Garibaldi Lake

April 15, 2007

The trail is wide and it goes through a forest of Douglas fir and hemlock. After 25 minutes you will start to see cedars and very soon you will cross a small creek -- the only source of water before the lakes --.

After 6 kms you will reach a junction, the right one goes to Garibaldi Lake, the left one goes to Taylor Meadows and Black Tusk Meadows.

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Very soon you will be snowshoeing on the shores of Barrier Lake. This is a natural dam (better know as The Barrier) that formed about 12,000 years ago when lava pouring from an erupting Mount Price encountered a big glacier.

Should the Barrier completely collapse, Garibaldi Lake would be entirely released and downstream damage in the Cheakamus and Squamish Rivers would be considerable, including major damage to the town of Squamish and possibly an impact-wave on the waters of Howe Sound that would reach Vancouver Island.

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Barrier Lake

After Barrier Lake you will reach Lesser Garibaldi Lake.

Lesser Garibaldi lake supports good numbers of small Rainbows up to 1+ lbs.

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Lesser Garibaldi Lake

Concerns about the Barrier's instability due to volcanic, tectonic, or heavy rainfall activity prompted the provincial government to declare the area immediately below it unsafe for human habitation in 1981. This led to the evacuation of the nearby village of Garibaldi, British Columbia, and the relocation of residents to new recreational subdivisions away from the hazard zone.

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Bridge on Taylor Creek

After 3 hours of hiking you will crossed the bridge over Rubble Creek that feeds from Garibaldi Lake to Lesser Garibaldi. There you will have the first views of Garibaldi Lake.

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Garibaldi is the most used wilderness park in British Columbia. It became a provincial park in 1920, and has never failed to draw visitors from near and far.

During the summer months Garibaldi Provincial Park is a backpackers haven, with short day hikes and lengthy difficult hiking trails. Come winter, cross country skiing and snowhoeing becomes the big activities in the region, with countless trails, zigzagging the park.

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Walking east you can have some views of The Bookworms, The Sphinx, Guard Mountain, and Deception Peak

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Garibaldi Lake with the Sphinx Glacier on the distance

There are many glaciers sorrounding Garibaldi Lake but the most noticeable is Sphinx Glacier. This glacier has two parallel lobed tongues which descend to Sphinx Bay. From the bay these lobes appear to form the paws of the Sphinx while the summit resembles the head of the mythical beast.

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Sphinx Glacier

During the summer, access to the eastern end of the lake is severely limited, since no trails have been constructed along the steep and unstable slopes which plunge directly into the lake. During winter, the lake is typically frozen from late December to late April, allowing backcountry skiers and snowshoers to easily reach the far shore. A pair of small alpine huts are located in Sphinx Bay on the eastern shore and Sentinel Bay at the southeastern tip of the lake.

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Garibaldi was designated a provincial park on April 29, 1920, only the second park established by the BC government. In these early days BC Parks was not given a budget to manage the park, and they proposed that the park should be logged in order to provide revenues to manage it.

Individuals who loved the park, like botanist Bert Brink, raised a great deal of opposition to this and insisted that Garibaldi should have its own management budget. While funds were not delegated to manage the park until after the Second World War, it did escape being logged. But even though today parks are seen as vital resources, conservationists still have to respond to proposals to log and mine in BC's provincial parks..

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Garibaldi is home to Grizzly Bear and Black Bear, Mountain Goats and Deer. The park is large and you won't find the concentration of large animals that you might in parks like Banff. Of course there are many smaller animals to see, such as Marmots, Squirrels and Chipmunks.

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If you want to have closer views of Black Tusk, you can do a little loop to Taylor Meadows (yellow line).

Hiking Trip Statistics

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Region: Howe Sound / Squamish
Difficulty: Advanced
Time: 9 hours
Distance: 18 km (12 miles)
Elevation Gain: 900 meters (2952 ft)
Hiking Season: August - October
Camping: Yes
Dog Friendly: No
Public Transit: No

1. Elev: 571m N49'57.456" W123'07.210" Km+0 Trailhead
2. Elev: 954m N49'57.433" W123'06.729" Km+3
3. Elev:1345m N49'56.876" W123'05.284" Km+6 Junction
4. Elev:1445m N49'56.736" W123'03.486" KM+9 Garibaldi Lake

How to get there

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To get to the trailhead, drive north on Highway 99 and 35 kilometres from Squamish, watch for the BC parks sign, turn right immediately after passing Rubble Creek and drive 3 kilometres to the parking lot.

Driving distance from Vancouver: 96 km (60 mi)
Driving time from Vancouver: Approx. 1 hour 45 minutes