One of my most anticipated hikes for this summer is Garibaldi Lake. Only an hour and forty minutes from Vancouver, this trail draws visitors from all over who are eager to view the lake’s crystal blue water against a magnificent alpine backdrop.
The 18-kilometre round-trip trail takes the average hiker approximately six hours to traverse. The trail starts slowly with a gradual incline through a forest of Douglas firs. At about the six-kilometre point, you arrive at the trail junction. If you turn left, you reach the Taylor Meadows Campsite. The meadows surrounding the campsite are covered in alpine wildflowers that bloom from July to October. If you turn right, the trail will take you past two smaller lakes, Barrier Lake and Lesser Garibaldi, giving you beautiful scenic views while you trek to the breathtaking Garibaldi Lake.
This hike can be done as a day trip, but you won’t want to leave quickly once you make it to Garibaldi Lake. Spend the night at Garibaldi Lake Campground or Taylor Meadows but remember to book your backcountry camping permit in advance. These campsites are popular bases for extending your hike to include Panorama Ridge or Black Tusk trails. Both are approximately 30 kilometres round trip, and both leave from the Rubble Creek Parking. Either can be completed in one day if you keep to a tight schedule.
Panorama Ridge is named after its stunning 360’ view of the mountain range and garibaldi lake from above. It is a challenging hike, reaching 1520 metres in elevation. The trail gradually climbs upward but becomes steeper as you hike onwards until you reach the final rock scramble to the top. At the peak, Panorama Ridge rewards you with incredible views of the mountains surrounding Garibaldi Lake, including Black Tusk, and even a glimpse of the glacier.
Alternatively, hike the renowned Black Tusk trail. Vancouvertrails.com describes it as “one of the most scenic and unique hikes in southwestern British Columbia.” The black peak stands out against the grey and white of the mountain range, made up of hardened lava and ash, this ancient volcano erupted over 17,000 years ago. First Nation’s legends say the Thunderbird’s lightning shaped the peak, or as others tell it, by the bird’s talons as it crashed into the mountain.
The Black Tusk trail starts gaining in elevation right away, getting steeper as the vegetation slowly disappears eventually leaving a barren rocky landscape. The final section of the trail is not maintained by BC Parks so continuing is at your own risk. This section is difficult because the ground is made up of loose shale that shifts under your feet as you scramble up the rock. The final plateau is just below the peak offering views of the summit and Garibaldi Lake below. Although summiting Black Tusk might look tempting, it is dangerous and discouraged by BC Parks unless you have the proper training and equipment. The fragile rock often breaks under the pressure of rock climbers making it difficult to climb and even harder to descend from the summit. Once you’ve reached the plateau and soaked in the view, be sure to leave enough time for the descent. You can choose to stop at Garibaldi Lake on the way back if you missed it on your hike in.
Just a friendly reminder, these trails are long and high in elevation. Always come prepared and bring extra layers. Even in the summer heat, the gain in elevation makes it cold at the top. If you have any further questions regarding trail safety reach out to one of Garibaldi’s Park Ambassadors. This year all visitors to Garibaldi Park require a day pass so be sure to purchase one in advance before you head out on your trek.
If you are looking for ways to get there, try ParkBus which includes day passes to the park and transportation from Vancouver.