Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hiking and Camping Tips for Garibaldi Lake

Garibaldi Lake is a popular destination for summer hikers, campers and outdoor enthusiasts looking to enjoy the beautiful glacier fed lake. We were up at Garibaldi Lake over the weekend for an epic outdoor adventure.

There’s a lot of people online asking questions about day trips up to Panorama Ridge, Black Tusk, Garibaldi Lake, and camping conditions at Garibaldi Lake, so I figured I’d share a bit of my experience from this past weekend.

Camping tips:
My first tip is to go early. Although it’s still early in the season, the campsite was full this past weekend. We made our way up to Garibaldi Lake on Friday morning; we hit the trail around 6am and made it to the lake for 9am. We were able to get a campsite right near the water.

By Friday afternoon, people were being turned away as there were no campsites left. Even Friday night, there were still late arrivals with camp gear being turned away.

On Saturday afternoon, we were told that rangers were advising people to head straight for Taylor Meadows as there were no campsites left at Garibaldi Lake. By Saturday evening, we were told that even Taylor Meadows was full. We still spotted campers coming up to the lake late Saturday night, feeling discouraged that they just hiked 3 hours with camp gear on their back only to learn there was nowhere for them to camp.

Available campsites:
At Garibaldi Lake, there are 50 campsites, and at Taylor Meadows there are 40 campsites. With only 90 available campsites around this area, you can see how they would fill up fast.

Hiking in the area:
If you’re going to hike up Panorama Ridge or Black Tusk, please make sure you go prepared. We had several hikers stop us along the trail in the late afternoon asking us how much further to the top, and weather they’d make it with less than 1L of water. Remember that both hikes take 11 hours round trip, and are about 1500-1700 meters in elevation gain. This means it’s best to start earlier in the day, so you make it back to your car before sunset.

A lot of people ask if there are any sources of water along the trail. You do cross many creeks on your hike, but it is advised that you either boil the water before drinking it or use the tablets to purify the water. We actually grabbed some snow from the top of Panorama Ridge and boiled it to use in our lunches. We also boiled water from Garibaldi Lake while camping this past weekend.

Panorama Ridge:
We hiked up Panorama Ridge on Saturday. What an amazing hike and stunning views of the lake below. We started our hike from the Garibaldi Lake campgrounds, went up through Taylor Meadows, them summited Panorama Ridge. We were back at camp by 4pm, jumped straight into the ice cold lake, then took an afternoon nap.

The trail up to the top of Panorama Ridge still has a bit of snow on it. We hiked in snow for the last 30 minutes of the trail in shorts and runners. It was a hot day; 36 degrees out, and the sun was blaring in our faces from the snow. Make sure you wear sunblock and sunglasses.

Black Tusk:
The Black Tusk trail seems to be the busier trail of the two. A popular choice for many hikers.

We hiked up Black Tusk last year during a day trip. We hit the trail around 5am and made it to the top around 11am. The first 3 hours follows along the Garibaldi Lake trail. It’s an intermediate trail with an 800 meter elevation gain. The next 30 minutes of the hike is a beautiful semi-flat hike through Taylor Meadows. Although people recommend hiking through Taylor Meadows in late August for the flowers, there were lots of wild flowers blooming in early July. The last 1-1.5 hours of the hike is straight up hill, with the ascend up the tusk being the most challenging bit – your hike up the loose shale seems like you take 2 steps forward, then slide down 1 step. Take your time with this part, it’s challenging, but very rewarding once you reach the top. It’s also the only spot on the trail where we were able to find cell reception :)

We were fairly tired after hiking Black Tusk last year, so we chose to camp over at Garibaldi Lake this year and summit Panorama Ridge from the lake. It was an amazing feeling hitting the lake after a challenging day hiking, and even more rewarding knowing that we wouldn’t have to hike back to the car and drive home 3 hours in the same day. We were able to pack up on Sunday and make our way down the mountain in the early afternoon.

Be warned, the trail to Garibaldi Lake is busy. I’d compare it to hiking the Chief on the weekend. It was challenging at times moving aside on narrow parts of the trail to let other hikes pass while carrying a 40 lb bag of camping hear.

All in all it was an amazing weekend. We're still a little sore from hiking, and covered in mosquito bites, but recovering nicely while looking at our beautiful pictures from this past weekend.

Hiking tip: we wore bug spray the whole weekend, but mosquito's seems to bite through clothes as well. Bring a ton of bug spray with you.

Have you hiked any of these trails before? Leave your comment below and share your experience with us.


  1. Thank's for sharing

  2. When in June did you go? Also you said, you were back at camp by 4 pm after hiking Panorama Ridge... I'm assuming you started at 5 am then?

    1. We left the lake around 9:30am. It takes just over 3 hours to get to the top, and 3 hours or less to get back to the lake. A wonderful experience.

      I've also done this hike previous to camping at the lake, and yes we starting our hike around 6am and made it back to the parking lot around 6-7pm. It was a long hike for 1 day, so we opted to sleep at the lake the next time we went. I've seen a few posts on conditions now, and there isn't much snow at the lake anymore this year. Check Vancouver Trails or Whistler Hikes for current updates on the trail.

  3. Thinking about doing the black tusk this July.
    Probably staying overnight at Garbaldi lake, otherwise it'd be too hard to do it in 1 day. My question tho is... Can I bring enough water for 2 days or is it best to boil some at Garibaldi ?

    Greetings from Belgium !

    1. Just noticed your comment. Hopefully you went up Black Tusk and had an awesome adventure. It's kind of hard to trek with that much water. We just boiled some while at the lake. Make for an easier hike to camp with all that camp gear.

      TIP: collect your water closest to the bridge that leads to the lake. If you go near the lake itself by all the campers, people swim in there. Sadly I heard several different people proudly announce last summer that they peed in the water. Really sad to hear because that's the main source of drinking water up there.