Garibaldi Lake hike, Whistler B.C.

• 7.5km to Taylor Meadows campground one way
• 920m elevation gain to Garibaldi Lake
• #1 hike in Garibaldi Provincial Park
• option to climb Black Tusk

I tented free north of Whistler on the river at the Wedgemount turn-off.

After a Tim Horton’s stop, I drove south to the easily accessible, always crowded, Rubble Creek parking lot trailhead.

Minutes after starting up the switchbacks you can no longer hear highway traffic. The big trees of the temperate rain forest are tranquil.

It’s a long easy climb to Taylor Meadows campsite. I had a choice of platform or gravel pad choosing the gravel since it was dry.

You must book online or by phone. I paid C$16.30 total.

After touring the large campsite and some relaxation time in the tent, I headed up towards Black Tusk, another 5km up and up.

The trails are excellent.

Many come for the wildflowers.

Nice. But I’d recommend they book a trip to the Rockies instead. Waterton National Park, for example.

I love alpine meadows. These are terrific.

There’s the big attraction.

At this point I was still considering trying the summit. A 100m scramble up a chute, easier up than down. Weather was perfect for it.

Though this hike is called Garibaldi Lake, I didn’t actually get to the lake.

I could have called it the Black Tusk Viewpoint hike.

Here’s the final approach to the Viewpoint.

People were up top.

One group coming down told me they’d started up the chute and climbed most of the way up … before opting to descend. Sketchy was their opinion.

It was late in the afternoon. So I decided to stop here at the Viewpoint.

I have an excuse to return.

So … I enjoyed the unbelievable vista around Garibaldi Lake. Then headed back to camp with plenty of daylight to spare.

See all my high resolution photos on flickr.

For more information click over to Outdoor Vancouver – Garibaldi Lake Hike near Whistler

Half Note Trail, Whistler B.C.

• 3.2km loop
• start and finish Whistler Mountain Gondolas

An old hiker’s argument – “Is it cheating to take the Gondola?”

I rode the Whistler’s Peak Express Gondola. It was great to arrive at the very top of a mountain. (day pass C$53.95)

Hot down in the village, it was much cooler on Whistler Summit well above the tree line. Many tourists were under dressed. Some wore flip-flops.

The BIG view is over to Black Tusk.

The High Note trail formerly started at the Inukshuk

When I was there it had been changed to start at the (very popular) short road hike called Mathews’ Traverse.

Turn left for Mathews’. Turn right for the High Note Trail, a long traverse leading to the Musical Bumps (Piccolo, Flute and Oboe ridge summits).

After a steep descent (hard on the toes) Half Note is mostly a pretty traverse high up on the mountain.

In perfect weather like this the High Note was easy. I’m sure it can be horror show in bad weather, however.

Many on the trail were her for wildflowers.

Black Tusk watches from on high.

Last time I hiked to Black Tusk I came up via impressive Cheakamus Lake.

Decision time …

I opted to take the shorter version called Half Note. High Note from this point is 3.7km longer.

Though July had been very dry, there’s still plenty of snow on this mountain.

These have to be the cutest trail signs anywhere.

After so much good trail I was surprised to end up on some rocky scrambles.

The last section rejoins Mathews’ Traverse road.

Here’s an example of just how much snow they get in Whistler.

All in all a beautiful and very easy hike if you have good weather.

Half Note ends up at Roundhouse Lodge. I caught the Peak 2 Peak. Then descended to Blackcomb Base and found a $55 parking ticket on my rent-a-car. I’d love to be indignant … but I totally deserved it. There was simply no legal parking of any kind available in Whistler on a sunny Friday. I waited a half hour in the big lots before giving up the legal option.

See all my high resolution photos on flickr.


I’d originally planned to do Musical Bumps trail from the top of Whistler’s Peak Express Gondola.

On the way up I noticed a sign saying Musical Bumps was closed. No reason given, not unusual in Canada.

It turned out to be too ambitious for me in any case that day. I’ll do it in future 2 days / 1 night camping at Russet Lake.

The Perfect Hike – Joffre Lakes B.C.

Pemberton’s most popular day hikeJoffre Lakes — is famous for 3 stunning turquoise glacier-fed lakes.

  • 11km round trip plus scramble above the highest lake
  • elevation gain 350m
  • access from high elevation, paved highway 99

Seems to me Joffre Lakes is the perfect hike. Let’s say you want to take non-hikers or small children to wilderness. The first lake is only a few minutes from the parking lot on very good trail.

Groups that turn back here have a good experience in a rich, temperate rain forest.

Most hikers continue on to Middle Joffre. The trail gets increasingly rugged. It’s a challenge, actually.

Still, everyone looked extremely happy here.

The bravest venture out like gymnasts on the “fallen log”.

English is not the first language of the trail. I heard more Mandarin and German.

