Opal Cone Hike
We hiked Opal Cone while backpacking Garibaldi Provincial Park to Elfin Lakes and Mamquam Lake. The weather wasn’t great, but we did get a tiny gap of clear sky near the summit and the views from Opal Cone are beautiful!
If you’re staying at Elfin Lakes or hiking through to Mamquam Lake then you should definitely head up here.
Opal Cone Trail Stats
- Distance: 35km (round trip)
- Duration: 10+ hours (overnight is better)
- Difficulty: Easy/Intermediate
- Elevation: 750 m
To get to Opal Cone, you’ll start from the Diamon Head trailhead just outside of Squamish. The first 11km to Elfin Lakes has some gentle elevation up through the forest on switchbacks before you come out into the alpine at Red Heather Hut.
From Red Heather Hut there’s a slight climb, with impressive views all around, before your final descent down to the lakes.
Elfin Lakes is a popular camping destination and you can set up your tent here if you have a camping reservation, before heading on to Opal Cone.
Elfin Lakes to Opal Cone
To get to Opal Cone from Elfin Lakes, continue past the Elfin Lake shelter and follow the signs.
The trail is flat for quite a while and then you’ll start descending down into the valley towards a river. There’s a bridge here to make the river crossing easy, and from here you’ll follow the trail alongside the river on a very gentle incline and deeper into the valley.
After a few km, the trail takes you right and uphill until you come out on a ridge area and at the base of Opal Cone.
Since we were on our way to Mamquam Lake to set up camp and had our backpacking bags with us, we stashed our bags (taking food items with us) and continued up with just our lighter bags.
Opal Cone Hike
There’s a small signpost to Opal Cone, and you’ll want to turn left along a thin ridge-like trail before you descend!
The first part of this trail is quite easy and the views are beautiful. Then the trail heads off to the left with a steep climb towards a large boulder.
At this point, we couldn’t see much but managed to pick out some cairns that guided the way. The GPS maps on our phone helped too!
To the west, you will get a magnificent view of Mount Garibaldi, Atwell Peak, and Little Diamond Head.
Things to know before hiking Opal Cone at Elfin Lakes
- Dogs at Elfin Lakes: No dogs allowed in Garibaldi Provincial Park.
- Camping reservations: The Elfin Lake campground has 35 tent platforms, a day-use shelter a pit toilet facilities and bear hang facilities. You must reserve the Elfin Lakes campground in advance. The shelter has been closed to reservations since 2020.
- Elfin Lakes trail map: The trail is well marked but it’s a good idea to take a trail map too. And if you plan to do any further hiking such as to Opal Cone, the Gargoyles or Mamquam Lake you should definitely take one. This Garibaldi Provincial Park trail map is good.
- Elfin Lakes weather & trail conditions: There are a few ways to check the Elfin Lakes conditions before you hike. I like to do a few of them to get a good idea before heading out. First, you can check the official trail reports for Garibaldi Provincial Park here. They’re not that regularly updated but it’s a good start. Then read the most recent reviews on AllTrails or VancouverTrails.com
- Toilets: There’s an outhouse at the trailhead, Red Heather Hut, and at Elfin Lakes
- Water: You can get drinking water from the lower lake but it needs filtering and/or boiling.
- Swimming in Elfin Lakes: You can swim in the top lake. The lower lake is for drinking water only.
- Be adventure smart: Remember to respect the terrain, environment, and other users while you are enjoying the trails. Follow the three Ts—trip planning, training, and taking the essentials. AdventureSmart is a great resource to help you get informed before heading outdoors.
What to pack for Opal Cone & Elfin Lakes
If you’re backpacking at Elfin Lakes, check out my packing list for Berg Lake which is the list I use when packing for backpacking trips. If you’re doing this as a long day hike then take a look at my day hike packing list.