Overnight hikes for the casual adventurer
By Jacey Gibb, Distribution Manager
Great Inclinations is your go-to source for diving into the world of casual hiking in and around the Lower Mainland. Because hiking’s not just for assholes anymore.
I can understand the hesitancy that comes with overnight hiking trips. It’s one thing to spend a few hours walking uphill and still getting home in time to pregame Happy Hour. It’s a whole different ballgame to hike somewhere with everything you’ll need for the next 24 hours, including (but not limited to) food, water, shelter, and some post-hike Fireball.
But there’s a certain satisfaction that comes with making your hike’s endgame into a destination rather than just an Instagram post.
Now, the hikes on this list are somewhat more advanced than the ones I’ve previously featured. If you’re setting out on an overnight hike, make sure you do research—I mean research beyond reading this Other Press article—and know what to bring with you. As well, check online to make sure that camping is available, as some sites stay closed until later in the summer.
Many trails around Vancouver may still be covered in snow, so always check to ensure that trails are safe and in good condition before you go. Leave yourself plenty of time to return, let someone know where you’re going, and never hike alone.
The last hike on my “daytrip” list is also the first on my “overnight” list. The first two lakes along this hike are beautiful, but the third lake is the only one with camping available. After reaching the third lake viewpoint, continue around the lake for about 40 minutes until you reach the sites. Camping is free, but there are only 26 sites and it fills up quickly on weekends. After setting up your camp, continue upwards to get some A+ higher-elevation views of the third lake. Also, while the water looks inviting, remember that it’s a glacier-fed lake and is bone-chilling even in the later summer months.
Located a few hours north of Vancouver, Garibaldi is a fantastic overnight hike for beginners. For starters, the incline is spread out over several kilometres, so it’s more of a walk in most areas. That said, the six kilometre trek is nothing to laugh at! Come prepared and take your time. There are campsites available at Garibaldi Lake and there are additional sites at the nearby Taylor Meadows, which often acts as an overflow site during the busier summer months. If majestic meadows full of blooming wildflowers are your thing, save this hike for August when there’s a floral explosion unlike any you’ve seen before!
Back in my “daytrip” article I mentioned Lindeman Lake, a short but steep venture out in Chilliwack that takes just over an hour, but still leaves you huffing and puffing. There are a handful of tent sites available here, but if you want more of a challenge you should continue along the left side of the lake, carefully clambering over boulders, until you reach the north part of the lake. From here, you continue for about an hour to reach the equally-beautiful Greendrop Lake, where there are additional campsites. This is backcountry terrain though, so keep in mind there are no facilities and no cell phone reception. Both lakes are also located within a valley where it gets darker earlier, meaning you should plan your hiking accordingly to avoid hiking in the dark.
Located in Garibaldi Provincial Park—not to be confused with the Garibaldi Lake hikes—Elfin Lakes is the longest but also the most rewarding overnight hike on our list. During the winter months, Elfin Lakes is a popular trail for cross-country skiers and snowshoers, so the trail is populated with warming huts and structures that become overnight spots in the summer. Just keep in mind that the lower of the two lakes is a reservoir, so don’t go gallivanting in or around it. Once you’ve set up camp either in a tent or one of the huts, make sure you check out some of the fantastic day-hikes nearby, like the one to Mamquam Lake.