Almost entirely surrounded by ex-volcanic peaks, fed by the Sphinx and Sentinel glaciers, Garibaldi Lake, the turquoise heart of Garibaldi Provincial Park beats 1500m above sea level. Anyone with Instagram or a good old hiking book has seen pictures of this alpine heaven.
I know, these photos probably look amazing. But trust me, they can’t contest experiencing the park for yourself.
Views this amazing usually don’t come easy, or don’t come free. However, getting up to Garibaldi Lake couldn’t be easier. It’s located 37km North of Squamish and 19km South of Whistler.
The unimaginably beautiful views from Panorama Ridge make it the crowd favourite among hikers in Garibaldi Lake Park. For lake and glacier lovers, you really cannot get a better view then this. Panorama ridge is the go-to spot for that epic Instagram shot or the perfect summit lunch. The Panorama Ridge trail itself is a beautiful experience, weaving through pristine meadows, tucked between mountains filled with smaller alpine lakes and ponds.
This hiking guide will provide you with all the information you need to day hike from Rubble Creek to Panorama Ridge.
Remember the Backcountry Basics
- Carry your Survival Kit & Essentials
- Let someone know where you’re going with a Trip Plan
- Know how to avoid negative wildlife encounters
- Practice Leave No Trace to keep the wilderness pristine
- Carry a Satellite Communicator like SPOT X
|Distance (Round Trip)||30km|
|Time (Round Trip)||8-12 hours|
|Camping||Yes (Reservation Required)|
The Garibaldi Lake trail begins at the Rubble Creek Trailhead.
From Squamish, drive North on the Sea to Sky highway (BC-99 N) for 36.4km or 30 minutes and take a left onto Daisy Lake road. Continue up Daisy Lake road for 2.7km to the trailhead.
From Whistler, Drive South on the Sea to Sky Highway (BC-99 S) for 28km or 24 minutes and take a right onto Daisy Lake road. Continue up Daisy Lake road for 2.7km to the trailhead.
Note: Due to the Day Pass/Reservation requirement there is a park ranger stationed on Daisy Lake Road near the parking lot. In peak hours, around 8-10am (when everyone wants to start hiking) there will likely be a long line of cars stretching down the road waiting for the Ranger to check your permit. We sat in this line for about 30 minutes on our recent trip, so keep this in mind when timing your day.
Day Use Pass/Reservation System
In light of increasing traffic and popularity of the Garibaldi Lake hike, Parks BC has implemented a day use reservation system (June 23- October 15). Hikers are required to book a free day use pass prior to arriving at the park. The Day-use pass can only be reserved online through the BC Parks Website and cannot be reserved over the phone. The passes are free and are available to book starting at 7am, one day in advance of your planned visit. Ensure you are on your computer and logged into your BC Parks account when the clock strikes 7am because the competition to get a day pass is fierce.
The hike begins from the trail-map and outhouses at the top section of the Rubble Creek parking lot. The wide gravel trail begins. Get ready for a few sweaty and mundane hours of hiking. The wide gravel trail traverses climbing at a 20% average grade for about 2.3km. At around the 2.3km mark you will see the trail turning left and a small offset of the trail continuing straight to the first viewpoint of ‘The Barrier’. The Barrier is a natural dam that aided in forming Garibaldi lake over 9000 years ago. Lava flows from Mt Price and Clinker peak stopped in the valley creating the 2.1km, 300m thick dam. Over thousands of years the glacial runoff from the neighbouring Sphinx and Sentinel glaciers, and the glacial flour created the beautifully turquoise coloured Garibaldi Lake that we know and love today.
The switchbacks continue through the thick Douglas Fir forest. As you near the 6km mark you will arrive at the junction to Taylor Meadows, a beautiful zone filled with the gorgeous colours of alpine flowers. If you are doing Panorama Ridge as a day trip, follow the Taylor Meadows trail on the way in and the Garibaldi lake trail on the way back. This way, you can see everything!
The creek at the Taylor Meadows campsite is a good spot to filter/refill water if you need to do so. Continue straight for 2km towards the Black Tusk Meadows until you reach the junction with the Panorama Ridge and Black Tusk Trails.
This is a super common spot to encounter bears so keep your eyes peeled. Continue on the Panorama Ridge Trail through the beautiful meadow enjoying some peeks of Garibaldi lake through the trees as you traverse across the hillside.
