We waited patiently for our comrades to turn up early on a cloudy Sunday morning, warming our hands with our breakfast caffeine cups. An hour and fifteen minutes later we would arrive at the Garibaldi Lake hike parking lot, where campers' vehicles have overflowed beyond the parking lot and onto the winding road leading up to the hike.
We head up the lengthy set of switchbacks, starting out quite steep for the first 2.5KM and then levels out as we neared the 6KM mark. The entire journey to the lake is uphill, with intervals of flat paths, so prepare to work your leg muscles!
GARIBALDI LAKE HIKE QUICK FACTS
Time: 6 hours
(ascending and descending at a brisk pace with 1 hour at the lake for lunch)
Round Trip: 18KM
Season: July - October
(Early July you will still see snow on the trials so it is better to head up in August or September)
Dog Friendly: No
Public Transit: No
Travel Time By Car From Vancouver: 1 hour 30 minutes
There were numerous breaks for water and snacks, but we stopped more so for the playful creatures of nature shadowing our walk, such as the tiny hand-sized squirrels who were extremely friendly (if you have snacks for them!)
We pass several streams, each singing a similar rhythmic song as the water rushed downstream. A ways past the 3KM mark, you will see a sign for The Barrier Viewpoint - a definite must see as it holds the key to the origin of Garibaldi Lake. The Barrier is a lava dam, formed 9000 years ago, when large lava flows flowed from Clinker Peak down to the Cheakamus River Valley. At the time the valley was filled with glacial ice, and this helped to slow the lava flow. Eventually when the ice melted The Barrier was formed and water ponded behind it forming Garibaldi Lake. The cliff standing at close to a 90-degree incline offers a stunning view that looks out to the mountains.
An endurance-testing 2 hours and 45 minutes after we leave the starting point we catch the first glimpse of the crystal clear jewel green hue Garibaldi Lake.
We thought we were already at the infamous lake once we caught sight of the water, but it took another 5 minutes before we were able to take in the breathtaking views of the Black Tusk peak (a further hike up that will require overnight camping). You are welcome to hike up with your camping gear to camp at either the Taylor Meadows Campground or the Garibaldi Lake campground. Visit the link to reserve your camping spot up to 4 months in advance and reservations are required during peak season. Check out time is at noon to allow for new arrivals for that day to find a spot to set up their tents and settle in.
This is the point to enjoy your lunch at the scenic point you worked so hard to reach. After resting your feet, prepare for close to 2 hours of a downhill trek. Hiker's tip: descend with sideways steps at steep points so it will be easier on your knees. A note to bring enough water for the duration of the hike - we recommend 1.5 Litres of water per person to stay hydrated. Also bring a jacket as it gets quite cold nearing the lake as you reach higher elevations.
The weather was perfect with the clouds sheltering us from the summer sun, allowing us to stay cool amidst the intense physical activity. Garibaldi Lake is a highly recommended hike if you have a full day to dedicate to the trek. There are numerous other worthy hikes in the BC interiors, such as Joffre Lake. We hope you enjoy your stay in Beautiful British Columbia.