One of the amazing things about living in Vancouver, British Columbia is the ability to complement an urban lifestyle in one of the world’s most stylish neighbourhoods with access to world-class mountains for hiking and other outdoor adventures.
We are always keeping an eye out for new areas to explore and Garibaldi Provincial Park, designed in 1927 and named in honour of Mount Garibaldi (itself named after the 19th century Italian patriot, Guiseppe Garibaldi) has 194,650 hectares of natural beauty to enjoy. That translates to near endless hiking opportunities. The park is located in the heart of the Coast Mountains just 70 kms north of Vancouver; a short drive up the scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway. We chose an approximately 20 km hike to view the snow-capped mountains and the blooms of the alpine flowers with a return route along the glacier-blue waters of Garibaldi Lake.
Hiking through the intense greenery of the west coast rainforest is always a treat to the senses; the scent of the moss and cedar bark, the babbling of sounds of streams down the mountainside, the alternating light-and-dark of the forest shadows.
Finishing the initial section of the trail rewards you not only with meadows of beautiful alpine flowers of Taylor Meadows, but also a view of the iconic Black Tusk. Garibaldi Provincial Park offers overnight camping at Taylor Meadows as well as at Garibaldi Lake.
Black Tusk is a pinnacle of volcanic rock at 2,319 m (7,608 ft) above sea level, the hard cinder core being all that remains of an extinct stratovolcano that formed over one million years ago. It is called ‘Landing Place of the Thunderbird’ by the Squamish people, and will be a landing place of ours on a future hike.
The views of both Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge are nothing short of postcard perfect. Be sure to bring your camera.
Refreshed by sips from the mountain stream, we turned our toes south and headed towards Garibaldi Lake for our picnic lunch (and to place the couple of beers we had packed up in the lake’s glacier-cold waters to chill).
As the trail descends, the shock of turquoise blue from the lake bursts through the trail’s tree trunks. The colour seems unreal, but is a result of the ‘glacial milk’ of sediment ground fine from the glaciers above and suspended in the waters of the lake.
A small wooden bridge crosses the stream that leads out from the lake and a raised wooden walkway follows the shore of the lake, leading you around the waters to the lakeside campsite and benches from which to enjoy a picnic lunch. Watch out for the chickadees though! They are well fed by the park’s visitors and will steal any unguarded treats.
We recommend you drop your drink of choice in the nearly ice-cold waters to chill and sit back and enjoy the views.
Cheers, British Columbia! You’re beautiful.
Hiking in the Vancouver, Coast & Mountains region