Joffre Lakes Hike – Meeting Pikas

Joffre Lakes Hike – Meeting Pikas

Vancouver has been having some truly gorgeous weather this autumn. We had planned to do a hike on a particularly sunny Monday, so I thought it would be good moment to take Marc on the Joffre Lakes Hike. I’d previously done this hike in the mist with some Wanderung hikers, but it was fantastic to see the same views in the sun! Especially as this meant we could see more of the surrounding scenery and mountains! This walk is reeeeally busy at the weekend, so I am glad we got to visit during the week.

This time, the best thing about the Joffre Lakes Hike was meeting so many pikas! We have heard the high pitched pika “meep” quite a few times from the trail, and I *think* I caught a quick glimpse of one at Lake Louise, but this time we met several! They are ridiculously cute little fellas.

Joffre Lakes Hike Map

Joffre Lakes Hike – the basics

Distance: 9.5 km 
Elevation Gain:
Highest Point: 1570m
 4 hours
What to bring: Walking boots. Plenty of water and food. The ten essentials.
Facilities: There are 4(!) toilets. One at the trailhead, one at the middle lake and one at either end of the upper lake. 
How hard is it? 
The steep sections will get your heart pumping, but anyone that is vaguely healthy will be able to manage this walk. The trail is really easy to follow and the views will feed your keenness to keep going!
Dogs: Lastly, no dogs are allowed on this trail. Leave your doggos at home for this one *sob*

Joffre Lakes Hike – getting started

It takes less than three minutes to reach the first viewpoint for Joffre Lakes! I don’t know of any other walk that can provide SUCH a gorgeous view, almost as soon as you leave the car park! We saw a few people that just came to this view, and then went straight back to their cars.

Joffre Lakes Hike – best in Autumn!

I think the Joffre Lake hike would be nice at any time of year, but I actually liked it even more in October, than I had in the spring. There is something a little magical about the golden light at this time of year; the scenery seemed to glow! It was a little colder, so that made me less sweaty on all the stairs. But more importantly, there were no bugs! It was sooo nice not to have to lather ourselves in bug spray!

Meeting Pikas

As an English hiker, I was never quite sure what the high pitched “meep” sound is when we’re walking in alpine areas. I’ve read about pikas, so I knew that I’d love to see one, especially when I found out they are dying out on Vancouver’s North Shore; They cannot cope with the recent hot temperatures in the summer. These fluffy little dudes die if they are exposed to temperatures above 26°C for more than a few hours.

Anyway, this early in the morning, the path was frosty, and there weren’t many other hikers, so we saw a couple of pikas running away from us down the paths. My squeee of excitement was almost as squeaky as the sound the of pikas themselves! They are *really* fast, so I couldn’t get a photo, but I was instantly in love with them!

The colours of Joffre Lakes

The hike between the first and second lakes is where you’ll get your heart pumping. If you remember, you can look back to see a view of the first lake (photo above, left). I thought it was a pretty impressively fake-looking shade of blue, until I saw the next lake! The middle lake is simply stunning.

Middle Joffre Lake

The middle lake seems to have retained it’s crazy colour a little longer than the upper and lower lakes. There are ropes blocking off some of the places where I took photos on my last visit…but even if you can’t get to all the viewpoints, it is gorgeous!

I took this photo later, on the way back. Early in the morning the sun was so bright in this direction that I couldn’t take photos of that mountain or glacier.

We stopped here to relax for a while. There are lots of naughty humans that feed the Whiskey Jacks along the Joffre Lakes trail, so as soon as we stopped for a break, a few of them came really close to say hello and beg for food. I do really like their cheeky faces, but it’s a bit worrying how acclimatized they are to humans.

Pika Posers (and Whiskey Jacks)

As I mentioned, I was pretty excited to see a pika…so can you imagine how much more excited I was when one popped out to say hello, and then stayed around to pose for a while!? I started taking photos with my teeny lens expecting her to rush off straight away! Most of my photos were blurry as she moved really quickly!

Marc (bless him) saw my excitement, and went into my backpack to grab by big lens without me asking. I was sure the pika would scarper before I could get a decent photo. Eventually she did rush off and hide between the rocks; But then a second really handsome fella came out and watched me while he nibbled on a blade of straw. Aren’t they lovely little fluffballs!?

Holloway Falls

After the middle lake, you continue to climb through the forest up to Holloway Falls. On any other trail, this gorgeous waterfall would be the reason for the hike! It is so, sooo pretty! Water gushes down the step-like waterfall with a huge roar. Still, on this amazing hike, there is plenty more to see, so we only stopped for a little while to admire it.

Upper Joffre Lake – first viewpoint

This is where most hikers stop to admire the view of the Upper Joffre Lake. When I visited at the weekend previously, this beach area was totally full of hikers having picnics and taking their best instagram photos. This time, it was just us, and one other couple that were leaving as we arrived.

However, don’t stop there! The Joffre Lakes trail continues for an extra kilometer, and I think the view from the far side of the lake is even better!

Matier Glacier

It was pretty cool to look up at the Matier Glacier. It looks a lot more jagged and impressive at the end of the summer. I suppose big chunks of ice must have melted and fallen down the mountain since the spring.

