A few weeks ago, my friend Steph was visiting from the UK. I knew I had to tick off the BC rite of passage and take her for a hike. Having hiked Joffre Lakes last year (and bloody loving it), I set my sights on another equally as beautiful hike. Although it didn’t turn out quite as planned (read on and you’ll see), it was still an awesome day out. We saw Panorama Ridge and Garibaldi Lake, full of beautiful Canadian scenery.
The Ascent to Garibaldi Lake
If you’ve heard of the Panorama Ridge hike, you’ll know it’s no mean feat. I’d heard from friends and co-workers it’s a full day of walking. If we didn’t set off by 6am, we’d be stuck in the dark walking back. With the promise of bears nearby, we certainly didn’t fancy that! Instead, we got up bright and early and drove to Garibaldi Provincial Park in search of the splendour of snowy mountains and sparkly blue lakes. Vancouver Trails has a handy Panorama Ridge hike map to make sure you stay on track.
The first couple of hours is pretty hard going up to Garibaldi Lake – a pretty unrelenting set of uphill switchbacks through forest. When you nail it, you meet some cute companions whilst you enjoy a much needed rest!
Panorama Ridge Peak
Both are pretty friendly fellas. I’d highly recommend taking trail mix, as both will get up close and personal at the promise of nuts. After a little rest and a much needed pep talk to conquer the rest of the way to the peak of Panorama Ridge, we headed off past some gorgeous scenery.
We didn’t like the look of the looming fog, but continued in the hopes of clear views from the top.
It didn’t even really feel like we were in Canada any more. This section looks almost like a scene from The Sound of Music in Switzerland.
After walking past several fields of beautiful coloured wild flowers, misty scenery, and snowy mountains, we turned the corner and came across a beautiful lake, sparkling in the sunshine through the mist.
The scenery is truly spectacular, so we stayed and watched for a little, snacking on trail mix whilst we caught our energy back.
After our pitstop, we headed on further up. We felt determined and as though the finish line wasn’t too far away. Well, it wasn’t that close.
We trudged and scaled rocks, and even had to slide across a glacier at one point. The scenery was looking pretty misty and as though the fog wasn’t going to give up.
Finally, at 5,000 feet, we’d reached the top (that’s 3 x the height of the CN Tower)! And perhaps now you’ll see what I mean about the disappointing views.
After we’d stopped for a celebratory cider at the top and laughed enough in irony about the Instagram vs reality shot at the top, we had another tough job now: getting back down.
The Descent to Garibaldi Lake
You could say it’s even more difficult getting down than it is going up! But we made sure to stop for a few snaps of the amazing views.
Whilst we could have gone down the way we came up, we decided to take a diversion via beautiful Garibaldi Lake which none of us had seen before. Although I’d seen pictures of the beautiful turquoise waters before, it was even more incredible in the flesh.
It still took an impressive few hours from Garibaldi Lake to get back to the car. There were, however, some gorgeous views to enjoy as we hiked down.
At last – after a full 10 hours of hiking we managed to make it back to car park, all whilst the sun began to set. Feeling exhausted and very hungry, we stopped off for food in Squamish, feeling very smug about the 400 floors climbed and 40,000 steps completed that day.
For anyone in the Vancouver or BC area and looking for a good workout with some even more awesome views, I’d highly recommend this hike!
Have you hiked to Garibaldi Lake or Panorama Ridge? Which hikes would you recommend?