We like an easy, meandering climb as much as the next person, but sometimes it feels good to fully commit to a trail in that I’m-going-to-sleep-here kind of way. So we asked local hiking expert Stephen Hui to share the most spectacular overnight hikes from his new book, 105 Hikes in and Around Southwestern British Columbia. Read on for his take on five entry-level overnight trips—all with sparkling lake and river vistas—in provincial parks near Vancouver.

Reminder: Check conditions, tell someone where you’ll be and never leave anything behind: “Pack it in, pack it out." Elfin-Lakes.jpg Mount Garibaldi and Diamond Head from Paul Ridge.

1. Elfin Lakes Hike

Round trip 

22 km

Difficulty 

Moderate

Location 

Garibaldi Provincial Park (east of Squamish)

The Hike

The Elfin Lakes Trail follows Paul Ridge to the well-loved shelter and campground at its namesake ponds. At Red Heather Meadows, ground squirrels chatter and whisky jacks eye your snacks. Spectacular views of Mount Garibaldi and the Garibaldi Névé, and Pyramid Mountain and Mamquam Mountain reward your efforts. Gold-Creek.jpg Gold Creek bridge on the East-West Canyon Connector.

2. Gold Creek Hike

Round trip 

14 km

Difficulty 

Moderate

Location 

Golden Ears Provincial Park (north of Maple Ridge)

The Hike

In 2015, B.C. Parks built a new bridge over Gold Creek, creating an appealing loop for hikers. Strike off on the East Canyon Trail, an old logging road flanked by salmonberry brambles, mossy conifers, and thick stumps. Visit Viewpoint Beach and Alder Flats, and stay the night at one of these scenic backcountry campsites. Joffre-Lakes.jpg Moraine above Upper Joffre Lake.

3. Joffre Lakes Hike

Round trip 

9.5 km

Difficulty 

Easy

Location 

Joffre Lakes Provincial Park (east of Pemberton)

The Hike

While solitude is in short supply at postcard-perfect Joffre Lakes, alpine splendour is clearly not. At deep-blue Middle Joffre Lake, you may see a queue for photo ops on an Instagram-famous log. Visit Holloway Falls en route to the upper lake campground. Lightning-Lakes.jpg Rainbow Bridge reflected in Lightning Lake.

4. Lightning Lakes Hike

Round trip 

20 km

Difficulty 

Moderate

Location 

Manning Provincial Park (southeast of Hope)

The Hike

Start by crossing the picturesque Rainbow Bridge over the reflective narrows of Lightning Lake. Then join the old trappers’ path that is the Lightning Lakes Chain Trail. Overnight at Strike Lake Camp and turn around at remote Thunder Lake. Potential wildlife sightings include black bears, mule deer, beavers, Townsend’s chipmunks, merganser ducks and western terrestrial garter snakes. Skagit-River-Trail.jpg Harlequin duck in the Skagit River.

5. Skagit River Trail Hike

Round trip 

22 km

Difficulty 

Moderate

Location 

Skagit Valley Provincial Park (east of Hope)

The Hike

Experience a section of the historic Whatcom Trail, a short-lived gold-rush route. Traverse the Skagit River Cottonwoods Ecological Reserve, home to beautiful old-growth groves of Douglas-fir and western red cedar. Camp at Harlequin Flats Camp before returning upstream the following day.

For more on B.C.’s best hikes, subscribe to the WL newsletter!