Squamish Hiking Trail RatingPanorama Ridge is easily one of the most amazing hikes in Garibaldi Provincial Park.  The 15 kilometre hike from the trailhead at Rubble Creek to Panorama Ridge takes you through beautiful and deep forests, across countless idyllic streams, through meadows filled with flowers, and past dozens of jaw dropping viewpoints. 

  • Stunning views of Garibaldi Lake, glaciers & mountains
  • Always sun facing and often warm in the cool alpine
  • The ridge is long so it is easy to find a quiet corner
  • A long but beautiful hike to reach it
  • A cute lake good for swimming near the ridge
  • One the most scenic views in Garibaldi Park
  • Best views of Mount Garibaldi & Table Mountain
  • Final ascent skirts a glacier!
  • No camping allowed on Panorama Ridge
  • The trail is longer & tougher than most expect

The amazing views start once you reach Taylor Meadows and get even more spectacular as the trail progresses. Once you arrive at Panorama Ridge and its phenomenal vantage point, high above Garibaldi Park, you will stare in wonder. Mesmerized first by Garibaldi Lake, far below you and looking unnaturally blue, the lake looks amazing surrounded by green, untouched wilderness and snow capped mountains.  The Table, the massive and unusual looking mountain with its bizarre flat top lays across the lake with the enormous Mount Garibaldi just beyond.  In the distance, where Garibaldi Lake ends, a massive glacier rises out of the blue and jagged crevasses can be seen even from such a great distance.

Behind you, Black Tusk lays across the valley.  Close to the same elevation as Panorama Ridge, you get this wonderful view of it. Certainly the best and closest viewpoint to this iconic mountain.  Panorama Ridge sits, along with Black Tusk in the midst of some of the most popular and beautiful hiking trails in Garibaldi Provincial Park. There are two main trailheads for Panorama Ridge, Cheakamus Lake and Rubble Creek.

Rubble Creek is the more popular starting point as it is a bit shorter, far more scenic and allows for the inclusion of the trail to Garibaldi Lake and the beautiful Taylor Meadows as well as Black Tusk. The trail to Panorama Ridge from Rubble Creek is not so much difficult as it is long. 30 kilometres makes for a long 8-10 hour roundtrip hike.  Staying overnight, therefore is a great idea.

The Panorama Ridge Trail

Squamish Hiking Trail HardThere are several excellent options for camping in the valleys around Panorama Ridge. The beautiful though often crowded Garibaldi Lake campsite, the less crowded and also beautiful Taylor Meadows campsite, the seldom crowded and serene Helm Creek campsite (located on the Cheakamus Lake side of Black Tusk).  Panorama Ridge stretches for 1.5 kilometres, then drops into an expansive meadow down to Garibaldi Lake and access to the Burton Hut at the far end of the lake.  The hut is little used in the summer due to its remoteness.  This route, via Panorama Ridge, is the best way to reach this difficult to reach hut in the summer.

The main trailhead for Panorama Ridge is at Rubble Creek, 25 kilometres south of Whistler Village on the Sea to Sky Highway you will see a Garibaldi Provincial Park sign indicating the turnoff.  From the highway a paved road runs for 2 kilometres to the Rubble Creek trailhead and parking area. This is the most popular and close trailhead for Garibaldi Lake, Taylor Meadows and Black Tusk as well as Panorama Ridge.  Parking is free, however keep in mind that overnight camping requires payment. New this past year, reservations are required for camping at Garibaldi Lake campground and Taylor Meadows campground from June 29th-September 30th, 2017. 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..

The fees are $10 per person per night and $5 for kids (6-15 years). You will quickly find these fees well worth it, especially at the campsites nearest to Panorama Ridge.  Very clean and tidy, well organized and still somehow retaining a remote and wilderness feel.  You will likely spot a park ranger while at one of the campsites at Taylor Meadows or Garibaldi Lake as they are staffed for most of the summer to provide maintenance, security and friendly help. The more remote campsites like Helm Creek, Wedgemount Lake and Russet Lake are far less busy and you will not often spot BC Parks staff, yet somehow they are kept well maintained.

Panorama Ridge Trail Map

Trail Map - Squamish Hiking TrailsPanorama Ridge can be reached from the Garibaldi Lake(Rubble Creek) trailhead or the Cheakamus Lake trailhead. It is hard to say which is better. Rubble Creek is preferable if you are keen to stop at the beautiful Garibaldi Lake on the way. Certainly wonderful for a swim if you can take the glacial cold water. The Cheakamus Lake trailhead is similarly scenic minus the beautiful lake, but it is incredibly free of people. If you seek serenity, this is the way. Certainly, if you plan to overnight, this is the better way as well. The Taylor Meadows campground (Rubble Creek side) is often overrun on the weekends, while Helm Creek(Cheakamus side) is not.From Village Gate Blvd, drive south toward Vancouver on the Sea to Sky Highway. The well marked turnoff to Black Tusk(Garibaldi) is 25 kilometres south of Village Gate Blvd, on your left.  Follow the signs to Rubble Creek trailhead just 2 kilometres up a paved road.  This is the trailhead for Garibaldi Lake, Black Tusk, Panorama Ridge as well as Taylor Meadows. This trailhead parking area had a rash of vehicle thefts in 2014 so be sure to keep any valuable out of sight and don't be obvious about hiding valuables in your trunk before setting off in case someone is watching you. Cheakamus Lake trailhead directions: From Village Gate Boulevard, drive south, toward Vancouver for 8 kilometres. At the lights at Function Junction, turn left, about 700 metres ahead you will see a sign on your left for Cheakamus Lake. Follow the unpaved road for 8 kilometres to the Cheakamus trailhead.

