Elfin Lakes in Garibaldi Provincial Park
online here) to stay the night there which is a small price to pay for the beautiful comfort after the long, 11 kilometre snowshoe hike to get there. This area is very popular with skiers as well as snowshoers in the winter and deep snow covers the trail usually from November to June.in Garibaldi Park is an absolutely phenomenal, though long, snowshoeing trail that begins at the Diamond Head area in Squamish. From Whistler Village, the trailhead is just over an hours drive away, located near the south end of the massive Garibaldi Park. The is very well marked and maintained and leads to the wonderful, Elfin Lakes Hut. This amazing hut sleeps 33 and is solar powered and propane heated. There is a charge of $15/person(payable at the trailhead or
The trail to Elfin Lakes starts out ascending through deep forest, reaching the Red Heather Hut after 5k. This is a small warming hut equipped with a wood stove complete with a stack of wood free to use, though sleeping here is for emergencies only. The final 6k from this hut to Elfin Lakes takes you along a beautiful ridge with amazing views of snowy mountains all around. The sheer distance of this snowshoeing trail ranks it as difficult.
Expect to take four hours to reach the Elfin Lakes Hut as you are almost constantly ascending a gradual, though consistently uphill trail. There are several jaw-dropping views along this final 6k stretch. This trail is so well marked with orange poles and tree markers that you can reliably find your way after dark or before sunrise with good lights to assist you. You often see, with some shock, skiers trudging up the trail, not far from the trailhead after the sun has set. Making their way to the Elfin Lakes Hut in the dead of night seems to be a pastime of quite a few local skiers and boarders.
As this trail is within Garibaldi Park, dogs are not allowed. This is a courtesy to all the animals that inhabit the park and the potential disturbance that dogs my introduce to their environment. BC Parks staff can issue fines for dogs in the park. Though it is rare, it does happen as Elfin Lakes is regularly staffed with rangers and even has a separate ranger station near the Elfin Lakes Hut. Getting to the trailhead can be problematic during periods of heavy snow. The gravel road runs deep and high into the mountains to the trailhead parking lot. You should be prepared with tire chains and may have to walk from the lower parking lot below the main, usually deep with snow trailhead parking lot.
Trailhead Directions to Elfin Lakes
There are excellent signs directing you to the Elfin Lakes/Diamond Head trailhead parking. From the Sea to Sky Highway follow the signs to "Garibaldi Park Diamond Head." You will want to turn onto Mamquam Road at the Canadian Tire store in Squamish. (left if coming from Whistler, right if coming from Vancouver). Continue following the signs for 16k as they go up a gravel road ending at the parking lot at the trailhead. This road is potentially dangerous to drive in the winter months if you don't have proper tire chains. Even though the road is plowed occasionally it is usually hard packed with snow.
More Whistler Area Snowshoe Trails
There are several more excellent snowshoe trails a few minutes up the Sea to Sky Highway towards Whistler. At the lights to Function Junction, the southern end of Whistler you have two of the best easy to moderate snowshoe trails Whistler has to offer. If you turn right at the lights, drive a couple hundred metres and look for the area on your left cleared of snow for parking you will see a street sign for Cheakamus Lake Road. During normal winter months you will find this road buried in snow from December to April. This is the place to park to snowshoe Cheakamus River along one side, then across a suspension bridge and back along the other side of this beautiful river. As will the other snowshoe trails in Whistler, if it hasn't snowed in the last few days, you will probably manage without snowshoes. Take a look here for more info, directions and a trail map for the Cheakamus River, 4 kilometre roundrip snowshoe trail. On the other side of the Sea to Sky Highway in Function Junction, you will find the Rainbow Sproatt Flank Trail which almost immediately branches off to the trail to the Whistler Train Wreck. This is definitely one of the most scenic, amazing and unusual snowshoe or hiking trails you will find in Whistler. The trail begins by running along a cute, snowy stream before exiting the forest into a barren remnant of the Sea to Sky Highway's construction of the Function Junction overpass. At this point you pick up the trail and veer left and pass under the overpass and along the creek once again. Again the trail enters a narrow, yet very scenic old forest, now with the highway on your right. The trail then reaches the creek and abruptly turns you left and you come to the only train track crossing and the trail then ascends into the snowy forest to the first of several spectacular, Cheakamus River viewpoints. As you follow the trail to the various viewpoints, always keep the Cheakamus River on your left, you will eventually come out the the train tracks again. If you hike/snowshoe parallel to them, about 8 metres from them as walking along train tracks in BC is against the law and you may get a hefty fine(yes it does happen). After about 250 metres you can once again descend into the forest on your left and this time not only come to more amazing river views, but the extraordinary Whistler Train Wreck. There are 7, surreal train wrecks painted in wonderful graffiti that stretch for about 2 kilometres here, and each one a beautiful little world to explore. More information, details, directions and maps for the Whistler Train Wreck hiking/snowshoeing trail click here.