Garibaldi Lake Through The Seasons

February 12, 2012 — 30 Comments
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I love the mountains and the outdoors, and Garibaldi Provincial Park, just south of Whistler, B.C. Canada, is one my favorite places to visit. Some of my fondest memories as a teenager were hiking and camping around Garibaldi Lake. Since then, I’ve taken over thirty trips into the park, including four this past summer. On this post, I’ll include photos from the past five years taken with various cameras, from a five megapixel point-and-shoot to my current Canon 60D. I don’t profess to be a photographer, just a hobbyist who enjoys taking photos.

Garibaldi Provincial Park covers an area of 1,950 square kilometers, or 750 square miles, and was designated a provincial park in 1927. It’s located north of Vancouver, and has five access points from the Sea to Sky Highway between Squamish and Whistler. Although the area has a rich First Nations history, Mount Garibaldi was named by Captain George Henry of the Royal Navy for Giuseppe Garibaldi, an Italian patriot, soldier, and commander. For more information about the history and legends of the First Nations people in the Garibaldi area, please read this excellent article from the John Davidson Legacy website.

Garibaldi Lake is a deep, glacial lake, naturally created by the damming of the flows from the now dormant volcanos, Mount Price and Clinker Peak. The Sentinel and Sphinx Glaciers feed the lake with meltwater, and the glacial flour creates the turquoise colour. The easiest and most popular route to Garibaldi Lake is from the Black Tusk (formally Rubble Creek) parking area, 37 kilometers north of Squamish, or 19 kilometers south of Whistler. If you’re driving from Vancouver, it takes about 1 1/2 hours.

After hiking for about 9 kilometers with 900 meters of elevation gain, this is an early view of Garibaldi Lake.

Photo of Glacier, turquoise waters, mountains, islands, the trees, Garibaldi Lake, BC

 

 

From a higher elevation, this is the first view from Black Tusk Meadows.

Photo of Turquoise water, mountains, trees, Garibaldi Lake, BC

 

 

The water has this beautiful turquoise color, which varies depending on the sunlight, and I believe the time of year.

Photo of Turquoise waters, trees, Garibaldi Lake, BC

 

 

I take a photo of this log every time I see it.

Photo of a log in Garibaldi Lake, end protruding, turquoise waters, BC

 
The Sphinx Glacier is one of the most prominent features of the surrounding mountains. However, one my favorite features is the tiny island in front. It has been a focal point of mine for many years.

Photo of Bright blue skies, turquoise water, small island, glacier, mountains, Garibaldi Lake, BC




On the south side of the Garibaldi Lake campground, the Battleship Islands are a popular place to relax. If you visit in late August, you may see alpine flowers such as Indian paintbrush, fireweed, and yellow aster.

Photo of Glacier, turquoise water, blue sky, island, mountain, tree, flowers, Garibaldi Lake, BC

 

 

  Frozen on a beautiful day in April or…

Photo of Blue sky, cumulus clouds, frozen lake, glacier, mountains, trees, Garibaldi Lake, BC

 

 

on a blistering hot summer day…

Photo of Blue sky, Lake, glacier, mountains, Garibaldi Lake, BC

 

 

an early evening reflection in late August…

Photo of Blue sky, cumulus cloud, reflection, mountains, snow, turquoise water, Garibaldi Lake, BC

 

 

 an evening storm on a late September day.Photo of Garibaldi Lake during a shower, Blue water, patchy blue skies, dark clouds, sun, Garibaldi Lake, BC

 

 

  Volcanoes on the center-right: Mount Price on the left and Clinker Peak in the center, on a warm summer day.

Photo of Blue sky, mountains, snow, island, Garibaldi Lake, BC

 

 

A similar view with Mount Price on the right, on a fine spring day.

Photo of Frozen lake, mountains, blue sky, Cumulus clouds, snow, Garibaldi Lake, BC

From the summit of Mount Price on a cold, September day. The formation known as the Black Tusk is a prominent feature in this area of Garibaldi Park. The campground is at the end of the bay on the left.

Photo of Cloudy skies, turquoise water, mountains, snow, Garibaldi Lake, BC




The first view of the Black Tusk from near the Battleship Islands, in late August.

Photo of Turquoise waters, Blue skies, mountain, stone,Garibaldi Lake, BC

The view of Panorama Ridge and Garibaldi Lake, from the old trail which is now only used when the lakeside trail is flooded.

Photo of Turquoise waters, mountain, trees, rock, Garibaldi Lake, BC

 

 

  Panorama Ridge behind the Battleship Islands, on a summer evening.

