British Columbians are quick to name the trek to Garibaldi Lake and The Black Tusk as one of their favorite hikes. The area is gorgeous with its stunning turquoise glacial lake, jade forests, and jagged black volcanos. Long ago, lava flows from these very volcanos blocked off the narrow valley, trapped glacial meltwater, and formed Garibaldi Lake. The hike is tricky though. The path relentlessly rises, loose stones can cause hikers to stumble, and getting to the summit requires some rock climbing. Only skilled hikers should make the trek. Less experienced hikers can complete the first part of the hike directly to the shores of Garibaldi Lake.
Here's how hikers can prepare for a successful trek to The Black Tusk.
What To Know About Hiking To The Black Tusk And Garibaldi Lake
The Black Tusk is about 80 km from Vancouver, British Columbia's largest city, but people planning to hike its slopes may want to stay nearer so they can get an early start. Whistler and Squamish are the nearest towns to the Rubble Creek trailhead, where the hike starts. Both are top Canadian destinations for skiing and outdoor sports.
People can make the 30 km roundtrip hike in a single day. Experienced hikers report that they complete the trek in eight or nine hours. Those who think that sounds strenuous should plan on taking two days. On the first day, they can hike nine km to Garibaldi Lake Campground. The next day, they should head to The Black Tusk which is six km from the lake. Then they can make the descent to the trailhead.
Hikers who have more time to explore the area could spend a third day hiking six km from the campground to Panorama Ridge. People who want to spend the night at one of the campgrounds must reserve a campsite at all times of the year. Additionally, travelers must get a free hiking permit through discovercamping.ca.
James Martin gave this advice in his review on google: "For strong and determined hikers with an early start, this is doable from the parking lot and back in a day. If that's not you, then best to camp at Garibaldi Lake. The climb to the base of the tusk is difficult and can be mostly in the snow up until August when it becomes loose rocks. Getting to the top of the tusk requires some nerve and some rock climbing experience. It's a vertical climb in spots with extreme exposure, if you slip or fall it will be BAD! Please don't attempt this without the appropriate skills."
No matter how many days travelers take to explore Garibaldi Provincial Park, they'll need to carpool and set out before 9 AM. There is limited parking at the trailhead and it fills up quickly since Garibaldi Lake is such a popular day-hike destination.
Hikers should visit The Black Tusk between July and October. In early July, Lake Garibaldi is just about finished thawing and visitors may still find snow on stretches of the path. This is not a hike to take in snowy weather and it's fundamental to check the forecast before setting out.
What To Pack For A Hike To The Black Tusk
- Bear bell - Many hikers report bear sightings on this trail, so visitors should be aware and prepared. That could mean packing a whistle, bear bell, or bear spray.
- Bug repellant - There are a huge number of mosquitos and flies along this path.
- Long sleeve shirt - This is a great way to fend off bugs.
- Layers - Hikers may find that the weather is sunny and warm, but then a few minutes later cool wet winds pick up. The last stretch to Black Tusk's first chimney is especially windy and cold.
- Water grip shoes - The bridge to the campground at Lake Garibaldi is sometimes flooded. Having water grip shoes helps hikers keep their footing on this slippery surface.
- Swimsuit - Garibaldi Lake has chilly water temperatures, but hardy visitors may want to jump in. If that's the case, they'll be happy they stuffed swimsuits in their backpack.
- Water shoes - If visitors do opt for a quick dip on their way back from The Black Tusk, they'll need flip flops or water shoes for walking over the sharp stones that line the shore and lake bed.
- Snacks/picnic lunch - This is a long hike and there is nowhere to purchase food along the way. People should bring all the provisions they need.
- Water bottles - Although the water in Garibaldi Lake comes from mountain streams and glacial melt, that does not guarantee that it is safe to drink. Hikers should bring their own or boil it.
- Toilet paper - There are pit toilets at the Garibaldi and Taylor Meadows campgrounds, but the caretakers do not provide toilet paper.
- Trekking poles - The path has many steep stretches with loose stones. Trekking poles will give hikers additional stability.
- Extra socks - Many hikers say that descent back to the trailhead is so steep that it injures their toes and feet. Wearing extra socks may give just enough padding to protect feet.
- Moleskins - These doughnut-shaped foam pads for feet can alleviate pressure from areas that are prone to blisters.
- Sunglasses - The part of the path just before reaching Black Tusk's summit has a lot of loose dust and stones. Wearing sunglasses will protect hikers' eyes.
- Climbing gear - Scaling Black Tusk's chimney is dangerous. The volcanic rock is brittle and sharp. Pieces can break off as people climb up. Having the right gear is fundamental for those who want to complete the last leg of the hike.
- Helmet - The path to Black Tusk gets busy in the summer. Hikers higher up on steep stretches may accidentally push down loose rocks onto the heads of those below them.