Joffre Snowshoe RatingJoffre Lakes Provincial Park is a hiking paradise in the summer and a skiing and snowshoeing paradise in the winter.  About 1 hour and 20 minutes north of Whistler gets you to the Joffre Lakes trailhead.  Located up on the Duffy Lake Road north of Pemberton, Joffre Lakes is well known for its incredibly surreal, turquoise water.  In the winter of course, all three of the Joffre Lakes are frozen over but the trail is popular with skiers and snowshoers between the months of November and April.

  • Very scenic drive to get there from Whistler
  • Mountains of snow everywhere
  • Three amazing lakes to see
  • Pristine, snowy winter wonderland
  • Safe snowshoeing if you keep to the trail
  • Alpine terrain extends in many directions
  • Stunning glacier looms above the lake
  • Extraordinary place camp!
  • Not dog friendly as of summer 2018
  • Often closed by BC Parks

Whistler Snowshoe Trails

Blueberry Park Steep, Short, Dog Friendly Snowshoe TrailBlueberry Trail  Snowshoe Easy DogBrandywine Falls  Snowshoe Easy DogCheakamus River  Elfin Lakes Moderate, Very Long Snowshoe TrailElfin Lakes  Steep, Short, Dog Friendly Snowshoe TrailFlank Trail  Joffre Lakes Moderate, Steep Snowshoe TrailJoffre Lakes  Snowshoe Easy DogNairn Falls  Dog Friendly Snowshoe TrailParkhurst Ghost Town  Steep, Short, Dog Friendly Snowshoe TrailRainbow Falls  Rainbow Lake Moderate, Steep & Long Snowshoe TrailRainbow Lake  Rainbow Park Easy Dog Friendly Snowshoe TrailRainbow Park  Steep Dog Friendly SnowshoeingSproatt East  Taylor Meadows Moderate, Steep Snowshoe TrailTaylor Meadows  Snowshoe Trail EasyModTrain Wreck  Wedgemount Lake Challenging, Steep Snowshoe TrailWedgemount Lake 

 Winter Hiking WhistlerJanuary  Winter Hiking WhistlerFebruary  Spring Hiking WhistlerMarch  Spring Hiking WhistlerApril  Spring Hiking WhistlerMay  Summer Hiking WhistlerJune  Summer Hiking WhistlerJuly  Summer Hiking WhistlerAugust  Fall Hiking WhistlerSeptember  Fall Hiking WhistlerOctober  Fall Hiking WhistlerNovember  Winter Hiking WhistlerDecember

The Joffre Lakes trail is fairly well marked and almost always tracked out in the winter it is still possible to lose the trail after dark or or during heavy snowfall.  Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is centred around the three Joffre Lakes.  All of them are beautiful on their own and each more beautiful than the last.  Frozen over in the winter, you won't be able to marvel at the amazing turquoise colours the lakes, caused by light reflecting off of the particles of glacial silt suspended in the water.  In the winter, with the lakes frozen and the trees weighed down with snow, Joffre Lakes takes on a serene beauty, with the low sun cutting through the trees and the forest brightly reflecting.  The third of the Joffre Lakes ends in a U-shaped valley where you will find the far side of the lake towering with glaciers relentlessly crushing down on the lake.  The sun fills the valley and the silence is wonderful.  The trailhead and parking lot will be buried in metres of snow in the winter months, however a small parking area is plowed throughout the winter.  There are plenty of signs, so even in snowy weather, you should easily spot them.  From the winter parking area you will likely have to climb over a plowed, wall of snow and then continue through the snow buried parking lot.  At the far end, the parking lot bends right and you will spot the trailhead sign.

Joffre Lakes Snowshoe Map v4

Joffre Lakes Provincial Park Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing Joffre Lakes Provincial Park

Joffre Lakes Snowshoeing Moderately ChalleningThe first of the Joffre Lakes is just an easy and short 2 minute walk.  Here you can see directly across the lake and beyond to your destination.  The third of the Joffre Lakes will be at the foot of the distant mountain you see in the V of the closer mountains.  If you trust the thickness of the ice on the lake you can take a short-cut by walking across the lake and picking up the trail as it skirts the right side of the lake.  This doesn't cut off much distance, however, and finding the marked trail may be tricky.  Continuing along the trail you slowly ascend through deep forest and across some small creeks.  Past the far side of the first of the Joffre Lakes you then cross a huge boulder field which can be tricky to cross when wet, snowy or icy.  On a sunny day, this is a great place to stop and take in the view.  All around you are massive pillows of snow resting on massive boulders buried far beneath.  The mountains across the valley seem to glow impossibly white.  It's here that you will notice that much of the hike will be in the shade.  Partly because of the deep forest, but also because the trail is mostly on the hillside facing away from the sun.  Because of this you will want to have lots of warm gear and some hot drinks or you won't enjoy the sights on the trail nearly as much.

