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Garibaldi 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 undisturbed mountain lake. There are no trails around the perimeter of the lake with the exception of the small section leading to the campsite, so your view of the lake is a sea of unnaturally coloured water ringed by swaths of forest and a magnificent glacier towering in the distance. The water is painfully cold, though plenty of brave hikers swim here as well as camp.
The camping area 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 9k, 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.
There is no charge for parking at the trailhead or for hiking. There is a charge for camping however. $10/per person. Camping season is May 1 - November 15. Outside of this time there is considerable snow, however no camping fees. The best time to hike is July to October as there is still a fair amount of snow on the trail until late June. As noted above, as of June 22nd 2016 reservations are required for camping at Garibaldi Lake campground and Taylor Meadows campground from June 29th-September 30th, 2016. 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 was reasonably easy to hike through the quickly melting and tracked out snow in late May. The main concerns are the shoe soaking sections of knee deep snow and the possibility of losing the snow covered trail and getting lost. The tracked out route keeps it relatively easy to follow, however for some this already exhausting trail, may become frustratingly painful to hike, and potentially dangerous. It is surprisingly easy to absentmindedly set out on a trail like this without adequate clothing and decent pre-planning. You can quickly find yourself soaked with sweat, drenched socks and find yourself approaching hypothermia. It is doubtful that any week of the year passes without hiking, skiing or snowshoeing occurring in this part of Garibaldi Provincial Park. And owing to the large numbers of visitors a few unprepared hikers are often seen. Best to assume it will be very cold near the end of the trail and being dry and warm makes a world of difference!