This hike is unique for how little climbing is required to access the alpine. Expect rolling climbs throughout, and enjoy the at least three distinct alpine landscapes. You're in for a treat!
Water can be found at at Elfin Lakes, the base of Opal Cone, Rampart Ponds and Mamquam Lake.
Without the addition of the Gargoyles, this trail is 42km and can be considered intermediate.
Wake your legs up with a 4.5 km climb from the parking lot to Red Heather. Climb some more to the top of the ridge en route to Elfin Lakes before enjoying a long series of easy rollers to the Elfin Lake hut. Take a swim in the warm waters (if it's late summer) if you're eager, or continue past the hut and descend gradually to the base of Opal Cone.
From the base of this defunct volcano, you climb 400m to a junction where you can decide to summit the volcano or continue toward Rampart Ponds through a glacier moonscape.
Time will fly (and so will you), on these relatively smooth trails broken up by two climbs of note before descending switchbacks to Mamquam Lake. Eat a snack, thank the mountain gods and trail builders for access to this beautiful place, then turn around and go back the way you came.
On your way back, the second opportunity to peak bag comes near Elfin Lake hut toward the Gargoyles. At ~1km before the hut, take a right at the trail junction and follow the steep trail to the summit.
After enjoying the views from the Gargoyles, retraces your steps back the Mamquam Lake Trail
and head back to the trailhead to finish out your hike.