A surprise. I bumped into Canadian Olympic gymnast Scott Morgan. He and his girlfriend had come up to Whistler for a couple of days getaway.

Holloway Falls

The climb to Upper Joffree is a scramble at times though some sections have been improved. A hike you’ll not forget.

I carried a tent up the mountain despite the trailhead sign saying the campground was permanently FULL. (Worst case scenario I planned to wild camp.)

As expected, campsites were not nearly full. Many who book online for $5 later decide not to go. 😦

Only a few continue to scramble up the scree above the lake to the face of the cliff.

I left a Summit Stone on a large boulder.

At this point it was about 2pm. Too early to set up the tent, I thought. Should I circle Upper Joffre and then set-up?

Finally I decided to pack my tent back down to my rent-a-car. Get ready for tomorrow’s hike. (I tented for free on the river from the Wedgemount turn-off, a cyclists hangout.)

Still, I highly recommend Joffree to everyone.

See my high resolution photos on flickr.

Guidebook – 103 Hikes in Southwestern British Columbia


Elfin Lakes hike, Squamish B.C.

22km round trip to Elfin Lakes campground (600m gain) + Gargoyles side trip
• LOTS of snow at the end of July
• be prepared for very wet trails
• registration online or by phone required to stay overnight

From the start I had problems. First finding the trailhead out of Squamish, B.C. – street signage is not all that clear. I asked different mountain bikers to find the right gravel road.

Elfin Lakes is popular. The parking lot was full. I squeezed my rent-a-car in on the side of the approach.

The first 5km to Red Heather Meadows campground is a road.

You share most of this trail with mountain bikers. And chipmunks.

Breaking out of the trees first vista is impressive Diamond Head. Actually, that’s Atwell Peak. Many make the same mistake I did.

We’d enjoyed dry sunny weather for weeks at this point. Still many parts of the trail were wet with snow melt. Some sections have been improved.

On a hot day like this, walking snow fields was fun.

I’d read the hike was on Paul Ridge. True. But it’s not a ridge walk. Normally you are on one side of the ridge or the other, not the top.

Elfin Lakes campground. A beautiful scene.

You can sleep in a large shelter or tent on one of these side slope platforms.

Elfin Lakes are not lakes, they are meltwater ponds. One for drinking water. One for … swimming.

Earlier in the week a mouse had somehow gotten into my Ursack food bag while up on the line, so I switched to a dry bag.

I enjoyed a siesta in my tent (escaping the voracious bugs) and was sluggish getting going for the recommended side trip to the Gargoyles.

Here’s the trail from Camp leading to the Gargoyles. More interesting but wetter than the Elfin Lakes approach.

Climbing up to the Pass was easy but long. Snow conditions good, you simply walked in footprints or kicked in your own steps.

Looking over to the other side.

A trail runner came down recommending I scramble the Gargoyles.

Instead I listened to my audiobook and relaxed.

The next 3 hikers arrived keen to climb. One had been here before. I climbed up the first Gargoyle to take some photos. Wow.

Suddenly inspired I scrambled the ridge myself to the end to get to this view – scenery reminding me of the Himalayas.

That’s the 11.5km trail continuing to the new Rampart Ponds Campground (Mamquam Lake Campground is permanently closed).


See all my high resolution photos.

Guidebook – 103 Hikes in Southwestern British Columbia




hiking Stein Valley next week

Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I expect to hike the best parts of the Stein Valley  north of Whistler, B.C. next week.

Caltha peak (left) and Tundra Lake

Since I’m alone with a rent-a-car, I’ll start and finish at Lizzie Creek Forest Service Road.

Commentary on the Stein Traverse:

In various venues the Stein Traverse is described as either the ultimate wilderness experience, or a horrific slog. What it really is (from east to west) is 20km of pretty good trail, 40km of mostly poor trail with a few nice spots, 28km of incredible alpine and then a 12km green alder tunnel down an old logging road (to the Lizzie trailhead).

INTO CASCADIA – Stein Valley Park Guide

That’s the best site I’ve found for organizing this adventure.

Hardergrat: best hike in the world?

I’d never heard of Hardergrat. And I edit the site called BestHike. 🙂

How good could it be?

VERY good. A ridge 12 miles long.

Brendan Leonard:

The entire hike, from the base of the Harder Kulm train on the west end, to the Brienz Rothorn station on the east end, is 27 miles, with 10,200 feet of elevation gain—5,200 feet of that elevation gain in ups and downs after the halfway point, the summit of the Augstmatthorn.

It is a punishing, but beautiful day, along a sculpted mountain spine towering over two lakes, and paralleling the snowy Alps just six miles south as the crow flies. The best part might be the solitude: the heady terrain and committing nature keep the crowds away.


Start : Interlaken, Switzerland /   Finish : Brienzer Rothorn Station, train down to Brienz