Hike up to Panorama Ridge for truly spectacular views of Garibaldi Lake, Black Tusk and the Helm Lake area.
Distance: 30km round-trip
Time Taken: 11 hours
When to Hike: Best in the Summer and Autumn months, but if you’re prepared for the cold you can enjoy this hike year round.
While this hike can be completed in one day, it’s generally easier to hike up to Garibaldi Lake on the first day, camp by the waterside then continue up to Panorama Ridge the following day. Time it right and you can enjoy some truly spectacular nighttime views by the lake; one of our travellers camped out during the Perseid meteor shower and was lucky enough to find the Aurora Borealis dancing across the sky while the meteors showered down! A truly once-in-a-lifetime spectacle!
Starting Point: The hike starts at the Rubble Creek parking lot along the Sea to Sky highway, roughly 1 hour 30 minutes north of Vancouver. Public transport won’t take you to the parking lot, so you will need to find your own way there: check out the Sea to Sky facebook page as there are always people offering and looking for lifts between Vancouver and Whistler. The trail begins at the top part of the parking lot by the wooden steps, taking you into the forest and up the mountain.
The Hike: Follow the trail into the forest, weaving through trees and switching back and forth on a steady climb up the mountain. The air is quite close in the forest, so make sure you take plenty of water and keep hydrated! Shortly after the 6km marker, you’ll reach a junction and a map of the area; go left to reach the Taylor Meadows campsite, or go right to reach Garibaldi Lake. Both offer good places to camp out overnight (although Garibaldi Lake is a far more beautiful place to spend the night!) By the junction there is a beautiful lookout point, a great spot for some photos!
If you wish to camp by Garibaldi Lake, continue right and follow the trail until you see signposts signaling Panorama Ridge straight on and Garibaldi Lake campsite downhill to the right. Follow the trail downhill until it suddenly opens up as you cross the river and continue along the side of Garibaldi Lake. This is a wild camping spot, so don’t expect any facilities other than a makeshift toilet and a hut for shelter – find your spot, pitch your tent and enjoy this beautiful place!
The following day (or straight away if you so choose), return along the trail and continue through the Taylor Meadows. During the late summer and early fall, the alpine flowers will be in full bloom and the meadows awash with colour – it’s important to stay on the trail through the meadows to preserve this ecologically sensitive area! After 20 minutes or so of gradual uphill, you will reach the junction to hike up the Black Tusk – this is another spectacular hike, return another day to scale the volcanic peak!
Eventually, the trail reaches the Panorama Ridge junction, and you can see the Helm Lake to your left – another great photo opportunity! Follow the signs to Panorama Right to the right, where the trail slowly becomes steeper and steeper and the vegetation becomes thinner until you are scrambling on your hands up the loose rock in an effort to reach the summit.
And once you do.. wow!! The views are truly spectacular; this is one of the most instagrammable views in British Columbia! Way below and in front of you lies the gorgeous turquoise waters of Garibaldi Lake, surrounded by endless mountains, including the Mount Price and Clinker Peak volcanoes and the impressive Sphynx Glacier! Soak it all in, take lots of photos and marvel at the natural beauty all around you.
The views from Panorama Ridge are truly spectacular; if you’re prepared for a long and grueling hike, we really can’t recommend this enough!!!
Enjoy the hike!