Garibaldi Lake and Black Tusk

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Introduction

Garibaldi Lake is located in the large (and aptly named) Garibaldi Lake park, located about half an hour from Squamish. Both trailheads are easily accessible by car and well marked with ample parking year-round. The Barrier trail hike to the lake makes a good day hike (19km round trip), several good day hikes are available from the lake and meadow sites. There's lots to do; a five or six day trip would be best to see most of the trails around the lake.

Access & Fees

Access is well-marked and quite direct from Highway 99. To access the Barrier trailhead, turn right off the highway past Rubble Creek, just south of the Daisy Lake dam. The park service has a sign to direct you. Follow the road 2km to the parking lot. This road is not plowed in winter, so factor an extra 2km of skiing or snowshoeing each way. For access to Cheakamus Lake, take a right from Highway 99 a few kilometres before Whistler. There's a logging road through an observation forest for a few kilometres before the parking lot. A loop is possible with two vehicles; allow for a minimum of two days. Note that no pay phones are available nearby, so trying to coordinate pickup may be an issue. The Barrier trailhead has a pit toilet.

Fees are paid at the parking lot, $5 a night per person including parking. A day use fee of $3 per person per vehicle applies at the Rubble Creek parking lot.

Sites

The Garibaldi/Black Tusk trail ring has three camping areas. In summer, the pit toilets are usually stocked with toilet paper.

Garibaldi Lake

Mt. Price & Battleship Islands

This is the largest and most well-equipped site on the hike. There are four large cooking shelters with picnic tables, counters, sinks and a line for hanging food bags. These are well maintained, but often busy. Several pit toilets are provided, and a staffed ranger station is a few hundred metres from the camping area. The site is quite large, and finding space is usually not a problem. This site is on the lake, with spectacular views of the Sphinx Glacier across the lake as well as the Black Tusk. Burton Hut is visible across the lake, and the Glaciology huts can be seen with binoculars. This site is probably where you'll want to base your trip. Water is available from the lake, but should be filtered or boiled. Be advised that some campsites are generally snow-covered until early July, BC Parks provides fairly good information on their site on trail conditions.

Taylor Meadows

This site has a single fully-enclosed cooking shelter which can be slept-in in a pinch. There are also picnic tables, food hanging facilities and tent platforms. The area is a mix of wooded areas and meadows. This campsite is more conveniently located than Garibaldi Lake if you plan on ascending the Black Tusk or Panorama Ridge.

Helm Creek

This site is located about halfway between Garibaldi Lake and Cheakamus Lake, in a grassy clearing. There are about half a dozen tent platforms and a pit toilet. A food hanging rig is provided and should be used as bears frequent this area. Drinking water can be drawn from the nearby creek. In early July 2004, mosquitoes were rampant here, bring lots of repellent or plan to arrive late and leave early. Mostly this is a place to stay the night on the way to the Cheakamus trailhead, there's not much of interest nearby.

Hikes & Routes

Hiking at Garibaldi is quite diverse, and many good trails are available. BC Parks maintains a few good trails, and several unofficial trails in various degrees of repair are accessible as well. Garibaldi is a good destination for a weekend or longer hike, with enough to do to keep you busy for five or six days at least. If you're doing a two or three day hike, doing the Barrier trail to the lake and choosing between Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge (or doing both) is a good option. For a longer trip, you may opt to do a loop between the two trailheads, spending a night at Helm Creek on the way. This requires two vehicles.

Barrier Trail

This hike will take you from the Garibaldi Lake trailhead to the lake proper. It's not a difficult hike if you're backpacking, but prepare for 9km of fairly steady climb and switchbacks. No scrambling or steep grades are involved. It can be done (one way) in four or five hours, and makes for a reasonable day hike. Plan on six to seven hours with a few days' of gear and a lunch stop. There is a rest area around 6-7km with benches and (IIRC) a pit toilet. Most of the hiking is through beautiful douglas fir forest, with the last kilometre or two travelling around Barrier Lake and Lesser Garibaldi Lake. Trails are well maintained and quite busy, expect to see a wide range of day hikers and backpackers sharing the trail with you. There's a rock outcropping on the right of the trail about about halfway that makes a good spot to stop for lunch. Birds and rodents readily approach looking for food, and there are some good views to be had.

