Upper Joffre Lake

Just a couple hours from Vancouver, our group finds the trailhead and sets out into the forest seeking a trio of glacial lakes in Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. The lower lake appears just ahead, not far from our starting point — a little amuse bouche of what’s farther up the trail. Reed grass paints a lime green swath through the water while the sun hides behind clouds just above the mountains.

We continue on the trail — easy under foot and blanketed by thick undergrowth on both sides. The park clearly sees a lot of precipitation as the vegetation looks almost like a rainforest. The trail shifts into high gear and we’re soon progressing through a valley on a steep incline. Getting to the middle lake is an uphill haul, but the views entice and encourage and we find ourselves at the shore, out of breath.

A glacial lake is a sight to behold, anywhere in the world. Deep blue-green and opaque, it’s not only hard to describe but hard to believe even when seeing it in person. The blue tones accentuate the yellow in the vegetation surrounding the lake, and it seems today that even my camera is having difficulty interpreting the values of this extraordinary landscape. It just doesn’t look real.

Just up the trail, water cascades down through the trees along a nearly perfect staircase waterfall. The sky tries to clear and we continue on our way to Upper Joffre Lake.

The highest lake offers the greatest reward, with a view into a cirque topped by an old glacier. It’s the perfect place to stop for lunch so we settle on a coarse moraine next to the trail. The sun finally shines and hits the water like a spotlight — blue-green changing to aqua in a brilliant show of colors. The glacier holds a hint of icy blue and with my long lens I see the many layers of winters past fused together in a moving, melting canvas. We explore the campground at the far end of the lake (paradise!) and then begin our descent back to our starting point.

It’s such a thrill to find wilderness so easily reached from Vancouver. It’s just the beginning of my adventure here and Canada’s backcountry is vast. I think there’s plenty to keep me busy for however long I’m here.


To get to Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, take Highway 99 from Vancouver through Whistler to Pemberton. The parking area is located on the right side, several kilometers past Lillooet Lake. For more information, visit the park website:



  1. I’ve never hiked up there. Must put it on my list! Gorgeous country. You’ll find so many places to hike in and around Vancouver – it’s a wilderness paradise. Even if you don’t leave town there’s miles of trails in the Endowment Lands, and straight from the North Shore.


  2. It looks like you are getting to know the surrounding of BC quite well ~ both lower & upper Joffre Lakes are well represented in your write up and especially the photos…beautiful.


      1. I really want to check out Joffre Lakes ~ one is because I love glacier lakes (the colors as you say), and I’ve yet to explore the Canadian side of the Pacific Northwest ๐Ÿ™‚ So much to explore ~ it is great!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hey! If you like glacial lakes, you’ll lose your mind here! ๐Ÿ™‚ I need to post some shots of Garibaldi Lake — great hike and beautiful location. So easy to access from Vancouver. I’ll see if I have enough content to do a post. Thanks for the inspiration, Randall!


  3. Oh wow, Canada is high on the travel wishlist, doing a road trip there and doing some National Parks sounds like heaven but reading your article seems like we difinitely should add Joffre to the list too! Sounds and looks great!


    1. A Canada road trip sounds fantastic! Yes, Joffre is beautiful! And another hike to consider is Garibaldi Lake. Lots of uphill, but the big lake at the top is amazing. I did that hike about two weeks ago, so I’ll be writing a post with photographs soon. Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Vancouver is one of the most beautiful places I’ve known. I’m impressed with the water rushing down the lake as white as the glaciers above the hill. It would be so nice to take a swim in the lake but I don’t take if I could last the temperature. Good thing I came across your site. I’m just being reminded of this beautiful place again. I’m pretty sure you worth the hiking.


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