Nineteen kilometers south of Whistler and 37 kilometers north of Squamish, you will come across Garibaldi Lake.
The lake is located inside the Garibaldi Provincial Park and is a turquoise-coloured body of water.
The lake lies nestled among the mountains and is one of the most beautiful offerings of nature that people can see in the province of British Columbia.
The Garibaldi Lake is at 1,500 meters (4,900 ft) and has a depth of more than 250 meters (800 feet).
A nice detail about the lake and its surroundings is that it lies among mountains and volcanoes. This makes for some of the province’s most scenic hiking trails and camping sites.
And that is exactly what we will be looking at in this post as we address all the things you need to know about hiking and camping in the Garibaldi Provincial Park, around the lake.
Garibaldi Lake: Exciting Ways to Hike and Camp
Here are a few exciting and spine thrilling ways to trek towards Garibaldi lake.
1. Hiking Trails in Garibaldi Park
Garibaldi Provincial Park is almost a hundred years old. It was established in March of 1927 and named after the highest mountain within the park’s borders, Mount Garibaldi.
The park is located about 70 kilometers from the prominent city of Vancouver, in the heart of the Coast Mountains.
There is an endless supply of hiking trails and exploring places around the lake. Let’s look at all the hiking trails you can choose to conquer when you’re at the park.
2. Garibaldi Lake Trail
The Garibaldi Trail takes about five hours to complete. The trail’s total length is 18 kilometers (11.2 miles) when it is hiked as a round trip.
One can choose to hike the Garibaldi Lake Trail in two different ways. While some choose to hike the Garibaldi Trail as a full one-day hike, others choose to camp at Garibaldi Lake or the Taylor Meadows Campgrounds, which we will address later.
The trail leads the hikers to the shores of Garibaldi Lake. The elevation gain from sea level is about 820 meters (2690 feet). It starts at the Rubble Creek Parking Lot and is a relatively easy and steady hike for the first seven kilometers.
On the hike from the parking lot to the lake, you will encounter Barrier Lake and the lesser Garibaldi Lake.
Three junctions will lead you to the turquoise waters of the lake in the mountains, the last one on a hill a few ways away from shore.
The best time to hike the Garibaldi Lake Trail is during the summer months of July through August. The wildflowers are in bloom during this time and add to the overall beauty of the area around the lake.
The trail along the lesser Garibaldi Lake and the Barrier Lake serves as a two-way stretch, as you can use it to get back to the parking lot from the shore of the lake itself.
3. Panorama Ridge Trail
As the name suggests, the Panoramic Ridge Trail ends in a stunning panoramic view of Garibaldi Lake and its surrounding mountains.
However, this is one of the more challenging trails in the area and is recommended for the more experienced hikers. The trail length varies depending on how you go about it.
There are three ways that you can go about hiking this trail. The first is from the Rubble Creek Parking lot, the most challenging way to go about the hike.
It will take about 11 hours to complete the 29-kilometre-long hike from the parking lot at a gentleman’s pace.
The other two ways to hike the Panorama Trail are from the Taylor Meadows and the Garibaldi Lake Campground, which is about 10 kilometers long.
4. Black Tusk Trail
The Black Tusk is a volcano built out of the cooled lava flow layers, giving it a dark appearance. While it hasn’t erupted for a long time, the Black Tusk has been dubbed a prime example of volcanic rocks in Canada.
A towering 2,319 m (7,608 ft) can be seen from a great distance in all directions. One of the best places to see it from afar is from the sea to sky highway.
The trail that most hikers follow leads them to the base of the Tusk. One may choose to climb the mountain, but it is extremely important to be aware of the danger of doing so due to the very steep nature of the slope.
Due to the extremely difficult nature of the slope, it is rarely scaled.
Although the start of the journey presents a fair amount of vegetation to the hikers, once hikers enter the alpine region, the land beneath their feet becomes almost entirely composed of hard rocks.
Remember that this is the most difficult hiking trail in the region and should only be traversed by the more experienced hikers.
5. Helm Creek Trail
This 20-kilometre-long hike starts from the Cheakamus Lake parking lot. Once you’re at that spot, you will encounter a very difficult, steep hike that will test your fitness.
Also, among the more challenging hikes in the region, it gets difficult once you reach the bridge over the Cheakamus River.
The strenuous hike does come with a rewarding experience. The reward is the beautiful scenery you will find yourself in when hiking along the Helm Creek Trail.
There are multiple ways of going about the hike. Some even choose to spend the night at the Helm Creek Campgrounds and then take a detour to the Panorama Ridge Trail to elevate the backdrop that they find themselves in.
6. Elfin Lakes Trail
The Elfin Lakes are a few small lakes within the Garibaldi Provincial Park. The hike to the lakes is among the most frequently visited trails due to the amazing sights the tourists see along the way.
The 22-kilometre-long trail takes about 4 hours to complete. Once you’re done with the hike, you’re allowed to swim in the upper lake.
