Saturday, June 27, 2015

Pemberton Weekend Road Trip: Joffre Lakes

Not all road trips have to be long ones. We often do weekend road trips as a means of a quick getaway before heading back to work. This past weekend we headed up to Pemberton for a weekend exploration of their local mountains. What actually brought us up to the Pemberton area was a picture circulating on Pinterest of Joffre Lakes.

Joffre Lakes is a 4 hour hike to 3 separate glacier fed lakes, each with a beautiful emerald green tint to the water. This is a really popular spot for road trippers, campers and hikers.
We left the Vancouver area quite early in the morning so we could make it to the trail head just after sunrise.

Within the first 10 minutes of the hike, we made it to the first lake. If you’re not much of a hiker, but want to discover these beautiful lakes, take a short walk along this trail to the first lake. It’s just as beautiful as the other 2 lakes, just much easier to get to.

After passing the first lake, we made our uphill climb to the second lake. This took about 1-1.5 hours. There were only 2 short sections that were quite steep, a great way to get the heart pumping so early in the morning. The second lake was just stunning, and quite inviting. I would have jumped into the lake, but it was still early in the morning and the sun hadn’t come over the mountains yet to warm up the trail. We spent a bit of time relaxing at the lake before moving onto the third lake.

The third lake was a short 20 minute uphill hike before reaching the edge of the lake. There are campsites along the water here, but most campers prefer to scramble over the rocks for another 20-30 minutes to make it over to the other side where the majority of other campers stay. Here you can relax at the bottom of one of the glacier that feeds into the lake, and there’s even a few prime campsites right on the water.

If you are planning on being at Joffre Lakes for several hours, you can follow the trail markers up to one of the glaciers. There, you are able to walk on the glacier and play around in the snow.


Joffre Lakes is a popular place for hikers to camp, but be warned, it’s not an easy uphill hike with camping gear. I would say it’s much easier than Garibaldi Lakes, it’s a shorter trail and the elevation gain is almost half that of Garibaldi Lakes. I also found it to be not as busy/popular as Garibaldi Lakes, which is a bonus if you’re looking for a campsite.

It seems, once you reach the other side of the trail near the 3rd lake, you’re free to set up your tent wherever you like, unlike at Garibaldi Lakes where you have to camp at the designated campsites.
For more camping information, click here.

We left late in the day, and the parking lot was full of campervans and RVs. I would assume these are people passing through town wanting to enjoy the beautiful lakes. We didn’t pass many people on the trail, other than near the first lake. It seems like a popular place, so go early or expect the parking lot to be busy on hot summer days. It is a fairly large parking lot, but once you get 20 or so campers in the parking lot, it can get quite busy.

Have you been to Joffre Lakes before?


A note about forest fires: As of July 2015 there are several large forest fires in Pemberton, causing a hiking and fire advisory. We went up a week after this fire started and didn`t have any trouble with smoke, however, the fires seems to have grown larger and larger each week. Check Google News for Pemberton fire updates before heading up to Pemberton.

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