Joffre Lakes Snowshoeing

Plenty of caution should be taken on this trail.  Make sure you don't go snowshoeing to Joffre Lakes immediately after heavy snow.  Pick a nice, sunny day and leave yourself lots of daylight and be prepared with headlights as the winters bring very early sunsets, especially in the mountains.  The trail is sometimes steep as you gain 400 metres of altitude in just 5k, trailhead to the third of the Joffre Lakes.  On snowshoes expect to reach the third lake in about two hours.  On a sunny day the frozen lake is beautiful and almost warm feeling.  However, as soon as the sun goes behind the mountains the temperature gets bitter cold so be prepared with very warm clothing on any snowshoeing adventure there.  You do occasionally see people camp overnight at Joffre Lakes in the winter.  The usual campsite area is buried in snow as it lays at the base of the mountains so people usually put their tents directly on the frozen lake.  Extraordinary!

Joffre Lakes Snowshoeing

Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is no longer dog friendly as of the summer of 2018.  Garibaldi Park does not allow dogs either, making the Sea to Sky region pretty dog unfriendly.  The reason for the dog prohibition in Garibaldi Park and Joffre Lakes is ostensibly out of respect for the resident animals in the park.  Dogs often chase, or get chased by bears, harass hoary marmots and deer, and inevitably defecate close to drinking water sources.  There are other dog friendly hikes around.  Nairn Falls Provincial Park on the drive to Joffre Lakes is dog friendly as well as many of the hiking trails in the Callaghan Valley in Whistler.

Joffre Lakes Snowshoeing

Getting to the Joffre Lakes Trailhead

Driving to the TrailheadFrom Whistler, zero your odometer in Whistler at Village Gate Boulevard and follow highway 99 north toward Pemberton. At 32km you will arrive at Pemberton, an intersection, with a Petro Can gas station on your left and McDonalds to your right. Continue straight, through Pemberton. At 39km turn right at the sign to Lillooet. Follow this winding road, and soon you will pass Lillooet Lake on your right as the highway ascends steeply.  You are only 20 minutes from the parking lot now.  At 65km, you will see the large Joffre Lakes parking lot on your right (shown on the map below).  There are several worthwhile stops on the drive to Joffre Lakes.  Just five minutes from Whistler Village and you will drive along the edge of Green Lake.  There is an excellent pullout on the right side of the highway at a great viewpoint over the lake.  Wedge Mountain, Blackcomb Mountain, and Whistler Mountain lay beyond Green Lake.  Another 15 minutes driving and you will see the sign for Nairn Falls Provincial Park.  A short and easy 1.2 kilometre trail runs along the wild and crashing Green River to a viewing area on cliffs across from the falls.  In the winter the park gates are closed, so you will have to just park at the edge of the Sea to Sky Highway, next to the gates and walk in.  Continuing north on the Sea to Sky Highway, Pemberton is just another 5 minutes away.  This cute town is your last chance for a coffee shop, grocery store, liquor store or gas station before Joffre Lakes.  You will see two gas stations at the set of traffic lights, but if you want coffee, restaurants, etc, then turn left at these lights and you will find plenty of choices.

Driving to Joffre Lakes Map Winter v7

Joffre Lakes Parking in Winter

Winter Camping at Joffre Lakes

Free Winter Camping at Joffre LakesIn the summer months, 26 camping areas can be found at the far shore of Upper Joffre Lake.  These are very rustic camping areas with no facilities other than two outhouses.  In the winter months this camping area becomes unusable due to its location being in the path of frequent avalanches.  Concern about the avalanche terrain becomes your main campsite consideration in the winter along with the lack of suitably flat areas to put up a tent around the lake.  Camping on the frozen, Upper Joffre Lake is often preferred by campers this time of year.  Keep in mind that winter camping is only suitable for the well prepared, equipped and experienced.  You will be sleeping just centimetres from solid ice in a brutally cold alpine environment.  For example, a cheap sleeping bag and sleeping pad will make your night painfully cold and miserable.  With the exception of some weekends and the occasional weekday, you can expect to be the only camper on the lake.  If you are equipped and can brave the cold, sleeping on Upper Joffre Lake is an experience you won't soon forget.

