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  • Writer's pictureCarmen Castro

Backcountry Camping: 5 Dazzling Overnight Hikes to Do in the Lower Mainland

Updated: Jan 14

Backcountry Camping, Turquoise blue lake with mountains, still lake water, blue sky with few clouds
Joffre Lakes Pemberton BC

Nature is calling, are you ready to try a new adventure? Or maybe you are a more experienced backcountry camper looking for shorter, more accessible hikes? Let me share 5 dazzling hikes with you where you can enjoy overnight camping with your favourite people.

1-Cheakamus Lake

Turquoise blue waters, mountains in the distance, calm scene on a sunny day

In Garibaldi Provincial Park, you will find a bounty of beautiful hikes and trails to explore; one of them is Cheakamus Lake which is one of my favourite hikes to do in the summer.

The water is a turquoise blue, and you will have beautiful mountain ranges surrounding the lake.

Situated in the municipality of Whistler, the Cheakamus Lake hike is rated as an easy hike that will take 16 km round trip to complete and offers a backcountry camping facility with 8 sites. It also offers outhouses, a pulley system to hang food, and of course, a beautiful blue lake.

Reservations required.

For more information please visit: BC Parks website

2-Buckhorn Campground

Manning Provincial Park is a popular destination for many reasons, and one of them is the flowery meadows that bloom in the summer months, which contrast with the beautiful peaks that surround the area.

Located in the heart of the Cascade Mountains, Buckhorn Campground will take you 5 km on the Heather Trail (10 km round trip), descending slowly to the valley until you reach the campground, which offers 24 tent pads, a bear cache, outhouses, and a day use shelter.

This campground is also used as a stop for larger, longer trips on the Heather Trail which runs for 22 km.

Reservations required.

3-Strike Lake

Also situated at Manning Park, Strike Lake is the third of four lakes (Lightning Lake, Flash Lake, Strike Lake and Thunder Lake) on the Lightning Lake Chain trail and will only take 1 – 1.5 hours to hike to the camp on a mostly flat trail.

The campground offers eight sites, outhouses, bear cache, and something that you will hardly find in other backcountry areas: a fire pit.

If you are feeling adventurous, you can also keep exploring this trail from your campsite; just remember to always leave all your food and toiletries packed safely in the bear cache before heading out to explore the field.

Reservations required.

4-Semaphore Lakes

Misty summer morning in the backcountry, mountain peaks, evergreen trees

Pemberton is one of those places that never disappoints me.

Beautiful rugged areas that quietly await someone to explore them, and the more popular trails that never seem to cease foot traffic.

Here you will find Semaphore Lakes, rated as a moderate hike, which will take 5.8 km round trip and offer peak views, a waterfall, and a magnificent glacier. As of 2020, there were not outhouses nor bear caches, although I read a recent comment

on all trails that says now there are both around the lakes, but I could not confirm that.

Please note that even though this is a short hike, it is not flat.

The trail gains more than 1,000 feet in elevation, and it is rocky, muddy, and fun.

No reservations are required.

5-Joffre Lakes

Turquoise still waters, snowy mountain peak in the distance, green hills

With three beautiful turquoise blue lakes, snowcapped peaks, and an imposing glacier, there’s no doubt why Joffre Lakes is such a popular spot to explore and fall in love with.

Located east of Pemberton, this hike is rated as moderate to challenging, and it will take 5.5 km from the parking lot (11 km round trip) to the campground.

One of the advantages of this park is that if you don’t have a vehicle or don’t want to drive, you can take a bus service through ParkBus right from downtown Vancouver.

The campground offers 26 tent pads based on the far side (south) of the lake, an outhouse, a bear cache, and an unforgettable experience.

Reservations required.

I hope this list inspires you to embark on new adventures, and if you do so, I strongly recommend that you help to keep the wilderness pristine and lower the environmental impact by practising “Leave No Trace” camping.

Please pack out what you pack in and leave the wilderness garbage-free.

Happy camping!!


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