The Black Tusk

The Black Tusk

This hike begins from either Garibaldi Lake or Taylor Meadows. It's 7km one way from Garibaldi Lake, with approximately 850m of elevation gain, though most of this is concentrated in the first kilometre or two and last 500m of trail. From Garibaldi, head north out of the camp area and stay right to climb some steep switchback up to a meadow. A leisurely hike through some meadows (beautiful wildflowers in late July-August) will take you to the junction with the trail from Taylor and the branch off to Panorama Ridge. There is a map and informative display here. Continue east and stay left along the trail to the base of the tusk. Loose scree abounds here, though in early summer climbing the snow is easier going. This is not difficult, and could not justly be called scrambling, but the rock is quite loose and fairly steep to reach the base of the tusk itself. From the eastern side of the tusk, traverse around to the west side for an easy climb (Class 3) to the top of the tusk. This could be omitted if you're not a climber. Good views of the surrounding landscape and mountains from both the base and top of the tusk. The tusk can get quite windy, be prepared with a good windbreaker and be ready for sudden gusts if climbing. From the west side of the tusk, the microwave tower can be seen clearly.

Panorama Ridge

Garibaldi Lake from Panorama Ridge

Panorama Ridge provides spectacular views of Garibaldi Lake and the surrounding glaciers, as well as the Black Tusk. It's about 7.5km one way from Garibaldi Lake, with an elevation gain of about 650m. The hike is easy, a majority of it is on flatlands and traversing a hill. The trail branches off from the Black Tusk trail near Taylor Meadows, at the map and information display. Simply follow the trail up the ridge. Helm Glacier is accessible from the north side of the ridge, and sledding down it on your rain gear (or garbage bags work even better) is great fun; the hike back to the trail is not difficult or long.

Mount Price

A rough trail continues south and east from the Garibaldi Lake Campground to the base of Mt. Price. The start of the trail can be difficult to follow because there are a number of branches and the terrain is quite rocky. Look for the start of the trail just past the ranger station boat shed at the far end of battleship islands campground. From there, the trial follows the shoreline of the lake briefly and then heads inland. The trail soon gains the top of a long rib that runs toward clinker peak, where the trail ends at the base of a scree slope. Clinker Peak and Mt. Price are easy ascents from here. Mt. Price can be done as a long daytrip from the Rubble Creek parking lot, or as a short trip if camping at Garibaldi Lake.

Helm Creek

This hike will take you from Garibaldi Lake to Helm Creek (or vice-versa) on your way to the other trailhead. It's a fairly flat 10km or so, mostly spent in the valley between Panorama Ridge and the Black Tusk. Many creeks crossed the path through the flatlands in early July, and some rock hopping was required. Rocks were chicken-wired in many places, but jumping in some spots was difficult with a pack full of gear. The water was not deep and would not pose a hazard greater than wet boots, however. Follow the trail toward Panorama Ridge and head left at the trail junction in the valley near the base of the ridge.

Cheakamus Lake

Starting from Helm Creek, this will take you to the Cheakamus Lake trailhead (or the lake itself, if you're a particularly sturdy hiker). It's about 8.5km to the parking lot, add an extra 4km if you plan to visit the lake area. There is a long switchback section before a sturdy steel bridge crosses Cheakamus River. From here, head left to follow the trail to the parking lot. Taking the parking lot to Cheakamus Lake makes for a very easy and short day hike, with some swimming at the lake.

Burton Hut

Burton Hut is directly across the lake from the Garibaldi Lake campground, in Sphinx Bay. It is accessible in the summer by backcountry hiking around the lake. There is no trail and the hike is not easy, use caution.

Backcountry Skiing

Avalanche serious.gif Avalanche Hazard
The route and terrain described here is capable of producing avalanches. Safe travel requires the skills and equipment to assess and mitigate avalanche hazards. A professionally taught training course is highly recommended.

Recommended Trips

Day Hike

  • Garibaldi Lake. The lake is beautiful and provides good facilities for hikers stopping in before heading back down, and fantastic views across the lake of Sphinx glacier and Mt. Price. Doing the hike in a day may be gruelling for inexperienced hikers; it is about 19km with about 800m of elevation change
  • Mt. Price, Panorama Ridge and even Black Tusk can be done in 1 day by strong parties.

Weekend

  • Hike to Garibaldi Lake via Barrier and set up camp there in early afternoon on a Friday, if you can, otherwise early Saturday
  • Saturday (set up camp if you're just arriving,) do either Panorama Ridge or Black Tusk
  • Sunday return to the Barrier trailhead

4-5 Days

  • Park a vehicle at the Cheakamus Lake parking lot and return to the Barrier trailhead in your second vehicle
  • Day 1 - Hike to Garibaldi Lake via Barrier and set up camp
  • Day 2-3 Spend two days at Garibaldi Lake to do Panorama Ridge and Black Tusk
  • Day 4 - Pack your gear and hike to Helm Creek
  • Day 5 - Pack again and hike to Cheakamus parking lot

(or reverse the process, though the Cheakamus to Helm hike is more difficult and longer, it's less work to go down this way)

External Links