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BC Coast :: Squamish To Whistler :: Garibaldi - Panorama Ridge

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Rainbow LakeWide pano of Rainbow lake in February 2015 from bridge at lake outlet
Panoramic views from south slopes of Panorama ridge.  Gentian peak left, Castle Towers behind to the right.  Sphinx glacier upper center,  Mt. Garibaldi rising above Sentinel Bay center right

Abstract

Overall Difficulty D5 Well defined and traveled park trail. Moderately steep talus slope. No technical difficulty, but for a day hike trip is long with considerable elevation gain
Snow Factor S3 Frequently done in winter. Low avalanche danger.  Due to overall length, it is fairly challenging as day trip
Scenery Spectacular viewpoint of Garibaldi basin is one of classic motifs of BC Coast Mountains.  Pretty Taylor meadows, great views of Black Tusk and far reaching views towards Whistler and Duffey are some of other highlights
Trail/Marking Excellent Well-marked and maintained trail park trail
Suggested Time 8-9 hrs Return time with sustained moderate pace from Rubble creek parking in summer conditions.
Elevation Start: 580m    Max: 2100 (Ridge Highpoint)   Total: ~1500m Round Trip: ~29 km
Gear Light hikers (summer) or full hiking boots. Gaiters helpful for boggy section in Taylor meadows. Snowshoes or micro-spikes in winter
Water Reliable year-round creek in Taylor campground.  Several seasonal streams beyond.  Carry 1-2 L
Dog Friendly No Dogs are not allowed in Garibaldi park

 

Gallery

Taylor meadows along main park artery. Black Tusk behind

Black Tusk lake and Panorama ridge near Helm junction

Tantalus range to the west from lower ascent slopes

Black Tusk - eternal symbol for this part of the world

Be wary of pocket glacier at north side of the ridge

Castle Towers from Panorama ridge. Gentian peak left

Garibaldi Lake from Panorama RidgeGaribaldi Lake from Panorama Ridge Garibaldi Lake basin from Panorama ridge

Garibaldi LakeGaribaldi LakePanoramic view of Garibaldi Lake from Panorama ridge. It is very difficult to make a decent shot because of lighting conditions - sun hangs above the lake most of the day Garibaldi lake pano. Takes ~2 hrs to cross in winter (1 way)
Taylor meadows in November after early snowfall Pano of Black Tusk lake and Panorama ridge in winter Black TuskBlack TuskBlack Tusk from ascent slopes of Panorama Ridge View back to Black Tusk from ascent slopes in winter Classic view of Garibaldi Lake from ridge highpoint

 

Summary

Panorama Ridge is classic viewpoint of Garibaldi lake and one of most popular hikes in BC Coast mountains. Access is via main park artery that runs from Rubble creek to Cheakamus Lake above Whistler.  Although overall length is significant,  trip still lends itself well to day hike as trail is wide and well-graded, thus allowing for fast travel.  Overnight alternative is camping at Taylor meadows, then day hiking from there. Main advantage of overnight trip is enough time to explore beyond ridge highpoint towards Gentian peak and/or traverse of entire Gentian ridge and sub-sequent loop return via Helm creek.  Parties have also been known to bivi at one of corrals along the ridge.  This option is popular with photographers, as sunrise shots from Panorama are spectacular, while mid to late afternoon does not lends itself well to photography due to position of the sun. Note though that overnight anywhere except in designated park campgrounds (Garibaldi lake, Taylor meadows, Helm creek) is not allowed.

Park at Rubble creek parking lot and follow wide and super busy trail for 6.5 km to marked Taylor junction (about 1.5 hr of fast pace).  Turn left and reach Taylor meadows campground in another 30-40 minutes, then continue in easterly direction along the main trail.  Sections of trail are very boggy approaching Black Tusk turnoff; BC Parks have done plenty of work here to prevent erosion, so please stay on trail even if it means having muddy boots. Helm junction is reached in about 1 1/2 hour from the campground. Turn right and descend to Black Tusk lake, then follow marked trail ascending the ridge directly in front of you.  Views of Black Tusk behind you are simply spectacular and you are sure to make many photo breaks. Trail enters talus field halfway up, then ascends a bit more steeply but is never challenging. In winter posts with red wands mark the way.  Highpoint of the ridge is serious "ahhh" point as entire Garibaldi lake spreads below you.  As one might expect, it is also very popular so solitude might be hard to find.  If the wind is too strong, it is possible to drop 100 vertical meters or so towards the lake for more sheltered area, and possibly even better viewpoint.  Many other objectives can be readily studied from here.  Obvious one directly in front is Gentian peak - an easy scramble on broken talus. Behind are Castle Towers, while east end of Garibaldi lake lies below. Sharp eyes can spot VOC Burton Hut (very popular winter overnight spot) below Sphinx glacier. On the other side are Sentinel Bay, Glacier Pikes, Table and Mt. Price (great day hike from Rubble creek as well).  

Winter visit is feasible, but considerably more difficult due to shorter daylight while travel is not as fast as in summer.  You also might need to walk additional couple of kilometers from Sea-to-Sky as approach road is not plowed.

Note that car break-ins are very frequent in Rubble creek parking lot. Most break-ins appear to happen in wee hours of the morning, thus backpackers are in most risk.  Despite public outcry, situation has improved little over the years. Best strategy is to leave vehicle unlocked with compartments open and empty clearly showing that nothing of value is kept inside.