Three Pemberton Day Hikes We Took in Three Days
Many BC Provincial Parks now require Day-Use Passes including Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. Please visit the BC Parks website for more details!
Pemberton attracts thousands of visitors each year for its renowned hiking trails and amazing natural wonders. We recently played tourist in our own town and took three hikes in three days to Lumpy's Trail, Keyhole Hot Springs, and Joffre Lakes.
The experience reminded us how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place and opened our eyes to some of Pemberton's hidden gems! Take a tour with us as we head up our mountains, down river beds, and across the Pemberton Valley.
We started off our Pemby adventure with Lumpy's Trail, the easiest of our three hikes. The trail is actually a dedicated mountain bike trail but in recent years hikers and mountain runners have used it to gain access to the top of Signal Hill Mountain. The trail is easily accessed from One Mile Lake or from the Village of Pemberton using the One Mile connector.
Lumpy's Trail takes about 1.5 hours to hike round-trip. The trail is fairly easy to navigate. We would give it a 5 out of 10 for hiking difficulty. Three of the four people we went hiking with slipped due to loose rock and some steep drops. Be sure to take this hike with a good pair of hiking or solid running shoes.
The big payoff of this hike is the lookout point on top of Signal Hill Mountain. From here you can look over the Village of Pemberton and take in some amazing views of the majestic Pemberton Meadows. Afterward, we took a nice stroll around One Mile Lake which is a great way to finish this hike and a nice cool down exercise.
- Driving Time: 2 minutes from Village of Pemberton
- Total Hiking Time: 1.5 Hour Round Trip
- Difficulty Rating: 5 / 10
Keyhole Hot Springs
The hike to Keyhole Hot Springs was a wonderful adventure. Getting to Keyhole Hot Springs is a bit of a trek. The drive from the Village of Pemberton to the parking lot takes about an hour and twenty minutes. This isn't a paved road. Expect to be traveling over logging road for about 40 minutes. Either bring a vehicle equipped for off-round adventures or be prepared to take it slow on the dirt road.
A large hydro project is currently being built at Keyhole Falls so expect to contend with large trucks and workers closer to the hiking trail. We were actually checked-in by a construction worker as we got close to the parking lot. A dedicated parking lot for the Hot Springs can be found about 8 minutes up the road from the check-in point.
Signs in the parking lot will direct you to the hiking trail. You will be walking through an active construction zone, but they have roped off an area to follow. From the trailhead to the Keyhole Hot Springs takes about 25 to 30 minutes. A decent trail has been carved out of the woods and rocks. We would rank the difficulty of the trail at about a 6.5 out of 10. Definitely tougher terrain than Lumpy's Trail but a shorter hike.
The trail is marked with orange paint to help you find your way. When you reach what looks like a carved out campground area continue right through it and the trail will continue on the other side. We made the mistake of taking a hard left at the campground and ended up on the beach below which was a 20-minute detour.
You'll know when your about to get to the Hot Springs because the smell of sulphur appears and the ground surface is steamy. This means you are almost there and just a few minutes away from a campground area where you can spend the night if you wish.
The Keyhole Hot Springs consist of three pools sitting right beside the Keyhole River. Of the three pools available the top one is simply too hot to soak in. Amazing views of the surrounding area greet you in the pools. When we got too hot we even went for a quick dip in the river below. Be very careful if you are dipping in the river. Stay close to the shore as currents can sweep you away if you wander out too far!
Tips for getting there: Drive about 20 minutes down the Pemberton Meadows Road. Take a right at the Lillooet Lake Forestry Road turn off. There will be several large signs here. Take note of a large brown sign indicating Goldbridge and Bralorne. If you see this you're going the right way. Continue driving, cross a bridge and take a left. You'll now be travelling along logging roads. Drive for another 15 minutes until you reach a fork in the road. Take a left! You should see a sign indicating Keyhole Falls. If not just remember to turn left. Continue down this road until you reach the Keyhole Falls construction check-in shack. The parking lot is about 8 minutes up the road from on the right-hand side!
- Driving Time: 1.2 hours from Village of Pemberton (1.2 hours back)
- Total Hike Time: 1 Hour Round Trip
- Difficulty Rating: 6.5 / 10
To cap off our three-day hiking extravaganza, we took a trip to Pemberton's most popular hiking destination: Joffre Lakes. The spot is quickly becoming the quintessential "must do" activity in Pemberton, and for good reason. I've lived in BC my whole life and visited some beautiful spots in our province. And Joffre Lakes offer some of the most spectacular scenery I've ever seen. The hike is famous for its three glacier-fed lakes fittingly called Lower, Middle, and Upper Joffre Lakes.
In order to get to Joffre Lake Provincial Park, you drive out east of the Village of Pemberton for about 35 minutes. The area has a large parking lot where you will find the hike's trailhead.
Time to get to the lakes breaks down as follows:
- About 3 minutes to Lower Joffre Lake
- 45 minutes to Middle Joffre Lake
- 1 hour to Upper Joffre Lake.
I've read on some websites that it takes about 5 hours to hike Upper Joffre Lake round trip. This is only true if you're taking breaks and plenty of picture opportunities. In actuality, it should take someone in decent shape as little as 3 to 3.5 hours round trip to and from Upper Joffre Lake while stopping for a few pictures and a quick lunch break.
While the Joffre Lakes hike itself is amazing, even the journey by trail to the Upper Joffre Lakes is spectacular. It almost feels like you are Frodo completing his journey to Mordor, without the nasty spiders and evil orcs.
In recent years, the Joffre Lake trail has received significant upgrades and now almost acts as a double lane highway for hikers. This does not discredit how challenging the hike can be. The trail is beautifully crafted but plan to put in some work to get to the middle and upper lakes. We would range the difficulty of the hike at about a 6.5 to 7 out of 10.
Once you get to the second lake you will be completely overtaken by the beauty of the place. The middle lake offers spectacular views of the Joffre Glacier and is home to the famous "fallen log" (everyone's favorite picture spot) and the Joffre Lake rope swing. While it was a little too late in the year to hit the rope swing we couldn't resist taking our obligatory log shot! ->>
If you are hiking Joffre Lakes do yourself a favour; don't "cheap out" by not getting to the upper lake. Upper Joffre Lake sits at the base of a massive glacier and is the most scenic of the three lakes. Upper Joffre Lake is also the best place to relax and have a bite to eat. Sadly the glacier isn't nearly the size it once was... due to "cough cough" global warming (?)... but it's still a sight to behold. The glacier is also what feeds all three lakes their chilly water.
We didn't take the complete walk around the upper lake, but it is an nice option. On the opposite side of the lake, you can find an amazing campsite and beautiful waterfalls where the glacier water enters the upper lake. If you can only find time for one of these hikes, Joffre Lakes is our top recommendation. It's an amazing experience!
- Total Driving Time: 35 minutes from Village of Pemberton
- Total Hiking Time: 3 Hour-"ish" Round Trip hiking at a steady pace
- And 1 or more hours if you want to stop to soak in the scenery along the way!
- Difficulty Rating: 6.5 / 10
Posted: Tuesday, October 27, 2015