Friends, hiking to Garibaldi Lake is gonna be a tale told mostly in pictures, because the story is this: “Dear God, dear God, why am I so unfit? Why am I doing this? What is happening? I’m familiar with the inside of a gym, aren’t I? Why are the elderly overtaking me? Then… Bleeping bleep it’s so beautiful!”
But as far as giving you the low down on what to expect when hiking to Garibaldi Lake (other than the aforementioned torment), there’s a few things that are nice to know.
Don’t Park At the Bottom:
Garibaldi Lake is in British Columbia, Canada, about 25 minutes from the town of Whistler. If it’s a busy season hiking Garibaldi Lake is going to be very popular, so unless you are an organised traveller and get up early in the morning (aka not me) the parking lot will have filled up and people will have been parking on the side of the road all morning. But here’s the thing, if you get there 5 hours from daybreak – so anytime after 11am people (who are fit) will already be leaving. So don’t park behind the last car on the road. Drive all the way up and then if there’s nothing at the top make your way back and park in the nearest spot. You’re going to be walking anywhere from 5-7+ hours and the added walk is brutal, especially on the way back.
What to Take:
It’s a 18.5 km (12 mile) round trip so take food, water, sunscreen, a hat and, although you may curse carrying it, a nice camera if you have one (you’re going to want it). Also bring some TP just incase the porta-potties don’t have any. This is all pretty standard stuff I would say. Also try to get your hands on a hiking stick. I found one there, just an actual stick (pictured above) and it became necessary for my staying upright. The trail is pretty clear so you don’t have to stress too much about keeping your limbs covered.
What’s the best route?
I suggest taking the ever so slightly longer route up to Taylor Meadow, the meadow is really beautiful and there are toilets there! If you plan on camping overnight anywhere near Garibaldi Lake you may need a permit. Check here to see if you need a permit.
On the way back you can take the shorter route and that way you’re pretty much all downhill on the way back. You’ll be exhausted but do bother to stop at Barrier Viewpoint.
We saw a couple of chipmunks. I heard some people saying they could see a bear, but we couldn’t see it, although I did hear something. There are bears in the area, but they mostly stay off the trails.
How Long It Really Takes:
I honestly don’t want this to go unheeded, it took us 7 and a half hours to get up and down. Some sites say 5 hours, but we are not regular hikers. This time does include lots of rest and photo stops and a decent stop at the lake. But allow yourself 8 hours before dark if you’re not a regular hiker. They suggest the difficulty is intermediate. Which I understand, it’s not particularly hairy as hikes go, but it is physically super taxing and it can get very steep with approximately one million switch backs. But in the end…
Yes It Is Worth It!
I can’t, even the photos can’t, express the beauty that is Lake Garibaldi. If I had any breath left in my lungs by the time we reached the top, it was taken away again. I mean, just look at this freakin’ place!
Who has been to Garibaldi Lake? What did you think? Let us know!
Written by: Taryn