• 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
• BUGGY !
• 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