History of Elfin Lakes
Elfin Lakes has been a popular destination for hiking, snowshoeing and skiing for almost a century. In the 1930's Ottar and Emil Brandvold immigrated to Canada from Norway. Hearing of the wilderness paradise in the Garibaldi region they combed the area for a suitable location to build an alpine lodge. Joined by Ottar's future wife, Joan Mathews of West Vancouver, they decided on Diamond Head, next to the two small lakes to build their dream lodge. Emil, Ottar and Joan built Diamond Head Lodge by hand using the forest surrounding what would become known as Elfin Lakes. The name Elfin Lakes is suspected to have come much later. One record indicates the lakes were once called Crystal Lakes. The earliest indication they were named Elfin Lakes comes from the pamphlet from the Diamond Head Lodge in 1978. Since 1978 the lakes have been known as Elfin Lakes. For thirty years, beginning in the late 1940's the Diamond Head Lodge hosted visitors from around the world. Year-round visitors enjoyed the breathtaking scenery and rugged hospitality. In 1958 the Diamond Head Lodge was bought by the Provincial Government and leased back to the Brandvold's. The Brandvold's continued to operate the lodge until their retirement in 1972. In 1973 the lodge was permanently closed and in 1974 the Elfin Lakes Hut was built to replace the deteriorating lodge. In 2009 the crumbling remains of the Diamond Head Lodge were removed. One corner of this beautiful and cherished building still remain as a tribute to the Brandvold's contribution to the history of this wonderful place.
The Elfin Lakes Hut
The Elfin Lakes Campground is located in an incredibly beautiful area of distant, enormous, jagged mountains and beautiful rolling hills and valleys. The two cute little lakes lay next to the amazing Elfin Lakes Hut. To snowshoe to this hut is quite something. As you approach it in winter it looks quite small, buried as it invariably is in metres of snow. The entrance is reached by descending a snow staircase. Upon entering you feel an unexpected wave of heat as you realize the hut is heated. There are also propane stoves and very unexpectedly, working lights. The Elfin Lakes Hut is solar powered. Amazing. Stairs lead up to a impressively large sleeping area which can accommodate 33 people. A fact you would have never believed from your approach view outside. Not only can it sleep 33, but it does so in style. Beautifully organized, solid looking, wooden bunk beds built right into the structure make the hut look like some characteristically beautiful, European ski lodge. What an great place Elfin Lakes is! There are several outhouses next to the Elfin Lakes Hut and plenty of beautiful spots in the area to put up a tent. Even in the bitter cold of winter you will see a few tents a few hundred metres from the hut. There is an amazing plateau near the hut that edges onto a sweeping view of the valley below. This is just one of many million dollar view tent sites to be found in this year-round, mountain paradise. Overnight camping and hut fees are payable by credit card online here.
Camping & Bivouacking at Elfin Lakes
Camping at Elfin Lakes is an amazingly beautiful experience. The valley is huge with stunning mountain peaks all around. The hiking/snowshoeing possibilities seem endless. Year-round the Elfin Lakes Hut has bunk beds for 33 people(11 double bunks and 12 single bunks). The hut also has 4 huge picnic tables inside as well as 2 propane stove-top burners, a washing sink as well as a giant propane stove and solar powered lights. Adjacent to the hut is a row of outhouses. The campsite area at Elfin Lakes is quite large and well organized. 35 tent platforms dot the landscape and on a typical summer weekend, you will find most of them occupied! In the winter months, these tent platforms with be hidden under metres of snow and you can put up a tent nearly anywhere you want. There are various excellent spots overlooking the vast valley just a few dozen metres from the hut. For those seeking solitude, there are endless tent site possibilities further away. Hardcore winter campers often shovel out snow caves to sleep in. Often you will find them in the slopes adjacent to the hut. Pretty amazing and surprisingly comfortable. In 2015, the new campsite at Rampart Ponds was completed. Just 1.5 kilometres before Mamquam Lake, this new campground replaces the old one at Mamquam Lake that was closed recently. It is located 10 kilometres from Elfin Lakes on the trail to Mamquam Lake. The new campground has 12 tent platforms, an outhouse and food storage facilities. Overnight camping and hut fees must be pre-payed by credit card online here.