Camping Near Panorama Ridge

Pay Use Campsites - Squamish Hiking TrailsIn 2018 a lot of changes with Garibaldi Provincial Park’s campsite reservations.  The first big change is that overnight camping fees are required at all campgrounds, year-round.  It is still free to day hike in the park, but sleeping in the park requires a reservation and camping fees apply in all areas of Garibaldi Park.  You can’t pay by cash or at the trailheads or at the campgrounds.  Reservations must be made in advance via the BC Parks online reservation service or at the call center.  It is a pretty organized and fair reservation system.  Fairly easy to use online and reasonably priced.  The revenue goes into maintaining trails, access roads, parking lots, park buildings and snow removal.  The most busy camping option in the area is at Garibaldi Lake with 50 campsites with full service (water, security, etc) and fees. The campsites are well laid out and disappear into the forest.  All are very close to outhouses, food storage and preparing huts and from the amazing shore of Garibaldi Lake which has great, though very cold swimming.  There is good fishing here for rainbow trout, which were introduced back in the 1920's. Taylor Meadows campsite: gets very busy at times as well with 40 campsites with full service (water, security, etc) and fees.  There are some small rivers close by but no swimming.  The draw for Taylor Meadows camping is the wonderful location. It lays in a beautiful forested meadow full of hills and flowers and views of the towering Black Tusk.  It has a less crowded feel than Garibaldi Lake does, though bear in mind that even when crowded these campsites don't feel crowded - they are just that organized and thick with trees and hills.  Also, if you were to feel crowded, you could easily wander in any of several directions and become immersed in the wonderful forest and beautiful desolation in these vast meadows.

Facilities at Panorama Ridge

Toilets - Squamish Hiking TrailsPicnic Tables - Squamish Hiking TrailsThere are outhouses(toilets) at various places in Garibaldi Park along the trail to Panorama Ridge. The parking lot/trailheads at Rubble Creek and Cheakamus Lake have outhouses.  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, 3.5 kilometres from Black Tusk. These are basic, pit toilets, usually equipped with toilet paper. At the campsites at Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake you will find nice, one room buildings for food preparation and to keep them away from bears. Beware of mice in these places. If you leave anything on the floor with food in it, such as a backpack with a chocolate bar in a pocket. You will find little holes chewed through and your candy bar gone! There are plenty hooks on the wall to hang things from, out of reach of the attacking mice. Garibaldi Lake also has a couple picnic tables with million dollar views.

Restrictions at Panorama Ridge

No Fires Allowed - Squamish Hiking TrailsDogs Not Welcome - Squamish Hiking TrailsNo Bikes Allowed - Squamish Hiking TrailsNo Motorized Vehicles - Squamish Hiking TrailsBikes are not allowed in much of Garibaldi Park, including the routes to Panorama Ridge.  You can bike to Cheakamus Lake, but not up to Helm Creek toward Black Tusk.  Use of motorized vehicles of any kind are restricted to park roads and parking areas.  Fires are prohibited in the park due to the potential forest fire hazard. Arriving or departing the park by aircraft is not allowed, as well as harvesting natural resources such as mushrooms.  Dogs are not permitted on the trail to Black Tusk 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 kilometres roundtrip, dog friendly hike to the amazing falls.  About 25 minutes north of Whistler, Nairn Falls is another beautiful and dog friendly hiking trail. 

Wildlife at Panorama Ridge

Wildlife - Squamish Hiking TrailsPanorama Ridge 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, Blackcomb or Wedgemount Lake in the summer will almost guarantee an encounter with a chubby, jolly little whistler marmot.

Driving, Biking & Public Transit to Panorama Ridge

Rubble Creek is the most popular route to Panorama Ridge 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 Panorama Ridge.  Though very busy, the Rubble Creek trail to Panorama Ridge 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 Panorama Ridge in 4-6 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. Helm Creek campground is smaller than Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake at just 9 official tent sites, however it is in a beautiful setting on the quiet side of Black Tusk.  Most of the 9 tent sites are next to the wonderfully idyllic Helm Creek.  The main draw of this campsite is that it is on the quieter side of this section of Garibaldi Provincial Park and can be approached from Cheakamus Lake.

Biking Directions to TrailheadBiking to one of the Panorama Ridge access trailheads is not terribly difficult. 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 Panorama Ridge trailhead at Rubble Creek 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 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.

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