Garibaldi Lake is gorgeous, pristine and simply worth hiking to more than once. We love it there and it’s so easy to get to from Vancouver, B.C. that if you can add it to your must hike lists I recommend it. This is our experience:
First of all, you need to hike 9 km up some rather steep switchbacks which are not too bad unless you are carrying everything you need for food, shelter and clothing on your back. We’ve seen lots of people that do this hike in a day, more like a good day hike but it’s so amazingly gorgeous once you get there that I couldn’t imagine spending at least one night to enjoy it. Plus, there are more hikes you can do from there on your second or third days.
We went up this year at the end of July during the long weekend and it almost felt like the Grouse Grind. Packed with people, tour groups, you name it. At the junction where the path continues to the lake or heads left to Taylor Flats, a sign was posted stating that the lake campsites were full. We didn’t want to take a chance and headed to the flats.
What a beautiful decision that was! The flats are lovely, creeks running through, sub alpine flowers blooming or almost blooming and platform campsites which keep your tent off the ground in case of wet weather.
There is a shelter here and cables for hanging your food supply.
We chose a lovely spot with the creek rushing just down from our site.
It was about a 2 km walk from here to the lake and if you’ve never been to Lake Garibaldi, it’s well worth the trip. The lake is the most turquoise color surrounded by large lava rock formations and snow covered peaks. The water is glacier cold, but we managed to get in and talk about refreshing!
Kids on the trail? Can they do it? We saw so many kids doing this, some for the day, some like ours with small packs on their backs. The youngest child we saw there was seven years old and she loved it! I was amazed by how petite she was and how she and her 9-year-old brother hiked like it was any ordinary day.
Mosquitoes? Horrible. And I honestly think they are somewhat immune to DEET. We are going to invest in bug helmets and I’ll let you know what we think after we use them.
Water source: I was pretty surprised by the number of day-hikers who thought there would be a clean water tap up at the lake. I was pumping water through our filter into bottles and ended up volunteering to pump water for a few people who needed it to get back down. You need to bring some water filtration system with you. We use a great pump, there are chemical drops you can use, we only bring them with us as a backup, and there is also the Steripen which we’ve looked into but haven’t tried yet.
Garbage: Pack in what you pack out. That’s the rule; it’s a general camping/hiking etiquette tip too. So make sure you’ve brought a Ziploc bag or something you can store your garbage into especially if you’re staying overnight.
For this two nighter with one of our kids with us, we decided to take it easy and hike between the flats and the lake and enjoy. Fishing quick dips into the lake and reading while sunning on the lava rocks were heavenly.
I will admit to heavy rainfall, some sleet and a big thunder and lightning storm on our first night. You never know how the weather will change when you are in the mountains so be prepared.
I highly recommend this hike for either a day hike or camping for a night or two. Leave early if you’re going up on the weekend. Just make sure you are prepared. And another note for those not familiar with this one, no campfires ever in the back country.
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