Elfin Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park is one of the most stunning places in British Columbia that is very much accessible to the vast majority of the population in BC that live in the lower mainland. Packed with snow capped mountains which reminded us of the Swiss Alps, this hike will really make your jaw drop. The trailhead is about 1.5 hours away from downtown Vancouver.
Definitely be prepared for this trail. It is not an easy hike. We did this in early November 2020, and it was really cold! You would definitely need a good pair of hiking boots regardless of the season.
Elfin Lake (Diamondhead) Trail: 6 hours (return); Difficulty: Hard; Distance: 20km; Elevation Gain: 821m
Our Summary: Started at 8.30am; reached Elfin Lake at 11.30am. Spent 2 hours at the area. Headed back at 1.30pm; reached Trailhead at 4.30pm.
Essential things to bring: Water, Snacks, bananas, bear spray, bear bell, Microspikes/Snoeshows (depending on trail conditions), Winter Jacket, ski gloves, Balaklava or snowcap, Hiking boots
Set your GPS to Diamond Head Trail Parking Lot or Elfin Lake Trailhead. This will lead you the parking area. The road after exiting the highway is rough and has a ton of potholes. If the road is heavily packed with snow, it is mandatory to have chains on your vehicles to get to the trailhead. Note: Although we did not see any, this trail has a high bear traffic in September and October. Be sure to have bear spray with you.
Depending on whether it snowed the day before, the trail starts off dry. The entire trail pretty much has a steady incline. Good news is, it doesn’t have steps which make your heart come out of your mouth.
Right after this narrow incline, you would reach the Red Heather Shelter, which roughly makes it the halfway point of the ascend.
The Lake was frozen, but not quite completely. The temperature was -15 degrees Celsius when we got there, and there was wind draft as well.
Have a nice walk around the perimeter of the lake.
This area right at the end has many platforms and benches to have a picnic or make a hot drink. Of course, you’d have to bring your own gas burners.
And then, you make your way back the same way you came up! Definitely a tough hike, but very much worth the time and effort.