Photo of Mountain, blue sky, Cumulus clouds, turquoise water, reflection, trees, Garibaldi Lake BC

 

 

 From the top of Panorama Ridge: Garibaldi Lake with Mount Price in the center, in early August. If you haven’t seen it, please read my post: Views From Panorama Ridge On A Clear Summer’s Day.

Photo of Blue skies, Cumulus clouds, reflection, bright blue water, mountains, snow, Garibaldi Lake, BC

 

 

The west side of Garibaldi Lake with with the campground on the right, taken from the first peak of Panorama Ridge.

Photo of Bright blue water, blue sky, cloud reflection, Cumulus clouds, mountains, Garibaldi Lake, BC

Another look on a summer day. Mount Garibaldi is in the center-right while the formation known as The Table is in front. For an interesting look at The Table, please check out this video of I Will Be There by ’80s pop/rock band, Glass Tiger (starting at 43 sec.).

Photo of Blue sky, Cumulus clouds, cloud reflections, turquoise water, mountains, snow, Garibaldi Lake, BC




One of my most memorable and tiring hikes was to Panorama Ridge via Garibaldi Lake on a sunny day in May.

Photo of Blue sky, the Cumulus clouds, Mount Garibaldi, snow, ice, Garibaldi Lake, BC

 

 

One of my favorite photos, taken from a point below Panorama Ridge.

Photo of Garibaldi Lake, Mount Garibaldi, the table, snow, ice, blue sky, B.C.

 

 

Here’s me on that sunny day in May.

Photo of Randall St. Germain, snowshoes, frozen Garibaldi lake, BC mountains, snow, blue sky, clouds

 

 

And a much younger me (okay, this was only five years ago) thinking on the shores of Garibaldi Lake.

Photo of Randall St. Germain, Garibaldi lake, BC mountains, blue sky, clouds, Panorama Ridge

I know I entitled this post, Garibaldi Lake Through The Seasons, but really, there are no photos from the actual winter. I hope you don’t mind, but at least a few of the photos resembled winter. Garibaldi Lake In Winter may be a future post.

I hope you enjoyed the photos of Garibaldi Lake taken from my trips over the past few years. I can’t wait to return.

If you have my book, Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, or have ordered it, I really appreciate your support. It’s also out on Kindle and Kobo. My Goodreads and Amazon pages have reviews and more information. Please share this post, and thanks for your time.




About Randall St. Germain

Randall St. Germain, author of Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, is a middle-aged Canadian Boy who is passionate about nature, photography, hiking, music, and self-improvement. After the death of his mother, he chose to walk the famous pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago, across the north of Spain, despite knowing little about it. He certainly didn’t plan to write a book until the latter days of his Camino. Similar to walking the Camino, writing and publishing a book was a learning experience. It was also very rewarding, and part of his ongoing journey. Please join him as he takes you along on his journey in Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, and on his blog Camino My Way.

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30 responses to Garibaldi Lake Through The Seasons

  1. Great shots. Looking forward to the winter post – bet it is decadent up there!

    • Thanks again Anita. Garibaldi is very special and there are many areas to explore, far greater than I covered in this post. Good luck with your travels.

  2. Beautiful photos! What’s the difficulty level of the hike from Black Tusk parking area to Garabaldi Lake? I’ve never done it but looking at your photos makes me want to try it!

    • Difficulty depends on the individual. For the Black Tusk hike, the real difficulty is with the formation itself, especially for those who don’t like climbing rock and exposure. You must climb up chimneys and feel comfortable going up and down. Also, ensure that you take the proper ones or it could cause problems. I haven’t climbed the Tusk for many years, but they were marked when I went. If you don’t like the scramble, Panorama Ridge is a long hike, and the view from the top is beautiful. Thanks for your comment.

      • What about the hike from just the parking lot up to the lake? How long does it take? Is it fairly steep the entire way up? I’ve never done any of the hikes in Garibaldi so I’d like to start small first! 🙂 Thanks!

  3. Caroline, the length of time depends on the person. It can take about 2 1/2 hours up to 6 hours to Garibaldi Lake. There is a 900 meter elevation gain over 9 kilometers so it is fairly steep. There are switchbacks though, and the trail is very well-groomed. If you haven’t done anything that big, there are smaller hikes in the Vancouver/ Squamish area that are open right now. Happy Hiking.

  4. Questions about the hike to Garibaldi Lake from the parking lot:

    1) Will there be snow covering the trail still in mid June? What can we expect for that time of year?

