Panorama Ridge trail – Whistler Hikes

Panorama Ridge trail – Whistler Hikes

Panorama Ridge and Garibaldi LakeI am soooo excited about sharing this walk with you all! The Panorama Ridge trail has to be one of the prettiest walks in Garibaldi Provincial Park. It is a lot to do in a day if you include exploring Garibaldi Lake as well, but oh my goodness it is worth the effort. If you want to copy us, you just have to expect a long, slightly-knackering day!

I should probably mention that most people camp overnight within Garibaldi Provincial Park. That way it’s possible to wander up to Panorama ridge on a different day; Or at least descend back down to the car park on a different day. If you’re not sure about doing such a long hike, that is a more sensible way to do it!

Panorama Ridge trail map

Panorama Ridge trail – the basics

Distance: 29.5 km (if you go straight there and back) Our walk was closer to 35 km
Elevation gain
: 1555m
Highest Point: 2126m, Panorama Peak
Time: 10-11 hours (We took 10.5 hours including some long breaks)
What to bring:
Camera! You will need to take some panorama photos.
Walking boots. Hiking poles. Bug spray in summer. Plenty of water and food. The 10 essentials.
You will probably be cold on the peak, so don’t forget to bring extra layers.
Facilities:
There are no loos between Taylor Meadows and the top of Panorama Peak, but there are quite a few before that, at the car park, at turnings on the way up, and at Garibaldi Lake.
Dogs: No doggos for this walk. They are forbidden within the park, and the rocky terrain would be really tough on their paws.
How hard is it? Jelly-leg inducing.
The actual walk is intermediate, and not technical at all. It’s just very long.

Taylor Meadows to Helm Pass

I already wrote about the first half of this hike on the Garibaldi Lake trail, so please take a peek at that if you’d like to see the walk as far as Taylor Meadows.

This area is incredibly pretty. It’s below the tree line, but the trees are not particularly close together, so there is plenty of room for flowers.

First view of Garibaldi Lake

I had seen loads of photos of Garibaldi Lake all over instagram, so I was expecting to see a crazy-blue turquoise flash of water. I have to admit, I was slightly disappointed by my first peek through the trees. In the early morning light, the lake looked silver-grey rather than blue. I had a sneaking suspicion that I’d been fooled by exaggerated insta-filters!

More stunning meadows

After walking through a small grove, we had our first view of Panorama Ridge, behind a bright yellow meadow, filled with fading flowers. This is the most Disney-esque part of our hike! As you walk through the meadow, about a meter before each step, a variety of chirping birds fly out in front of you. This means we set the whole meadow a flutter on our little hike. Sorry birdies!

Helm Pass

Once you make it to Helm pass, you will be rewarded with beautiful views along Helm creek and out to the mountains beyond. We saw a patch of burnt trees, but it must have been from several years ago, as there were small, new trees interspersed between the tree-skeletons.

Panorama Ridge trail view

You also get your first view of the mountainous part of the Panorama Ridge trail. It doesn’t look too hard does it!? You walk up the slope to the right of the photo below (left photo) and then continue to follow that ridge all the way to the peaks in the distance (right photo). I was so excited to see where we were heading next, that I almost tripped on some rocks. Oops.

Meet Malcolm the marmot

You have probably guessed, but I always get really excited to meet critters on our hikes. I was looking down (after nearly tripping a moment ago) and I noticed that one of the rocks by the path, was actually a Marmot sitting very still! I called out to Marc, and he promptly named this little dude Malcolm. Once Malcolm realized we’d spotted him, he rushed over to say hello! He came right up to us, and then wandered off to the lake, where he posed by the scenery for a while. You can’t really tell from my photos, but he was massive! Our cat, Monty is huge, but Malcom would be able to loom over him!

Panorama Ridge trail – heading up

We stopped for a while to watch Malcolm and have a snack, so we were full of energy again to hike up the ridge-y part of the trail. After about 5 minutes, we got our first view of the Black Tusk behind us! Isn’t it stunning!? I have only seen this mountain from afar when we learned to ski in Whistler, so it was brilliant to see it from a new vantage point!

