Distance: 21.5 km (return)
Time: 2 – 4 hrs
Elevation Gain: 916 m
Elevation Loss: 916 m

Technical Rating: Beginner
Physical Rating: Hard
Season: June – October
Permit Required: No

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Elfin Lakes Trail is an incredibly scenic and very majestic adventure ride taking the rider high up into the alpine. Families with children at least eight years and older, depending on their physical ability, will enjoy this trail. The trail begins right from the parking lot along a rough road climb. This wide multi-use doubletrack is just shy of 11 km (21.5 km return) and ends at the beautiful jaw dropping Elfin Lakes in Garibaldi Provincial Park. From there, plenty of hiking options exist; however, bikes are not allowed beyond the lakes. The riding isn’t bad, once you past the 4.5 km mark. Before that the road will be loose, ascending a sustained grade. After the 4.5 km mark, once you reach the Red Heather Meadows in the subalpine, the climbing begins to mellow out a little. For those looking for a short trip, this is a good turn around point, but if you have the energy we would urge you to continue on. By the time you hit 6.5 km you will be on Paul Ridge. Enjoy the spectacular views of Atwell Peak and Mount Garibaldi for the remainder of your ride. The final leg of this route will descend down to Elfin Lakes. There are cabins and outhouses at both Red Heather Meadows and Elfin Lakes, providing ample opportunity to stop and fuel up; both areas provide a beautiful and tranquil picnic break.

Elfin Lakes Trail is the perfect ride for bike-packing. At the east end of the trail lays the Elfin Lakes campground, located adjacent to the Elfin Lakes shelter. 35 tent pads and the new day-use shelter area, along with outhouses provide all that you need for your overnight adventure. If you prefer to stay in a hut, you have the option of crashing in the Elfin Lakes Shelter with a capacity of 33. The lake nearest to the campground is used for drinking water, while the adjacent sister lake makes for a great swim hole on a hot summer day. All drinking water must be filtered, boiled and/or otherwise treated before consumption. Camping/shelter permits are required and may be purchased online. Late summer, early September, is one of the best times to visit the area as this trail can be very busy during the summer months and getting a camping spot will be difficult. However, September is a great time to visit, with temperatures still reaching high twenties (Celsius), while the crowds will have receded. A word of caution: try not to leave valuables in your car at the parking lot, or at least don’t leave them out in the open. Vehicle break ins are not uncommon here.

TRAILHEAD | N49 44.997 W123 03.187

Follow signs for Garibaldi Park – Diamondhead Area and take Garibaldi Park Road right to the end; a dirt road which begins from Quest University. Drive east along this gravel path, passing all junctions until your enter a small grouping of homes nearing the first switchback. Turn left at the first switchback following the Garibaldi Park signs and continue on for approximately 3.5 km until you arrive at the second steep switchback on the road. Continue around the second switchback for 1 km to the parking lot for Elfin Lakes; a dead end. The Elfin Lakes Trail starts right from the east end of the parking lot and is well signed. Try not to leave valuables in your car or at least don’t leave them out in the open. Vehicle break ins are not uncommon here.

bikepirate rating: 3 Skulls