The Best Hiking Trails in British Columbia, Canada


Canada / Tuesday, September 10th, 2019
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I’ve spent months traveling throughout Canada. Much of that time was spent hiking and discovering the glaciers, rivers, mountains, valleys, and lakes of Beautiful British Columbia! The landscape of BC is so diverse; I believe this province is one of the best places to hike in all of North America. I don’t write about many of the treks I’ve done because compared to the following, they seem sub-par. If you only have a short amount of time to explore Canada on your travels, I want you to spend your time trekking the best hiking trails.
Most of these hikes are quite long and are recommended for an ability rating of intermediate or above, but girl are they worth it!

Enough chit-chat, here are my bucket-list recommendations for the best hiking trails in British Columbia, Canada. 

The Best Hiking Trails in British Columbia:

  1. Watersprite Lake
  2. Panorama Ridge
  3. Iceberg Lake
  4. Joffre Lakes
  5. Elfin Lake

Keep reading for more details!

1. Watersprite Lake

Distance: 17 km / 10.5 miles return

Time: 5-7 hours

Difficulty: Intermediate

Details: Before I begin, I need to stress that you need a high-clearence 4WD to make it up the 20km of Mamquam and Skookum Forestry Service Roads to the Watersprite trailhead.

This is by far my favorite hiking trails in British Columbia! This trail will bring you to the sparkling turquoise waters and mountainous backdrop of Watersprite Lake. The trail itself is relatively exposed, so proper sun protection is advised on sunny days. As it's along the ridgeline, you'll get stunning views of the surrounding mountains of Garibaldi Provincial Park, as well as Martin Peak and Dreadnought Peak.

Watersprite is an in-and-out trail best done between June and September. There is an elevation gain of around 600m / 1,970 ft with the steepest section being the boulder field at the end. You can camp at Watersprite Lake, but reservations are required. Read more about camping on the BCMC website. Dogs are currently allowed on this trail.

2. Panorama Ridge

Distance: 32 km / 19.8 miles return

Time: 9-11 hours

Difficulty: Difficult

Details: Garibaldi Provincial Park is full of many hiking gems from Garibaldi Lake, to Black Tusk, but my favorite will remain Panorama Ridge. The path to the famous lookout will bring you through thick forest, across wildflower-covered meadows, and up a barren boulder field. It's not for the faint of heart, but these views are once in a lifetime.

Though it can be completed in a day, it's recommended you camp overnight and complete the remainder of the hike the following day before descending back to the trailhead.

Panorama is an in-and-out trail best done between July and October. There is an elevation gain of around 1,500m / 4,920 ft. Dogs are not allowed in Garibaldi Provincial Park.

Read more about the Panorama Ridge Trail here.

3. Iceberg Lake

Distance: 15 km / 9.3 miles return

Time: 6-8 hours

Difficulty: Intermediate

Details: Most of the hike is through the alpine forest, following 19 Mile Creek with rest stops at each waterfall. When the trail finally opens up to the meadow, it's simply magical. Rainbow Glacier will slowly appear in the distance as you meander alongside creeks and wander past wildflowers of every color.

When I attempted this hike last year, it was closed due to grizzly activity. This year it was open, but there were signs to use caution due to grizzly bear sightings. Make sure you hike in numbers and carry bear spray with you. It is also recommended you screenshot the trail instructions before departing as it's not well marked. Even though you will likely have cell service much of the way, it's good to be prepared.

Iceberg Lake is an in-and-out trail best done between July and September. There is an elevation gain of around 900m / 2,950 ft. This trail is dog-friendly, but there is no camping at Iceberg Lake.

4. Joffre Lakes

Distance: 8 km / 4.98 miles return

Time: 4-6 hours

Difficulty: Intermediate

Details: My number one piece of advice for this hike: Avoid weekends and public holidays! If you can't, be sure to get there early as the parking and trail gets full. This hike is famous for a reason, close to Pemberton, Joffre Lakes consists of three stunning, azure blue, gacier-fed lakes. The first is only a 5-minute walk from the carpark, but the second and third will take an extra couple of hours to reach. The hike is well marked and quite steep in areas, so good hiking shoes are a must. The campsite has become increasingly popular at Joffre Lakes as they have a classic Canadian backdrop of snow-capped mountains and orderly pines. 

Joffre Lakes is an in-and-out trail best done between June and September. There is an elevation gain of around 318m / 1,043 ft. This not a dog-friendly trail.

Read more about the Joffre Lakes Trail here.

4. Elfin Lake

Distance: 22 km / 13.6 miles return

Time: 5-7 hours

Difficulty: Intermediate

Details: Elfin Lake has become a popular camping destination for locals and visitors of Garibaldi Provincial Park. It contains 35 camping pads overlooking the surrounding snow-capped mountains, bear hangs, and a drop pit toilet. What is especially appealing about Elfin Lakes are the opportunities to explore the surrounding sites such as Mamquam Lake and the Gargoyles. It's recommended you stay a night at Elfin, then hike further up to these less-crowded areas the following day. While they're not listed here, these are also very high on the list of best hiking trails in British Columbia.

Elfin Lake is an in-and-out trail best done between June and October. There is an elevation gain of around 396m / 1,300 feet and it is not a dog-friendly trail.

Read more about the Elfin Lake Trail here.

While you're in the British Columbia area, check out The Best Squamish Locations and Activities!

Know of any awesome British Colombia hikes I should add to the list? Comment below!

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