Garibaldi Lake & Taylor Meadows Snowshoeing in June
Garibaldi Lake and Taylor Meadows is a beautiful trail to snowshoe in the winter in Garibaldi Park in Squamish. Beautiful snowy meadows surrounded by mountains everywhere you look. Black Tusk towering in the distance so close and blanketed in wonderful, beautiful snow. You can snowshoe this route via Taylor Meadows on one way and by Garibaldi Lake on the return journey. The Taylor Meadows/Garibaldi Lake trail forks partway up, left goes to Taylor Meadows, right to Garibaldi Lake (the trail joins again at the far side of both).
Garibaldi Lake, so massive and dramatically beautiful in the winter, a huge frozen valley. The downside to this hike is the length of hiking to get to the beautiful parts. In the summer it's not so bad as the trailhead is a moderately difficult 9k from Garibaldi Lake. In the winter however, the trailhead parking lot is unplowed almost down to the highway. So just to get to the summer trailhead requires about a 2k uphill snowshoe slog.
If you snowshoe the beautiful route to Taylor Meadows and return via Garibaldi Lake the route is 25 kilometres long and very strenuous as a one day snowshoe trip. Camping at either Taylor Meadows or Garibaldi Lake are great options if you can stand the cold and are well prepared. If you plan to do this trip in one day be sure to leave very early and be well prepared for winter hiking. In the winter the days are very short so always have lights with you. Although the trail will likely be tracked out by previous hikers and skiers, having a gps is an excellent backup in case you lose the trail.
If you are not troubled by a lot of exertion then it's a wonderful snowshoe destination. Like Joffre Lakes it is frequented by skiers just enough to ensure an almost constant track throughout the winter so you can concentrate more on the scenery then keeping from getting lost. Another nice attribute of this hike is the fact that you can snowshoe through the beautiful Taylor Meadows on the way up then across to Garibaldi Lake on the way back, therefore doing a little snowshoe circle route before heading back to your car at Rubble Creek.
Joffre Lakes Provincial Park - Squamish Trails Guide June
Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is one of the best, moderately easy hike you may ever find. The trail is well worn, doesn't climb too quickly, and is fairly short at just 5.5k to the third lake. The third lake is the final destination for most hikers. There are three lakes. The first Joffre Lake is seen almost immediately from the trailhead and is a picturesque mountain lake with distant, snow capped mountains all around.in
The second Joffre lake is about 45 minutes into the hike and is very beautiful. The bright, unnatural looking turquoise colour is breathtaking. This is a great place to stop for a rest and take in the view. The resident birds immediately swoop on you if you have any food and will even land on your arm if invited.
You should be able to reach the third and fantastically turquoise third Joffre lake in about 1.5 to 2 hours (from the trailhead). The third lake has several nice, though very rugged places to put up a tent. Most tend to set up camp in between the beautiful third Joffre lake and the monstrously beautiful Matier Glacier. A beautiful waterfall descends from the steep rocks above the lake.
There is a prominent helicopter pad near the third lake as a sobering reminder of how dangerous the area can be. If you are adventurous, skilled and knowledgeable about scrambling and climbing on and around glaciers there is a bonanza waiting for you in Joffre Lakes Park. There are four named glaciers close to the third Joffre lake. Matier Glacier, Anniversary Glacier, Stonecrop Galcier and Tszil Glacier. Beyond Mount Matier there are two more, Twin One and Hartzell.
In early June you usuall encounter some snow and a blanket of snow at the third Joffre Lakes campsite. In 2015, however, the snow should be well above the campsite leaving only the lake bitterly cold to swim in. There is an outhouse near the campsite and excellent water flowing through the area. The ground is very rocky though, so pack an extra sleeping pad if you intend on camping. The area, despite its remoteness gets busy most summer nights and certainly summer weekends. But in June stays fairly quiet, and most weeknights in June you will have Joffre Lakes Provincial Park all to yourself under the stars.