Squamish Hiking Trail RatingGaribaldi Lake is the centre and base for much of the hiking in Garibaldi Provincial Park. The Garibaldi Lake campsite is located on the amazing, turquoise shores of this massive and mostly still wild mountain lake. There are no trails around the edge of the lake except the small section leading to the campsites, so your view is an impossibly coloured lake edged by swaths of forest and a magnificent glacier towering in the distance.

  • Squamish Hiking Trail ProHuge alpine lake in a pristine forest
  • Squamish Hiking Trail ProExtraordinary, turquoise coloured water
  • Squamish Hiking Trail ProCampsites are well laid out next to the shore
  • Squamish Hiking Trail ProGreat for swimming, but very cold
  • Squamish Hiking Trail ProHuge glacier is visible across the lake
  • Squamish Hiking Trail ProBlack Tusk & Panorama Ridge are near
  • Squamish Hiking Trail ProFishing is pretty good
  • Squamish Hiking Trail ProHike past the Barrier on the way to the lake
  • Squamish Hiking Trail ConSome find the first 6 kilometres exhausting
  • Squamish Hiking Trail ConCampsites are crowded together & often full

The water is painfully cold, though plenty of brave hikers swim here as well as camp.  Garibaldi Lake, though beautiful enough as a primary destination, is often a base camp for further hiking. The summit of Black Tusk is just a 2 hour hike from the lake. Panorama Ridge is a bit further at about 3 hours from the lake. Taylor Meadows is a beautiful, often flower filled valley, and home to the other campsites in the area.

Helm Creek campsites are located past Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge, on the way to Cheakamus Lake. If you can manage transport, you can start at Rubble Creek trailhead and finish at Cheakamus Lake trailhead. This allows for a linear route instead of a there and back route. Garibaldi Lake, Taylor Meadows, Black Tusk, Panorama Ridge, Helm Creek and Cheakamus Lake are all beautiful destinations on their own, but combined in a 2 or 3 day hiking expedition are extraordinary.

Reservations are now required for camping at Garibaldi Lake campground and Taylor Meadows campground from June 29th-September 30th. Camping fees must be paid before entering the park.  Before June 22nd pre-pay via before your trip. There are no cash payment options. You can pay online here.. In 2016 the trail to Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake was reasonably easy to hike through the quickly melting and tracked out snow in late May. Hiking to Black Tusk or Panorama Ridge before mid June this year will remain very challenging and potentially dangerous. The camping area at Garibaldi Park is well laid out and stretches deep into the forest with 50 tent clearings.  You can, except for the busiest of days, put your tent out of earshot and sight of others.  The trail to Garibaldi Lake from the Rubble Creek trailhead, just off of the Sea to Sky Highway takes about two hours. You gain a fair amount of elevation, 900 metres in just 9 kilometres, trailhead to lake.

Partway along the trail to Garibaldi Lake the trail forks.  Right to Garibaldi Lake and left goes to another beautiful campground, Taylor Meadows.  Past Taylor Meadows you can link back to Garibaldi Lake by yet another linking trail.  At every trail fork, there are nice and clear signs and often large mapboards showing where and how far everything is.  Beyond the main camping areas of Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake, there are several amazing hikes. Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge lay just beyond these two camping areas. Black Tusk or Panorama Ridge, Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake can be done in one long 30 kilometre dayhike, trailhead to trailhead, but expect to take 8-10 hours. The Garibaldi Lake trailhead is located just 30 minutes south of Whistler.  Keep your eye out for the hard to miss Garibaldi Provincial Park highway sign.

The Rubble Creek Trailhead - Garibaldi Lake

The Rubble Creek Trailhead to Garibaldi LakeThe most scenic and direct hiking trail to Black Tusk is from the popular Rubble Creek trailhead, just off the Sea to Sky Highway, 25 kilometres south of Whistler Village. As this trailhead is also the best route to access Garibaldi Lake, Taylor Meadows and Panorama Ridge, it is sometimes very busy and some weekends find both campgrounds full. The Rubble Creek trailhead is easy to find, just keep your eye out for the large highway sign that reads, "Black Tusk(Garibaldi)" along the side of the Sea to Sky Highway 25 kilometres south of Whistler Village. The huge and free trailhead parking has a map and information board as well as an outhouse. Often you will find it full in the summer, however overflow parking extends down the side of the access road. 