So many pretty lakes!

You can see Black Tusk Lake (where Malcolm the Marmot was probably still posing) below. The other lake is called Mimulus Lake, which sort of sounds like a Harry Potter spell to me! Each lake has a unique colour, and if you look carefully, the colours change at the edge of each lake.

Rocks and Flowers

The Panorama ridge trail gets very rocky from this point. I don’t think you can quite classify this as a scramble, as we didn’t need to use our hands, but you can really see how Glaciers have torn this area apart and ground the mountains into piles of rocks! There was very little grass, but we saw huge patches of pink flowers all over the place. They really brighten up the rocky faces.

It’s sooo pretty! I blooming love this view (and the happy photo of Marc!)

Whistler views

As we climbed higher, we noticed you get views over to Whistler. It still looks quite far away, but you can just see the snow-topped mountains behind the closer peaks.

Okay, just a couple more. I had to keep stopping to admire the vista behind us as it is just so gorgeous!

First Views of Garibaldi Lake

As you reach the top of the Panorama Ridge trail, you’ll suddenly catch a glimpse of the crazy-blue Garibaldi Lake. Now the sun was higher in the sky, it no longer looked silver! Isn’t that turquoise beautiful!? There were plenty of clouds moving across the sky, so the shade of blue was constantly being adjusted by the amount of sun shining down.

The actual Panorama Ridge

Most people share photos down to the lake, so I figured I should also show you what Panorama Ridge itself looks like.

The Million Dollar View

We’d started along the Panorama Ridge trail before 8am, so although there were other hikers, it wasn’t tooo busy. Once we’d hiked along the ridge, eaten lunch and come and back, this spot was quite crowded, and people were lining up to take photos where I took my jump shot below!

Don’t slide down!

Right by the top of the ridge, there is a fun-looking glacial pile of snow. Just, don’t try to slide down it in summer! There have been quite a few Search and Rescue call outs after people injure themselves or get stuck on that glacier. It may look white, but it is ice, and can seriously hurt you! The SAR folks have enough to deal with, so just don’t tempt fate!

Panorama Peak

As most people seemed to stop at the top, we decided to keep walking along the ridge to find a good picnic spot and more epic views. What do you think of our choice!? This was at the end of the ridge, on Panorama Peak. For me, once I’ve wandered so far, I never mind going a few extra meters to reach the highest point. But no-one else seemed to bother- so we had this amazing spot to ourselves!

I spent ages looking at all the glaciers while we ate. Aren’t they amazing!

This is the view in the opposite direction from Panorama Peak – down to Black Tusk and over to Whistler.

Marc doesn’t jump.

This is looking back at the first peak on the Panorama Ridge trail. You can see there are more than 15 people over there, even though a few minutes walk away on this peak there were no crowds. Isn’t that strange!?

Heading home

So that was the end of our epic hike along the Panorama ridge trail. We are pretty sure that this is more elevation gain than Marc and I have ever done together, but as none of the walk was too steep, neither of us found it particularly hard.

Mavis the Marmot

I loved meeting Malcolm on the way up, so on our way down the mountain I started to hope for a second marmot sighting. And…I got my wish! Just as we reached the base of the ridge at Helm pass, a much smaller marmot ran right out in front of my feet! She was teeny compared to Malcolm, and she was in a massive rush, so she ran away from me really quickly. I had my camera in my hand, but she was so speedy that I didn’t have time to snap a photo, still, it was lovely to meet her.

And Finally…

As this walk was to Panorama ridge, you might have been expecting a few more panoramas, so you can see all these spectacular views. Well, I took quite a few, so I will finish this post with a mini panorama gallery. These work best if you click on then to see the views full-screen.

I loved this walk sooo much! I hope you enjoyed it too!

