Shimmering turquoise lakes? Check. Meandering creeks and waterfalls? Check. Glowing fields of white granite? Check. Peaks all around? Oh yeah! Sapphire Lakes is a choice day hike for any kooteneers staying in Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park.
Trailhead: Kalso Lake, Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park
Distance, Round Trip: 8.9km
Starting at Kokanee Glacier Cabin, follow signs for Sapphire Lakes or Tanal Lakes/Enterprise Pass. The trail edges Kaslo Lake before beginning to switch back higher above the cabin.
After passing the junction for Enterprise Pass, the trail ascends higher and you’ll have the option to peek out into Enterprise Creek Valley far below:
The trail climbs a scree slope and finally opens up to look down upon Kaslo Lake. What an awesome view! Sawtooth Ridge, the Battleship, the Kokanee Glacier, the Pyramids… it’s all there!
Up Griffin Creek
As the trail bears right and goes higher, the rush of Griffin Creek appears along the left. Near a small waterfall, the trail crosses the creek on a series of stones. These stepping stones were flooded over and we opted to follow an older trace of the trail, walking higher up the creek bed before crossing at a safer place.
Boulders of white granite appear among the trickling pools of Griffin Creek as the trail marches steadily higher.
The Griffin Lakes appear at the base of Mount Giegerich. The trail angles left and climbs up over Lemon Pass.
As the trail leaves Lemon Pass, it gently descends into a field of boulders and brooks. We saw both large Hoary marmots and small Yellow-bellied marmots frolicking and chirping.
The trail edges along the base of Mt Giegerich and suddenly the lower Sapphire Lake comes into view:
The Sapphire Lakes are a beautiful spot to explore. The upper lake drains into the lower via a series of small waterfalls. The waters are a rich mountain blue.
Want to explore further? There are two off-trail options:
- Glory Basin – starting above the Upper Sapphire Lake, Glory Basin an alpine basin nestled amount Mt. John Carter, Sunset Mountain, and Outlook Mountain.
- Mt. Giegerich – from the top of Lemon Pass, the summit Mt. Giegerich is a moderate +180m scramble. Panoramic views of the surrounding ranges wait at the top!
Heading Back Down
The strangest thing about the entire hike was that we didn’t encounter any other hikers. This was the August long weekend on a sunny, warm Sunday. We knew Kokanee Glacier Cabin was booked full and there were a handful of tents at the campground, but not a single soul was out on the Sapphire Lakes trail. Where is everybody?