how to hike to garibaldi lake canada

I’ve done a lot of incredible hikes this year but one that stands out. There were the incredible views on our hikes in Arches National Park and our hike into the Grand Canyon itself. But one of the best hikes was a recent Canadian hike to Garibaldi Lake near Whistler.

The hike was long and pretty steep but 100% rewarding when you make your way out of the forest and are faced with this….

hike to garibaldi lake

This is one hike I would definitely recommend if you’re heading to Vancouver or Whistler! Let me know if you’ve done it too in the comments below and how you found it!

Garibaldi Lake

Garibaldi Lake Hike Stats

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 18km round trip
Elevation Gain: 810m
Time needed: 5-6 hours (plus an extra 1-2 hours to explore & enjoy the lake!)
Driving time from Vancouver: 90 minutes

hiking to garibaldi lake

Introduction to hiking Garibaldi Lake

Garibaldi Lake is 1,1450m high and is surrounded by snow-capped mountains (even in August when we went!) and alpine meadows. The lake is definitely not one you’ll find yourself doing sustained swimming in since it’s glacier-fed (aka FREEZING). Although it is nice to jump into quickly after you’ve got pretty hot and sweaty on the hike!

Hiking to Garibaldi Lake is a great day hike and there are plenty of different routes should you want a camping and hiking weekend such as Black Tusk which Thom and a friend did a few weeks later.

Hiking Garibaldi Lake

hiking garibaldi lake

The Garibaldi Lake hike starts at the car park called Rubble Creek. Be warned that you should turn up very early if you want to get a spot in the car park. We turned up in the early afternoon and ended up having to park about 2km away from the start of the trail!

The first 6km of the hike takes you through a forest of Western Red Cedar and Douglas Fir trees and feels like a pretty long slog after a while (especially if you’ve got camping stuff with you!).

Just past the 5km mark you’ll see a sign pointing off to a view of The Barrier. The Barrier offers great views and shows you just how far up you’ve already climbed! The Barrier is actually a lava dam and is 300m thick!

As you reach 6km you can either choose to extend your hike slightly by heading off to Taylor Meadows or head straight to Garibaldi Lake. One you’ve reached this part most of the climbing is behind you and you’ll finally see some water in the form of Barrier Lake and Lesser Garibaldi Lake. Both are beautiful colours but are just a tease of what’s to come in a few more kilometres.

Once you leave Lesser Garibaldi Lake you’ll cross a wooden bridge which takes you over Taylor Creek. Stay on the path for Garibaldi Lake and you head down down some more switchbacks to the lake. It’s here you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view of Garibaldi Lake, and the Sphinx Glacier above it!

Camping at Garibaldi Lake

There are 50 camping spots around Garibaldi Lake but they do get booked up early. Between June 29th and September 30th you MUST book a spot. At all other times I’d suggest you do anyway – you won’t want to turn up and find all the spots are gone!

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To book your camping spot at Garibaldi Lake head to the Discover Camping website.

Garibaldi Lake hike map