Elfin Lakes

A pair of alpine lakes with Mt. Garibaldi towering above


Total Distance: 22.0 km (return)
Estimated Time: 6.5 hours
Average Grade: 5.6%
Structure: Linear - Return
Elevation Gain: 620 m
Start Elevation: 970 m
Max Elevation: 1590 m


Follow Highway #99 (Sea-to-Sky) north from downtown Squamish. Turn right on Mamquam Road off HW 99 (north bound) as to normally access park, turn left on Highlands Way S, turn right onto The Boulevard and follow this road straight for ~1.5km until you reach a round-about at Quest University, take the first right on the round-about and follow this road to where it meets Mamquam Road, turn left onto Mamquam Road and continue to the Diamond Head Parking Area as per usual (Mamquam Road has washed out, so the detour was made).

Near the 9 km mark from the highway, the gravel forestry road passes a number of new recreational cabins. After the cabins, turn left onto road signed for Garibaldi Provincial Park. Follow this road to the Diamond Head parking lot at it's end - a total distance of 14 km from the highway. Please note that this road is rough, and contains many potholes. Although a regular sedan can make it, a 4x4 is recommended.


Follow the wide road up through the subalpine to the shelter at Red Heather Meadows and beyond, along Paul Ridge to Elfin Lakes.

The trail follows Parl Ridge with each step of the way opening up another vista.

From Elfin Lakes, trips to The Saddle and The Gargoyles, Opal Cone and Mamquam Lake are accessible.


* Follows what appears to be an old road that has been converted into a wide trail.

* Switchbacks uphill at a gradual pace (not too steep, fairly easy)

* Only one view down towards Squamish below (but fairly good)

* Kind of boring

The trail begins to level off at the 5 km mark and the forest opens up to sub-alpine meadow. The Red Heather Shelter is located close to the start of the meadows and is used for cooking and warmth. True to it's name, the shelter is surrounded by rolling meadows filled with heather. The area around the shelter is only open to seasonal camping during the winter months. Although it may appear tempting, please do not camp in the shelter or on the sensitive alpine meadows.

* "Road" ends just before shelter.

* Trail splits past the meadows - bikes go right, hikers go left. Hiker trail is dirt track.

* Trail meets biking route again and widens to a "cut" track.

* Follows the contour of the ridge - not much elevation change, just gentle hilly meadows.

* Two lakes - first is open to swimming, second is for drinking water.

* Ranger hut near second lake.

* The campground further down in the meadows has been replaced by a new one (2013) at the second lake. There are thirty tent platforms with a view of Mamquam Mountain, with two picnic tables and a cooking shelter at the site of the old Diamond Head Lodge. A corner of the old lodge has been preserved.

* Awesome, panoramic views!!! Multiple glacial mountain ranges!

* Trail continues to Opal Cone, Mamquam Lake, etc


GPS Waypoints

Trailhead N49.75021 W123.05299 10U 496183 5510860
Red Heather Shelter N49.76247 W123.03788 10U 497272 5512222
Pond N49.76854 W123.00985 10U 499291 5512896
First Elfin Lake N49.78543 W122.98953 10U 500754 5514774
Ranger Station N49.78748 W122.98839 10U 500836 5515002
Picnic Area at Second Elfin Lake N49.78824 W122.98777 10U 500880 5515087
Elfin Shelter N49.78928 W122.98782 10U 500877 5515202