Elfin Lakes

April 5, 2008

Note: This parking lot does have a reputation for several break and enters, so do not leave any valuables in the car.

Parking 1 km before trailhead

On the parking lot, follow the gated road. The road was built in the mid-1940s to shuttle guests to the old Diamond Head Lodge at Elfin Lakes. Now, it is used by hikers, mountain bikers and the once-in-a-while BC Parks truck bringing in supplies.


The Diamond Head area of Garibaldi Park is a hotspot for backcountry skiers looking to get in some turns without going too far from Vancouver. The runs are short, but an easy short approach and good easy to moderate skiing terrain draws the crowds. Early season is the busiest because the meadows around Red Heather have very few rocks and can be skied with little snow.


After hiking for just over an hour, you reach 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 an outhouse.

Red Cabin at Heather Meadows

From the Red Heather Shelter, mountain bikers should stick to the road, hikers should stick to the trail. In winter skiers and snowshoers should follow the road to Red Heather, and then the winter route along the top of Paul Ridge to avoid avalanche hazards. The winter route is marked with bright orange poles, usually put up in early December by the rangers.


Garibaldi is the most used wilderness park in British Columbia. It became a provincial park in 1920, and has never failed to draw visitors from near and far.

Below the elevation of 1,500 metres (4,920 feet) western hemlock, Douglas fir and western red cedar provide a cover. Higher up alpine fir, white bark pine, mountain hemlock and yellow cedar grow in small clusters.


As you continue up the trail past the shelter and continue gradually heading uphill, on a clear day you can admire the beautiful alpine scenery. As the trail begins to level, the two huts at Elfin Lakes can be seen off in the distance.


Eventually the trail descends towards the Elfin Lakes.

Unfortunately I got very painful blisters on my heels and with one kilometer left I decided to return.

Hiking Trip Statistics


1. N 49.7502 W 123.0529 Elev: 976m 1km before parking lot and trailhead

Region: Howe Sound / Squamish
Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 7 hours
Distance: 20.88 km (12.97 mi)
Elevation Gain: 624 m (2047 ft)
Hiking Season: July - October
Camping: Yes
Dog Friendly: No
Public Transit: No

Download route in GTM format Free software download at www.gpstm.com
Download route in plain text

How to get there


To reach the trailhead, if you are going north on Highway 99, when you arrive Squamish turn right at Mamquam Road (before Canadian Tire), follow Mamquam which becomes a gravel road that heads steeply uphill before terminating at the parking area and trailhead. In winter, chains and 4-wheel drive are required otherwise you need to park as far as you car can go.

Driving distance from Vancouver: 86 km (53 mi)
Driving time from Vancouver: Approx. 1 hour 45 minutes