More Whistler Snowshoe Trails

More Whistler Snowshoe TrailsThere are plenty of beautiful and free snowshoe trails in Whistler and Garibaldi Provincial Park.  From the surreal paintings of Whistler Train Wreck to the magnificent mountain serenity of Wedgemount Lake in Garibaldi Park.  Trails range from extremely easy, like the short, flat trails to Brandywine Falls and Rainbow Park.  To challenging and long trails to places like Elfin LakesTaylor Meadows and Wedgemount Lake.  Whistler even has a growing network of snowshoe trails to Parkhurst Ghost Town on the far side of Green Lake.  There are a couple pay-use snowshoeing areas in Whistler, however most free trails are as good or better.  Whistler Train Wreck is an easy/moderate snowshoe trail that takes you through a deep forest, over Cheakamus River via a very pretty suspension bridge, and to a series of decades old, wrecked train cars.  Elfin Lakes in Garibaldi Provincial Park is another beautiful place to snowshoe.  Located at the south end of Garibaldi Park, the Elfin Lakes trailhead is found in Squamish.  The trail is not overly difficult, however it is quite long.  A consistently uphill, 11 kilometre(13.7 mile) trail through some spectacular scenery takes you to the marvelous Elfin Lakes hut.  For easier snowshoeing, Rainbow Falls is a good option.  Located just a short drive from Whistler Village, the Rainbow Trail is a beautiful trek through the forest in a winter wonderland to a hidden waterfall surrounded by deep pillows of powdery snow.  In Whistler, an excellent place to snowshoe is to Parkhurst Ghost Town.  Sitting on the far side of Green Lake, Parkhurst was a thriving logging community several decades ago.  It has since been abandoned except for intermittent squatter communities over the years. 

Whistler Snowshoe Trails

Elfin Lakes in Garibaldi Provincial Park is an absolutely phenomenal, though long, hiking, biking, snowshoeing and skiing trail that begins at the Diamond Head area in Squamish.  From Whistler Village, the ...
Read more
Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is a hiking paradise in the summer and a skiing and snowshoeing paradise in the winter.  About 1 hour and 20 minutes north of Whistler gets you to the Joffre Lakes trailhead.  ...
Read more
Cheakamus River is a beautiful, crashing, turquoise coloured river that flows from Cheakamus Lake, through Whistler Interpretive Forest at Cheakamus Crossing, then down past Brandywine Falls to Daisy Lake.  ...
Read more
Rainbow Falls is a fantastic way go get yourself into some deep snow quickly from Whistler Village.  The short 2.2 kilometre, winding, and ever-changing loop trail to Rainbow Falls partly overlaps the Rainbow ...
Read more

There are plenty of beautiful and free snowshoe trails in Whistler and Garibaldi Provincial Park.  From the surreal paintings of Whistler Train Wreck to ...
Read more
February is a great month for snowshoeing in Whistler and Garibaldi Park.  The days slowly get longer, but the temperatures stay consistently cold.  Expect ...
Read more
In the(usually) deep March snow of Whistler you have an amazing array of snowshoeing options.  If you have not been to the Whistler Train Wreck, you have ...
Read more
April in Whistler is a wonderful time of year.  The winter deep freeze ends and T-shirt weather erupts.  The village comes alive with overflowing patios and ...
Read more

Whistler and Garibaldi Park Hiking Gear Rental

 

Ancient Cedars is a nice, easy/moderate 2.5 kilometre (1.6 mile) hiking trail on the far side of Cougar Mountain, just 13.1 kilometres north of Whistler Village. A small, untouched grove of huge western ...
Read more
The alpine hiking trails on Whistler Mountain are the ultimate in luxurious, quick-access alpine hiking. Little effort gets you amazing views of turquoise lakes, snowy mountains, valleys of flowers and ...
Read more
Taylor Meadows is a very scenic campsite and great alternative to the much busier and more well known, Garibaldi Lake campsite. Located in Garibaldi Provincial Park between Garibaldi Lake and Black Tusk, ...
Read more
The Sproatt East trail is a beautifully wild, steep, but relatively short trail to the magnificent, wide open alpine and summit of Mount Sproatt.  Mount Sproatt (1834 metres) towers over Whistler Valley ...
Read more