Distance : 5.5km one-way to the Upper Lake and about 4km (rough estimation) to the col from the camping…
Elevation : Roughly 900m from the parking lot to the col
Driving time from Vancouver : 2h30-3h
We did this trail overnight backpacking. It took us 2h30 from the parking lot to get to the camping at the Upper Lake. The views are amazing and the trail can be muddy, rocky, smooth… lot of different terrains. I would recommend to go to the 3rd lake as a simple day hike round-trip for people who wants lots of WOW and minimum effort!
We set up our tent and started to hike up toward Tszil peak by the trail accessible just before the camping (camping on the left in front of Matier Glacier, Tszil trail towards the right). The trail first heads into a field of rocks (follow the inunchuks (?) or the piles of rocks to know where the trail is. There is a few orange markers in the trees in the covered section of the trail only). After around 45min in the forest/covered you will end up in the valley where a big, impressive rock ridge will welcome you (or not). This is a tricky section and I wouldn’t recommend someone who is afraid of heights to attempt it… unless you are ready to overcome your fear. Some sections are that large that only one foot can stand on the ridge, with pretty steep rockfalls on both sides. The views at this point are gorgeous, but you might want to concentrate mostly on where you place your toes.
Once you’ve come after the ridge, you will climb up some rocky sections and then head towards the col. I believe the official trail from Joffres Lakes Provicial Park ends not long after the ridge. If the conditions are good, you can keep going in the rocks up to the col. There was still a lot of snow covering the slopes in front of us between Tzsil (on the left, with the glacier) and Mount Taylor (on the right). We went up to the col and enjoyed amazing views down on the Upper Joffres Lake and the ridge, and the mountains on the other side. We did not attempt going to the peak as we wanted to have enough time to go back down the crazy ridge and make it safe to the camping for dinner. It took us 2h30 from the camping to the col.. and then 2h back from the col to the camping.
There is tons of water creeks on the trail where to fill up your bottle if needed. I would still recommend carrying either a pump or chlorine drops to treat your water before you drink it.
To go back down, from the Upper lake to the parking lot, we took a new section of the trail between the Upper and the Middle lake. It leads to a really nice waterfall and is not as steep as the original trail. Nice when you are tired after a long trip!