I’ve posted a lot about gear recently and there’s a good reason for that. I bought a lot of gear for a very special trip. It was the first family gathering in four years. For 2023, we got together in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, near my hometown of Vancouver.
There will be a full post about Vancouver and all the gear that I took, including which gear worked out and which gear I should have left at home. However, for now, I’m excited to share images from an amazing hiking destination that you should experience at least once in life.
Joffre Lake Park
Joffre Lake is a stunning and very accessible hike about 45 mins drive north from Whistler Village. It includes jagged peaks, icefields, streams and beautiful turquoise lakes. There are three lakes, Lower, Middle and Upper, that are all easily accessible from the well marked and maintained hiking trail.
What makes Joffre Lake so popular is that the Lower Lake, the first lake, is a five minutes walk from the parking lot and it’s already stunning enough on its own. I imagine that many people come for a selfie with the Lower Lake and then head back to their Whistler Chalet.
‘What makes Joffre Lake so popular is that the Lower Lake, the first lake, is a five minutes walk from the parking lot and it’s already stunning enough on its own.”
If you’re willing to endure some hardship, the hike to the Middle Lake is well worth the extra effort. It takes about 2.5 hours to get to the Middle Lake, if you stop for photography along the way, but in my opinion, it’s well worth it. I think for most people, the Lower and Middle Lake would be the ideal hiking experience.
The hike between the Lower Lake and Middle Lake starts steep and gets steeper as you get closer to the destination, however the scenery makes up for the burning calves. It’s nowhere near as severe as Wedgemount which I hiked in 2019, or Sharp Peak in Hong Kong, but it’s still intense.
Alltrails.com lists the hike as “Hard” and I would agree with that. It’s interesting to note that many people on Google review the hike as easy; I’m not sure where that comes from. Perhaps they only went to the Lower Lake and then returned to the parking lot. I’m pretty fit and found it a challenging hike.
To get from the Middle Lake to the Upper Lake takes a further 1.5 hours. The hike gets pretty intense in some parts with large boulders and broken ground. There’s no danger or scrambling required, but it does require concentration and a strong will. The total elevation from the parking lot to the upper lake is 400m.
“If you want to spend time up there, please know that you’ll have to navigate the boulders and be comfortable chilling on some large rocks.”
At the Upper Lake, the ground is based on large boulders, so if you want to spend time up there, please know that you’ll have to navigate the boulders and be comfortable with chilling on some large rocks. It’s well worth it though as you can watch the glacier ice fall into the lake.
On the day we went, there was sunshine at the Lower Lake, a bit of light rain at the Middle Lake and snow flurries at the Upper Lake. We were told that this hike becomes very busy but perhaps due to the time of year, and our early arrival time, it was relatively quiet.
You’ll need a daypass to enter the park, but the pass can be obtained for free from the B.C. Parks website. I heard that in the summer months, the passes get reserved immediately after 7AM and you can only reserve them for up to three days in advance. They did check that we had a pass at the entrance to the park.
“It felt so good to be outside of cellular coverage.”
Please note that there’s no cellular service within a few km of the park so you should take a screen shot of your pass before arriving in the vicinity; you may also want to let your loved ones know they won’t be able to contact you for several hours. It felt so good to be outside of cellular coverage; nobody to bother you, nobody on their phones, everyone with their heads up high and looking forward.
While the overall hike was relatively easy for us, we did see many people struggling between the Middle and Upper Lakes. We gave them some encouragement that it will be worth it and we could see it give them a small boost of energy. I’d recommend taking some basic hiking shoes as it does get rather slippery near the Upper Lake.
“It’s better in real life than these images. I couldn’t fully capture the glory and majesty of the mountains.”
I think you’ll agree with me that Joffre Lake Park is simply spectacular. Because of the clouds, I couldn’t fully capture the glory and majesty of the mountains, but I think the images I was able to capture will give you some hint of what to expect. It’s better in real life than these images.
Duffy Lake Road
As a car racing nut, I can’t leave this post without mentioning the Duffy Lake Road that leads into the park. When I lived in Vancouver, I used to ride a Ducati 748 motorcycle up this road early on Sunday mornings. It’s a twisty, isolated road with some of the most spectacular turns and scenery that can be found anywhere in the world.
I kept wishing I had my 997 GT3 on this road, but alas, I was stuck in a rental Genesis G70 sedan (which has horrible brakes by the way). Without the grip or braking that I would have liked, I focused on maintaining a high average speed and going from corner to corner with smoothness, precision and control.
If you happen to be visiting Whistler, Joffre Lake Park and the Duffy Lake Road are well worth the energy and time.
It was an absolutely perfect road, leading to a spectacular hike. It’s so amazing that it even has its own page on TripAdvisor. I especially liked this review: “Not for faint of heart or a first timer to mountain roads if heading West.”. If you happen to be visiting Whistler, Joffre Lake Park and the Duffy Lake Road are well worth the energy and time.
I hope you enjoy these pics as much as I had taking them!