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.

  • Huge alpine lake in a pristine forest
  • Extraordinary, turquoise coloured water
  • Campsites are well laid out next to the shore
  • Great for swimming, but very cold
  • Huge glacier is visible across the lake
  • Black Tusk, Panorama Ridge & Taylor Meadows nearby
  • Some find the first 6 kilometres exhausting
  • Campsites are crowded together & often full

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, 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 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

Garibaldi Lake is a moderately challenging hiking trailThe 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.

Campsite Details for Garibaldi LakeThere 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..

Garibaldi Lake Hiking Trail MapIn 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! 

Garibaldi Lake Trail Map

Garibaldi Lake sits at the heart of the enormous Garibaldi Provincial Park. Trails head in all directions, and all of them to breathtaking destinations. Black Tusk is a starkly black, extinct volcano core that is crumbling slowly. It is, as its name suggests, looks like a black tusk coming out of the earth. It looks impossible to climb from a distance, yet is actually possible to summit without technical skill. The final small chute is quite challenging, and if you have a fear of heights, looking down from it may freak you out. Panorama Ridge is another great destination beyond Garibaldi Lake. This is the source of all the stunning images you will find on the internet, showing the impossibly blue Garibaldi Lake. If you are more adventurous, you will find a route from the Garibaldi Lake campground to Price Mountain. A bit more challenging than the other, well laid out and travelled trails in the park.

Camping at Garibaldi Lake

Campsite Details for Garibaldi LakeGaribaldi Lake campsites: The most busy camping option in the area is at Garibaldi Lake with 50 campsites with full service (water, security, etc) and fees (May 1 - Nov 15).  The campsites are well laid out and disappear into the forest.  All are steps from the amazing Garibaldi Lake with great, though very cold swimming.  There is good fishing here for rainbow trout, which were introduced back in the 1920's. Taylor Meadows campsites: gets very busy at times as well with 40 campsites with full service (water, security, etc) and fees (May 1 - Nov 15).  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.  The Helm Creek camping area is smaller than the Garibaldi Lake and Taylor Meadows camping areas at just 9 tent platforms, however it is in a beautiful setting on the quiet side of Black Tusk, though 1.5 hours away from the approaches to Black Tusk.  Helm Creek is another beautiful campground.  Most of the 9 campsites are next to the beautiful Helm Creek.  The main draw of this campsite is that it is on the quieter side of this area and can be approached from Cheakamus Lake.  The trails through Garibaldi Park are in such a vast area that suitable places far into the wilderness away from anyone, to put up a tent are limitless.  People bivy on top of Black Tusk, put up a tent on the far slopes of Panorama Ridge, or tent in any number of other places.  Being located in British Columbia means that you are never far from a creek, river or lake wherever you hike in Garibaldi Park.

Facilities at Garibaldi Lake

There 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 and Concerns at Garibaldi Lake

No Campfires AllowedNo Motorized VehiclesDogs 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 5k roundtrip and takes you into a thousand year old forest.  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, 2k (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 in Garibaldi Provincial Park - Garibaldi Lake

WildlifeGaribaldi 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, Blackcomb or Wedgemount Lake in the summer will almost guarantee an encounter with a chubby, jolly little whistler marmot.

Parking & Trailhead Directions to Garibaldi Lake

Parking for 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, south of 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, drive south from Whistler Village(zero your odometre at Village Gate Boulevard) on Hwy 99.  At 25 kilometres look for the Black Tusk(Garibaldi) sign on the highway indicating you to turn left.  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 or Walking Directions to Garibaldi Lake

Biking to one of the Black Tusk 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 Directions to Garibaldi Lake

Public Transit to TrailheadCan 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 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.

More Great Hiking Trails Near Garibaldi Lake

Black Tusk is the extraordinarily iconic and appropriately named mountain that can be seen from almost everywhere in Whistler.  The massive black spire of crumbling rock juts out of the earth in an incredibly distinct way that appears like an enormous black tusk plunging out of the ground.  Whether you spot it in the distance from the top of Whistler Mountain or from dozens of vantage points along the Sea to Sky Highway, its unmistakable appearance is breathtaking.  Whether you see it from the highway or from closer vantage points such as Taylor Meadows, Helm Creek, Panorama Ridge or Garibaldi Lake, all views make climbing to the top look impossible.  In fact, Black Tusk seems to look more impossible to climb the closer you get to it.  Even when you are close enough to touch its vertical, black and crumbling sides, you wonder in amazement how anyone can ever reach the top. Panorama Ridge is easily one of the most amazing hikes in Garibaldi 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.  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.  Taylor Meadows is a beautiful campsite and alternative to the much busier Garibaldi Lake campsite. Located in between Garibaldi Lake and Black Tusk itself. It is reached from the same trailhead to Garibaldi Lake.  There are 40 very nice tent platforms, toilets, a good water source and a food cache,  all in the lush forest of Taylor Meadows with the distant view of Black Tusk.  The hike is a relaxing 7.5k through a deep, big tree forest.  The first half is a series of switchbacks and then the thick forest gives way to Taylor Meadows.  The grassy meadows open up the view of snowy mountains and the spectacular Black Tusk just a couple kilometres away.  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 it descends further along the Helm Creek Trail, until it joins the 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. Amazing 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.

We Rent the Best Hiking Gear at Bargain Prices!

Rent Hiking Gear in WhistlerBuying hiking gear is expensive and confusing. Let us take the time and trouble out of getting hiking gear for you. We have the best quality and highest rated hiking gear on the market, and bring it to you at bargain prices. We rent individual items or complete hiking and camping kits. Our complete kits for one or two people consist of everything you need to hike in Whistler except clothes, food and water! Reserve today and hike into paradise! Whether you are short one backpack for your group or need to fully equip everyone, we have you covered. We rent all the best, highest rated hiking gear you will need to enjoy hiking in and around Whistler and Garibaldi Provincial Park. We are proud to offer the best gear at the best prices. Fully equip yourself with backpack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, sleeping pillow, complete cooking stove system(stove, fuel, pot, cup, fork, spoon and coffee press), first aid kit, camp towel, knife and trekking poles. All you have to bring is food, water and clothes! We put all the fun back into hiking and remove the boring and expensive parts. We will deliver your full set of hiking gear, packed and ready to hike. You then hit the trail into paradise for a night.. or two.. or more, call us when you get home and we will pick up everything. You don't have to worry about figuring out what to pack or buying expensive equipment. We bring the best to you and at bargain prices. Why? Because we love Whistler, love hiking, love camping and we are passionate about hiking in Whistler. We will do everything in our power to make you have the most amazing hiking and camping trip of your life. And it starts with getting you the best gear, prepacked and delivered to you, without you having to spend a fortune buying gear. You can rent individual items or entire hiking/camping kits. Whatever your need, we have what you need to get you on the trail! Have a look at what we have to rent here!Next Hiking Trail - Whistler Gear Rent

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