Hiking and backpacking around Whistler, BC is a very popular weekend activity. One of the classic hikes is the 18 km (890 metre elevation gain) round trip hike to Garibaldi Lake. Many people use the campsite here as a staging area for further exploration of the Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge areas.
Camping at Garibaldi Lake
If you are considering backpacking then avoid Saturday nights if at all possible, especially when the weather forecast is good. There are 50 campsites at Garibaldi Lake and 40 campsites at Taylor Meadows, just over a kilometre away. Taylor Meadows is used as an overflow campground for Garibaldi Lake but it also is well positioned to explore the Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge.
In the past campsites were available on a first come, first served basis but with the pressure of numbers the park now has a different system in place. Reservations for camping at Garibaldi Lake are required between June 29th and September 30th and campsites must be prepaid. Visit the BC Parks website to log into the reservation page. Car break-ins are common so leave all valuables at home or take them with you.
The campground has pit toilets and four shelters for cooking and food storage and as a result you will not need to hang your food. Mosquitoes are bad at dusk so bring repellent. A warm sleeping bag will be appreciated even in summer as there is considerable night time cooling.
Garibaldi Lake is an absolutely gorgeous turquoise blue colour. Glaciers on the far side feed the lake and wild heather is in abundance. Fishing is possible with a licence. Unfortunately the hike to the lake is primarily a series of switchbacks through the trees with the occasional crossing of mountain streams. The best views occur once you reach the lake though the hike to Panorama Ridge and the Black Tusk offers superb views in very short order. Also look for loads of wildflowers including lupines, columbines and arnica in July.
You won’t be disappointed by Garibaldi Lake though you may be somewhat dismayed at the size of the weekend crowds. Panorama Ridge and the Black Tusk are extremely worthwhile ventures and see far fewer people. They can both be done as a day hike too but allow 8-10 hours for a return trip.
Have fun on this spectacular hike. Garibaldi Lake is one of my favourite summertime hikes.