Garibaldi Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park
is the centre and base for much of the hiking in Garibaldi Park. The 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. The trail to Garibaldi Lake from the Rubble Creek trailhead, just off of the Sea to Sky Highway takes about two hours. You gain a fair amount of elevation, 900 metres in just 9k, trailhead to lake.
Partway along the trail to Garibaldi Lake the trail forks. Right to Garibaldi Lake and left goes to another beautiful campground, Taylor Meadows. Past Taylor Meadows you can link back to Garibaldi Lake by yet another linking trail. At every trail for there are nice and clear signs and sometimes maps, showing where and how far everything is.
Beyond Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake is the amazing Black Tusk. Black Tusk, Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake can be done in one long 30k dayhike, trailhead to trailhead, but expect to take 8-10 hours. The Garibaldi Lake trailhead is located just 25 minutes north of Squamish. Keep your eye out for the hard to miss highway sign.
New this year, as of June 22nd 2016 reservations are required for camping at Garibaldi Lake campground and Taylor Meadows campground from June 29th-September 30th, 2016. Camping fees must be paid before entering the park. Before June 22nd pre-pay via before your trip. There are no cash payment options. You can pay online here.. There is no charge for parking at the trailhead or for hiking. There is a charge for camping however. $10/per person. Camping season is May 1 - November 15. Outside of this time there is considerable snow, however no camping fees. The best time to hike is July to October as there is still a fair amount of snow on the trail, sometimes until early July. The trail is popular however, so even with deep snow the trail will likely be well tracked out by skis and easy to follow. It is doubtful that any week of the year passes without hiking, skiing or snowshoeing occurring on the Garibaldi Lake trail.
Parking, Hiking & Camping Details - Garibaldi Lake
The best and closest parking lot to access Garibaldi Lake is the Rubble Creek trailhead just off of the Sea to Sky Highway, halfway between Squamish and Whistler. The Rubble Creek trailhead parking is well equipped with direction signs, a mapboard and outhouse. The access road that connects it to the Sea to Sky Highway is even paved and it is generally free of snow from May to November. The printable topographic map to Garibaldi Lake shown below has driving directions to the Rubble Creek trailhead.
Pit toilets are located at the Rubble Creek trailhead to Garibaldi Provincial Park. Taylor Meadows just an hour and a half from the Rubble Creek trailhead has several outhouses. Garibaldi Lake has several outhouses as well about an hour and a half from Rubble Creek. There is also an outhouse along the trail past both Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake located just before the Black Tusk trail turnoff. Beyond that you will next come to pit toilets at the Helm Creek campsite.
Unfortunately dogs are not permitted in Garibaldi Provincial Park due to potential conflicts with the park's wildlife. All of the other Squamish hiking trails outside of Garibaldi Park are dog friendly however, including Cirque Lake, Stawamus Chief, High Falls Creek, Upper Shannon Falls and Ring and Conflict Lakes. For a list of the best, dog friendly hiking trails around Whistler try here. And the best easy, dog friendly trails here.
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 were introduced back in the 1920's. Taylor Meadows Campsite: 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 campsites, however it is in a beautiful setting on the quiet side of Black Tusk, though 1.5 hours away from the approaches to Black Tusk. Helm Creek is another beautiful campground. Most of the 9 campsites are next to the beautiful 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. Take a look at the most recent trail reports here for all of these campgrounds as well as all of Garibaldi Park.
Hiking Trail Map for Garibaldi Lake
Cell coverage is reliable on all of the trail to Garibaldi Lake so you will be able to access the internet if you have a data plan, however saving this map may be a good idea. From Garibaldi Way(the last intersection before leaving Squamish, near Canadian Tire), heading North on Highway 99, toward Whistler. The well marked turnoff to Black Tusk(Garibaldi) trailhead is 32 kilometres on your right. 150 metres up this road it will fork. Take the right fork and continue up the paved road for 2 kilometres to Garibaldi Provincial Park, Rubble Creek trailhead. This is also the most direct trailhead for Taylor Meadows, Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge.
Trailhead & Parking Directions Map for Garibaldi Lake
Rubble Creek is the most popular route to Garibaldi Lake and consequently the most chaotic. The huge parking lot is often filled to capacity, with additional cars parked along the access road. This road is the only paved(not a heavily potholed, gravel road) to access a trailhead to Garibaldi Lake. Though very busy, the Rubble Creek trail to Garibaldi Lake is constantly maintained to a high standard. Plenty of helpful mapboards and trail signs keep you on track and aware of where you are. The tidy, natural dirt trail is wide enough to hike side-by-side most of the time. The constant ascent from here gets you to the Garibaldi Lake in just a couple hours. From Garibaldi Way(the last intersection before leaving Squamish, near Canadian Tire), heading North on Highway 99, toward Whistler. The well marked turnoff to Black Tusk(Garibaldi) trailhead is 32 kilometres on your right. 150 metres up this road it will fork. Take the right fork and continue up the paved road for 2 kilometres to Garibaldi Provincial Park, Rubble Creek trailhead. This is also the most direct trailhead for Taylor Meadows, Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge.
More Hiking Near Garibaldi Lake
Taylor Meadows is a beautiful campsite and alternative to the much busier Garibaldi Lake campsite. Located in between Garibaldi Lake and itself. It is reached from the same trailhead to Garibaldi Lake. There are 40 very nice tent platforms, toilets, a good water source and a food cache, all in the lush forest of Taylor Meadows with the distant view of Black Tusk. Generally Taylor Meadows is not a destination, but part of a circle route. For example, trailhead to Taylor Meadows, Taylor Meadows to Black Tusk or Panorama Ridge, then return via Garibaldi Lake. This makes for a long hike at 30k, which is why tenting at this perfectly beautiful, and perfectly located Taylor Meadows Campsite, is a great idea. The trail to Taylor Meadows is well marked, well used and well signed. 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 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. Black Tusk is a mountain of unbelievable beauty. It possesses the incredible distinction of looking more impossible to climb the closer you get to it. Even when you are close enough to touch its vertical, black and foreboding sides, you wonder in amazement how anyone can ever reach the top. It’s vertical on all sides. The barely distinguishable trail skirts its edge along the ledge of a perilous scree slope that runs around its trunk. As you clamour carefully along the trail you come to a chute heading almost straight up. Again, even this close you will wonder, as almost everyone else at this spot, “I don’t think this is a safe way to go.” Then you pause and look around. Many take a seat at this moment and marvel at the view. Spectacular. Just spectacular. Above the clouds, looking over the impossibly blue Garibaldi Lake, nestled in endless snowy mountains. 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 it descends further along the Helm Creek Trail, until it joins the Cheakamus River not far from where it leaves Cheakamus Lake. Helm Creek is located about 1.5 hours past the turnoff to Black Tusk. It is on the Cheakamus Lake side of Black Tusk and best reached by the Cheakamus Lake trailhead. 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.