3 Awesome Hikes in Garibaldi Provincial Park
Location: Vancouver Coast & Mountains
Get There: Located alongside Highway 99 (Sea to Sky Highway), between Squamish and Whistler; five access points along the highway.
For More Info: env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks
Offering arguably the West Coast’s most scenic and wild-yet-accessible hiking trails, Garibaldi Provincial Park is a near 200,000-hectare expanse of jagged mountains, cerulean lakes and old-growth evergreens less than two hours’ drive from downtown Vancouver. With limited options considered “easy,” expect lung-busting elevation gains and very limited facilities — as well as alpine landscapes to bring a tear to your eye.
Easy-Intermediate: Elfin Lakes
Length: 22 km
Accessed from the popular Diamond Head Area, via Mamquam Road, Elfin Lakes is an excellent introduction to Garibaldi’s alpine trails. After trudging through a heavily forested wide-track for the first three kilometres, you’ll reach Red Heather Meadows (less-energetic hikers use this as a turn-around point) and enjoy alpine environments and flatter terrain with some wide-open vistas from here to the backcountry campsite at Elfin Lakes. A first-come, first-serve alpine hut, along with 14 tent platforms (per-person backcountry fees apply; $10 for tents; $15 for hut), pit toilets and food storage is available. In late summer/early fall, cool down with a dip in the lake. The campsite is a great staging point for a multitude of day-hikes, or a destination in itself.
Intermediate: Singing Pass
Length: 23 km
Accessed right from Whistler Village (follow the signs from the base of Whistler Mountain, near the bus loop), this hike challenges with 1,000 metres of elevation gain but rewards with arresting views of Cheakamus Lake and flowery alpine meadows. The trail starts alongside Fitzsimmons Creek before reaching Singing Pass. From there, you can either return to the village for a civilized dinner, or camp at Russet Lake, where you’ll find a small hut and pit toilets. Another, slightly easier, access to this hike is via the Whistler Mountain Gondola — ride up (ticket fee applies), then hike the 21 km downslope, past the musical bowls (Piccolo, Flute, Oboe), to Singing Pass then back to the village some eight or nine hours from whence you began.
Advanced: Black Tusk (Garibaldi Lake)
Length: 32 km
The skeleton of an ancient volcano, Black Tusk is the most recognizable prominence in Garibaldi Park. See it up close via a multi-day wilderness trek accessed via the Black Tusk/Garibaldi Lake Area, 40 km north of Squamish. The route to Garibaldi Lake is nine kilometres of picturesque, moderately challenging switchbacks; at the lake, you’ll find 50 tent sites, four cooking shelters and pit toilets. Pitch a tent here and fuel up before tackling the seven-kilometre trek (850 metres of elevation gain) to the base of Black Tusk. It is possible to climb The Tusk, but only skilled mountaineers should attempt this. Camp overnight at Garibaldi Lake and return to your car in the morning, or stay several days and explore the region’s copious trails.