they are day trips but for the first time this year, I have taken up backpacking!
One of these trips was to beautiful Elfin Lakes, located in the heart of Garibaldi Provincial Park near Squamish BC.
Elfin Lakes is the name of two small lakes that are close to each other with a cabin and camp sites nearby that are managed by BC Parks. The cabin is loft like and sleeps 33 with an eating and cooking area down below. The only draw back is there is no running water inside so one has to get water for cooking and drinking from the lake designated for cooking for drinking.
The campsite has various wooden pods where people are allowed to pitch a tent. Both the cabin and campsites are first come first served and a nominal fee is charged which must be paid prior to starting the hike by leaving your money in the dropbox located at the start of the trail. The fee is $15.00 per person per night and camping is $10.00 per person, per night.
My group went up at the end of September and left on a Sunday. It was my first time on this area and I was completely blown away by its beauty and the magnificent Mount Garibaldi towering above. The distance from the parking lot to the hut is roughly 3 hours one way and is an 11 km hike.
Upon arrival, there weren’t too many people there but we noticed a large group had started out shortly after we had. So we quickly found our pods and set up our tents. It was still quite early in the day so we decided to hike up to the Gargoyles which is not too far from our campsite. This was about a 2 hour return hike. We got to the top of Saddle Dome but decided not to go all of the way to the top for safety reasons but I had noticed a really cool rock formation and a few of us decided to go and check that out.
It was amazing because we could see an Alpine Lake down in the Valley below and a rainbow had also formed. After taking a few pictures we decided to return to camp for dinner and to get rested for the next days hike.
The following morning the weather was a bit unstable as it had started to rain, then turned to hail. We wanted to hike to the Opal Cone but did not want to get caught in the rain so we waited it out about an hour or so until the weather improved a bit. The distance is about 13 km round trip, approximately 250 metres in elevation gain with the high point being about 1650 metres. It took us about 4 1/2 hours to complete the trip.
It is a fairly moderate hike but I would sure that you are fit enough to complete it. The rain had stopped and once we got closer to the Cone the clouds opened up a bit allowing us to see Garibaldi Glacier which is behind the Cone in addition to the Glaciers in front. Three of us took a break at the top of the Cone while three others decided to go off to get a better view of the Glaciers surrounding the Cone. After about 20 minutes or so we decided to head back because we could see that the weather was about to get worst again and sure enough it did. We had hail for most of the way back to camp which then changed to clearing skies for the evening.
By the time we returned to camp, the hut was extremely busy with people that had come up for the day and new campers plus the sun came out. I was able to take many pictures of the camp area and explored around the two lakes. We were treated to a spectacular sunset that evening and sunrise the next morning.
Elfin Lakes is a spectacular hike and I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a quick weekend backpacking trip or even a day hike. It will not be my last time to the area.