Garibaldi Lake / Helm Creek Traverse
Posted: August 23, 2016
Written by Michael Chang
The Garibaldi Lake area of Garibaldi Provincial Park is one of the most popular areas to hike and camp in the Sea To Sky corridor. The most common route is to park at the Rubble Creek parking lot and then hike in towards Taylor Meadows or Garibaldi Lake. However, it’s possible to hike a one-way 25km route through the area by starting from the Rubble Creek parking lot and hiking through the Helm Lake area and ending at the Cheakamus Lake parking lot.
Hiking the route as a traverse from one end to the other is popular with trail runners and multi-night campers looking to further explore the area. If you are camping, you can plan to stay at Garibaldi Lake campsite, Taylor Meadows campsite, Helm Creek campsite, and / or Cheakamus Lake campsite. Please ensure to purchase your backcountry camping permits and make all the necessary reservations for these campsites with BC Parks before you leave for your trip.
In order to do this traverse, you will need to ensure that you have arranged transportation at both ends.
Since the Rubble Creek and Cheakamus Lake parking lots are very far from each other, you’ll have to consider one of the following options:
- 2 Cars – If you’re hiking with a small enough group of people, you can arrange 2 cars. Park one car at the lot where you expect to finish and then drive the group back to the starting parking lot. You’ll have to drive back around to pick up the other car when you finish the hike.
- 2 Cars, Pass The Keys – If you are hiking the traverse with two groups of people, one group can start from one end and the other group starts from the other end and you can meet along the trail and exchange car keys. MAKE SURE to set a meeting place and time because there is no reliable cell phone service in Garibaldi Provincial Park.
- Greyhound Bus – Greyhound will drop you off near the turn off for Garibaldi Lake along Highway 99. This has been confirmed with Greyhound as of August 2016, however the process is a bit confusing when booking a ticket. We were told that you have to pay for a ticket to Whistler then notify the driver that you want to be dropped off a the turnoff to Garibaldi Lake, then you’ll have to walk the 2km up the road to the trailhead. The challenge with this option is the pickup, so it’s recommended to end at the Cheakamus Lake parking lot, then follow the Riverside Trails down along the gravel road and walk into Whistler where there are Greyhound pickup points. The Greyhound option is best for multi-night campers and further planning should be done on Greyhound’s website.
Camping in the Garibaldi Lake, Taylor Meadows, or Helm Creek area allows you to hike some of the high elevation trails within the park and not have to rush to complete them within the day.
- Panorama Ridge – Hike up to the top of Panorama Ridge and enjoy the incredible view looking down towards Garibaldi Lake. On a clear day, you will be able to see Black Tusk and back through the Helm Lake area.
- Black Tusk – The steep hike up to Black Tusk, one of the Whistler area’s most iconic mountains, provides incredible views of the area. If you plan to climb onto the top of the tusk, you should bring proper climbing equipment as the loose rock through the final chute does not leave much margin for error.
While most of these trails can be done as day-hikes as well, to complete the entire traverse in a day, you will have to be moving fairly quickly and be in very good physical condition. As a multi-day camping experience, you’ll be able to enjoy the incredible scenery in Garibaldi Provincial Park at a much more leisurely pace.