To the right you will see mimulus lake and will be able to somewhat make out the route up Panorama ridge. A few hundred meters ahead you will encounter Black Tusk lake to the right, and to the left, Helm Lake. You should be beginning to get consistent eyes on that big old black stratovolcano (The Black Tusk) perched above.
Continue straight towards Panorama Ridge as the Helm Creek trail veers off to the left. The walk on the ridge begins. You will gradually gain elevation as the vegetation thins and the soil trail becomes rock. Enjoy the gradual incline and the views before the steep climbing starts.
The trail heads left up the steep rocky mountainside. From this point forward the trail markings are not as obvious as before. There are occasional rock cairns and flashes, but it is easy enough to follow the worn walking paths of previous hikers as you make your way up. It’s a very moderate scramble up the rocks and for many, you won’t even have to use your hands.
Once you begin to see the lake, you’re getting very close. Just push a tad further, the view is so worth it. At the summit you will be welcomed by one of the most exceptional alpine lake views you have ever seen. Garibaldi Lake is larger than life, and the gorgeous glaciers and snow-capped peaks make for the ideal backdrop.
This is a very busy trail so you will likely be sharing the summit with quite a few hikers. Once you get your fair share of photos, I would recommend you continue along the ridge descending slightly and walking a few hundred meters further. People don’t tend to walk any further than the proper summit, but, changing your perspective makes the views even more amazing. This is also the best spot to eat your lunch since you will more or less have it to yourself.
Depending on your itinerary, you can spend a lot of time up there, maybe even bring your stove to cook lunch.
On the return trip follow a similar path down the rocks until you once again meet with the Panorama Ridge Trail. Follow the trail until you reach the junction with the Taylor Meadows trail. Follow the signs pointing left to the Garibaldi Lake Campsite. The trail enters the forest and after 2km you will begin to see Garibaldi Lake to your left. Follow the trail left to the campsite, cross over the small rubble creek bridge, and prepare to have your mind blown. Follow the shoreline of Garibaldi Lake to the right doing your best to keep your boots dry. Loop around to the front of the campsite. From here you will be able to see it all!
Many people tend to congregate near the lake by the day use shelter and outhouses. If you want to feel a little more secluded, do yourself a favour and walk along the shoreline to find a spot to take photographs or sit. There are actually some awesome benches built along the shoreline.
Once you have enjoyed the lake it’s time to head back down the Garibaldi Lake trail to the Rubble Creek trailhead. On the 9km hike back to your car you will pass by Lesser Garibaldi Lake, Barrier Lake, and be sure to take a quick peek at the upper Barrier viewpoint.
Hiking to Panorama Ridge in a day, although long and tiring, is do-able for anyone with a reasonable fitness level. Remember to bring along lots of water, snacks, headlamps, and wear good set of hiking boots.
Garibaldi Provincial Park is teeming with flora and fauna. Common mammals you may encounter are grizzly bears, black bears, mountain goat, deer, marmot, and pika. Loads of birds call the park home including whiskey jacks, ptarmigan, golden eagle, bald eagle and blue jay.
On our last visit we ran into two Grizzly bears, an hour before sunset, munching on berries near the Black Tusk trail. Remember to always carry bear spray, know how to use it, and understand what to do if you encounter a dangerous animal.
Panorama Ridge Trail FAQ
Depending on your speed and hiking abilities the trail could take anywhere from 7-12 hours. Ensure that you give yourself loads of time if you want to make it back to your vehicle in the light. It is always a good idea to carry along a headlamp in case you run out of daylight.
It depends who you ask :).
Both trails are amazing and it depends on your personal preference.
Black Tusk offers the best mountain views, and Panorama ridge offers the best lake view.
The summer season (July-Sep) is the ideal time to hike Panorama ridge because the snow should be at least partially melted allowing you to safely reach the summit.
The Panorama Ridge trail can only be accessed by hiking and begins a few kilometres after Garibaldi Lake.
The trail to Garibaldi lake begins at the Rubble Creek Trailhead, 37km North of Squamish and 19km South of Whistler, BC.
No - Dogs are prohibited in Garibaldi Provincial Park
Yes - Black bear and Grizzly bear encounters are not uncommon along the trail. Remember to bring your bear spray and to give wildlife lots of space!
- A good pair of hiking boots/trail runners
- 3 litres of water + lots of snacks
- Survival Kit/Essentials
Nope. But it used to be the hard lava core of a once powerful stratovolcano that existed over 1 million years ago.
Just be sure to give yourself lots of time.