June Trails Guide - Squamish & Sea to Sky Trails
June in Garibaldi Park is the first month of the year where you feel proper summer weather, and much like May, most of the hiking trails are almost completely empty. This is of course due largely to the sometimes deep, lingering snow that makes the trails difficult and some requiring snowshoes to access. In Squamish, The Chief, Shannon Falls and Upper Shannon Falls are all excellent to hike. In 2015 many of the hikes closer to Whistler were free of snow since April. , , , , , and the the trail to and have been mostly free of snow for several weeks. Up in Whistler, hiking from the Village to is an interesting option in June. The trail is continuously steep, long and any snow encountered will be well packed down from backcountry skiers from their return from Russet Lake. The trailhead is just a few hundred metres from the Whistler Gondola and runs in between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains on the Whistler side. After 3k you walk directly under the Peak to Peak gondola, as it passes far overhead. The trail continues steadily uphill through the deep forest, though very well marked trail which is used continuously in the winter by skiers doing the Spearhead Traverse. Snow will be encountered in June around half way up the trail so having snowshoes might be handy to avoid at times. At 11k you reach the junction where you can turn right to hike Musical Bumps on Whistler (another 4k to the amazing summit), or turn left and reach Russet Lake and the beautiful little hut there (another 3k). You could easily argue that late June is the best time of year to hike in Garibaldi Park. No crowds, not that there really ever is in much of the park, with the exception of the area in the summer and on other trails the odd weekends. In June there are no bugs. An extraordinarily wonderful thing, as you will appreciate if you can contrast the lack of bugs in June with the swarms of flies and mosquitoes you can encounter in July and August. Not that the Garibaldi Park trails are notorious for bugs. But once you hike in June and suddenly realize you've not seen one single irritating insect. Hiking in July and August take on a previously unnoticed annoyance with bugs. The third great reason June is great for hiking is the occasion to camp on snow, and yet not feel cold. As the snow in many places you will find to camp would have reached 5 metres deep in the winter, it takes considerable days of hot weather to melt it by July, so in late June you may still be putting up your tent on snow, though be hot enough to walk around shirtless and shoeless. The difficult answer is when the snow is gone enough to hike comfortably without snowshoes in Garibaldi Park. The simple answer is usually late June, but recent years that date was well into July due to the extraordinarily late accumulation of snow. has fantastic and frequent trail updates with regards to snow levels. So for June hiking in Squamish, if you are motivated enough for a little extra exertion hiking in the snow, you will be rewarded with an unforgettable hiking experience. , , , are examples of these incredible places to try in June. Elfin Lakes in Garibaldi Park in Squamish is always amazing and in early June the lakes are sometimes buried in snow and in late June they emerge as the days in the alpine start to hit 20c. is one of the best hikes in June as it's reliably free of snow, usually. The snow disappears faster from the trail there, and what snow remains is consistently packed down by skiers, snowshoers and hikers. To hike Joffre Lakes in June you just need good warm clothes, good waterproof shoes for the mud and snow patches and the foresight or luck to go on a sunny day. The lake is amazing in good weather so try your best to go on nice days. The various hot springs north of Squamish and Whistler are great in June as the roads are all free of snow leading to them. can be done on one trip as they are on the same road (3hrs for Skookumchuck and 4hrs for Sloquet from Squamish). Both have excellent campsites. is still technically closed due to the massive slide in 2010 but can be accessed by the adventurous by hiking in via the Harrison Trail built last year. is also for the adventurous as it's tricky to find and to hike to. The trail is tricky and treacherous. Lots of ups and downs as you skirt the river for 2 kilomtres. For a look at the top 5 best easy hiking trails in Squamish click here. Best moderate trails here, and best challenging hiking around Squamish and Garibaldi Provincial Park click here. For some amazing driving destinations around Squamish try here.
Elfin Lakes in Garibaldi Provincial Park
Elfin Lakes in Garibaldi 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 trailhead is just over an hours drive away, located near the south end of Garibaldi Provincial Park. Garibaldi Park is the massive wilderness park of nearly two thousand square kilometres that stretches from Squamish to Pemberton. If you are driving the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler, Garibaldi Park will be the vast wilderness of snow-capped mountains on your right.
New this year, as of June 22nd 2016 reservations are required for camping at Elfin Lakes, Garibaldi Lake campground and Taylor Meadows campground from June 29th-September 30th, 2016. Camping fees must be paid before entering the park. Before June 22nd pre-pay via before your trip. There are no cash payment options. You can pay online here..
The Elfin Lakes Trail 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 online here) to stay the night there which is a small price to pay for the beautiful comfort after the long, 11 kilometre snowshoe or 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.
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, though overall you will just be doing a moderately steady ascending trail.
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.