Rubble Creek is so named because of the large boulder(rubble) field deposited from The Barrier in previous, massive debris flows. The last occurred 80 years ago, when The Barrier partly gave way and an estimated thirty million cubic metres of rock crashed down near the now, Rubble Creek trailhead. The Barrier can be viewed along the trail to Garibaldi Lake just past the y junction after the 6 kilometre mark along the trail. A sign indicates the short path to the viewpoint. The trail from Rubble Creek starts off by quickly ascending a wide, dirt path into deep forest.  For the first 6 kilometres you only catch glimpses of the sky through the the thick forest of startlingly tall trees. Several switchbacks along the trail continue until you get to the first fork in the trail about 6.2 kilometres from the trailhead. Right takes you to past the Barrier, Lesser Garibaldi Lake and then to Garibaldi Lake(in 3 kilometres). There is a nice mapboard at this trail junction which gives you a good chance to plot your course. A good way to hike if doing a one day hike to Black Tusk or Panorama Ridge, is to take this left fork through Taylor Meadows and then return via Garibaldi Lake for a swim near the end of the journey.

If you take the left fork toward Taylor Meadows you will finally escape the heavy forest cover and emerge to spectacular scenery in about 20 minutes. Taylor Meadows is in a beautiful valley of gnarled, weather beaten trees, endless green meadows and in July and August, alpine flowers as far as you can see.  What immediately comes into view towering in the distance is Black Tusk and the wooden boardwalk through Taylor Meadows continues straight as Black Tusk looms far ahead and to your left.  This is where you will start taking photos almost continuously of Black Tusk, and probably not stop until you touch its sheer black sides.  Though you are only half way there, from now on the views from the trail are amazing, varied, and progressively better.  Just past Taylor Meadows the boardwalk ends and the dirt trail crosses a creek and then past a small, locked BC Parks building and another trail junction.  The trail to the right leads to Garibaldi Lake and campsite area in 2 kilometres.  The trail that continues straight goes to Black Tusk(5.5k), the Panorama Ridge(7k) and much further away, Helm Creek(9.2k) and Cheakamus Lake(18k). The views along this 2 kilometre section of trail between this junction and the Black Tusk junction are beautiful.  Green meadows, flowers everywhere you look. Distant snow capped mountains and the starkly beautiful Black Tusk towering to your left.

The next junction you come to has a nice mapboard and more nice kilometre markings and direction signs.  Once again you can turn right and head towards Garibaldi Lake or continue straight for Black Tusk, Panorama Ridge, Helm Creek and Cheakamus Lake.  There is an outhouse here and ropes along the edge of the trail here to try to keep hikers on the trail.  The area is ideal for camping with a beautiful creek and endless flat grassy areas, however a sign indicates not to camp here in order to not damage the fragile alpine areas off the trail.  In just a hundred metres further another fork in the trail takes you left towards Black Tusk(3k) or straight toward Panorama Ridge(4.5k), and you begin ascending steadily through patches of forest occasionally breaking to reveal amazing views of Garibaldi Lake to your right and Black Tusk on your left.  This section of trail, from this junction to Black Tusk is fairly steep and the most challenging.  You will cross dozens of tiny creeks so water is never in short supply.  This section of trail is often snow covered well into July, however, the snow is hard-packed, easy to walk on, and the trail is hard to stray from.

Garibaldi Lake Campground in Garibaldi Park

Pay Campsite BC Parks Garibaldi ParkThe campground at Garibaldi Lake is the largest and most popular with 50 tent pads.  It is open year-round, although it is only busy in the summer months.  Though you get some skier and snowboarder activity in the winter, the snow and cold weather keeps people away.  Along with the 50 tent pads, you have plenty of outhouses, picnic tables and a bear-proof hut for preparing and storing food.  No sleeping is allowed in the hut.  At the end of the campsites you will find a BC Parks ranger cabin which is often manned in the summer and sporadically the rest of the year.  The campsites at Garibaldi Lake and Taylor Meadows are popular bases for hiking to Black Tusk and/or Panorama Ridge.  The Helm Creek campground on the other side of Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge is another good base for these amazing sights.  Generally Helm Creek is hiked from the Cheakamus Lake trailhead instead of the Rubble Creek trailhead.  Fees Per Night: $10 Adult - $5 Kids(6-15)  Campsite fees must be paid online in advance at the BC Parks Garibaldi Provincial Park reservations page.

