The hike to Garibaldi Lake starts from the Rubble Creek parking lot, about 70 km from Vancouver, between Squamish and Vancouver. It is a 9 km (18 km return) hike to reach the stunning, glacier-fed lake, 1,450m above sea level. The first 6km takes you on a switchback mountain trail through forest and plentiful of Western and Red Cedar and Douglas Fir trees. Around the 30 minute mark from the start, there is a creek crossing where you can fill up on water supplies. Water along the way is not plentiful, so make sure that you carry enough water with you. The next hour and a half is a rather relentless uphill climb on the switchback trial.
After counting down five gruelling kilometres, you will reach a lookout point over The Barrier. The Barrier is a lava dam that contains the Garibaldi Lake system. A sheer cliff is the result of a massive landslide that happened in 1885. Just beyond the 6km marker, you will find a junction that allows you to either go to the Taylor Meadows campground or Garibaldi Lake. This is a good place to have a rest. Keep right at the 6 km junction and follow the trail towards Garibaldi Lake. At this pint most of the elevation gain will be behind you. During the final 3 km towards Garibaldi Lake, you will pass Barrier Lake and Lesser Garibaldi Lake. These lakes are providing a glimpse of what is to come.
A few small creeks, feeding into Lesser Garibaldi Lake, crisscross the trail along the way to Garibaldi Lake. After you have passed Lesser Garibaldi Lake, you'll cross a wooden bridge over Taylor Creek. After 20 minutes, you will come to another junction that leads to either Taylor Meadows or Garibaldi Lake. Stay on the trail for Garibaldi Lake. You will start descending towards Garibaldi Lake. A spectacular view of the pristine turquoise Garibaldi Lake and Sphinx glacier awaits you.
Toilets at Garibaldi
Pit toilets are located at several points along the route to Garibaldi Lake including at the Rubble Creek parking lot, Taylor Meadows campsite, The Black Tusk junction, and Garibaldi Lake.
Dogs at Garibaldi
Dogs are not allowed at Garibaldi Lake or on any other trails in Garibaldi Provincial Park.
Camping in Garibaldi Provincial Park
The campsite at Garibaldi Lake is popular in the summer and can be a great point to access longer hikes to Black Tusk or Panorama Ridge. In addition, a campsite at Taylor Meadows is also available.
The summer hiking season is from June to October each year. These months are normally the driest months of the year. It normally starts icing and snowing during the second half of October and the winter season takes effect from November until March. Garibaldi is also a popular destination for snow shoeing during the winter months. Visit the "Garibaldi in Winter" section to learn more.
Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake are amazing places to snowshoe in the winter. Snowy meadows mountains and glaciers will surround you. The famous Black Tusk are transformed and blanketed in snow. Garibaldi Lake is accessible with the right winter hiking gear during the winter months. Garibaldi Lake is dramatically beautiful in the winter as it lies in a huge frozen valley.
The downside to this hike is the length of hiking to get to the beautiful parts. In the summer it is not so bad as the trail is moderately difficult. In the winter however, the trail is more difficult. Also, the road leading from the Sea to Sky Highway to the trailhead parking lot is unplowed. So to get to the trailhead requires an additional 2 km uphill snowshoe. If you are not troubled by quite a bit of extra exertion, then this snowshoe up to Garibaldi Lake will certainly be a memorable one.
To reach the Rubble Creek parking lot of Garibaldi Provincial Park (the start of the trail to Garibaldi Lake), take Highway 99 (Sea to Sky Highway) heading north to Squamish. After reaching Squamish, continue northbound towards Whistler for another 32 km. Watch for Garibaldi Provincial Park signs on your right. The turnoff is a small, paved road on the right of the highway that is easy to miss. Once on the Rubble Creek Road, continue for two kilometres until you reach the parking lot.