Helm Creek in Garibaldi Provincial Park
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 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.
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 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.as a campground is that it is quiet and serene when compared with the other two area campgrounds.
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.
Another 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 Lake Trailhead - Directions
The Helm Creek trailhead is the same as the . 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 1.5km 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.
More Campsites in Garibaldi Provincial Park
Garibaldi 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 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.
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 campground 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.
More Hikes Near Helm Creek in Garibaldi Park
Garibaldi Lake is the centre and base for much of the hiking in . 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.
In the distance, where Garibaldi Lake ends, a massive glacier rises out of the blue and jagged crevasses can be seen even from such a great distance. Behind you, Black Tusk lays across the valley. Close to the same elevation as Panorama Ridge, you get this wonderful view of it. Certainly the best and closest viewpoint to this iconic mountain. Cheakamus Lake is a wonderfully relaxing way to get in the wilderness easily and quickly from . The trail begins on the far side of Whistler Mountain, 8 kilometres from the Sea to Sky Highway at Cheakamus Crossing across from Function Junction. This 8 kilometre stretch of logging road is fairly bumpy and potholed, but does have the benefit of allowing you to drive the elevation gain instead of hiking it. The 7 kilometre hiking trail to the lake is has very little elevation gain as the trail winds through the beautiful forest. The trail to Cheakamus Lake takes you through an amazing forest of giant cedars that fill the forest with their amazing aroma. This forest is so packed with ancient giants that year to year the trail is adjusted by a monster of a tree fallen across the trail during some winter storm. Sometimes the trail bends around these behemoths, but more often they are laboriously chainsawed by BC Parks staff. The more enormous of these remain as fixtures of the trail. Either edging the trail or as a mighty obstacle to climb over.