Elfin Lakes hike, Squamish B.C.

22km round trip to Elfin Lakes campground (600m gain) + Gargoyles side trip
• LOTS of snow at the end of July
• be prepared for very wet trails
• registration online or by phone required to stay overnight

From the start I had problems. First finding the trailhead out of Squamish, B.C. – street signage is not all that clear. I asked different mountain bikers to find the right gravel road.

Elfin Lakes is popular. The parking lot was full. I squeezed my rent-a-car in on the side of the approach.

The first 5km to Red Heather Meadows campground is a road.

You share most of this trail with mountain bikers. And chipmunks.

Breaking out of the trees first vista is impressive Diamond Head. Actually, that’s Atwell Peak. Many make the same mistake I did.

We’d enjoyed dry sunny weather for weeks at this point. Still many parts of the trail were wet with snow melt. Some sections have been improved.

On a hot day like this, walking snow fields was fun.

I’d read the hike was on Paul Ridge. True. But it’s not a ridge walk. Normally you are on one side of the ridge or the other, not the top.

Elfin Lakes campground. A beautiful scene.

You can sleep in a large shelter or tent on one of these side slope platforms.

Elfin Lakes are not lakes, they are meltwater ponds. One for drinking water. One for … swimming.

Earlier in the week a mouse had somehow gotten into my Ursack food bag while up on the line, so I switched to a dry bag.

I enjoyed a siesta in my tent (escaping the voracious bugs) and was sluggish getting going for the recommended side trip to the Gargoyles.

Here’s the trail from Camp leading to the Gargoyles. More interesting but wetter than the Elfin Lakes approach.

Climbing up to the Pass was easy but long. Snow conditions good, you simply walked in footprints or kicked in your own steps.

Looking over to the other side.

A trail runner came down recommending I scramble the Gargoyles.

Instead I listened to my audiobook and relaxed.

The next 3 hikers arrived keen to climb. One had been here before. I climbed up the first Gargoyle to take some photos. Wow.

Suddenly inspired I scrambled the ridge myself to the end to get to this view – scenery reminding me of the Himalayas.

That’s the 11.5km trail continuing to the new Rampart Ponds Campground (Mamquam Lake Campground is permanently closed).


See all my high resolution photos.

Guidebook – 103 Hikes in Southwestern British Columbia




Chelsea and Joseph complete the GR 20

The Meandering Mayans just posted their 2017 trip report:

Though the trail doesn’t offer the “classic” high Alpine experience, it makes up for it with crazy amounts of bare rock, stunning sunsets and mountain top sea views. …

It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful setting for a trail than the semi-autonomous French island of Corsica.

With a single mountain chain occupying almost two-thirds of the island, Corsica is a rugged place that hosts miles of beautiful beaches and untamed wilderness. The GR 20 spans roughly 180km, North to South …

Charcuterie, Wine and Hard Miles: A Walk Across Corsica – the GR 20

Most hike north to south. The Mayans preferred south to north.

With this information we’ve updated our GR 20 information page.

South Rim Loop, Big Bend TX

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

I feel the best hike in Big Bend National Park for most people is one of the South Rim Loop options. You can do those as long day hikes, but I’d recommend one night in a tent on the Rim.


Pick up your camping permit ($12 / night 2017) at the Ranger station near the Chisos Mountain Lodge. There’s a good store for last minute provisions.


The trailhead is right there. I started up the Pinnacles Trail.


Everywhere is scenic up this high. Great vistas in every direction.


A hiker showed me a photo of a bear he’d seen earlier in the morning. Cougar and bear sightings are frequent. They are confined to a small geographic area.

Cougars hunt the Carmen Mountain Whitetail. For the deer it’s either cougars in the National Park or hunters outside the Park.


Are these the Pinnacles?


Weather was good so I opted for the Emory Peak side trip. It’s the highest mountain in the Park.

Emory is dangerous. A teenager fell 450 feet to his death in 1999. Many turn back at the final scramble to the summit.

For me it was FUN getting up.


atop Emory Peak

I left a Summit Stone. Enjoyed the vistas … though it was very windy.




Down climbing is often more difficult. It is here.

Foolishly I’d not really paid any attention to my line on the way up. Several times I had to backtrack on the descent to find the safest route.

I picked up my pack on getting back to the Pinnacles Trail. Then carried on up the Boot Canyon Trail.


I’ve never seen so many Bear Boxes before. As a result, Big Bend has very few problem bears.

It was late in the day. I needed to hurry to get to the South Rim if I wanted to set up my tent in daylight.



There are standing pools of water here. You don’t want to drink from them.


I started with 3.5 litres of liquids.

Big Bend does an excellent job maintaining trails. #respect


At last light I reached the most scenic part of the trip.



Here’s the vista from the S.E. Rim.


In January it was very cold this high. And very windy. I had to cocoon in my sleeping bag to stay warm enough.


I woke early next morning. The weather forecast was for rain. I hurried down over the Laguna Meadows Trail taking only about 2 hours to complete the loop.



related – trip report – Patrick Dearen 2007

Lost Mine Trail, Big Bend TX

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

Very close to Chisos Basin Campground in Big Bend National Park is the super popular Lost Mine Trail.

  • 4.8 miles return
  • perhaps the best half day hike in the Park
  • starts at 5,650 feet, ends at a dramatic rocky ridge at 6,850 feet

On the way up you can look back to the campsiteLost Mine, Big Bend

Pretty views non-stop.

Lost Mine, Big Bend

Surprisingly large trees.

Lost Mine, Big Bend

This is heaven on a nice day.

Lost Mine, Big Bend

I left a Summit Stone atop this feature. You’ll need to scramble to find it.

Lost Mine, Big Bend

I didn’t spend much time at the end of the ridge. It was too windy.

Lost Mine, Big Bend

There is no Lost Mine I’m afraid. That’s an old legend.

But I do highly recommend this hike. Weather permitting.