June - Best Hiking and Camping in and Around Garibaldi Park and Whistler
Average low and high valley temps in Whistler in June range from 9c to 21c (48f/70f)
June in Whistler is the first month of the year where you feel proper summer weather, and much like May, Whistler hiking trails are almost completely empty. This is of course due largely to the deep, lingering snow that makes the trails difficult and some requiring snowshoes to access. All the lower elevation hikes will be free of snow such as Cheakamus Lake, Ancient Cedars, Alexander Falls, Brandywine Falls, Nairn Falls, Train Wreck and much of the trails to Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake.
The hike to Russet Lake via Singing Pass is a good option in June. The trail is not too steep, though long. The trailhead is just a few hundred metres from the Whistler Gondola and runs in between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains on the Whistler side. After 3k you walk directly under the Peak to Peak gondola, as it passes far overhead. The trail continues steadily uphill through the deep forest, though very well marked trail which is used continuously in the winter by skiers doing the Spearhead Traverse. Snow will be encountered in June around half way up the trail so having snowshoes might be handy to avoid post holing at times. At 11k you reach the junction where you can turn right to hike Musical Bumps on Whistler (another 4k to the amazing summit), or turn left and reach Russet Lake and the beautiful little hut there (another 3k).
You could easily argue that late June is the best time of year to hike in Whistler. No crowds, not that there really ever is in Whistler, with the exception of the Garibaldi Lake area in the summer and on other Whistler trails the odd weekends.
In June there are no bugs. An extraordinarily wonderful thing, as you will appreciate if you can contrast the lack of bugs in June with the swarms of flies and mosquitoes you can encounter in July and August. Not that the Whistler area trails are notorious for bugs. But once you hike in June and suddenly realize you've not seen one single irritating insect. Hiking in July and August take on a previously unnoticed annoyance with bugs.
The third great reason June is great for hiking is the occasion to camp on snow, and yet not feel cold. As the snow in many places you will find to camp would have reached 5 metres deep in the winter, it takes considerable days of hot weather to melt it by July, so in late June you may still be putting up your tent on snow, though be hot enough to walk around shirtless and shoeless. What a great time of year to be outside in Whistler.
The difficult answer is when the snow is gone enough to hike comfortably without snowshoes in Whistler. The simple answer is usually late June, but in 2011 that date was well into July due to the extraordinarily late accumulation of snow. The BC Parks website has fantastic and frequent trail updates with regards to snow levels.
So for June, if you are motivated enough for a little extra exertion hiking in the snow, you will be rewarded with an unforgettable hiking experience. Helm Creek, Panorama Ridge, Black Tusk, Wedge Mountain are examples of these incredible places to try in June.
Joffre Lakes is one of the best hikes in June as it's reliably free of snow, usually. The snow disappears faster from the trail there, and what snow remains is consistently packed down by skiers, snowshoers and hikers. To hike Joffre Lakes in June you just need good warm clothes, good waterproof shoes for the mud and snow patches and the foresight or luck to go on a sunny day. The lake is amazing in good weather so try your best to go on nice days.
The various hot springs around Whistler are great in June as the roads are all free of snow leading to them. Skookumchuck Hot Springs and Sloquet Hot Springs can be done on one trip as they are on the same road (2hrs for Skookumchuck and 3hrs for Sloquet from Whistler). Both have excellent campsites. Meager Creek Hot Springs is still technically closed due to the massive slide in 2010 but can be accessed by the adventurous by wading through the river. Keyhole Hot Springs is also for the adventurous as it's tricky to get to, but well worth the 1.5-2 hour drive from Whistler.
Lots of snow at Garibaldi Lake in June make it an amazing and tough hike
Garibaldi Lake is the centre and base for much of the hiking in Garibaldi 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 for there are nice and clear signs and sometimes maps, showing where and how far everything is. Beyond Taylor Meadow and Garibaldi Lake is the amazing Black Tusk. Black Tusk, Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake can be done in one long 30k 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 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 early July. The trail is popular however, so even with deep snow the trail will likely be well tracked out by skis and easy to follow. It is doubtful that any week of the year passes without hiking, skiing or snowshoeing occurring on the Garibaldi Lake trail.
Why should you hike to Garibaldi Lake?
Garibaldi Lake is amazingly beautiful with its huge size and unbelievable colour. The trails are beautiful and well signed and laid out in the well organized Garibaldi Park. The trails are relatively easy and there is quite a lot to see. Black Tusk, Taylor Meadows and Panorama Ridge are all withing hiking distance and some of the most amazing hikes around.
Cheakamus Lake in Garibaldi Park is a beautiful campsite and trail in June
Cheakamus Lake is an easy, relaxing hike in Garibaldi Park just a short, 16k drive from Whistler Village. The trail to the lake is in an amazing forest of giant cedars. Running along the beautiful Cheakamus River the hike is short and easy. The trail runs along the lake, passing some small, wonderful campsites, and very small beaches. The first 3k of the trail takes you along the beautiful Cheakamus River to the start of Cheakamus Lake and the first campsite area. There are 10 very nice and hidden tent pads on or near the lake shore. There is excellent water from several creeks in the area and a bear proof food hang as well as tidy outhouses here. Another 3k further on the trail takes you to some beautiful viewpoints on the ever increasingly majestic Cheakamus Lake trail. Huge trees, turquoise lake, snow capped mountains, and even the occasional bear siting make this hike one of Whistler's best and most family and kid friendly hikes around. The trail is never strenuous and constantly beautiful with the wonderful smells that come with an old growth cedar forest. The campsite at 6k on the Cheakamus Lake trail consists of another 7 tent sites beautifully blended into the surroundings, another bear proof food hang and outhouse. There are dozens of cute little beaches all along the trail which invite swimming in the crystal clear, though bitterly cold water. Cheakamus Lake has always been known for its good fishing so bring your rod and sit back in the sun. Which you will see a lot of. The entire trail and mini beaches are south facing and capture the sun the entire day. The road to Cheakamus Lake is covered in snow until about mid May every year, but from May to October it is clear enough to drive. There is no charge to park at the parking lot/trailhead, though there is a charge for overnight camping. $10/adults, $5/kid. Take a look at the BC Parks site for info on paying or just pay by cash at the drop box at the trailhead.
