Black Tusk {Garibaldi Provincial Park}

Black Tusk {Garibaldi Provincial Park}

Black Tusk

  • Distance – 25 km (26+ km if you tack on Garibaldi Lake)
  • Elevation – 1598 meters (slightly less if you don’t go to Garibaldi Lake)
  • Type of Hike – Out and back
  • Difficulty – Difficult
  • TrailheadRubble Creek parking lot
  • LogisticsDay Pass required to park at Rubble Creek

If you want a beautiful, but hard adventure put Black Tusk on your list. The final destination is a set of interesting and jagged volcanic chimneys leftover from centuries past when Saber-Tooth tigers roamed the land.

Black Tusk is a long, but visually stunning day. It is a hike that you should definitely do. I had researched Black Tusk quite a bit before we did a week of hiking in British Columbia and the Whistler area. Needless to say, I had some pretty high expectations and the hike did not disappoint.

 

Donloree happy at black tusk
I don’t usually look this ridiculously happy while hiking. Ok … maybe I do, but this hike made me smile A LOT!

 

Note: The wildflowers would be out of control in the meadows in July, so if you have a choice of when to do this hike, do it whenever the wildflowers are in full bloom. (July, most likely.)

 

Getting to the trailhead.

You will need a day pass from BC Parks in order to access this hike (as of writing this in 2021). The passes are free but can go fast, especially on the weekend. They are available at 7:00 am PST for the next day, so to make life simple just grab one the morning before and you will be good to go. You cannot drive up to the parking lot and expect to get in. They might let you through if there are available day passes, but they tend to go quick for all the locations. Knowing how things work with BC Parks, you will have to probably get a day pass online while at the entrance which will be impossible if coverage is an issue.

The parking lot is extremely easy to find. It is on highway 99 in between Whistler and Squamish in Garibaldi Provincial Park. Simply turn east off the highway where it is signed Garibaldi Lake / Black Tusk hiking, drive 2 km, show your day pass to the BC Parks staff, and then park your car.

The trail starts just after the outhouses. It is the wide path in the trees that immediately starts to go up the mountain.

 

Hiking Details.

The first 6 kilometres of this hike is completely in the trees and a series of well-designed switchbacks. But when I say completely in the trees what you are missing is the fact that is a beautiful, old-growth forest. By the time you reach the junction for Taylor Meadows and Campground, you will have already climbed 800 meters of elevation. Oddly enough, due to the way that the trail is designed, the elevation doesn’t kill you.

 

switchbacks up to black tusk
Ok, so there is 6 km of this … but the forest is beautiful. The way down after a long day can get a bit monotonous … it is also an extremely well-built trail. Somehow you do the 800 meters of climbing and you still have gas in the tank to keep going!

 

To get to Black Tusk in the most direct route possible, skip Garibaldi Lake and save it for the way back if you have energy – head directly to Taylor Campground and Meadows.

The campground is a great spot to stop, have a snack and rehydrate. You are going to want to have something to eat at this point if you haven’t been eating during the hike; the climbing continues and you will need the calories!

The path is well signed, every single junction points you towards Black Tusk – it is basically impossible to get lost.

 

taylor meadows
Black Tusk is lurking in the background. Enjoy the flat – more climbing is coming!

 

The final junction gives you the option to go to Panorama Ridge or Black Tusk. Choose the left fork for Black Tusk and start your final ascent.

If it is is wildflower season is your thing, I would also highly recommend Panorama Ridge as the meadows are incredible during full bloom. Either hike is a great option. I don’t suggest doing both on the same day unless you are in incredible shape!

The final few kilometres of the trail take you up a few switchbacks and across a couple of mountain streams. If you are low on water, fill up here as this is your last option for water and there is some more climbing to do.

 

black tusk hike
Almost to the plateau before the final push up loose scree to the saddle.

 

Incredible views of Garibaldi Lake and the Coastal Mountains start to emerge as you gain elevation. We kept stopping to take pictures as the view unfolded – you probably will as well.

At about 11.5 km, you will reach a small plateau with a sign that tells you that you’ve reached the end of the maintained trail.

 

Above you lies Black Tusk and some of the most incredible views you can imagine.

 

If you have the fortitude and loose rock and scree on a steep slope don’t bother you, continue up.
The last 700 meters or so is very steep and technical, so if you aren’t a strong hiker, stay at the sign and enjoy the glorious views.

  • Remember –> coming down is harder than going up!

 

black tusk
Looking back on the trail and saddle just underneath the chimney. A wonderful place to soak in the views and have a snack!

 

If you are confident in your skills and have experience hiking steep, exposed climbs, consider the final push above you. I found myself to be uncomfortable at a few points both on the ascent and descent and I consider myself to be an experienced and strong hiker.

  • Continue with caution!

I stopped at the final ridge before the very exposed traverse to the Chimney. Despite the fact that several people on the ridge were gushing about the views from the Chimney, dying on the way to or from seeing them didn’t seem like a great idea, so I stayed at the saddle just below the Chimney. I advise against continuing onto scrambling up the Chimney. In my quick research, it became clear that the final scramble is a Class 4 or above and requires ropes. Falling to your death while trying to see beautiful places doesn’t seem like a good idea.

 

black tusk hike
It is hard not to be happy when you get an afternoon full of these views!
black tusk hike
Some of the volcanic remnants. It is totally eery up here. AND if steep drop-offs and heights aren’t your things, stay away from the edge. EEK!

 

Enjoy the remnants of the volcano and expansive views from the saddle and then head back the way you came.

If you feel like you have some additional gas in the tank, make sure to loop down to Garibaldi Lake and take in the views. The lake is a stunning turquoise colour and shouldn’t be missed. It adds about 1 km to your day of hiking. After seeing the lake, follow the signs to head back to the parking lot.

 

garibaldi lake
Beautiful Garibaldi Lake!

 

If you are feeling tired, make sure to have another snack at the junction for Taylor Campgrounds and the parking lot; 6 km of relentless downhill awaits!

I loved, absolutely loved, this day!

  • Ten stars! This hike should go on your ‘MUST DO’ list.

 

black tusk
Always nice to have an adventure buddy to do these things with! Make sure to go up with someone fabulous – it makes the day 100 times better and it is already a great day!

 

As I said, I have had this hike on my list for quite some time and my expectations were high and Black Tusk did not disappoint. It is a long, but incredibly beautiful day. If you find yourself in the Whistler area and have the time and fitness, make sure to cross Black Tusk off your list!



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