Garibaldi Lake

April 03, 2016

Accessible from the Rubble Creek parking lot just south of Whistler, the hike begins at the wooden steps along the top section of the parking lot.

The first 6 km of the trail is a gradual uphill climb through dense forests of Douglas Fir trees.

At times, the trail can seem like it goes on forever, however keep moving as the reward will be well worth the effort.

Shortly after the 6km mark, you reach a junction with a map of the surrounding area.

Going right takes you directly to Garibaldi Lake, the perfect option for those who may be short on time or want a shorter hike.

Barrier Lake

During winter and early Spring you can walk across Barrier and Lesser Garibaldi Lakes.

Lesser Garibaldi Lake

Lava flows from the volcanoes of Mount Price and Clinker Peak blocked the valley creating these lakes and the formation known as The Barrier.

This lava dam is over 300 m (1,000 ft) in thickness and about 2 km (1.2 mi) wide.

Lesser Garibaldi Lake

The unstable Barrier has in the past unleashed several debris flows in the area below the lake, most recently in 1855-56 forming a large boulder field which gives Rubble Creek its name.

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.

Lesser Garibaldi Lake

This led to the evacuation of the nearby village of Garibaldi, and the relocation of residents to new recreational subdivisions away from the hazard zone

Should the Barrier completely collapse, Garibaldi Lake would be entirely released and downstream damage in the Cheakamus and Squamish Rivers would be considerable.

This will also include major damage to the town of Squamish and possibly an impact-wave on the waters of Howe Sound that would reach Vancouver Island.

The traditional route goes around the lakes and includes the crossing of two bridges.

First bridge

Throughout most of the year, outflow from Garibaldi Lake occurs only via seepage through cracks in the lava dam, with Rubble Creek appearing from springs at the base of The Barrier.

Reaching Garibaldi Lake (second bridge)

The turquoise colour of the lake's water is due to glacial flour suspended in the meltwater from its two primary inflows, the large Sphinx Glacier to the east and the Sentinel Glacier to the south on the flanks of Mount Garibaldi.

Sphinx Glacier

Garibaldi Lake is 5 km long, 4 km wide, and 300 m in depth.

There are also trout in the lake which were introduced in the 1920s, so fishing can be done here.

Mount Price

Mount Price began its formation 1.2 million years ago and activity continued intermittently until about 10,000 years ago.

Even though the mountain has not erupted since the early Holocene epoch, it could erupt again.


Alongside the lake, you will find a few day-use cooking shelters, pit toilets and the campground.

Panorama of Garibaldi Lake, with the Sphinx Glacier and the volcanoes of Mount Prince and Clinker Peak at right

Directions: Take Highway #99 heading north passed Horseshoe Bay towards Squamish. Keep driving along the Sea to Sky highway all the way to Squamish. Once you hit downtown Squamish, watch your odometer and keep driving north for about another 37 km.

Keep a sharp eye out for the Garibaldi Provincial Park sign on your right. Just over the Rubble Creek Bridge you will take a right onto a small paved road that is not hard to miss. Just continue on for a few kilometers until you reach the Rubble Creek parking lot.



Distance one-way: 9.42 km
Allow 6 hours
Minimum Elevation: 542 m
Maximum Elevation: 1,426 m
Elevation gain: 913 m


Driving distance from Vancouver:
98.6 km
Driving time from Vancouver: Approx. 1 h 20 min