Why should you hike Cheakamus Lake?
Beautiful, huge tree forest, easy kid friendly trail, pristine Garibaldi Park wilderness and a spectacular and huge lake. Excellent campsites and numerous hidden beaches and wonderful, though very cold, swimming. Known for great fishing.
Nairn Falls Provincial Park has amazing campsite and trails
Nairn Falls is a wonderful, crashing and chaotic waterfall that surrounds you from the deluxe viewing platform that allows you to safely watch it from above. The beautiful, green water rushes through the deep and angular channels of rock. Though the BC Parks website describes Nairn Falls as 60 metres high, the description is misleading. The falls crash through various narrow and wide areas, and though the cumulative drop is 60 metres, what you see is a series of 10 to 20 metre falls. There are a nicely constructed railing, fence and viewing area and walkway that guides you to the best views. With such abruptly steep rock all around, the area would be potentially dangerous. Evidently there have been deaths here before. A cross, reverently placed across the chasm from the viewing platform, indicates of some tragic event. Nairn Falls Provincial Park is located just a short 20 minute drive north of Whistler. From the large parking lot the well marked trail runs along the Green River for 1.2k to Nairn Falls. The trail is very easy and is hike-able year-round. Though considerable snow falls in the winter months here, the trail remains passable. There is quite a large and beautiful campground at Nairn Falls as well. Located right next to the parking lot there are 94 vehicle accessed campsites that disappear into the forest adjacent to the Green River. The campground is open May 11 - September 30. The other months the entry gate is locked to the park and a small, highway-side parking area is used to access the park. The charge for camping is $18 per party, per night, during the months the campground is open. Outside of that window there is obviously no charge and you won't be prohibited from camping during the off season. From the parking lot, a hiking trail also goes along the Green River in the opposite direction to Nairn Falls. This 2k trail takes you to One Mile Lake excellent for swimming. Dogs are welcome at Nairn Falls Provincial Park, however bikes are not. There is a hand operated water pump, picnic tables and pit toilets. There is no charge for entry to the park or for parking. The only fees in the park are for overnight camping.
Why should you hike to Nairn Falls?
Nairn Falls is a short and easy, family friendly hike to a very impressive waterfall. Perfect for an afternoon drive/hike/picnic from Whistler. A relaxing and family friendly hike.
Lots of snow makes the Wedgemount Lake hike brutal and amazing in June
Wedgemount Lake is a steep and difficult hike in the summer when there is no snow. It doesn't require technical skill, but it is just exhausting. You gain 1220 metres of elevation in just 7 kilometres and hiking with a backpack takes about 2.5 hours to reach the lake. In the winter, on snowshoes, the Wedgemount Lake trail is considerably harder. First, the obscured trail is hard to follow, despite the frequent trail markers. Second, on snowshoes, each step on steep ground is one step forward, half a step backward. You plod on slowly and with each step slipping back part way. If you can get past the difficulty of the exhausting winter trek to Wedgemount Lake you will reach an amazing paradise in the mountains. The Wedgemount Lake Hut is an extraordinary oasis of warmth in the middle of the beautiful Wedgemount Lake Valley. Anyone can use the hut, anytime. It can sleep up to 8 reasonably comfortably and consists of two large tables on the lower level and a small loft that can fit four people. Sporadically used by skiers in the winter, though rarely used by snowshoers due to the difficulty of the trail in the winter. If you do make it up to Wedgemount Lake you will be rewarded with a phenomenally beautiful, snow filled mountain paradise of a valley. The Wedgemount Lake trail is deep with snow from late December to late June most years. If you snowshoe it November to mid December or mid June to early July, you will only need your snowshoes partway up the trail. Depending on conditions and traffic on the trail, you may get lucky and be able to follow previous tracks in the snow, however this is not reliable. The final kilometre before Wedgemount Lake between the months of November and late June is almost always deep with snow. This part is very steep and even on snowshoes painfully difficult, so consider that if you plan to go. Also, losing the trail is always a consideration worth worrying about and having a GPS with you is a very good idea. At a good pace, when the trail has snow top to bottom, expect to take over four hours from your car to the hut. Some take as long as 6 hours. You have to add an extra kilometre or two in the winter as well due to having to park far below the usual trailhead parking as it is inaccessible due to snow December to May.
Why should you snowshoe to Wedgemount Lake?
The sense of achievement in tackling such a strenuous and difficult trail is amazing. Having the whole Wedgemount Lake valley to yourself is an extraordinary experience. The Wedgemount Lake Hut in winter is a wonderful luxury in such a hostile place. Walking out to the middle of the frozen lake and looking up at the amazingly bright stars is wonderfully surreal.