Semaphore Lakes Hiking Trail
Hike to view pristine lakes and a spectacular subalpine meadow
- Destination: Southwest British Columbia
- Season: June–September
- Difficulty: Medium
- Distance: 6.7 kilometers (out‑and‑back)
- Elevation Gain: 350 meters
- Duration: 2–4 hours
About Semaphore Lakes
The Semaphore lakes area is a relatively short 2.5 kilometre hike accessible from the Hurley River Forest Service Road (FSR).
At Semaphore Lakes base you’ll see an area surrounded by the “school of railroad mountains” such as Locomotive, Tender, Caboose, Handcar, Faceless and Face.
In the Semaphore Lakes area there is a series of trails snaking around so make sure you leave enough time to spend wandering around so you can find all the little lakes and tarns in the subalpine meadow.
Semaphore Lakes is so off the beaten path it also makes for a great camping spot. You won’t see the crowds here like you will at the more well known Provincial parks in the area. Even on the weekends you’ll probably only see 10-15 other tents scattered around the meadows, up on small hills or along one of the many larger lakes.
There are no designated or improved campsites at Semaphore Lakes and it is a delicate sub-alpine area so tread carefully.
Semaphore Lakes is not a Provincial Park and there are no outhouses, food storage facilities or cooking shelters. Try to find a spot that has been used as a campsite before to minimize your impact on the fragile area.
When visiting Semaphore Lakes, practice property hiking etiquette, and be sure to pack out what you pack in so others can enjoy this wonderful area.
1. Drive through Pemberton and head up the Pemberton Valley via Pemberton Meadows road.
2. After ~20 kilometers, turn right onto the Lillooet Forest Service Road. Reset your odometer here.
3. At the junction (~8.7 kilometers from the start of the Lillooet FSR), turn right onto the Hurley FSR.
4. Continue up the switchbacks and you will eventually see a pullout and parked cars along the left side of the road located at the 22 kilometer mark. There is room in the pullout for 4-5 cars but parking is also available along the left side of the road.
5. The trailhead is marked by flagging tape on a small tree where the car pullout is.
The Hurley River FSR is open only during the summer months and is quite rough and pot holed in spots. If you take your time it can be done in a two-wheel drive vehicle, but you’ll want to make sure you go up when it hasn’t rained recently. It's not recommended that you attempt this road if it’s wet without a four-wheel drive truck.
The hike from the trailhead to the Semaphore Lakes area is about 2.5 kilometers and the trail gains about 350 meters in elevation over that distance.
While it is relatively short 2.5 kilometer one way hike, at times the trail is quite steep and you will be climbing up over lots of slippery roots, rocks and more than a few muddy spots along the way. Proper footwear is required.
- Semaphore Lakes is not a Provincial Park and there are no outhouses at the parking lot or along the trail.
- Practice property hiking etiquette, and be sure to pack out what you pack in.
- Semaphore Lakes is habitat for both grizzly and black bears so be bear aware and carry bear spray.
- Do not build campfires if you are camping overnight. Alpine trees grow very slowly and fires destroy the fragile subalpine ecosystem.
Where to stay
Sempahore Lakes provides no designated or improved campsites. There is no fee for camping but remember the area is delicate alpine terrain so tread carefully if you plan on visiting and camping.
Use existing campsites to minimize impact on the area and dispose of human waste properly and remember to pack out what you bring in.
The closest town to the trailhead is Pemberton, British Columbia.
By Scott Dawson
Scott grew up in British Columbia, Canada and loves to share photographs of his adventures on scottdawsonphoto.com
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