Garibaldi Lake Hike
The beauty of the blue of Garibaldi Lake is hard to overstate. The reflection of snow-capped peaks and glaciers in the twinkling teal water is deeply inspiring. This is one of the best hikes in the Whistler region for a reason!
To get to the Garibaldi Lake trailhead, drive south along the Sea to Sky Highway for 15.5mi. Turn left onto Daisy Lake Road, with a sign for the Black Tusk turnoff for Garibaldi Provincial Park. This narrow road leads up nearly 1.9mi to the trailhead. Get here early!
|When to do|
June through September
Trailhead & Backcountry campgrounds
Out and back
Garibaldi Lake Hike
Garibaldi Lake Trail Description
The first 4.3mi of the Garibaldi Lake trail is a climb through the forest. This wide, extremely well-marked path gains nearly 3281ft, with steady switchbacks all the way up. You will soon approach a junction, showing the Taylor Meadows campground to the left and the quicker version to Garibaldi Lake heading to the right.
We prefer going left, and up through the Taylor Meadows campground, even though it is a longer route. The grassy meadows yield fantastic views up to Black Tusk. Going via Taylor Meadows is also useful if you plan to backpack up to Panorama Ridge and Black Tusk, and want to drop your gear off.
Once you’ve turned left at the junction, follow the route as it gains about 410ft over 0.9mi as you ascend it gets to Taylor Meadows Campground.
To get down to Garibaldi Lake, shortly after you pass the campground itself (including the wooden cook shelter; great to stop in if it’s raining) you will reach another junction. From here turn right towards Garibaldi Lake. Re-enter the trees as you continue along the same wide, well-maintained trail.
As you hike, the route will dip down beside Rubble Creek and finally reach Garibaldi Lake. Crossing over a bridge, go up from the mouth of the river and find yourself shortly at the Garibaldi Lake campsite. There is another cook shelter here if you want to shield yourself from the rain.
The views of Garibaldi Lake are nothing short of stunning. You will be able to see many summits reflected in the teal water. The Sphinx Glacier just below, ‘The Bookworms’ mountain are the highlights at the far side, as are Castle Towers to its left and The Sphinx Mountain to its right.
Further to the right, you will be able to see Guard Mountain and Mount Price – all stunning peaks. On the left, you get a glimpse of Panorama Ridge, another hike in the region.
Beware that extended sitting by the lake will put you into a state of calm reflection. Remain as long as the day will allow.
To return, you can either go back the way you came via Taylor Meadows or take a more direct route. Most people take a more direct route, described below.
From Garibaldi Lake, walk back along Garibaldi Lake to the bridge that crosses Rubble Creek. Cross over the bridge and then head up a steep path for a short while. At the first junction go left (right takes you back to Taylor Meadows). Follow this path as it roughly follows Rubble Creek and goes through the trees. You pass by Lesser Garibaldi Lake as the route then goes over Taylor Creek before going along Barrier Lake. This is a pretty path, but not as exciting as Taylor Meadows.
Finally, the path rejoins the trail you ascended on. From here you have a 3.7mi hike to the car.
Hiking Trail Highlights
Garibaldi Lake, in the heart of Garibaldi Provincial Park, is a beautiful turquoise lake, 12.0mi south of Whistler in British Columbia. The lake is best known for its dramatic mountain views and spectacular natural surroundings, making it a popular hiking and backpacking destination. Fed by the surrounding glaciers, Garibaldi Lake is best known for its brilliant color, caused by the presence of glacial silt in the water. With impressive mountain views, it is one of the most scenic spots in BC.
Garibaldi Lake sits in a dramatic mountain basin, surrounded almost entirely by tall, snow-capped peaks which are perfectly reflected in the lake’s startling turquoise waters. Its size and shape is a product of the region’s fascinating geological history, as the space for the lake was created by lava flows from Mount Price and Clinker Peak, which blocked the valley and created a natural dam known as the ‘Barrier’.
On the northwest shore of the lake you will see a series of lava outcrops which have formed miniature islands known as the Battleship Islands. Many of these have now been connected to the lakeshore with stone causeways. This is a wonderful place to spend the day, gazing over the pristine water and immense peaks that rise up ahead of you.
Garibaldi Lake Camping
There are two main campgrounds that service Garibaldi Lake, but they are likely to fill up early in summer. Both the Garibaldi Lake Campground and the Taylor Meadows Campground are around a 5.6mi hike from the trailhead, so either is a good option if you’re planning a backpacking trip to Garibaldi Lake. Both require reservations, so book ahead early to avoid disappointment.
The Garibaldi Lake Campground is located on the northwest shore of the lake, and offers magnificent views over the water. You’ll find drinking water, a hut for cooking (although not for sleeping) and 50 camping spots. You’ll need to pack out any rubbish and it’s the perfect place to enjoy all that the lake has to offer, from fishing (with an appropriate license) to hiking in this marvellous region.
If the Garibaldi Lake Campground is full, head up a series of switchbacks to Taylor Meadows, where you’ll find another lovely campground with 40 spots to pitch a tent. This campground is usually a little less busy, but offers many of the same amenities and the wildflower meadows are simply stunning.
Frequently Asked Questions About Garibaldi Lake
How long does it take to hike to Garibaldi Lake?
The hike to Garibaldi Lake is an 18km round trip, which takes around 5-7 hours to complete.
How hard is Garibaldi Lake Hike?
The hike to Garibaldi Lake is not technically difficult, but it’s a long, fairly strenuous day of hiking and you’ll need to be reasonably fit to complete the trek comfortably.
Can you swim in Garibaldi Lake?
Swimming is allowed in Garibaldi Lake, but be aware that there are no lifeguards so you will need to take extra care. The lake is fed by glaciers, making the water extremely cold, but it can be a good way to cool off on a hot day!
Can I drive to Garibaldi Lake?
It’s not possible to drive to Garibaldi Lake, so you’ll need to be prepared to hike in from the Rubble Creek parking lot.
Are dogs allowed in Garibaldi Park?
Unfortunately, dogs are not permitted anywhere in Garibaldi Provincial Park, which means you can’t bring your four-legged friend to the lake.
There is limited parking, especially on weekends. Cars can be backed up nearly all the way down this road, so make sure you get here early!
Bring a hearty lunch – you’ve earned it.
This is a good trip for backpacking, as you have two other phenomenal hikes near here. Stay at Taylor Meadows Campground and then hike up to Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge, two of the best hikes around Whistler.
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