I 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 ten essentials.
You will probably be cold on the peak, so don’t forget to bring extra layers.
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!
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!)
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!
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!?
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.
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!