Helm Creek to Black Tusk

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

Whistler is a Canadian resort town in the southern Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains in the province of British Columbia, Canada, approximately 125 km (78 mi) north of Vancouver. … 

Over two million people visit Whistler annually, primarily for alpine skiing and snowboarding and, in summer, mountain biking …

Very few of those 2 million visitors climb up to one of the most iconic Canadian peaks, Black Tusk.

The Black Tusk is a stratovolcano and a pinnacle of volcanic rock in Garibaldi Provincial Park of British Columbia, Canada. At 2,319 m (7,608 ft) above sea level, the upper spire is visible from a great distance in all directions. It is particularly noticeable from the Sea-to-Sky Highway just south of Whistler


Black Tusk
Black Tusk

Most hikers approach from the Taylor Meadows campground to the south near Garibaldi Lake, although there is a second route from the north that travels by way of Helm Lake. …

Locals advised me to avoid the crowded trailhead off the highway, and hike via the Helm Creek Trail instead. That’s the Cheakamus Lake trailhead, closer to Whistler.

I bought my $10 / person / night camping permit online from BC Parks. You can pay cash at a machine only at the Diamond Head and Garibaldi Lake parking lots, not at the Cheakamus Lake parking lot.

Why doesn’t BC Parks have an office somewhere near Whistler?

Cheakamus Lake to Black Tusk Meadows via Helm Creek:

• Length, 14.5 km; suggested time, 6 to 7 hours one way;
• elevation change, 600 metres.
• 1.5 km along the Cheakamus Lake trail, drop down to a bridge across the Cheakamus River.

P1300549 P1300552On the other side of the river the trail switchbacks upward steeply to the Helm Creek Campground.

P1300561 P1300566I carried on to gorgeous Black Tusk Meadows.

P1300577Hikers coming down from the south summit told me it was too late in the day for me to start up.

After weighing my options (I was carrying a head lamp) I finally decided to wander the meadows, instead.

P1300572 P1300581 P1300589It turned out to be a leisurely night.


Next morning I turned my back on Black Tusk and headed back down to my car.

P1300610 P1300611

I had time for a sidetrip to pretty Cheakamus Lake via lush temperate rain forest.

P1300622 P1300624 P1300625Black Tusk is off limits to mountain bikes, but the ride to this lake is superb.

All in all, a wonderful 2-day hike.

If I had one more day I would have done the 34km route Helm Creek, Panorama Ridge and Black Tusk shoulder detailed in this 9min video.

Click PLAY or watch Summer hiking featuring Helm Creek, Panorama Ridge and Black Tusk on YouTube.

I might even exit from there to the highway. It’s still possible to hitchhike near Whistler. 🙂

more photos from my hike

related – BC Parks – Garibaldi Provincial Park

5 Replies to “Helm Creek to Black Tusk”

  1. I’m looking to do Black Tusk next weekend, but my limitation is that I can’t get out of Vancouver until about 5pm on Friday night, which would mean we start hiking at about 7pm. How far is Helm Creek from the parking lot? Do you think it’s do-able before dark?

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