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 LakeThe 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. A large, grassy field ringed by trees and Helm Creek.

  • Far less busy than Garibaldi Lake campsites
  • Very serene setting next to idyllic creek
  • Great way to escape the crowds
  • Endless unmarked routes to amazing sights
  • Connects to Black Tusk via gorgeous ridge route
  • Spread out and serene campsite setting
  • Fills up fast with just a few tent pads

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.

Helm Creek Hiking Trail MapAnother popular, yet unmarked destination from Helm Creek is Helm Glacier.  Though unmarked, it is very easy to find on the trail from Helm Creek that leads to Black Tusk, Panorama Ridge and Garibaldi Lake. Just keep your eyes out for the fantastic erratic(see a picture of the erratic here), with the tree growing out of it along the trail.  It is obvious when you spot it(about 20 minutes from the Helm Creek campground).  At this marvellous display of glacier power and a hardy krummholz breaking apart this huge glacier deposited boulder, turn left and walk up the open valley and you will arrive at the amazing Helm Glacier in just 45 minutes.  In the opposite direction from Helm Creek from where you just came the sign shows Cheakamus Lake to be 8.5 kilometres away and the Cheakamus Lake trailhead and parking lot to be 8.5 kilometres away.  This trail slowly descends the valley for a couple kilometres before more steeply zig-zagging down to the Cheakamus River crossing.

Helm Creek via Cheakamus Trailhead

The Helm Creek trailhead is the same as the Cheakamus Lake trailhead.  From Village Gate Boulevard, drive south, toward Vancouver for 8km. At the lights at Function Junction, turn left, about 300 metres ahead you will see a sign on your left for Cheakamus Lake.  Follow the unpaved road for 8km to the Cheakamus Lake trailhead.  Walk the Cheakamus Lake trail for 1.5 kilometres until you see the signpost directing you to turn right to Helm Creek. You will cross the raging Cheakamus River over a suspension bridge, then up steep switchbacks, then a somewhat steep trail through the beautiful forest.  It takes about 2-3 hours from the trailhead to Helm Creek. Most years you will likely need snowshoes at higher elevations from this direction until the end of June(mid May in 2015). This trail remains quite muddy as well much of early July(early June in 2015).  Not muddy enough to require waterproof hiking shoes, but muddy enough to necessitate clinging to the trail edges in quite a few places along the trail.

Helm Creek & Black Tusk Trail Map

Black Tusk Trail MapThe above map shows the excellent Cheakamus Lake approach to Helm Creek. The most direct route and a constant ascent after you cross Cheakamus River. The Cheakamus Lake trailhead is much quieter than the easier to access and closer to Vancouver, Rubble Creek trailhead. Even on very busy weekends, the winding Cheakamus Lake trail feels uncrowded. Some hikers branch off toward Helm Creek, but most hike straight to Cheakamus Lake's first campsites and nice views. Another hours hike will bring you to the end of the marked trail and campsites at Singing Creek. Far fewer people make it this far, and fewer still continue on the unmarked route that continues to the end of the lake. Helm Creek is a great base for Panorama Ridge and Black Tusk. There is even a strikingly beautiful approach to Black Tusk that is not too hard to find or follow. From Helm Creek if you turn right just before Helm Lake, cross the shallow creek, and ascend up the ridge in a fairly straight direction. See the Black Tusk map here.

Helm Creek Campsite

Helm Creek CampingThe Helm Creek campsite is smaller than the others at 9 tent platforms, however it is in a beautiful setting on the quiet side of Black Tusk, though still 1.5 hours of hiking to get to the approach to Black Tusk.  Helm Creek is another beautiful campground.  Most of the 9 tent platforms are next to the cute, small and rushing, 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.

Helm Creek CampingGaribaldi Lake campsite: 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 werex introduced back in the 1920's.  Of the three campsites mentioned here, Garibaldi Lake is by far the busiest, however it is also arguably the prettiest.

Helm Creek CampingTaylor 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 Helm Creek

There are outhouses(toilets) at various places in Garibaldi Park along the trail to Black Tusk.  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, 3.5k 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.

Restrictions in Garibaldi Provincial Park - Helm Creek

No Campfires AllowedNo Motorized VehiclesNo Bikes AllowedNot Dog FriendlyBikes are not allowed in much of Garibaldi Park, including the routes to Helm Creek. 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 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 - Helm Creek

WildlifeHelm Creek 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.

Biking or Walking Directions to Helm Creek

Biking to the Cheakamus Lake trailhead 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 Helm Creek and beyond. 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 Helm Creek

Public Transit to TrailheadCan you get to the Rubble Creek 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 pretty good 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 Around Helm Creek

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. 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.  Panorama 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.  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 Provincial 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.

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 backpacks, tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, sleeping pillows, complete cooking stove systems(stove, fuel, pot, cup, fork, spoon and coffee press), first aid kits, camp towels, 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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