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  • Craig Cooper Photography

Magical Waters of Joffre Lakes Provincial Park

British Columbia remains one of my favorite destinations that I have had the opportunity to travel to and explore. I researched Joffre Lakes Provincial Park prior to my British Columbia trip, and instantly knew that it was going to be a must-stop destination. I knew that I was going to be in for a treat. However, what I witnessed upon arriving exceeded all expectations and ultimately became one of my most treasured trips yet.

The journey to Joffre Lakes Provincial Park began in beautiful Vancouver. Vancouver is a city boasting with endless amounts of activities, and I decided to take a couple of days and enjoy the best of what Vancouver has to offer. Our pit stop in Vancouver consisted of a trip to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, a visit to Stanley Park, and a whale watching trip with Wild Whales Vancouver.

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is located directly outside of the city and features suspension bridges towering over beautiful rivers and forest floors, and includes tranquil walks through the treetops. It is a very peaceful retreat from the busy city and well worth the trip.

View of the river & forest floor beneath one of the many bridges

Stanley Park is the largest urban park located inside the Vancouver city limits. There are many activities available inside the park including beaches, hikes, historical landmarks, dining options, opportunities to observe native wildlife, train rides, and brilliant views of the Vancouver skyline from many viewpoints throughout the park. One of the most interesting aspects of the park includes Brockton Point Visitor Centre, which features many totem poles and information regarding the history and culture of the Coast Salish people.

Beaches located inside Stanley Park

Vancouver skyline observed from Stanley Park

Historic totem poles located at Brockton Point Visitor Centre

I could not visit the Pacific Northwest or the Vancouver area without having the opportunity to see the Southern Resident Killer Whales. It was always a dream to see these majestic animals in their wild, natural habitat. Wild Whales Vancouver is the company I chose to do my tour with and I couldn't have been happier with the trip. We headed out into the Strait of Georgia and observed multiple whales and seals. The crew was very knowledgeable and offered endless information regarding not only the area Killer Whales, but other wildlife native to the area as well.

Female Killer Whale in the Strait of Georgia

Male Killer Whale ("Jack")

Sea lion laid out on the rocks

After spending a couple of days exploring Vancouver, it was time to head north towards Joffre Lakes. Along the way, I decided to take some time to explore the beautiful mountainside town of Whistler. Whistler is home to Whistler Blackcomb, one of the largest ski resorts in North America. It is also home to Olympic Park, which served as a venue for the 2010 Winter Olympics held in Vancouver. The area offers the Peak 2 Peak gondola, which connects Whistler and Blackcomb mountains and is the Guinness Book of World Record holder for the longest and highest gondola lift of its kind. Visitors can also visit the 7th Heaven Summit, located atop Blackcomb Mountain, and offers stunning 360 views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

View from Peak 2 Peak gondola ride

7th Heaven Summit atop Blackcomb Mountain

Stunning views of surrounding mountains and terrain

Joffre Lakes Provincial Park lies approximately an hour north of Whistler and the drive along Duffey Lake Road between the destinations was nothing short of magical. Upon arriving to Joffre Lakes admidst the mountains, I began to prepare for the hike. This particular hike features three different glacier lakes and involves an elevation gain of 1,181 ft. during the 6.8 mile roundtrip trek. The trail is well marked and easy to follow, though rough and difficult in some areas. However, the hike is overall fairly easy and less strenuous than other nearby hikes.

The first lake (Lower Joffre Lake) is located a mere 0.3 miles from the trailhead and into the forest. What makes the lakes within Joffre Lakes Provincial Park exceptional and unique, is that the waters turn turquoise (especially during the summer and fall months) when the glacier begins to melt and light reflects off particles of rock flour suspended in the water. Upon arriving to the first lake, I witnessed my first glimpse of the beautiful water and even saw Matier Glacier in the distance.

As I left Lower Joffre Lake and began to head to the second lake (Middle Joffre Lake), I trekked through the forest for approximately 1.86 miles before reaching the second lake. Middle Joffre Lake is the smallest of the three, but offers stunning views nonetheless. There is a beach area that features a fallen tree, which offers beautiful photo opportunities or can act as a diving board for the adventurers who want to take a dip in the glacier waters. I opted for a photo op! After exploring the second lake, a short 0.4 mile walk brought me to a beautiful waterfall where Joffre Creek flows down towards Middle Joffre Lake below.

Arriving to the clear, turquoise waters of Middle Joffre Lake

Photo opportunity w/fallen tree

Joffre Creek Waterfall

As I trekked on, I hiked for approximately 0.2 miles before I began to have a glimpse of the last and final lake (Upper Joffre Lake). This lake is the most beautiful and largest of the three, and is fed by the mighty Matier Glacier, which is clearly visible from the shoreline. The time frame from the trailhead to Upper Joffre Lake took approximately two hours, depending on my hiking speed and stamina. There is a campground located at the lake, with tent sites available near the edge of the lake. The lake is lined with boulders and rocks, and provide a fairly adventurous climb for those who have the energy or desire for further exploration past the lake. There is even a stream that crashes down upon the rocks from the foot of Matier Glacier above. I spent quite a bit of time admiring the beauty of Upper Joffre Lake and enjoying a picnic lunch along the shoreline, while admiring the sparkling turquoise water. The 3.8 mile hike back to the parking lot/trailhead proved just as beautiful, and concluded an adventurous and momentous experience in beautiful British Columbia.

Arriving at Upper Joffre Lake, with glimpses of the turquoise waters in the background

Beautiful turquoise water

Matier Glacier view from Upper Joffre Lake

The hike back to the trailhead offers stunning views of surrounding mountains

What a view!

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