There are no well defined hiking trails around the lake.  The Panorama Ridge side of the lake is far to steep and wild to make a trail feasible.  On the other side of the lake, hiking is possible to Mount Price, although the faint trail disappears into the alpine and route-finding can get very difficult.  There are some trail markings that denote the trail past the BC Parks ranger cabin a the far end of the Garibaldi Lake campsite.  Plenty of hikers have hiked around Garibaldi Lake in the past, but you have to know what you are doing and be well equipped, tough and determined to do it.

Taylor Meadows Campground in Garibaldi Park

Pay Campsite BC Parks Garibaldi ParkNear Garibaldi Lake is another popular and beautiful campground at Taylor Meadows.  Taylor Meadows lacks the beautiful lake and distant glacier views you get from the campsite at Garibaldi Lake.  You do get a much prettier forest and meadow setting at Taylor Meadows as well as stunning views of the always impressive Black Tusk.  Fresh water is plentiful here as well as there is a pristine, glacier fed creek that runs through the campsites.  As with Garibaldi Lake you have a food storage and preparation hut to use and there is a frequently manned ranger cabin nearby as well.  Taylor Meadows has 40 well-spaced and organized tent pads sprinkled throughout the beautiful forest here.  Though Garibaldi Lake is often considered the better campsite because you can swim in the stunningly beautiful, though frigidly cold lake, Taylor Meadows is beautiful with its lush green and flower filled meadows surrounding the campsite.  Taylor Meadows tends to feel less hectic as Garibaldi Lake tends to draw the majority of visitors to the park.  Both Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake campsites are good if you are hiking to Black Tusk or Panorama Ridge as both connect to the Black Tusk trail and or the Panorama Ridge trail.  If you are hiking Black Tusk or Panorama Ridge in a day from Rubble Creek you can hike one route up and the other down.  So you can hike through Taylor Meadows, up to Black Tusk or Panorama Ridge, then return via Garibaldi Lake for a swim.  It is always nice to avoid retracing your steps in a hike and this way you only duplicate part of the trail in the first or last 5.5 kilometres where the trail forks left to Taylor Meadows or right to Garibaldi Lake.  Fees Per Night: $10 Adult - $5 Kids(6-15)  Campsite fees must be paid online in advance at the BC Parks Garibaldi Provincial Park reservations page.

Helm Creek Campground in Garibaldi Park

Pay Campsite BC Parks Garibaldi ParkHelm Creek is the other BC Parks campground in this part of Garibaldi Provincial Park.  Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake campgrounds are on one side of Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge and the Helm Creek campground is on the other side.  Part way to Cheakamus Lake, Helm Creek is much less busy, though you still find it full on many summer weekends.  Helm Creek has 30 well spaced tent pads in a large meadow with Helm Creek surrounding it in one large arc.  Helm Creek has bear-proof cables on pulleys to lift your food out of reach of hungry bears.  There are outhouses at Helm Creek, but the campground is wonderfully free of human constructions.  If you are lucky enough to find yourself to be the only campers there you have the wonderful feeling that you have the whole of Garibaldi Park to yourself.  Surrounding your tent you see only meadow, and idyllic creek and wilderness forest and mountains all around.  One of those mountains is the wonderfully surreal and close Black Tusk.

Helm Creek is a cute, meandering creek that winds its way from beyond Black Tusk, down the valley to the wonderful campground that takes its name. From the Helm Creek campground, Helm Creek descends further along the Helm Creek trail, until it joins Cheakamus River, not far from where it leaves Cheakamus Lake.  The location of Helm Creek campground is pretty amazing for a variety of reasons. First it is just a great location. About halfway between Cheakamus Lake and Black Tusk it lays in some amazingly scenic areas. Beautiful, climbable mountains all around.  Pristine fields of snow that run all the way to the base of Black Tusk well into July.  Rivers, creeks and waterfalls everywhere you look from the idyllic campground. A large, grassy field ringed by trees and Helm Creek.  What you always want from a campground is a convenient and clean water source and of course Helm Creek is both.