The lower lake does not allow people to swim, and that is because it is reserved for occupying drinking water. Hence, it is almost illegal to pollute the lower lake.
7. Wedgemount Lake Trail
This 12.6-kilometre-long hike is right up there with the most difficult hiking trails around Garibaldi Lake. Once again, the difficulty is rewarded by the amazing natural beauty you will find all around you.
You will come across a pleasant waterfall while hiking along the trail.
Much like Garibaldi Lake, Wedgemount Lake is another water body in the area that boasts beautiful turquoise-coloured waters. It is situated below Wedge Mountain and is best visited from June through October.
8. Campgrounds around Garibaldi Lake
Camping at Garibaldi Lake is an amazing experience. It offers tourists and locals the chance to have a complete experience of the environment around the lake.
Some multiple campgrounds and shelters are intended for this very purpose. Some have reservations, while a lot of others don’t.
Let’s look at some of the best campgrounds in the Garibaldi Lake area, shelters, and other prominent places that offer lodging facilities to those who visit the area.
9. Garibaldi Lake Campground
The Garibaldi Lake Campground is the most popular campsite in the area due to its closeness to the lake’s waters.
Though the campsite is open throughout the year, it is particularly crowded during the summer, when the tourist season is at its peak.
There are about 50 different spots to camp at the Garibaldi Lake Campground. There is a hut in the campground where the campers can have a meal, but sleeping at the hut is not allowed.
The campground is equipped with pit toilets for the ease of accommodation of the campers as well.
Camping here can be a tad bit risky if you need to get in contact with society. This is because there is no cell reception at the campground.
Also, the campers must bring their drinking water or arrange for amenities to boil the water from glaciers or the lake itself.
While you’re there, you might also try fishing at Garibaldi Lake. The authorities allow people to fish for Cutthroat or Rainbow Trout in the lake’s turquoise waters.
The only pre-requisite is that you have a fishing license in the province of British Columbia.
10. Taylor Meadows Campsite
Tourists quickly reserve the Garibaldi Lake Campground during summer, so Taylor Meadows Campsite represents a brilliant alternative.
Although it is not as popular as the campground, which shares its name with the lake, the Taylor Meadows Campsite can also be filled very quickly, so be sure to make haste when you’re about to book a spot to spend the night at the Garibaldi Provincial Park.
The Taylor Meadows Campsite has about 40 camping spots and is equipped with pit toilets and a hut for storing food and dining, much like the Garibaldi Lake Campground.
Sleeping in the hut is not permitted here, as people are restricted from spending the night in the camping spots they booked.
To get to Taylor Meadows, you should take the 7.5-kilometre-long trail Taylor Meadows. Along the 6-kilometre mark, you’ll come across a junction from where you want to take a left turn to reach the campsite.
The same precautions and points to note apply to the Garibaldi Lake Campground.
11. Helm Creek Campsite
The Helm Creek Campsite is the least frequented and the campsite with the least capacity among the three we’ve discussed. There are only nine different spots for campers to spend the night.
The Helm Creek Campsite can be seen as a hidden treasure of sorts. The scenery around the Helm Creek Campsite is what makes it so special.
Spending the night at the Helm Creek campsite can offer you the chance to plan a hike to the amazing Panorama Ridge Trail the next morning or choose to hike the trail that leads to the foot of the Black Tusk volcano.
The nine tent platforms are equipped with pit toilets, much like the last campsites we mentioned, and the difference lies in the absence of a hut for storing food and dining.
Instead, there are amenities for hanging the food that campers bring. The same precautions and points apply to the two campsites mentioned above.
12. Elfin Lake Shelter
Located around the Elfin Lakes, the shelter is open for reservations throughout the year. The Elfin Lakes Shelter is the most popular hut you will come across in the region.
The shelter houses around 33 people at a time and is provided with propane for burners by BC Parks, the governing body of the Garibaldi Provincial Park.
The Elfin Lakes Shelter can also be used to stop hiking in the mountains.
13. Russet Lake Hut
Also known as the Himmelsbach hut, the Russet Lake Hut is owned and operated by BC Parks on a first-come-first-served basis.
It houses up to six people and is also equipped with a toilet. The Russet Lake Hut is on numbered days, as there are plans for the Himmelsbach hut to be replaced by the Spearhead Huts Project.
14. Burton Hut
Burton Hut is the oldest Varsity Outdoor Club hut in existence. It is located close to the Sphinx Glacier and is also known as the Sphinx Hut.
The hut sleeps 15 and is equipped with most of the basic facilities. Since the VOC operates the club, priority is given to club trips over the general audience.
The exact location of the hut is just beyond Moraine Wall in Sphinx Bay.
A Garibaldi Lake hiking trip should be on every person’s bucket list. The sort of natural beauty that you come across is highly comparable to Alberta’s Lake Louise, and you must visit both if you ever get the chance to do so.