    2) Sounds like about a 7 hour roundrip hike for a fit couple..correct?

    Your pictures are amazing! Thanks in advance for any info you can give!

    • I’ll try my best to answer, but please understand that every year is different.
      1) I have no idea. Sorry, it depends on the amount of snowfall, and how warm May and June are. If the weather stays like this, I would think that much of the trail to the Barrier lookout (much of the elevation gain) will be free of snow. After that, I would still expect snow into July.
      2) If you are fit, 7 hours should be easily attainable. Of course, that doesn’t include the time you stay at the lake. For me, I normally take a little less than 3 hours to the lake.
      I hope that helps. Have a safe hike to Garibaldi Lake. Thanks for your comment.

  5. Fabulous pix of this magnificent scenery. Wish I could go hiking with you. Have a wonderful day! 🙂

    • Thanks so much. It’s too bad it’s such a jaunt to get up there. I’m sure you would enjoy Garibaldi Provincial Park. I’ll do my best to bring it to you with more blog posts.

  6. Love all the pictures, thanks Randall

  7. Beautiful pictures!! Love to visit over there! Thanks for sharing, Randall !

  8. Wow, thanks for posting these awesome pictures, the beauty is just breath taking, wow I wish I could jump into those pictures, I would love visit those places someday. Thanks for sharing Randall!!!!

  9. Hi,

    Thanks for the post. Great pictures! I have two questions:
    1. I would like to know what camping gear, do I need, to go to Garibaldi lake?
    2. Are there any predatory animals around the area? What precautions should I take to avoid issues with wild life?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Arturo,
      First of all, you need a camping permit. You can now purchase it online from the B.C. Parks website. You should have a tent, fly, ground sheet, sleeping bag, sleeping pad etc. There are no fires allowed in Garibaldi so you will likely need a stove. If you plan to day hike, a smaller backpack is nice to have depending on the size of your main pack. An 80 litre pack may be tough to maneuver if you try the Black Tusk.
      Bears and Cougars are in the mountains but they are rarely seen in the Garibaldi Lake area. In my many trips I have never seen either. However, I saw a young black bear on the trail past Elfin Lakes and once in the Black Tusk parking lot.
      Regarding bears, the larger group you have, the less likely of an encounter. Make noise while on the trail and if camping, be careful where you store your food (not in the tent). Garibaldi Lake has a cooking / warming shelter which is beneficial depending on how busy it is.
      I always advise hikers to enjoy Garibaldi during nice weather. Even in summer, it can get cold so be aware of the weather in the mountains.
      All the best and thanks for stopping by 🙂

  10. Oliver Descoeudres March 29, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    Great pics… very inspiring!

    Hoping you can help me with a few questions. I’m travelling from Sydney (Australia) to Canada at the end of April and have a full day in Vancouver for hiking (en-route to a work conference in Montreal). Garibaldi Lake looks like a great choice for a solid day hike. I’m aware here will be snow but have done some great walks in the US in April/May where there’s been snow cover.

    So, if you’re able to help me with some advice:
    1) Is the trailhead (Black Tusk) generally accessible all year – or at least by April – by 2WD?
    2) Unless there’s been recent snowfall is the track generally easy to follow by early Spring?
    3) Whats the best source of information as to snow cover for Garibaldi Lake? The local ranger/parks office?

    Thanks for your help. Looking forward to my hike in a few weeks!

    Regards,
    Oliver

  11. Oliver, the trailhead is not accessible all year with a 2WD vehicle. In February, it was for sure. I suspect it still is at this time, but it depends on recent snowfall that can occur really into July. The last time I hiked there in the Springtime, I had to park on the access road about 500 meters from the trailhead. Wasn’t too bad. The trail directly to the lake will be well tracked and should be easy to follow. I would bring microspikes for sure and possibly snowshoes depending on conditions. You may find recent trip reports for snow on clubtread.com. Avalanche reports here: http://www.avalanche.ca/forecasts/sea-to-sky If you have time, I recommend hiking through Taylor Meadows to Black Tusk Meadows and take the steep trail down to the lake. Hope this helps. Have a fun and safe trip! 🙂

  12. Amazing shots. I hiked to the lake in 2002 when I spent a year working on holiday in Vancouver. I will never forget the feeling of coming over the final hill and seeing the lake. It ranks in my top three of most memorable places of natural beauty alongside the Grand Canyon and Meelup Bay in Dunsborough, Western Australia!

