Panorama Ridge Hike In Garibaldi Provincial Park

Panorama Ridge Hike In Garibaldi Provincial Park

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Have you seen the fabulous pictures of incredibly blue Garibaldi Lake from above? Those were not taken on the Garibaldi Lake hike, but from the Panorama Ridge. The Panorama Ridge hike is the king of the high mountain trails around Whistler! And yes, Garibaldi Lake from above is unbelievably, incredibly, beautifully blue, no filters or photoshopping needed – though you do need a clear, sunny day.

Hiking the Panorama Ridge Trail offers ever-changing stunning scenery: several alpine lakes, glaciers, dramatic mountain peaks and wildflower carpeted meadows. It’s a rewarding trail, with amazing views along the way, not just at the summit, but it’s also challenging, because it’s a long, demanding mountain trail. Nevertheless, it’s among the most popular hiking trails in British Columbia, and it gets incredibly busy in the summer.

In this post I’m sharing everything you need to know before tackling this hike – or to simply decide whether it’s a suitable hike for you. Because it’s definitely not one of those hikes which are “for everyone”.

Is the Panorama Ridge hike for you?

Panorama Ridge Trail, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

Panorama Ridge is a ridgeline above Garibaldi Lake, and even though it got a lot of hype in recent years, it very well deserves it. Judging by the number of photos on Instagram, you’d think that everyone hikes to the Panorama Ridge. They don’t, and it’s not an easy hike.

While you don’t have to be a super experienced hiker to do it, you need to be prepared, wear appropriate hiking shoes and be fit enough. Some previous experience on mountain terrain won’t hurt either, but it’s not a technical trail and very obvious to follow. Stamina is what you need in the first place.

Can you do the Panorama Ridge hike in one day?

Garibaldi Lake, BC, Canada

Hiking up to Panorama Ridge from the Rubble Creek Trailhead, and hiking down via Garibaldi Lake Trail means ~30 km of distance and ~1600 m elevation gain to cover. It’s achievable within 8-12 hours, so it could be a day hike, and a lot of people (me included) do it as such. Just start early, around 6-7 am, to make sure you’ll have enough daylight to get back to the parking lot.

But you also find campgrounds along the way, so you can plan it as an overnight hike. The campgrounds have to be booked in advance, so you do need to plan it ahead of time. That’s one reason to do it as a day hike, by the way, because the competition for those campgrounds is simply enormous.

How difficult is this hike?

Panorama Ridge Trail, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

It’s a difficult hike due to its distance and elevation gain. After three years of hiking with our baby, then toddler, I was used to neither this distance, nor the 1500+ meters elevation gain. But it’s not a technical trail, the ascent is gradual and spreads over a long enough distance.

It’s only the last portion of the Panorama Ridge Trail which gets fairly steep, but the trail never gets exposed or requires scrambling. It’s steady uphill – for a long time.

Could you carry a baby (or toddler) up to Panorama Ridge safely?

In theory, you could. If you have the stamina to carry your baby for such distance and elevation, then yes, the trail is safe to carry a baby. I doubt it would be enjoyable though.

Neither me nor Csaba felt it’s a realistic option for us, even though he carried Tomi to several peaks since he was born. He also carried him up to Garibaldi Lake the year before. But Panorama Ridge is much further and higher, and our son only got heavier. 😀

Panorama Ridge Trail, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

So it was a hike that I completed without Tomi, with my sister and her partner. I don’t think kids under 12 would be able to complete this hike in one day, but if you have an older kid, you know this better than me (and you certainly know your kid better than me).

Hiking Panorama Ridge Trail

Get to the trailhead for the Panorama Ridge Hike

You can hike to Panorama Ridge from two directions: from Rubble Creek Trailhead or from Cheakamus Lake. The latter is a longer hike, and you can’t combine it with the Garibaldi Lake Trail, hence most people choose Rubble Creek Trailhead, and that’s what this post is about, too

Panorama Ridge Trail, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

this is the lake panorama from the top of the ridge

The drive from Vancouver to the Rubble Creek parking takes about 1 hour 45 minutes. It’s just off the Sea to Sky Highway, at the end of Daisy Lake Road which is a paved road, so any vehicle can access the trailhead (at least in the summer season).


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The hike to Panorama Ridge starts the same way as the Garibaldi Lake hike. It’s a steady uphill through seemingly endless switchbacks on the gravel forest trail. The forest is nice, but this part of the hike still feels long (especially on the way back).

You’ll reach a junction towards Taylor Meadows. Here you can either continue along the Garibaldi Lake Trail, or head towards Taylor Meadows. The latter is the more direct approach to Panorama Ridge, but whichever path you choose, you can do the other on your way down.

Hike up via Taylor Meadows

Panorama Ridge Trail, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

I recommend Taylor Meadows on your way up, because the sooner you reach the ridge, the less people you’ll find there. Also, the hike through Taylor Meadows is a nice relaxing portion after the dull switchbacks and before the ascent to the summit. My last argument: you need to hike through Taylor Meadows facing the mountains for the best views – and that’s uphill.

So once you reach the junction to Taylor Meadows, things start to get more exciting. This section of the hike is quite easy, almost flat and runs on a boardwalk, passing through Taylor Meadows campground. However, the views are fabulous! The alpine meadow is carpeted with wildflowers in late summer, and you can enjoy a stunning mountain backdrop.

Continue up to Panorama Ridge

Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

Leaving the alpine meadow behind, you’ll start ascending again. Passing the junction that leads up to the Black Tusk (another great hike), you can enjoy the beautiful Black Tusk meadows, views of Mimulus and Black Tusk Lake, and the peak of Black Tusk, as well.