Another aspect of a great campground is a variety of beautiful views and a serene setting and again Helm Creek has both of these.  The campground is so widespread that even if the area becomes busy, you can still manage to not hear your neighbours.  The area really has no defined trails except the Helm Creek trail that runs past the campsite, but there are infinitely numerous directions you can wander.  Exploring in any direction takes you to more and more pristine, green fields, streams, pocket lakes and mountain views.  Though most just use it as a base to extend onto Black Tusk, it is a great base for so much more. Helm Peak, Corrie Peak, Cinder Cone, Empetrum Peak as well as the more frequented Panorama Ridge, Black Tusk and Garibaldi Lake.

Possibly the nicest aspect of Helm Creek as a campground is that it is quiet and serene when compared with the other two area campgrounds. Garibaldi Lake and Taylor Meadows are very busy all summer long. In fact there is a posting part way up the trail to Garibaldi Lake indicating how crowded it is and if it is full.  At Helm Creek you find yourself in a remote and quiet valley in the midst of paradise. From the trail junction in the campground you see the enticing sign indicating what is around you.  The nice, well marked trail continues to Panorama Ridge in 7 kilometres.  Black Tusk in 9.5 kilometres or Garibaldi Lake in 9 kilometres.  All of these destinations branch off the main trail that ascends away from Helm Creek.  Fees Per Night: $10 Adult - $5 Kids(6-15)  Campsite fees must be paid online in advance at the BC Parks Garibaldi Provincial Park reservations page.

Facilities at Garibaldi Lake

Toilets - Squamish Hiking TrailsPicnic Tables - Squamish Hiking TrailsThere are outhouses (toilets) at various places in Garibaldi Park and one at both the start and end of the trail to Garibaldi Lake. The parking lot/trailhead at Rubble Creek has an outhouse.  The campsites at Taylor Meadows and at Garibaldi Lake have outhouses.  There is also an outhouse at the trail junction where the Black Tusk trail ascends from the main trail to the base of Black Tusk.  These are very basic, pit toilets, usually equipped with toilet paper and serviced surprisingly often by BC Parks staff.

Restrictions at Garibaldi Lake

No Fires Allowed - Squamish Hiking TrailsDogs Not Welcome - Squamish Hiking TrailsNo Bikes Allowed - Squamish Hiking TrailsNo Motorized Vehicles - Squamish Hiking TrailsDogs are not permitted on the Garibaldi Lake trail or any other Garibaldi Provincial Park trails out of courtesy to the resident animals. There are a large number of black bears in the park and encounters with dogs result in unpredictable and potentially dangerous conflicts. There are quite a few excellent hiking trails in Whistler that are dog friendly. Whistler's Valley Trail and Lost Lake Trails are dog friendly and run throughout Whistler. The Sea to Sky Trail, which runs over 30 kilometres through Whistler is a paradise trail for dogs as it runs through numerous parks, beaches and forests.  Ancient Cedars is a nice, dog friendly hike that is 5 kilometres roundtrip and takes you into a thousand year old forest. Whistler Train Wreck is also dog friendly. The trailhead, marked Flank Trail is located in Function Junction, just a short drive south of Whistler Village. Further south you will come to Brandywine Falls, which is a short, 2 kilometre(roundtrip) dog friendly hike to the amazing falls.  About 25 minutes north of Whistler, Nairn Falls is another beautiful and dog friendly hiking trail.  For a look at some of the best dog friendly hikes in Whistler try here.. And for some more challenging dog friendly hikes try here..

Wildlife at Garibaldi Lake

Wildlife - Squamish Hiking TrailsGaribaldi Lake sits in the midst of a pristine wilderness with plenty of wildlife to see. Black bears and hoary marmots can be occasionally spotted. Black bears in the park are reclusive and not easily spotted.  Hoary marmots, however, will emerge from nowhere and whistle to each other to help monitor any threats. Hoary marmots are cute, invariably pudgy, twenty plus pound ground squirrels that have evolved to live quite happily in the hostile alpine areas of much of the world. In the northwest of North America, marmots have a distinct grey in their hair, a hoary colour, so have been named hoary marmots. They manage to survive quite happily in the alpine, largely by hibernating for 8 months of the year and largely for having a surprisingly varied array of food in such an inhospitable environment. They live off of grasses, berries, lichens, mosses, and roots and flowers. And live quite well it seems, as they always look chubby, which has one great drawback. They are sought after by bears and wolves. They have a wonderful defence system though. They are constantly on watch and whistle loudly at the first sign of danger, alerting the colony. The prevalence of these "whistlers" as they came to be locally called, in the early days of London Mountain resulted in it's name being changed to Whistler Mountain in the 60's. Hiking on Whistler Mountain, Blackcomb Mountain or Wedgemount Lake in the summer will almost guarantee an encounter with a chubby, jolly little whistler marmot.