Panorama Ridge and Garibaldi Lake  Panorama Peak - Whistler Hikes  

80 thoughts on “Panorama Ridge trail – Whistler Hikes

  1. Lovely! I’ve been in the Helm Lake basin, but not all the way up onto the ridge. I also always want to go just a liiiitle bit further. Btw, I’ve decided that a group of marmots is called a whistle. 😀

    1. You know, I’ve never actually heard a marmot whistle! I feel like I need to meet more of these fuzzy cuties to hear their voices!!

      I’d like to go along the Helm lake basin as well. That looks like a beautiful hike!

        1. Well, hopefully I’ll hear one at some point.

          That location must be marmot central! I saw both Malcolm and Mavis around that area!

          1. Oh, I’m sure you will! Other good places for marmots are near Russet Lake, and an area called Twin Lakes up past Pemberton (hike 47 in 105 Hikes) where they chewed the handles of my hiking poles 🙂

    1. Did you do it earlier in the year? I’d probably be tempted if the snow was more powdery…but it looked obviously icy by September!!

      p.s. You’re right. It was sooo pretty! I found another blogger that told me she got engaged on Panorama ridge. What an amaaazing place to ask someone to marry you!!

    1. Yay! I’m glad you liked Malcolm and Mavis. It is a shame Mavis was too blooming quick for me to take her photo. Still, I really love meeting marmots!

    1. Thanks Hannah! I didn’t see any of the bears, but I was watching out for them and thinking of you and all your amazing animal photos!

    1. You would blooming love it Shannon! Although, Marc still thinks Elfin Lakes is the best walk so far, so if you take your friends back there, it’s still a brilliant option!!

    1. It was truly epic! Although, if you are new to hiking, maybe try Elfin Lakes first. It is not as far, with less elevation gain, and the views are spectacular!!

      We spent our first year here doing all the hikes that you can reach via public transport. There are loooads of good’uns close to the city!

      1. We are also restricted to public transport at the minute (I can drive, but I need to work up the courage for different side of the car/right side of the road/different road rules!). Great to know you managed to get a lot in on public transport!

        1. It took me a while to think of it, but if you don’t want to buy a car, consider signing up for Evo. That way you can get out to places that aren’t on bus routes too.

          I also found cycling a bit really helped me get used to being on the right side of the road without freaking out!

          1. Cycling definitely helps! I have a much better understanding of rules and driving customs too thanks to cycling. Maybe I should be adding ‘drive on the right side of the road’ to my bucket list to make myself do it!

  2. For my money, the view from Panorama Ridge is the best in the Lower Mainland – it’s just stunning in all directions! Glad you got to see it 🙂

        1. And if we do get a sunny day late Sep/early October then go for Frosty Mtn and the larches – they are stunning!!! It’s a long day from the city, but it’s worth it.

          1. Oooh I had been looking at that. I was also wondering about the trails around Mount Baker (if the rain stops, which I hope it will)

    1. Thanks Valentina! I still find it amazing that we can get to places like this for a day hike from home!

      We even had time to go out to dinner after the walk (I was way too knackered to cook!)

      After living in London, I am not quite used to being able to get away from the city so easily!!

    1. Yeah, it was really long (but you can totally do it as a two day hike and camp by Garibaldi lake!)

      We started the hiking season early this year, so I hoped we’d be fit enough…but we had planned to turn back if it felt too long. I am soooo glad we didn’t decide to turn back!!

    1. It totally was! Although, you can see that amazing blue lake, with a shorter version of the hike (just up to Garibaldi lake!)

      Still, I was really chuffed that we got to climb so high above it!

    1. It is a stunning country isn’t it!? I don’t think I have ever visited a place that doesn’t have some picturesque vistas…but the West Coast here is just so full of them!

  3. Well done and congratulations on completing this long hike. 11 hours!! I’m motivated to get back to some exercise regime to be able to accomplish that. The views are spectacular! totally worth it.

    1. Thanks Sinjana! To be honest, we started small. When we first started walking a few years ago, I’d be tired after just a couple of hours. It’s just, it doesn’t take long or your body to get used to walking for longer!

