Elfin Lakes

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Very Hard
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
5.5-8h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
20.6 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
694 m
User Ratings
These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
Overall Rating
This is the average user-submitted overall rating on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
10.0
Physical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Technical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
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Directions to Trailhead
Elfin Lakes

The Elfin Lakes hike is located within Garibaldi Provincial Park, which is a great home base for accessing surrounding hiking destinations. Tackle the hike to two stunning lakes, one of which you can take a refreshing dip in, and enjoy the surrounding subalpine area.

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Route Description for Elfin Lakes

Start the Elfin Lakes hike within the Diamond Heads parking lot, near the yellow gates.

Head out onto the old road and you’ll notice the trail immediately climbs uphill. The old road here was once the stretch of trail that would bring guests and supplies to the once famed Diamond Head Lodge.

Continue as the trail makes a sharp left and begins increasing in difficulty moving from the forest floor up toward the subalpine. Follow the trail until the 5.0km mark, where you should reach Red Heather Meadows and shelter.

Once here, enjoy the beautiful meadow, ideally, you’re hear when the flowers are in full bloom, bursting with wildflowers. This is a good place to enjoy a snack and a rest in the shelter.

Follow the trail just past the shelter and the trail will split in two directions, and there will be a green sign directing hikers to the left, as the trail to the right is for mountain biking use.

Continue to the left and you’ll arrive at a little lookout over Atwell Peak, which is not to be mistaken for Diamond Head.

Once you pass where the trail merges with the mountain biking path, you’ll walk along a gravel path with beautiful views as you ascend along Paul Ridge, which is the highest point of the hike, before descending back down towards Elfin Lakes.

Descend down the path taking in the surrounding views of Mount Garibaldi to the left and Mamquam Mountain to the right.

And then, finally, you’ll arrive at Elfin Lakes themselves. The top lake is crystal clear and stunningly beautiful, plus it makes for the perfect spot for a summers dip. However, the lower lake is reserved strictly for drinking water for the campsite.

You can either pitch a tent here for the night (which we highly recommend!) or you can retrace your steps back to the car.

Insider Hints for Elfin Lakes

  • If you’re camping for the night, you can pay cash at the drop box in the parking lot if you didn’t pay in advance online.
  • The highest concentration of black bears within Garibaldi Park is found within this area around Red Heather Meadows – so be aware while traveling through here – especially in September and October.

Getting to the Elfin Lakes Trailhead

To get to the trail from Vancouver, take Highway 99 just north past Squamish. As you are driving through Squamish, exit right at the BC Parks sign for Garibaldi Park Diamond Head. This is Mamquam Road, right before the Canadian Tire. It is about 16.0 km to reach the trailhead from Highway 99, mostly on a narrow, gravel road. The road will steepen and you will pass Quest University. You will eventually see another sign pointing you left, for Garibaldi Park Diamond Head.

Route Information

  • When to do

    July to October

  • Backcountry Campsites

    Yes

  • Pets allowed

    No

  • Family friendly

    No

  • Route Signage

    Average

  • Crowd Levels

    Moderate

  • Route Type

    Out and back

Elfin Lakes Elevation Graph

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