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August’s Vancouver Hike Of The Month: Garibaldi Lake

Hikers at the boat dock on Garibaldi Lake. Photo: Taryn Eyton/

The hike to Garibaldi Lake is a Vancouver summer classic. The long, sunny days of August are a great time to tackle this moderately difficult trail. It starts with a long climb through the forest, but the sapphire blue lake and glacier views are worth the effort.


Safety First: AdventureSmart recommends bringing a backpack with essential safety and first aid gear on every hike. Check the forecast and pack extra clothing for the weather. Leave a trip plan so someone knows where you are going and when you will be back.


Trail Info: Moderately difficult, 18km round trip, 820m elevation gain, 6-7 hours, no dogs allowed, day pass required

Getting There: From Vancouver, take Highway 99 north. About 30 kilometres north of Squamish, watch for a sign reading “Garibaldi Lake: 2km”. Follow the highway across a bridge, then turn right onto Daisy Lake Road. Drive up this road to its end. Show your day pass reservation to the Park Operator, then find a spot in the large parking lot.

The Trail: The trail to Garibaldi Lake is well maintained and easy to follow. Read the signs at each junction and bring a copy of the park map to stay on track.

Find the trailhead behind the outhouse at the southeast corner of the parking lot. It begins with a short, steep switchback, then begins a long rising traverse through the forest. You can hear Rubble Creek rushing far below you. At the 2.5km mark, follow the trail as it makes a hard left and zigzags up the slope for several kilometres. This is the steepest and most challenging part of the hike.

Reach a junction and a large clearing at the 6km mark. A nearby outhouse and some benches make this a great place to take a break. When you’re ready to continue hiking, take the right fork to continue towards Garibaldi Lake. (Left goes to Taylor Meadows.) A few minutes later, follow a marked side trail downhill for a few minutes to a viewpoint of the Barrier. This huge wall of crumbling volcanic rock holds back the waters of Garibaldi Lake. In 1855 a huge section of the Barrier collapsed, giving Rubble Creek its name.

The Barrier on the way to Garibaldi Lake

The Barrier on the way to Garibaldi Lake. Photo: Taryn Eyton/

Retrace your steps back to the main trail and continue onward. The flattish trail skirts around Barrier Lake then climbs a small hill to Lesser Garibaldi Lake. Cross a high bridge over Taylor Creek, and follow the undulating trail through the forest. Ignore a trail heading left to Taylor Meadows, and keep going until you reach another junction. Turn right here and walk downhill to the outlet of Garibaldi Lake.

Cross the bridge, then follow the trail along the lakeshore for a few minutes. You have arrived at Garibaldi Lake! The area where the trail meets the lake has outhouses and picnic tables, so it’s a great spot for lunch. But be sure to explore the shoreline to find other quiet spots to sit. If you’re brave, go for a dip in the cold water. The gorgeous Sphinx Glacier across the lake dominates the view. At the far end of the campground at the ranger’s boat dock, you can even see Black Tusk. After you’ve enjoyed the scenery, head back to your car the way you came.

Swimmers in Garibaldi Lake

Swimmers in Garibaldi Lake. Photo: Taryn Eyton/

However, if you have a bit more energy, add a loop through Taylor Meadows to your trip. From the junction by the lake outlet, take the trail uphill and through alpine meadows littered with wildflowers to another intersection with a large signboard. Turn left and descend gently through the meadows, admiring the views of the Tantalus Range across the Squamish Valley. Pass through Taylor Meadows campground, then head back into the forest to return to the main trail at the 6km junction. This option will add 2.5km, 150m of elevation gain, and about 45 minutes to your hike.

Wildflowers in Garibaldi Provincial Park

Wildflowers near Taylor Meadows. Photo: Taryn Eyton/


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