The plan will be this: Day 1: We will backpack in, settle into the cabin, and go out exploring a bit, perhaps Opal Cone, Little Diamond Head or the Gargoyles, depending on how much daylight we have, or how adventurous we're feeling (headlamps). Day 2, we'll continue our exploring and head back to the parking lot when its time.
You'll need to bring all the usual stuff you'd need for a winter backpacking trip, but we will be staying in the cabin, which has propane stoves for cooking and heat.
The cabin can be quite busy but it shouldn't be a problem if we get in there fairly early on a Friday.
PLEASE NOTE THERE IS A $15 PER NIGHT PER PERSON FEE TO STAY IN THE CABIN AT ELFIN LAKES. THIS CAN BE PAID IN CASH AT THE PARKING LOT WHERE WE START THE HIKE.
The hike description below is from Vancouver Trails and describes the hike in summer but the detail is quite good.
Region: Howe Sound
Time: 6 hours
Elevation Gain: 600 meters
Public Transit: No
Approx. 1 hour 45 minutes from Vancouver
Elfin Lakes are two small lakes located in the scenic alpine setting of Garibaldi Provincial Park near Squamish, British Columbia.
From the parking lot, pass the yellow gate and begin heading uphill along the wide gravel road. Originally, this was the main road to access the old Diamond Head Lodge at Elfin Lakes. However, it is solely used today by hikers and mountain bikers to access Elfin Lakes.
After hiking for just over an hour, you arrive at the shelter at Red Heather Meadows. The shelter is used in the winter by snowshoers and cross-country skiers as a place to warm up and in the summer months as a place for hikers to use the outhouse just beyond the building.
As you continue up the trail past the shelter, follow the narrow hiking trail for the next kilometer. The vegetation begins to thin and becomes very sensitive as you approach the alpine area. The narrow trail eventually joins back up with the wide gravel road. Go left and continue gradually heading uphill, admiring the beautiful alpine scenery to your left. As the trail begins to level, the two huts at Elfin Lakes can be seen off in the distance.
For the next 30 minutes, the trail descends towards the Elfin Lakes before arriving at a view above the lakes of the surrounding area. Make the final descent down towards the first lake and stop to take photos and enjoy the view.
People are allowed to swim in the top lake, however the lower lake is reserved for drinking water only and must be kept clean. The ranger station is just beyond the second lake and a bit further down the trail is the overnight shelter used by hikers who plan on hiking to further destinations such as Opal Cone, the Gargoyles, or Mamquam Lake.
After stopping for lunch at the lakes, head back onto the trail in the direction you arrived from. The first section is a steady uphill climb as you make your way back up to the rocky ridge. Once there, it's all gradually downhill as you continue towards the warming shelter leaving the alpine scenery behind. Pass the warming hut and head back downhill towards the parking lot where you began your day.
How to get to Elfin Lakes
Estimated Driving Time from Vancouver: 1 hour 45 minutes
Elfin Lakes is located in the southern area of Garibaldi Provincial Park near the town of Squamish. From Vancouver, take Highway #1 (Trans Canada Highway) westbound towards Horseshoe Bay and follow the turnoff onto Highway #99 (Sea to Sky Highway). At the town of Squamish, watch for the turnoff to Mamquam Road or the Valley Golf Country Club. Continue along Mamquam Road as it heads uphill and becomes a gravel road. At the fork in the road, go left and continue up the dirt road to the parking lot.
Note: This parking lot does have a reputation for several car-related thefts, so do not leave any valuables in your vehicle.
Dogs are NOT allowed at Elfin Lakes or on any trails in Garibaldi Provincial Park.
Outhouses are located in several places including at the parking lot, just beyond the Red Heather Meadows shelter, and near Elfin Lakes. Please ensure to bring your own toilet paper.
Please note that we are not a professional organization nor a group composed of trained professional guides. Ecospirit is run entirely on the efforts of volunteers and the active participation of members. The success of each event depends on the cooperation & efforts of every member who participates. Although we always make an effort to look out for one another, to the best of our ability, each of us is nevertheless responsible for our own safety and well-being during every event. By RSVPing "yes" for this event, you acknowledge and accept these terms.