Climb up the Moraine

As always, once we’d reached our destination, I was keen to go just a teeny bit further! There is an easy (but steep) path just beyond the campsite at the end of the lake. This will let you climb up the glacial moraine, to get an even more impressive view of the Upper Joffre Lake from above.

The lake was quite a bit lower in autumn, so you can see the shallow areas with all the different colours. It is also much darker than in the spring, when it is almost completely composed of glacial melt water. (You can see my photos from the springtime here)

Marc and I also climbed up to the cliff above the lake. It was much easier to jump over the stream this late in the year!

Last views

This was one of the best days of the year, so I am sooo glad I had the day off with Marc, rather than sitting at my desk at work! I’d already taken a zillion photos by this point, but here are a last couple on our walk back around the Upper Joffre lake.

Rushing down the Joffre Lakes trail

On the way back to the car, we decided that we couldn’t bare to finish our day, so we started to make a plan for a second walk… But as it was October, we knew we’d run out of daylight quite quickly. So we zoomed back down the trail, overtaking lots of hikers. I did still stop for photos, but then I’d have to run to catch up with Marc! This was my final photo from the first lake, looking up at the mountains. *sigh* It is such a good view to finish the walk.

So, we made it down and then drove straight to another walk at Cool Creek Canyon near Pemberton. I’ll save that story for another post, as although there were no pikas, it was also a stunning hike.


45 thoughts on “Joffre Lakes Hike – Meeting Pikas

  1. Wow, wow, and wow! Truly amazing views and photos. I love the birds and pikas. How sweet.

    Some of these photos remind me of Lake Tahoe (near where I used to live in California). Looks like a breathtaking hike.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    1. Oooh I have a friend from Japan (well, I met her in Japan, but she’s American) who was originally from near Lake Tahoe. That sounds like a gorgeous area to explore too!

      I am so glad you liked the pikas. I was so happy to see them!! <3

  2. Ah, what cute little critters and the views are amazing. I love the colors of the water. So many beautiful sites.

    1. Thanks Kathleen!
      It’s amazing how different all of the blues of glacial lakes can be isn’t it? Thanks for popping by and commenting.

  3. ohmigosh! I want to head immediately to Vancouver. This looks like an epic hike. And that jade green like is amazeballs. I’ll be bookmarking this one for future!

    1. Thanks Chris! It was pretty lovely…I did it in the mist once too, but it was gorgeous either way.

      If you do come to Vancouver, give me a shout if you need ideas for more lovely walks. 😉

  4. I love such gorgeous hikes with lakes and mountains! And you seemed to have a fabulous day too 🙂 Hopefully some day I will make it to Vancouver and visit this gorgeous place.

  5. Amazing views AND adorably furry creatures?! Sounds like the perfect pairing for an amazing hike! I’ll definitely be remembering this for the next time I’m out west. Seriously though, my heart is melting over your Pika photos 💖

    1. Aren’t they cute!? At first I was just really keen to see one…but then as soon as I had, I really wanted a piccy to share that adorable face!

      I really hope climate change doesn’t wipe them out. 🙁

  6. Beautiful looking hike! I’m from the East Coast and really need to get out West because you’re showing me so many beautiful sights from my own country that I never even visited!

    1. I feel like that about the East coast too. There are sooo many pretty places to explore all over Canada!

      If you do head out this way, do let me know! I’d love to meet up and hear more about you meeting Yoko. I used to live in Nara, so I can totally imagine a sweet lady like that!

  7. Good for you for taking advantage of some of our recent nice days. I think a weekday in fall is perfect for Joffre.I haven’t hiked this in years but have heard about the crazy summer weekend crowds. Beautiful photos. The pikas are adorable.

    1. Yeah, I guess the only way to see it quietly at the weekend would be to camp there and wake up early to enjoy the views!!

      Did you manage to get outside during those lovely sunny days?

  8. So, so gorgeous! How I know you’re so out of my hiking league- the line “We couldn’t bear to end our day…”! So, any time I go hiking, I can’t wait until I’m done so I can get a congratulatory cheeseburger and fries 🤣🤣. I know. For shame. My head is totally hanging in shame right now…

    1. Lol so, we heard that there is an amaaaazing burger place in Pemberton, but we went for the extra hike instead. You are making me sometimes I totally fail as a foodie!!

  9. That might be one of my favorite Josy leaping shots! And the Pikas!! I also like that you prefer this hike in autumn. I do agree, a golden light is very different from the more, i don’t know “fresh” light of Spring. What incredible water too. I’m so jealous of your gorgeous landscape up there. I must return.

  10. This post is giving me a serious case of wanderlust! It looks absolutely incredible, and your photos are beautiful. Although I haven’t been anywhere quite as beautiful as this, I do agree that visiting places like it are wonderful in the autumn!

    1. Thanks Ruth! If you visit Vancouver, this is a pretty amazing little hike, but there are so many wanderlust-y places near here. I keep having to pinch myself to realise this kind of scenery can be real!!

  11. Pikas are soooooo cute! I love hearing their little “meep” calls 🙂 They were still active in the Mt Baker area a couple of weeks ago. Our cutest sighting was near Wedgemount Lake when one ran across the trail in front of us with a clump of grass in its mouth – the grass was about twice as long as it was and made it look like it had a giant green moustache!

    1. Hehehe they really are sweet while they are stuffed full of grass! I was just so happy to finally see one, after hearing them on previous walks.

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