Level: Difficult

Distance: 11.8 km o/w

Time: 5 h

Elevation Change: 1210 m

Season: June to October

Topographical Map: 92 G/14 Cheakamus River & 92 G/15 Mamquam Mountain. A full-colour plastic map of the entire Garibaldi Region is available from Lower Mainland bookstores. Published by International Travel Maps at a scale of 1:100,000. They forgot to include a scale but that’s 1 cm = 1 km. The only other drawback is contour intervals are based on older government charts expressed in feet rather than metres. Conversion yields intervals of 61 m, not exactly a dream number to navigate with.

Access: The bus to Whistler [See Appendix Getting to Whistler] will drop you off at a side road 37 km north of Squamish on Highway 99. Make sure the driver completely understands where you want to get off. There should be ample room for the bus to pull over at the turn off. Look for signs along the Highway indicating Garibaldi Provincial Park, Black Tusk.

Click to View Map

After getting off the bus follow the paved side road 2½ km east to the Rubble Creek parking lot. Be thankful you don't have a car to park here as, on a typical weekend, at least some of them will be broken into. The trail proper begins from here.

Though steep, the route into this part of Garibaldi Provincial Park can be undertaken as a day trip for those who are reasonably fit. Rushing through the Black Tusk area, however, seems somehow sacrilegious given the sights you will necessarily miss.

After getting off the bus follow the paved side road 2½ km east to the Rubble Creek parking lot. Be thankful you don't have a car to park here as, on a typical weekend, at least some of them will be broken into. The trail proper begins from here and you will be gaining elevation for most of the day, climbing steeply through a seemingly endless succession of switchbacks. The trail, sometimes derisively referred to as "Garibaldi Highway," is wide and well-maintained, capable of accommodating heavy summer foot traffic. At the 6 km mark the trail forks with the left branch leading to Taylor Meadows campsite just 1½ km further on.

Continue climbing for three kilometres in the opposite direction in order to reach Garibaldi Lake campsite. Huts have been erected at both campsites but, unless you relish the idea of field mice crawling across your face while you sleep, bring a tent. Snowshoers and nordic skiers will find the well-equipped huts a godsend during the winter. Because of ease of access from Vancouver both campsites are usually overfull on weekends during the summer. For that reason a weekday visit to the Black Tusk area is strongly advised. 195,080 hectare Garibaldi Provincial Park is the busiest in British Columbia. Camping at Taylor Meadows costs $5 while setting up a tent at the more popular lakeshore campsite costs twice as much.

Continuing along the right fork you'll soon encounter a viewpoint overlooking The Barrier, the giant volcanic dam that created Garibaldi Lake when a river of lava, ash and cinder spewed out of Mt. Price some 11,000 years ago. For the most part, area lakes drain through, not over, the porous volcanic stone with just puny Rubble Creek visible on the surface. The area below the unstable Barrier has been declared a Civil Defence Zone and, while it isn't expected to come crashing down into the valley any day soon, an earthquake could trigger just such a cataclysm. The Barrier has spawned massive landslides as recently as 1855.

Following the viewpoint, the trail soon begins to level out before descending to the park headquarters and camping area in front of the aptly named Battleship Islands. Either Taylor Meadows or Garibaldi Lake are ideally situated base camps for exploring the Black Tusk Meadows and Panorama Ridge high above. Pit toilets are available at both campsites but you will be expected to pack out any refuse you create. Fires are prohibited throughout this area.

The End


Fireweed

Fireweed

Gashes in the forest caused by fire, blowdown or human intrusion are quickly filled in by pioneer species such as fireweed or salal. Quick growing red alder and maple soon take over, being themselves supplanted in turn by Douglas fir once soil has stabilized. Eventually shade tolerant climax species such as western red cedar and western hemlock will come to dominate. The whole process can take centuries if not millennia. Immature fireweed plants can be cooked whole like broccoli while the young leaves can be used as salad greens. Fireweed is high in both beta-carotene and vitamin C. During pre-contact times fireweed seed fluffs found utility as pillow stuffing.

Illustration by Manami Kimura