    1. Hehe! I was thinking exactly the same thing when I saw your photos of the mountains in Romania! We’ll have to swap countries at some point! 😉

  4. What an incredible looking hike!! I would love to jump right on in and start hiking. What’s the closest city/airport to this hike? When’s the best time to go? Thanks for such a great post!

    1. The closest international airport is Vancouver (YVR) although I think there is a teeny airport near Whistler too.

      Save this hike for late in the summer, unless you have spikes (as it takes a looong time for the snow to melt!) We did the hike on the first weekend in September, which was perfect. If you go earlier in late July/early August it’s even prettier with wild flowers BUT you also might have to put up with bugs and smoke.

  5. “Jelly-leg inducing” ha ha love it! A slow incline makes all the difference and this view is totally worth the climb. Thanks for sharing these helpful tips. I didn’t realize you could see Glaciers in this area. Saving this for my future hiking list 😉

    1. Possibly. I am not sure about the last part (it involves climbing and you need a helmet…) but I’d love to get up as high as the tusk!

    1. Oooh that could be an excuse for you to visit Canada! I think I would love reading your stories if you make it to this side of the world!! 😉

  6. Wow, those views are insane!! I wonder what causes that rich turquoise? When I was in Costa Rica I learned that the Rio Celeste has it’s color because of a reaction between certain bacteria and minerals, and now every time I see water this pretty I can’t help but start wondering about the science of it.

    1. For glacial lakes it is just ground up minerals and rocks suspended in the water! Basically the glacier grinds rocks on it’s way down the mountain, and then the water absorbs them. Then the light bounces off water differently when there are so many extra particles suspended in it, so it makes the water look all different shades of blue.

      That’s why early in the summer mountain tarns are bright blue, but then they go green or brown later, when they are filled by rainwater.

      I might not have explained it well, but I find it all fascinating!

  7. I can’t get enough of that turquoise water. It’s so mesmerizing. I have only been to Whistler in the winter and would to go back during the warmer months and do this hike!

  8. This would totally be my kind of hike, a whole day of adventure and gorgeous views! Seems like you had such an amazing time. Garibaldi Lake is so beautiful, definitely worth all the effort! So great that you went the extra mile and had the final spot all to yourself 🙂

    1. Oooh yay! You’ll get here just as spring arrives! If you plan to do this walk that early, you’ll probably need snowshoes/spikes. I’m not sure I’d be able to go this far in a day when there is still snow though. You should have a peek at my post about Elfin Lakes. I think that would be a better (also epic) option for you.

  9. Wow this is such an ambitious hike! Such gorgeous views though, it looks like it really paid off. Garibaldi Lake is stunning. Good tips about not going on the glacier there, I bet it would be tempting after a long hike to slide down to it.

    1. I am pretty sure people do slide down earlier in the spring (it’d still be dangerous, but the snow would be less icy)

      It’s just when I heard about people getting cut up by ice after sliding down in summer shorts, I figured I should mention it!!

  10. I’ve never done a long hike like this, but this looks soooo beautiful. When you said 10-12 hours, was is a fast pace or a slow pace?

    1. We took 10.5 hours… We were pretty fast paced on the way down (I ran for several km) but we weren’t particularly fast on the way up. We don’t stop for many breaks, so it might be closer to 11 hours if you like a lot of stops on the way!

      It’s probably not the best hike to start with (if you’re not used to walking regularly) but I can totally tell you some other easy (and gorgeous) options near here if you want to start hiking!! 😀

  11. Your photos have truly given me serious thirst for wanderlust! Isnt that place beautiful. Also if you can share in which country it is, that will ne so helpful for tjose of us who are in a different continent. I agree woth you! A billion dollar view.

    1. Oooh sorry about that Bonita! It’s in British Columbia, in Canada. 😀

      I have written so much about Canada, that I forget that I should add that to every post. I have a bad habit of writing as if I’m writing to my friends, and they all know where we live. Oops.

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