Hiking Joffre Lakes in British Columbia

As a native New Englander, I’ve spent a decent amount of time in the mountains of New Hampshire, Vermont, and Western Massachusetts. I’ve been hiking and camping since I was just a small kid. Of course, the Appalachian Mountain Range isn’t the tallest or most extreme in the world, but they’re still amazing and I call them home. However, this past September I had the opportunity to travel to Whistler, British Columbia for a company-wide retreat. During which, I experienced a totally different wilderness in the Coast Mountain Range of Canada.

During this retreat, nearly 500 colleagues and I were busy plotting and making the web a better place. Towards the tail-end of the trip, a few of us carved out some time to explore the great outdoors. One of my brilliant colleagues, Jon Ryan, is a super avid cyclist and adventurer from the Pacific Northwest. He organized a small trip to Joffre Lakes Provincial Park just a little ways north of Whistler. I had to go. There was no way I was going to miss hiking a place that had my name, but pronounced a little fancier. After a little research I was pretty psyched. The park promised 3 lakes, a waterfall, and a lot of gorgeous greenery.

Trails & Trees

Five of us hopped into Jon’s car before the sun had even begun to deliver light to the landscape. It was a brisk Tuesday morning in Whistler. It was in the mid 40s (Fahrenheit) and while that’s not freezing by any means, keep in mind I had just flown in from Massachusetts where the weather was still consistently in the upper 70s. We traveled north in the vehicle for about an hour. As we got closer to our destination, my ears began to pop due to the ascension of altitude. Finally, we reached the park. There were a couple of cars parked in the lot, but we could tell they were folks who had camped there overnight, due to the condensation on the windows. It seemed as though we were going to have a great hike without many others around.

It was a quick 5 minute jaunt to the first lake, which we quickly passed since we were on a time budget and needed to return to our retreat fairly early. A beautiful lake no doubt, but I was assured that middle and upper Joffre Lakes were the real beauties. Directly after lower joffre lake, the trail began to steepen and open up.

Steep and rocky trails at Joffre Lakes Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada.
Steep and rocky trails at Joffre Lakes Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada.

The overall elevation wasn’t all that difficult to get accustomed to, but it was incredibly humid. I could feel the water weight in my lungs every time I took a breath. Several times I needed to stop and cough to clear the passageways so I could get more oxygen! Thankfully it was cool and crisp air.

Tall slender trees in this region are unlike the trees in the north east US.
Tall slender trees in this region are unlike the trees in the north east US.

The trees here were incredible. It was mostly a coniferous forest we ventured through, but unlike the pine trees back home, these tall giants had very little girth. Because of which, the forest was dense and there were many tree tops high in the sky.

Fog descending onto us as we hiked up to middle Joffre Lake
Fog descending onto us as we hiked up to middle Joffre Lake

 

As we continued upwards, we gradually made our way out of the open areas and into the forest itself. I could tell the trails were highly maintained, probably due to the popularity of the area. None the less, they still posed a challenge for my sleepy body and mind (I am NOT a morning person).

 

Within a few kilometers we crept up on the most magnificient lake I’ve seen to date…

Middle Joffre Lake

Second lake @ Joffre Lake Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada.
The glacier is high up on the mountain to the left over middle lake @ Joffre Lake Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada.

The trail opened back up a little as we reached middle Joffre Lake. I was in disbelief at what I was looking at. The lake was glowing turqoise. Friends, I kid you not, It was glowing.

A colleague of mine began to explain that the glacial silt caused the water to turn this wonderful color. I was astonished and probably didn’t blink for several minutes at a time. I wanted to drink it because it reminded me of blue raspberry kool-aid.

Second lake @ Joffre Lake Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada.
The blue / green water slowly changed color as the fog became more thick, at middle lake @ Joffre Lake Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada.

We stayed for a few moments capturing photos and just taking in the scenery. During our time at the second lake the fog quickly rolled in and out of the surrounding mountains. When this happened, the light from the sun shifted and there was noticable color change within the water. You’ll see in some of my photos, the water is blue. While in others it is more of a green hue. As I kept rambling about how incredible the water was, my buddy Tim just looked at me and said “move West man. Move West.”

joffre-lake2-01-web
Fog begins to roll in over the middle lake @ Joffre Lake Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada.

The hike from middle Joffre Lake to upper Joffre Lake was a relatively short one with one spectacular surprise inbetween…

Upper Joffre Lake & a cascading waterfall

joffre-waterfall
A beautiful cascading waterfall separates middle Joffre Lake and upper Joffre Lake.

Hidden in the rolling fog on our way to upper Joffre Lake was a beautiful cascading waterfall. The water was moving incredibly fast and it was super cold. I wanted to grab a drink from it, but I had forgotten my sawyer straw at home like a dope!

Shortly after the waterfall we came to upper Joffre Lake. The color here was not a magnificient turqoise like middle lake, but the view was nothing short of breath-taking.

Third lake @ Joffre Lake Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada.
Third lake @ Joffre Lake Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada.

A glacier sat atop the mountain here. I’ve never actually seen a glacier in real life up until this point. The air here was even more cool and crisp than it was below on the trail. The water was like glass and the reflection was as prestine as the actual view. My friend Nancy and I stumbled around some fallen trees in order to prop up and get some great angles. We nearly fell a few times, but even if we did. It’s always worth getting the perfect shot.

As I kept rambling about how incredible the water was, my buddy Tim just looked at me and said “move West man. Move West.”

Before we knew it, it was 9am and we were running short on time. We had to get back to the retreat! I snapped a few more photos and we were on our way back. It took us about an hour to get back down to the car and we were off.

I can’t wait to get back to these lakes again someday. While I love New England, I feel that the Northwest may hold many more adventures for me.

Follow my colleagues on Instagram to see more amazing photos: Jon, Tim, Nancy, and Ian

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Holly Ann Kurt says:

    So beautiful! ❤

    Like

  2. What a beautiful story with amazing pictures…

    Liked by 1 person

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