The final climb to the top of Panorama Ridge is steep, and the views are mind blowing. You’ll see several smaller lakes below (not yet Garibaldi, but the ones you passed), and the views of the Black Tusk compete with those you’ll get from the ridge. Don’t feel bad to stop often, you have an excuse, these views are to be soaked in.

The last stretch of the trail is on rocky terrain, but it’s well-defined, and no scrambling is required. Then you can spread out on the ridgeline to enjoy those famous views of Garibaldi Lake, Mount Garibaldi and the glacier that feeds the lake. There are plenty of nice spots to sit down and take a photo, I can’t imagine ever standing in line here for pictures, even on busy days.

Panorama Ridge Trail, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

the famous Panorama Ridge view

Return through Garibaldi Lake

Doing Panorama Ridge and Garibaldi Lake in one hike is quite common, and it makes your hike a bit longer, but the wonderful lakeshore views are absolutely worth it.

Cross a wooden bridge over a creek at the east end of Garibaldi Lake to access the lakeshore. Then the trail runs directly by the lake, even rock hopping might be required, depending on the water level. (This section might be flooded and inaccessible in early summer.) But the best views come afterwards as you reach the campground and a small dock – that’s as far as you can walk on the shore.

On your way down from Garibaldi Lake, you’ll pass Lesser Garibaldi Lake and Barrier Lake. They are pretty, especially Lesser Garibaldi Lake, but still not comparable to “the” lake.

Garibaldi Lake, BC, Canada

Once you leave them, comes the part with those not too exciting switchbacks until you reach the parking lot. Since it’s downhill, it’s easier now, but you’ll also be more tired than on your way up. I didn’t enjoy this part, I tried to get down as quickly as possible and just be done with the monotonous switchbacks. Some people choose to trail run this section, but I didn’t feel that much strength left in my legs at the end of the day.

Hiking essentials:

What is the best time to hike Panorama Ridge?

Panorama Ridge Trail, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

Panorama Ridge hike, BC

Panorama Ridge is mainly a summer hike, because the iconic Garibaldi Lake is usually frozen between November and June. If you’d like to do a snow free hike, aim to do it between mid-June and mid-October, as snow is quite likely outside of this period.

July and August are the busiest time, because you have long days and a good chance for blue skies – you do need a perfectly sunny day to enjoy this hike. June could be a hit or miss, because there might be too much snow left or Garibaldi Lake still frozen.

I think the very best time is between mid-September and mid-October. But the later in the year you do it, the shorter the days are, so make sure you’ll have enough daylight – and also carry a good head torch (and an extra battery). I did it in early September, the weather was quite nice and the crowds were not so bad. There was frequent traffic on the trail, but it didn’t feel crowded. (And despite the frequent traffic, we saw bears twice!)

Garibaldi Panorama Ridge Hike FAQ

Panorama Ridge Trail, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

Panorama Ridge

Are there any camping options along the Panorama Ridge hike?

There are Taylor Meadows campground and Garibaldi Lake campground along the way, both are suitable for an overnight hike to the Panorama Ridge. But you need to book them in advance, and they’re very popular.

Are there any water sources along the Panorama Ridge hike?

Yes, you pass several lakes and creeks, and you can access the water quite a few times to refill your water bottle. However, water must be treated before drinking. A filtering water bottle can help reduce the amount of water you have to carry – and it’s quite an amount for such a long hike. I recommend preparing to drink 3-3.5 liters per person because of the elevation, length and difficulty of this hike.

Lesser-Garibaldi Lake, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

Can I bring my dog on the Panorama Ridge hike?

No, dogs are not permitted anywhere in Garibaldi Park.

Is there an entrance fee for Garibaldi Provincial Park?

No, provincial parks in British Columbia are free to visit.

Are day passes required to do the Panorama Ridge Trail?

As it was in the previous years, day passes are required at certain trailheads in Garibaldi Provincial Park in the summer season. This, of course, includes the incredibly popular Rubble Creek trailhead which gives access to Garibaldi Lake, Panorama Ridge, Black Tusk and several other high mountain trails.

2023 dates: a day pass is required to visit Garibaldi Provincial Park between June 14 – Oct 9, it applies at Diamond Head trailhead, Rubble Creek trailhead and Cheakamus trailhead.

These passes are free and can be booked from two days before your visit (from 7 am). Based on our experience last summer, it’s close to impossible to get a day pass for a summer weekend, even if you sit in front of your screen before 7 am. As soon as the booking window opens, you’ll be put into a queue, and when you’ll finally get the chance to login, the passes will be sold out for the day. Okay, this is the worst scenario (but the most likely one).

So your best chance is: avoid weekends! If you visit Garibaldi Provincial Park on a road trip, time your visit for a weekday (and be prepared to get up before 7 am, 2 days before, to get your day pass). Even better if you can visit in September. October might or might not work, depending on the first huge snowfall of the year, and in early June Garibaldi Lake might still be frozen.

The hiking season is relatively short for the Panorama Ridge Trail, but it’s very popular – so that’s what you get.

Find official information about the day pass and book it here.

Panorama Ridge Trail, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

3 things not to forget before hiking the Panorama Ridge

Check trail conditions before you go, especially if you go early or late in the season. Check the recent reviews on AllTrails, search for recent Instagram photos (be careful with this as not everyone posts real-time) or ask about current conditions in Vancouver hiking Facebook groups. I found these groups very useful and supportive, you can get updates on trail conditions and lots of good advice and recommendations for hikes.

Don’t forget to check the weather on the mountain. It’s not necessarily the same as in Vancouver, and you want to be sure you’ll have a clear day.

Bears are in the area, and they’re quite common on this trail. Taylor Meadows is known to be their favorite place – we saw one there, and another bear as we approached our final ascent to Panorama Ridge. Be prepared, know what to do and have a bear spray just in case. And don’t stress. Most bear encounters turn into special, fond memories.