Joffre Lakes Provincial Park has exploded in popularity in recent years, creating an influx of visitors to this scenic hiking and camping destination. All factors considered, we think Autumn is the best time to hike Joffre Lakes in order to enjoy the pristine scenery without getting lost in the crowd.
Regardless of the season, it’s essential to get to Joffre Lakes Provincial Park early in the morning in order to get a parking spot. Even on an Autumn weekday, it’s a good idea to arrive before 9am to guarantee a spot. In the summer, and especially on weekends, cars park along the highway as the parking lot fills up quickly. The provincial government states on their website that parking along the highway is prohibited, though it’s unclear whether tickets have been issued.
Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed in Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. Too much activity around the lakes risks disrupting the ecosystem, so it’s essential that visitors stay on trail and do not leave waste behind. Take only pictures, leave only footprints definitely applies here.
On a brisk autumn morning, you’ll enjoy majestic views of mist rising off the lakes and being illuminated by the rising sun. These glacier-fed lakes are quite chilly, though that doesn’t deter the occasional brave soul from jumping in.
What to bring to hike Joffre Lakes
- comfortable, grippy shoes – the hike is not overly long or difficult, but there are some wet and muddy spots, as well as some steep inclines and rock scrambling along the way
- at least 1/2 litre of water – as mentioned above, the hike isn’t too strenuous, but you’ll definitely want to hydrate at points
- warm and cool layers – depending on sun exposure and how far you are along the hike, your temperature will fluctuate greatly
- camera – you’ll want to capture images of these gorgeous lakes
Joffre Lakes hiking time and distance
- about 11k roundtrip hiking distance
- 400 meters elevation gain
- takes 4-5 hours according to Whistler Hiatus, although speedsters can easily complete the round trip in 2 hours or less
- trailhead is 61.6 kilometers (38.3 miles) from Whistler Village
How to get to Joffre Lakes
- from the Whistler Village, drive North on Highway 99 towards Pemberton. Continue past Pemberton and turn right when prompted towards Mount Currie/Lillooet. In a few minutes, you will see signs on the right for Joffre Lakes Provincial Park.
The trail is well-marked and easy to navigate. From the parking lot, you will arrive at the lower lake almost immediately. After that you’ll start winding upwards, coming to the most strenuous part of the trail about halfway through. After ascending a number of steep staircases, you might want to catch your breathe before continuing on to the middle lake.
At the middle lake there are a number of good clearings to take photos or have a seat. From here, the path gets a little tricky with muddy, rocky sections and small-but-steep inclines. If your mobility is impaired, hiking poles are a good asset here.
On your way from the middle to the upper lake, a quick aside brings you to a crashing, multi-layered waterfall.
You will quickly arrive at the upper lake, where you will be met with panoramic views of the brilliant turquoise water and surrounding forest and mountains.
On most days, several visitors will be gathered along the rocky shoreline, which offers plenty of space to sit and enjoy the view. This is a great spot to hang out and eat lunch before making the descent to the parking lot.
Overall, the Joffre Lakes hike offers some of the most accessible beauty you can find anywhere. It’s no wonder it’s become so popular in recent years. If you’d like to enjoy the stunning views without fighting through crowds or snow, Autumn is the definitely best time to hike Joffre Lakes.