Adventuring Around Panorama Ridge
By: Brice Ferre
If you live around Vancouver, chances are you have heard of Garibaldi Lake.
Garibaldi is very popular because of its incredible colour. That rich turquoise tint that you can only find on glacier fed lakes. The view when you are at the lake is pretty stunning, but did you know that you could see Garibaldi from above? All you need to do is hike to Panorama Ridge…
About 90 minutes north of Vancouver, via the incredibly scenic Sea to Sky Highway, is the Garibaldi/Panorama Ridge Trail Head. The parking lot is about 5 minutes east of the highway and can be easily accessed with any type of vehicle. No need for an SUV. But once you get out of the car, that is where the easy part ends and where the fun begins. Since you are still about 12 km away (with about 1520M of elevation) from your destination. But don't worry, it is worth it. You will not regret it, I can guarantee that.
Starting almost at sea level, be prepared to spend the better part of your day hiking, even though it is only 25km return.
Panorama ridge offers an amazing "reward" when you reach the top, but to get there, you will first have to hike 8km of switch backs in the forest. Up. and fairly steep.
Depending on your fitness level, you can either, walk it, power hike it, or even run it, if you are used to trail running uphill. (but this last one requires a lot of training and energy).
Not only will your speed have an impact on the time it takes for you to get there, but it will also have an impact on how many flies and mosquitoes you get attacked by. (i.e: if you hike it, bring the bug spray. If you run it, you should be fine, just don't stop moving fast)
Once you finish the 6km of uphill, take a left at the fork and head toward the gorgeous Taylor Meadows, with its wildflowers and view of the famous Black Tusk. This is a 3km section that is almost flat, with little streams, massive mountains as a backdrop, and view of Garibaldi lake down below. Pretty spectacular. You can actually camp up there as well. there are a few campsites and a shelter. No drinkable water source, though, so bring a water filter. You will need it.
The last kilometer before you reach the top is quite technical and requires that you hike and climb the mountain, on a scree field or snow. Depending on the time of year you decide to do this hike. The very top is usually snowed in until at least August.
You will have to be very careful to not fall and break and ankle, but if you take your time, have the proper footwear, and enough experience hiking, you should be just fine.
You will then get to sit down and relax at the top of Panorama Ridge with the best views of Garibaldi you can ever get on foot. Aside from riding a helicopter, I don't think you can beat the Panorama Ridge view.
To go back to the car you will have to turn around and do everything in reverse, but the good news is that it is all downhill from there, which means that it usually take a lot less time to get back down.
I have run to Panorama Ridge and back in less than 4.5 hours a few times, but if you just hike it, be prepared to be out there for close to 10 hours. Which means that you need to bring enough food and water (bring a water filter) to last all day.