Driving, Biking & Public Transit to Garibaldi Lake

The best and closest parking lot to access Garibaldi Lake is the Rubble Creek trailhead just off of the Sea to Sky Highway halfway between Squamish and Whistler.  The Rubble Creek trailhead parking is well equipped with direction signs, a mapboard and outhouse. The access road that connects it to the Sea to Sky Highway is even paved and it is generally free of snow from May to November.  Rubble Creek is the most popular route to Garibaldi Lake and consequently the most chaotic. The huge parking lot is often filled to capacity, with additional cars parked along the access road.  This road is the only paved(not a heavily potholed, gravel road) to access a trailhead to Garibaldi Lake.  Though very busy, the Rubble Creek trail to Garibaldi Lake is constantly maintained to a high standard.  Plenty of helpful mapboards and trail signs keep you on track and aware of where you are.  The tidy, natural dirt trail is wide enough to hike side-by-side most of the time.  The constant ascent from here gets you to the Garibaldi Lake in just a couple hours.  To get to Rubble Creek from Squamish(zero your odometer at Canadian Tire) on Hwy 99.  At 32 kilometres look for the Black Tusk(Garibaldi) sign on the highway indicating you to turn right.  150 metres up this road it will fork. Take the right fork and continue up the paved road for 2 kilometres to the Rubble Creek trailhead for Black Tusk, Taylor Meadows, Panorama Ridge, Garibaldi Lake and much more.

Biking Directions to TrailheadBiking to one of the further trailheads to access Garibaldi Lake is not terribly difficult.  If you are starting in Whistler, the Cheakamus Lake trailhead is just 15.1 kilometres(9.4 miles) from Whistler Village. The last 8 kilometres is a bit of a grind though as you ascend quite a bit to the Cheakamus Lake parking lot. Bikes are allowed on the Cheakamus Lake trail, so you can ride the nice and easy trail for 1.5 kilometres, park your bike, then start your hike(bikes are prohibited on the connecting trail to Black Tusk. The route to Black Tusk via the microwave tower is an excellent way to bike, then hike. In fact, biking to the microwave tower is the preferred way to get there by most. It's a bit of a long, boring hike along a gravel, deep forest road. On a bike, however, it is much quicker and riding out at the end of your trip is all down hill. The Rubble Creek trailhead is probably the least bike friendly trailhead owing to its distance from Whistler Village. 27.2 kilometres(16.9 miles) is too far for most to bike to a trailhead and begin an arduous hike!

Public Transit Icon - Squamish Hiking TrailsCan you get to the Garibaldi Lake trailhead by public transit? Not even close. No bus service will stop at the highway turnoff to Rubble Creek. The Cheakamus Lake trailhead is a possible option. The Whistler Public Transit goes between the Village and Cheakamus Crossing almost constantly. The problem of course, is you then have to hike 8 kilometres to the Cheakamus Lake trailhead. A taxi to the trailhead may be an option, however you will have to let the taxi company know where you are going as, depending on the driver, some won't drive any logging roads. Taking a taxi to the Rubble Creek trailhead is a decent option, depending on your budget. The ride will cost you about $45, each way. It does, however give you the amazing option to exit at Cheakamus Lake so you don't cover the same ground twice.

Squamish Hiking Trails

Squamish Hiking TrailAlice Lake Hiking Trail ModerateBlack Tusk Squamish Hiking TrailBrandywine Falls Hiking Trail Hard Dog FriendlyBrew Lake Hiking Trail HardCirque Lake Hiking Trail ModerateElfin Lakes Hiking Trail ModerateGaribaldi Lake

Hiking Trail HardHigh Falls Squamish Hiking TrailLevette Lake Hiking Trail ModeratePanorama Ridge Hiking Trail Hard Dog FriendlyRing Lake Pay Use Hiking TrailSea2Sky

Squamish Hiking TrailShannon Falls Hiking Trail HardThe Chief Hiking Trail ModerateTaylor Meadows Hiking Trail Hard Dog FriendlyThe Lions Hiking Trail Hard Dog FriendlyUpper Shannon

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