(Almost) Elfin Lakes

While BC continually amazes me with its seemingly endless mountain ranges, it’s often tough to figure the weather and squeeze in an adventure between rainfalls. Sometimes you just have to go anyways, and maybe, just maybe… you’ll catch a break.

Elfin Lakes was one such trip. The forecast was not in our favour, but we rolled the dice hoping for some sun, and Mother Nature delivered.

I’m used to summertime Squamish, but it’s even prettier in a thick coat of snow.

Two words of warning for anyone looking to head up:

  1. The final ascent to one trail head for Elfin Lakes requires chains to get up. We encountered one park ranger near the top who stopped us, even with four wheel drive and snow tires.
  2. The park is one of the few in BC that is prohibits dogs entirely. If you plan on hiking to the lakes with a canine companion, you’ll be disappointed to find that you won’t be able to take him or her along.

The trail up to Elfin Lakes is quite homogenous. For the first 4km of the 5km journey to Red Heather Hut, each kilometre presents with much the same scenery as the last: gorgeous evergreens and large clumps of snow clinging to the boughs, lending them the appearance of stoic guardians of the trail.

Beginners to snowshoeing will find the steady, gentle incline is encouraging, but the trail to Red Heather Hut is lacking in any spectacular views, save for one particularly well bough-framed shot of Squamish, until about 4km in, when the trees recede and the trail opens up into an expanse of powdery snow as far as the eye can see.

Red Heather Hut is the end destination for many ski touring parties, as the area affords many glorious lines through a few defiant trees and down gentle slopes of glittering, untouched powder.

Just past Red Heather Hut, should you care to venture a bit farther, the trees finally give way and open up onto a ridge, giving a direct audience to Diamond Head in one of its more spectacular settings.

Red Heather Hut makes a great base camp for those looking to ski these relatively pristine slopes under the watchful majesty of Diamond Head.

This ridge makes a great place to have lunch, mess around in the snow, or lure the Whiskey Jacks in for a photo. A word of warning if you’re not familiar with these birds: they can be aggressive, and I’ve had one steal food right out of my hand when I wasn’t looking. Watch your lunch carefully!

Just past Red Heather Hut is a great place for some snowy shenanigans.

Unfortunately, thanks to a late start and a dog in the car, we didn’t make it any farther than the first view. The lakes were another 4km past where we stopped, and had it not been for the dog ban in the park, we would have ventured forth and finished the hike. As it happened, simply hiking just a little ways past the first hut was a great experience, and is highly recommended for anyone looking for a relatively easy snowshoeing experience.

No adventure is complete without an aprés beverage at Howe Sound Brewing, one of my favourite spots thanks to its association with mountain activities in both the summer and winter.

Squamish is an amazing place, and no adventure in this region of BC is going to disappoint. Even the drive is worth it, and every time I find myself gazing up at the staggering Stawamus Chief, I can’t help but be amazed at what an incredible place I’m lucky enough to call home.