Soaking in the view from the top of Panorama Ridge
Summer is here in Vancouver with sun filled days and the great outdoors calling. So it was time for a backpacking trip to Garibaldi Park! Hiking up to Panorama Ridge has been on my to-do list since I first found out about it two years ago when hiking the trail up to Black Tusk instead. From the Rubble Creek parking lot to the top of Panorama Ridge it took us about 9 hours of hiking with breaks to eat lots of chocolate included. The view from the top is nothing short of wowza.
Driving time from Vancouver: 1.5hrs
Moderate/Difficult hike via Panorama Ridge Trail
Mid-July trip, snow on trail higher past 1200m
Trail begins at Rubble Creek parking lot
Distance from parking lot to Garibaldi Lake (walk-in campsites): 8km, 3.5hrs one way
Distance from Garibaldi Lake to Panorama Ridge: 7km, 3hrs one way
Total distance return: 30km, 1525m elevation gain, 10hrs return trip
How much stuff can you fit into a backpack? If your pack can hold 60 litres, then you can stuff quite a bit! The trick is to use compression sacks, a gift sent from camping gear heaven. And it was only an overnight trip, so I could indulge a bit like bringing a bag of Jalapeno Kettle chips and my princess basecamp camping pillow. Yeah comfort!
Garibaldi Park is a very popular destination for day hikers and backpackers, so it’s best to get an early start. The campsite by Garibali Lake can get especially busy, so to ensure we would snag a good spot we had an early start. We arrived at Rubble Creek parking lot Saturday morning at 6.15am and already it was more than half full from people who probably camped over Friday night.
The hike up to Garibaldi Lake took about 3.5hrs with our full packs. If you were going for a day hike it could definitely done in less. After about 6km there’s a junction where if you go left for another 1.5km you will be at the Taylor Meadows campsite and going right for another 2km will lead you to the Garibaldi Lake campsite.
Garibaldi Lake being a glacial lake is a beautiful shade of aqua blue. It’s also super cold – I’ve jumped in before but personally can only last for a few minutes before I need to retreat to land to defrost in the sun. Definitely refreshing.
The water is so clear you can see right through
After setting up camp and inhaling lunch (the organic turkey pepperoni fried up on a camp stove with a squished croissant made for one delicious meal!) I had energy to continue up to Panorama Ridge.
The trail heading up away from Garibaldi Lake and up to Panorama Ridge
Colours beneath a tree canopy always seem to pop under the filtered sunlight – here I found beautiful shades of green
The trail up to Panorama Ridge is a wonderful blend of trail beneath canopy, in open fields with alpine flowers in bloom if you go in July, and a nice scramble up towards the top of Panorama Ridge. During the time I went in mid-July, there were snow fields that you would have to cross to reach the top but there was also some parts of exposed rock trail on the side to bypass parts of the snow fields.
Alpine flowers in bloom along the open trail
I think these are alpine cinquefoil? Regardless, they light up the way
We didn’t even have to worry about running out of water and going thirsty as the trail crossed many flowing streams. It’s always a good idea to treat any water before drinking it, I usually use a simple water treatment solution but out of curiosity I had a few gulps from the flowing stream and it sure did taste fresh and mountainous. Don’t drink water from a still source without treating it first though, as there’s a higher chance of bad stuff brewing in still water than in quickly flowing water.
One of the many streams of fresh water
After about 2hrs of hiking up we start to come across some patches of snow and I’m able to see the top of Panorama Ridge up ahead.
The signpost tells us it’s another 3km to go, and looking up I see a group of people making their way through the snow fields to get to the top.
This is where things can get tricky; after hiking up to the campsite with 15kg worth of stuff for 3.5hrs and then adding another 2.5hrs of hiking up to this point, slipping constantly to hike up a snow field can take out extra energy from you. Trekking poles will help a lot but I sometimes find poles more of a pain to use than a help (for some reason I always trip over mine, don’t ask why) so knowing that crossing a snow field would be on the menu from reading the Garibaldi Park trail report the night before, I brought my trusty pair of simple crampons.
With them strapped on to my hiking shoes it felt like a breeze going up the snow field. The snow was crunchy enough that the crampons had good grip, but it was soft enough to know that if you did happen to slip there won’t be any bruised knees. After about another 45 minutes of hiking up we reached the top to be greeted with a helluva view.
View from Panorama Ridge – down there below is our tent set up and waiting for our return
After eating some victory chocolate (Ritter Sport cornflakes chocolate is the way to go!) and soaking in the views it was time to head down. It was quite chilly and windy at the top, and now having fulfilled my goal I wanted to be in my warm sleeping bag in a lie down and chill out position.
I watched a group of people decide to slide down on their bums across the snow field and we figured we’d do the same to save the energy. An hour hike up was a ten minute slide down. It was really fun but for next time I would slide on a jacket to prevent my butt from getting soaked and wear gaiters so that the snow wouldn’t get all into my shoes getting my feet and shoes wet too. Luckily with the sun out and with quick dry shorts it wasn’t too much of an issue.
An hour up is ten minutes down via bum slide
It overall took 5.5hrs to hike up to Panorama Ridge and back to the campsite at Garibaldi Lake. We saw plenty of day hikers and more impressively some trail runners. Nothing like a quick nip up a mountain and back down for a workout. We left the next day and it took another 2.5hrs of hiking to head back to Rubble Creek parking lot.
For the amazing views you get I would hike Panorama Ridge in a day as well without the weight of carrying all the overnight stuff. I plan on heading back to Garibaldi Lake in August when it’s hotter to better enjoy a cold dip in the lake!
View of Black Tusk from Panorama Ridge
For more information on Garibaldi Provincial Park such as latest trail conditions and safety notices, please visit the official website.