Just up the Sea-to-Sky Highway from Vancouver is Squamish and Garibaldi Provincial Park. From Squamish, a short drive takes you up the mountain and into the park where you have what seems like endless terrain for various activities both in summer and winter.
The trail that leads to the Elfin Lake Hut draws in adventurers of all sorts for hiking, snowshoeing, and skiing. About 4.5 kilometers from the trailhead is the Red Heather Hut. This hut is run by the park for day use only. Inside are picnic tables and a woodstove with wood stored outside. The hut has a gas-powered hot plate but no running water or power.
From the hut, the trail climbs through a meadow and up to Paul Ridge. It skirts around the south side of the ridge through old-growth forest before descending down to Elfin Lakes. There is some downhill skiing available on the south side, but more is available on the north side of the ridge.
About 3 kilometers of the ridge offers a half-dozen or so micro-zones of tree lines and open bowls. The runs are not long, but they are generally a safe bet when avalanche dangers are high up in the mountains. Bigger mountains and longer lines can be found past Elfin Lakes. This area is just the beginning of the park and offers outstanding views in all directions, an amazing way to spend the day or start your multi-day trip through the park.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.