    • You’re very right about the final hill. I have hiked to Panorama Ridge at least 16 times and I’m amazed every time. I even stayed up there one Summer night during the Supermoon. It was of my most memorable experiences! I’m glad you enjoyed your experience in beautiful Garibaldi Park. Thanks for your comment 🙂

  13. I feel super excited to have found this post and that apparently you are generous with your time and knowledge by answering so many questions. I’m planning my first trip to BC for March 5-15 and am staying in Whistler. I am so drawn to the Panorama Ridge hike. I’ll have microspikes, snowshoes, and a headlamp, and am trying to decide if I can (or should) try this hike. I’m not experienced in this terrain. (I’ve never used snowshoes and have never been anywhere where there is deep snow.) I know I can hike a good distance with considerable elevation. I’d appreciate any advice. (What trail to take, is the trail well marked, what to expect for weather and temperature, whether maybe I should just not do this given my inexperience.) Thanks in advance!!

    • I’m glad you like my post but I need to give caution. The early months can be a challenge for even experienced hikers. If you don’t know the terrain and have never snowshoed, I would say that it’s not a good idea. My snow photos are from May and there were avalanche concerns at all times. As far as I could tell, we were among the first up there that year. Even hiking to the lake can be tricky with snow. I’ll give you my Summer advice instead. From Black Tusk / Rubble Creek parking lot, south of Whistler, hike the trail to the junction at about 6.5km. Here, take the left route to Taylor Campground and meadows. Keep going through Black Tusk meadows to Helm junction where the trail is clearly marked, for the most part, to Panorama Ridge. If you want to visit Garibaldi Lake, it’s better on the way back. You have the major portion of your hike behind you plus the photos are better later in the day. Don’t forget headlamps because you may need them. Hope that helps. Happy hiking 🙂

  14. Great write up! I am planning to stop by the park and hike to Panorama Ridge on April 21st on my way to Alaska. I am planning to snow shoe in but am concerned about the added time that deep snow levels brings to every hike. Would you say the lake will be snow covered? Should I expect packed snow? I’ve read that this is a popular route, but I have a hard time believing there will be too many people hiking it on a weekday. Another question, I will have my service dog with me. In the US, I’ve been able to bring her on trails without a problem. Unfortunately, I am unable to find information regarding Canadian laws for service dogs. Do rangers regularly patrol the trail?

    Apologies for all the questions and thank you for your help!
    Liat

    • Liat, everything depends on the current weather and snowpack. We have had more snow in the Whistler area than last year so I would expect snow along the way. Unless there is new snow, the trail should be well-packed to the lake but I would bring microspikes for sure. From the lake to Panorama Ridge should be tracked also but you may require snowshoes and your microspikes. If it is warm, the snow will be soft later in the day and that would be when your snowshoes are needed. Of course, check the avalanche conditions prior to leaving.
      Regarding dogs, it is not whether the Park Rangers will see you, it is that you are entering an environmentally sensitive area and dogs are not allowed. As for guidelines regarding service dogs, I have no idea. Please check with the park operator before leaving. Panorama Ridge would be extremely difficult for a dog, especially if it’s icy! If the weather is poor that day, I would not hike at all. You still have some planning before arriving. I wish you a safe hike and all the best 🙂

  15. Wonderful post! Thanks so much for sharing these experiences online! Some friends and I are planning a trip up there and it looks like our only window will be the first week of this October (2016). Weather is what it is, and that time of year is off-peak. Any idea one way or another how much snow we might encounter, and in which areas? One idea we had was to hike Cheakamus Lake > Helm Valley > Garibaldi Lake > Mount Price, and make it a multi-day thing. We’re trying to prepare for anything, because weather is what it is, but if you have any insight, please share. Like I said I think the first week in October is the only window we have for this.

    • Thanks Tim. Early October is really uncertain. It depends on the year. I’ve hiked Panorama Ridge on Canadian Thanksgiving Monday some years ago and was postholing the last half hour or so which wasn’t bad.
      We have had snow in August in the mountains and then a beautiful September. Last year, the hiking season ended early in higher elevations but opened up earlier also. This year, the last month has been unsettled and we’re finally getting good weather now. What I’m trying to say is that it’s too early to predict. Shorter days always present challenges so be prepared. Check the weather and try to find recent conditions. Clubtread.com is a good local resource for recent trip reports. The Whistler Mountain cams are also a good resource because they are on the edge of Garibaldi Park. I hope that helps a little. Take care and safe hiking. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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