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Backcountry Camp Upper Joffre Lake

Squamish-Lillooet C, British Columbia

based on 2 reviews



3.1 miles

Elevation Gain

2952.8 ft

Route Type



Added by Rory Court

Wake up to one of the most incredible views in Canada.Designated backcountry sites with bear proof food storage and outhouse nearby.

Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is located roughly three hours from Vancouver north of Whistler and Pemberton on Highway 99 (Sea-to-Sky Highway).  The drive itself up to the trailhead is very scenic and worth it in itself.  Once you get to the parking lot, park your car anywhere in the lot and consider leaving a note with your trip plans in case (hopefully not) something were to happen to you and your group.  

The hike starts just shy of the first lake and in order to view the first lake you need to take an alternate trail about 100-200 meters.  After viewing the first lake, start up the trail towards second and third lake, the distance between second and third lake is by far the greatest distance and steepest; don't worry, you will be rewarded for your efforts.  

Second lake is known for the famous fallen tree that juts out into the lake, don't risk walking out on it unless you can deal with potentially falling in 4 degree celsius water (if it is early spring or late fall, the lake might even be partially frozen and falling in would not be all that favourable).

Finally, there is another portion of trail to Upper Joffre Lake, this trail is one of the more scenic parts of the trail, passing by a beautiful waterfall and crossing the creek that leads to it (running out from Upper Joffre Lake) above the waterfall.  Once you reach the upper lake, you have a little under 1 km around to the other side of the lake where the backcountry sites are located.  Contain your excitement and take your time as this part of the trail can be wet and slippery.

During busy season, the many available designated backcountry sites will likely be taken on weekends and you will have to cross the freezing glacial runoff in order to find a spot to camp - which is well worth it for the privacy but not recommended unless the sites are full.  

Probably the best thing about camping at Upper Joffre Lake, besides the views, is how private it is even when busy.  Since the lake is literally at the base of several mountains, the sites (both designated and non-designated) are located at different elevations and private from each other.  

Make sure you pack layers as the wind off the glaciers and lake gets very cold at night even if it is 30 degrees celsius during the day.  Don't miss the sunrise as it may be the best view you ever eat breakfast to, happy camping! :)

If you're thinking of looking more for a day hike to Joffre Lakes.

Unfortunately, dogs are no longer allowed at Joffre Lakes Provincial Park.

Please note that if you are camping at Joffre Lakes between June 1 and September 30 you will need to purchase as Backcountry Camping Permit here.  Always practice leave no trace camping.  Also, while the trees at Upper Joffre Lake appear to be small, they have been their for decades and struggle to grow due to the climate.  DO NOT use these trees for campfires.  Consider leaving the hammock tent at home and bringing a regular tent as there are few trees strong enough for your hammock and should be left alone anyways.

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Backcountry Camp Upper Joffre Lake Reviews

If you are looking for peace quite and backcountry camping experience this is not the place to go. Even on week days competing bluetooth speakers, litter and talking well past dark are the norm. Many folk can be excused for being newer to the outdoor scene. With that said it's remarkable how those forcing their taste on music upon the rest feel it's impolite when asked to reduce volume... Also, this is one of the worst sites I've been to for litter. Highly recommend bringing a proper garbage bag to help reduce the steadily accumulating waste. This answer recommends crossing the glacier stream if campsites are not free. I would recommend against this as camping outside of designated sites in a Provincial Park is illegal and can result in a hefty fine. It's also terrible Leave No Trace ethics.

Such a scenic hike! I've camped here a few times and it would be one of my favourites if it wasn't always so packed with people. Where did you set up your tent? I don't recognize that spot. Looks like a beauty!

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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