A few summers ago, Drew and I ventured to the Pacific Northwest for a reprieve from the Atlanta summer heat and to get some time in the great outdoors. During our time in Whistler, we spent one morning doing the Joffre Lakes hike. This 4.7 mile round trip hike takes you past three stunning glacier-fed lakes, and while parts of the hike may get you a little winded, the reward is definitely worth the effort.
If you’re going to do this hike, plan on getting an early start. The parking lot fills up quickly and once the spots are gone you’ll be out of luck for most of the day. Just a short walk from the parking lot is Lower Joffre Lake. It’s a beautiful lake that would be accessible for anyone young or old. Lower Joffre Lake is a beautiful glacial-blue hue with picturesque mountains in the background. For those of you embarking on the full hike, know that you will be hiking towards those snowy peaks you’re seeing at the start.
The trail meanders around Lower Joffre Lake and then begins an uphill ascent towards Middle Joffre Lake. The trail is nice and wooded providing decent shade and some nice lookouts. The longest trek of the hike is between Lower and Middle Joffre Lakes, so prepare for a longer stretch and enjoy the views when you have them. As you approach Middle Joffre Lake, the trail levels out. Once you get a peek at Middle Joffre Lake’s incredible color, you will be so happy you did this hike. I caught a glimpse of the vibrant hue as we rounded a corner and couldn’t wait to see the whole thing.
In my opinion, Middle Joffre Lake is the best of the three lakes. The color is breathtaking and it has a beautiful mountainous backdrop and is surrounded by lush trees. Don’t get me wrong, Upper Joffre Lake is definitely worth continuing to, but Middle Joffre has it beat.
We spent a bit of time at Middle Joffre Lake before we continuing on to Upper Joffre Lake. On the way up to Upper Joffre, there were some nice snow melt streams and little waterfalls that dotted the trail. The trail changes a little here and there are some rocky spots that may require minimal scrambling, as well as ladders and bridges.
Upper Joffre Lake is beautiful, but the lake color is lighter than Middle Joffre. However, it overlooks the glacier that feeds the lakes, and it’s always a treat to see a glacier in person. If you’re into camping, you can camp up by Upper Joffre Lake and wake up to this amazing view! We ate our lunch by the lake on a rock pile and it was a great way to enjoy the scenery and recharge before the hike back down.
Ultimately, this hike is totally worth doing. It’s a nice hike up and each lake offers something different. We both really enjoyed this hike and have recommended it to several friends traveling to the area. If you plan to do this hike, I recommend bringing at least 2 liters of water, snacks and/or lunch, bug spray (the hike from Lower to Middle was very buggy on the way back down!), good hiking shoes, and your camera! Let me know if you have any questions – happy trails to you!