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Recommended This Week

This hilarious game of hide and seek, seemingly can go on forever.  As one leads to another, then another.  Over and over, the St Mark's Summit reveals one breathtaking vantage point after another, until you are exhausted more with the views than the hike that got you there.  When you estimate your hiking time for St Mark's Summit, be sure to include an hour at least at the top.  And before you St Mark's Summit View of Howe Sound - Squamish Hiking Guide Augustbegin your hike back to Cypress, take a moment to glance back at the distant Lions.  This incredible trail continues to them and beyond, you've just done 5.5k of the 29k, phenomenal Howe Sound Crest Trail.

St Mark`s Summit is part of the amazing Howe Sound Crest Trail in Cypress Provincial Park and is one of the many beautiful peaks to be climbed if desired on the 29k trail.  Among the hiker friendly mountains (in order from Cypress north) on the Howe Sound Crest Trail are: Mount Strachan, St Mark`s Summit, Mount Unnecessary, The Lions, Mount Harvey, Mount Hanover, Brunswick Mountain and finally Deeks Peak.

The beautiful Cypress Mountain Resort is the location of the trailhead to the hike to St Mark's Summit. As it is one of among several hikes along the Howe Sound Crest Trail, the trailhead signs and markers don't indicate St Mark's Summit. Instead you have to follow the well laid out and frequent signs that direct you to the Howe Sound Crest Trail and The Lions. The Lions is the well known and highly visible Vancouver mountain on the Howe Sound Crest Trail and sits just beyond St Mark's St Mark's Summit Tent View - Squamish Hiking Guide AugustSummit on the trail. So if you follow the signs for The Lions you will reach the Summit of St Mark's.

Park your car at the huge parking lot nearest the Cypress Creek Daylodge and take a look inside. It has a very nice restaurant/pub and an array of beautiful and huge historical photos of the area dating back to the early 1900's. Particularly interesting are the photos of people in century-old ski gear standing at St Mark's Summit as you realize that this trail has been a cherished Vancouver recreational destination for quite some time.

You will also find nice public washrooms and water fountains as well as take-away, concession style food and drinks for the trail. As you exit the daylodge, go down the gradual stairs the bend to the right and you will see a large Cypress Provincial Park map kiosk. From there you will see, about 10 metres away, the trailhead marked with the first of many, Cypress Provincial Park trail signs. It shows an arrow pointing to the nice gravel trail stretching into the trees and "Howe Sound Crest Trail".

 

Panorama Ridge - Glacier View

Panorama Ridge - Squamish & Garibaldi Park Trails


Panorama Ridge is certainly one of the most amazing hikes in Garibaldi Park.  The 15k trail (one way) takes you past the amazing Barrier viewpoint, the spectacularly surreal Garibaldi Lake, through the flowers of Taylor Meadows and finally the jaw dropping, Panorama Ridge itself.  The hike is not terribly difficult, though it is very long.  To do Panorama Ridge in one day will take you 8-12 hours to cover the 30k, amazing roundtrip journey.  If you try it in one day, start early.  Not so much as Panorama Ridge View of Garibaldi Laketo manage it in daylight, though that's a consideration.  But to leave enough time to take in the constant array of amazing views.

Much of the trail runs through the valley that begins at Taylor Meadows.  If you are hiking in August or September you will get alternating mountain valleys of colour.  Different colour flowers paint different valleys.  So you will be amazed at the white flower valleys, then the blue, then yellow..  The colours are amazing among the bright, green valleys of Garibaldi Park.

The trail from Taylor Meadows takes you past the intensely beautiful, Black Tusk.  The name fitting as the black of it contrasts with the snow near its base.  To your left you will slowly pass Black Tusk, to your right Panorama Ridge will come into view.  Hiking to the left of the valley in fields of flowers until you finally reach the trail sign, pointing you to your right, down around Black Tusk Lake.  You still have 3k to go, but heading down into the valley around the lake changes the scenery from flowers and valleys, to glacier lakes and the snow packed Panorama Ridge.

Panorama Ridge in Garibaldi Provincial Park - Aerial View

Even in the intense heat of late summer, you will still find yourself hiking, and at times crawling up the hard packed, snowy final ascent to Panorama Ridge.  Your great idea to hike Black Tusk as well, later in the day, long forgotten now.  When you finally reach Panorama Ridge, the views are sensational.  And you quickly see that the ridge runs for about 1.5k, then drops to an enormous meadow all the way down to Garibaldi Lake.

Black Tusk from Panorama Ridge

 

Cirque Lake in the Callaghan ValleyPanorama Ridge in Garibaldi Provincial Park - Squamish Hiking Guide August

Cirque Lake - Squamish & Garibaldi Park Trails


There is something magical about starting a hike in a canoe. A childlike sense of adventure and novelty. The hike to Cirque Lake begins with both.  A sense of excitement and a canoe journey. Sheltered by mountains Callaghan Lake is eerily calm and hypnotically clear. You slip away from the shore toward Cirque Lake in tranquil silence as if floating on air.  The other end of this once glacial valley is the trailhead. Hidden in the forest and so little used as to remain invisible until you stumble onto it. The key to finding the Cirque Lake trailhead is to aim toward the waterfall in the distance. Cascading almost straight down a couple hundred metres from its starting high up the steepCirque Lake Still Partly Frozen in July mountains.

From a couple kilometres away, the waterfall from Cirque Lake can be heard. So steep and falls so far as to seem unnaturally loud from this far across the lake. Keep aiming toward the waterfall in the distance. The closer you get, the less likely it will seem to be the correct way. To the right the valley slopes away in a much more inviting angle. Keep toward the waterfall though and get ready for the next hour of clinging to the scarcely visible, though well flagged trail that snakes upward, often at a 50 degree incline, astonishingly close to that majestic waterfall. Your destination is one of those fantastic forces of nature, a cirque lake.

A perfectly arranged glacier is required to form a cirque lake. A magical combination of size, a certain slope and more unexpectedly, a certain angle away from the sun. In the northern hemisphere, this means the glacier must be on the northeast slope of the mountain, away from the suns rays and the prevailing winds. Thick snow protected in this way grows thicker into glacial ice, then a process of freeze-thaw called nivation, chews at the lower rocks, hollowing out a deep basin.

Cirque Lake in August - Squamish Hiking Guide

Over a thousand winters you are left with a magnificently circular lake with steep slopes all around. If you arrive at Cirque Lake, near Whistler, BC on a favourably sunny, summer day, you will almost certainly fall silent, gaze in wonder at this spectacular place, and feel in that moment that this place is as perfect as it is possible for a place to be.

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