Escape to Joffre Lakes this Winter

November 15, 2017

Take a snowy adventure to Joffre Lake and experience frozen lakes, snow capped forests and glacier-laden peaks.

Once you leave Vancouver and cross the Lions Gate bridge, the scenery changes dramatically. The cold, grey and wet surroundings (words frequently used to describe Vancouver during the winter months) change into a white winter wonderland. The journey to the Joffre Lakes Provincial Park continues for a good two and a half hours, passing Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton in the process. Eventually, about 30 kilometres north of Pemberton, you reach the trailhead of one of the most popular hikes in British Columbia - the Joffre Lakes Hike. After you have passed Lillooet Lake, the road starts climbing steeply for the last 10 kilometres. Winter tires are a must and a slow speed should be maintained. 

 
The Joffre Lakes hike is located in the Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. The Joffre Lakes Hikes is a popular destination for both locals and visitors. Especially during the summer months, the park attracts thousands of people to its crystal clear turquoise-blue lakes and glaciers-laden peaks. The park is not as busy during winter months, however those who do go are rewarded by majestic frozen lakes, snow capped forests and bragging rights! The Joffre Lakes website is a great place to get more information about Joffre Lakes.
 
Upon arriving, we were surprised to find the parking lot filled with cars. At least we knew that we were in the right place and not alone! After putting on all of our winter gear - jackets, snow/ski pants, toques, gloves and snowshoes or crampons (that can be bought from MEC for a reasonable price) - we made our way to the trail. 
 
Joffre lakes in winter
 
The first lake - Lower Joffre Lake - is located near the parking lot. We visited on a clear day and the towering glacier-laden peaks were towering above us. Even the lower lake was solidly frozen and we were able to walk across it, following in the tracks of adventurers who have crossed before us.
 
Feeding the whiskeyjacks at joffre lakes
 
The climb to the second lake was steep and navigating the icier sections require a bit of effort. Having footgear with enough grip is definitely an advantage and you will have nothing to worry about if you do. The stretch between Lower and Middle Joffre Lakes takes about one and a half hours including many stops for snow fights!. Taking a break at Middle Joffre Lake is a good idea. Take lots of photos of this majestic natural wonder. There is a bench to sit and a place to have a snack. Don't sit too long, as you have to keep going to the ultimate prize - Upper Joffre Lake!
 
Winter Joffre Hike with LIVV Adventures
Photo credit: Philippe Roberge
 
The last leg of the upward hike does not take too long. It is a steep climb that takes you past a waterfall of glacial water tumbling down from the upper to the middle lake. It is an incredible site and sound! Upper Joffre Lake appeared sooner than expected. The glacial silt helps turning the frozen water into a milky blue colour and we spend some time admiring it. In the middle of the lake, a true adventurer has set up tent for a winter camp.- admirable indeed! We took pictures of Upper Joffre Lakes and admired the towering Matier Glacier crawling over the peaks. The upper lake is exposed and the wind is chilling. We looked for a protected place and made lunch and coffee. 
 
Winter camping at Joffre Lakes
Photo credit: Mountaineerscouts
 
We made our way down with enough daylight left as you don't want to be caught having to hike down the icy path at night. The journey back from the Upper Lake to the parking lot took about 2 hours and we were happy to get inside the warm Joffre Bus. If you have enough time, stop for a beer in Whistler to reward yourself for a great achievement!
 
[LIVV Adventures is the operates an affordable, convenient and frequent bus service between Vancouver and the Joffre Lakes Provincial Park during the summer months (May to October). Learn more below]

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