What You'll Find
- “This place was natures eye candy”
- 1. Planning to Camp?? Book in Advance
- 2. Best Time to Book
- 3. Allow For a Minimum of 3 Days
- 4. Great for Beginners
- 5. Garibaldi Lake is Not the Place to Find Peace and Quiet
- 6. Expect Snow
- 7. Get Up Early to Get There Early
“This place was natures eye candy”
The Garibaldi hike is rated one of the most scenic hikes in the Vancouver area. It has fantastic views of Garibaldi Lake, the Garibaldi Park Mountain range and the infamous Black Tusk. Not to mention it’s easy accessibility and well maintained trail, makes it great choice for many hiking abilities.
My friend Emma and I camped at Garibaldi Lake last summer. It is true what they say about this hike. The views are captivating. It is a Vancouver bucket-list item for sure.
Like every place I visit, there are many things I learn along the way. During my three days spent in Garibaldi Provincial Park, this is what I learnt.
1. Planning to Camp?? Book in Advance
When I say it’s one of the most popular hikes in the Vancouver area, I mean it. Gorilla camping (pitching your tent anywhere) is not allowed and you must be holding a backcountry permit. If you are caught without a permit and/or not camping in a designated campsite, there is a chance you can be fined.
Emma and I stayed at the Garibaldi Lake Campsite. Another option is the Taylor Meadows Campsite. It is less scenic, but an alternative if Garibaldi Lake is fully booked. That being said, each has limited space available and they fill up fast.
You can check availability of the campsites here.
2. Best Time to Book
The campsites are available all year round. However, from the end of June till October you must make a reservation for a campsite.
- The best time to go terms of nice weather would be from June to August.
- Best time to avoid crowds are May and September. Just be aware there may be more chance of rain those months.
As the Garibaldi Lakes popularity grows, the campsites book up earlier and faster.
3. Allow For a Minimum of 3 Days
Emma and I consider ourselves “fair hikers”, but more on the slower side. We decided to give ourselves 4 days at the campsite just in case we need axtra time to hike different areas. In the end, we did everything in 3 days.
Our original plan was:
- Day 1: Hike to the Campsite
- Day 2: Hike to Panorama Ridge
- Day 3: Hike Black Tusk
- Day 4: Hike Out
However, we didn’t make it to the top of Black Tusk on the third day, as there was a storm predicted to role in later.
We had managed to reach the base of Black Tusk, where we could see the clouds approaching. The clouds had already began to engulf the peak of Black Tusk. At which point we decided turn back. Black Tusk is not a mountain I want to be stuck on with no visibility.
Once back at the campsite, we quickly packed our stuff and rushed down the mountain. With 1 kilometer left to the parking lot, we were caught in the storm and got completely drenched. However, thankful that we made the call to come down a day early instead of staying that extra night. It would have been miserable.
4. Great for Beginners
The trail head is about an hour drive from Vancouver. The trail itself to the Garibaldi Lake campsite is well-marked and maintained. If anything it is so well maintained, it’s one grade below a paved trail.
There are no exposed areas or steep sections. From the parking lot it starts flat for the first little bit, followed by 9 kilometers of switchbacks at a steady incline. Making it much easier than your typical Pacific North West Trail, which are full of steep ups and steep downs, roots, rocks, snow and mud.
Check out more about the trail description on Vancouver Trails.
5. Garibaldi Lake is Not the Place to Find Peace and Quiet
Camping at Garibaldi Lake is scenic, not peaceful. I know my photos depict tranquility, but that is not the case.
This hike, being such a great place for beginners, attracts many school groups, summer camps and families with young children. Thus, leaving not a shred of silence anywhere. Especially at the campsites.
Emma and I did not anticipate this and wish we had brought ear plugs. There were kids running around screaming nonstop till almost 10pm. I have other friends who have also done this hike and have said the same thing.
6. Expect Snow
**This is only if you are hiking to Panorama Ridge and Black Tusk.
Each had snow, but Black Tusk so more than Panorama Ridge.
Emma and I didn’t bring any snow gear, making the hike up a constant fight. We managed to make it with just our hiking boots and trekking poles. However, we wished we brought proper gear.
7. Get Up Early to Get There Early
When you book your spot at Garibaldi Lake, you don’t actually get to choose what site you get. You choose your spot upon arrival. Meaning, the first to arrive get the best selection of campsite. The only way to score a good spot is to get there before anyone else. Meaning wake up early to get there early.
Emma and I were lucky and arrived early afternoon. Many of the lake front sites were taken, but we found a nice area close to the outhouse (without the smell) and to the cooking shelter. We felt like winners.
8. Don’t Pack 3 litres of Water
I made this mistake and humped an extra 2 litres (5 pounds) up the mountain, when 1 litre would have been enough! The Garibaldi campsite is next to lake where you can fill up, as long as you have some sort of water cleansing system. Whether it be a filter, a way to boil the water or purifying tablets. Myself, I used purify tablets, followed by boiling the water.
9. Prepare to be Blown Away
I’ve seen many incredible vistas and landscapes during my adventures, this makes one of my of top 5.
For a relatively easy hike, the pay off was phenomenal. From the endless mountain Ranges, to Black Tusks raw rugged landscape. This place was natures eye candy. All within an hours drive of Vancouver.
Even though you may not get the peace and quiet of nature here, you will get to see some of Mother Natures brilliance.