This is the big daddy, the one you've seen instagrammed over and over again, with a candid lululemon-clad chick staring out into the vast expanse of Garibaldi Lake. It's a 30km slog, but the views are like non other in B.C.
Elevation gain: 1500 metres
Car required: Yes
Season: July to September
Camping available at designated campsites by reservation only at Taylor Meadows, Garibaldi Lake or Helm Creek.
Garibaldi Lake as seen from atop the ridge.
Accessed from the Rubble Creek parking lot 25km south of Whistler, you will see the blue sign for Black Tusk (Garibaldi) from the highway, turn left here. Rubble Creek is a large parking lot but it fills up quickly, we recommend arriving before 8am.
The first 7.5km or so is switchbacks through a nice cool forest. Then you reach Taylor Meadows, a perfectly situated campground that serves as an ideal base camp if you want to do Panorama, Black Tusk and Garibaldi Lake in the same trip. This hike is absolutely doable in the day (you'll be sore on the way down), but camping is a really nice way to break it up. Please note - you can only camp in the designated camp sites in Garibaldi Provincial Park and can book a spot via their online booking system. Wilderness camping (or camping outside of a designated campsite) is strictly prohibited.
Once you reach the meadows you then have a glorious walk through a relatively flat section for a few kilometres, with giant plants and ancient trees that make you feel like you're in Jurassic Park. Remember to look back behind you for stunning views of the Tantalus Range! It is important to walk only along the boardwalk/trail in this ecologically sensitive area as the vegetation can take years to regrow if trodden on.
Not a bad view.
When the boardwalk ends, the trail regains its incline as you rise higher and higher above Garibaldi Lake. Watch out for bears grazing in the tall meadow grass! After 20 minutes or so you will reach Black Tusk Junction, with the option to go left for Black Tusk, continue on for Helm Creek, or right to Panorama Ridge. Follow the trail right past trickling streams and a view of Helm Lake to your left will appear after a while. At the next junction, follow the path right to your final ascent! Here the trail is not as well marked, but it is well trodden enough to see where to go. Again, keep looking back for epic views of the Black Tusk. The rocky path snakes up the right hand side of the hill, eventually onto an exposed ridge where the vegetation thins until it is a bare pile of rock. Go slow and steady and watch your footing! This steep section is a pretty tiring scramble but the payoff at the end will make you forget your blisters. After an eternity of false summits, the trail levels out and the turquoise blanket of Garibaldi Lake unfolds before you.
A popular time to visit Panorama Ridge is for sunset, but to see it at this time requires proper trip planning. Walking down the ridge in the dark is dangerous due to loose rock and poor visibility. Also, even in the height of summer, it gets FREEZING atop the ridge! There is no shelter from the wind (or snow, if it starts!). Make sure you have layers, a headtorch and a spot at one of the local campsites if you plan to see Panorama as the sun is setting. Just as the sun dips below the horizon, tear your eyes away begin your descent and get that first gnarly bit out of the way before daylight dissappears entirely.
For more tips on how to optimise your camping trip and to stay safe, check out our Hiking 101.