Garibaldi Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park
is the centre and base for much of the hiking in . The 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, . Past 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 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, 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.
Parking, Hiking & Camping Details 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. The printable topographic map to Garibaldi Lake shown below has driving directions to the Rubble Creek trailhead.
: 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 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 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 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 .: 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 with great, though very cold swimming. There is good fishing here for rainbow trout, which were introduced back in the 1920's.
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 and at 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.
Dogs 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..
Trail Map and Trailhead Directions
Printer, smartphone and tablet friendly. Designed to fit standard printers and copiers. To print: Right click on the map below, save image as, save to desktop, then open the image and print on standard size printer paper. Cell coverage is reliable on all of the trail to Garibaldi Lake so you will be able to access the internet if you have a data plan, however saving this map may be a good idea. From Village Gate Boulevard, drive south, toward Vancouver. The well marked turn off to Black Tusk(Garibaldi) trailhead is 25km south of Whistler on your left. From the trailhead to Garibaldi Lake is 9km of consistently upward trails. As with all Garibaldi Park trails, dogs are not welcome. Neither are bikes (Cheakamus Lake is bike friendly).
More Hiking Trails in Garibaldi Park
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.
A large, grassy field ringed by trees and Helm Creek. 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.