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The hike to Black Tusk is one of the most popular hikes around Whistler and Garibaldi Provincial Park. This dramatic mountain is visible from many places along the Sea to Sky highway as well as from all mountains in the provincial park.
The mountain is actually an old volcano 2319 meters above sea level. The volcano has left the area around the peak with lots of scree and loose rocks and it is highly recommended that you stay to existing trails as the area is very vulnerable to human activity.
The top peak is only accessible to climbers as the last section is very steep and challenging. All routes take you to the same point at the foot of the mountain about 200 meters below the top peak. Don't worry about not being able to get all the way up, the views from the foot of the mountain are great, overlooking Garibaldi Lake and Mount Garibaldi.
There are three main routes for hiking to Black Tusk. All three options are very long day hikes so consider staying a night at one of the nearby campsites before you do the final section up to the mountain.
Garibaldi Lake Route
The route follows the trail to Garibaldi Lake Campground from Rubble Creek parking lot. Hiking up to the lake takes 3-4 hours and if you leave early in the day you have plenty of time to hang out around this beautiful lake. From Garibaldi Lake, it takes about 3 hours to hike up to Black Tusk. Be aware that the Garibaldi Lake Campground is very popular so you should book your overnight stay well in advance during the summer months.
Total hiking duration: 9 - 11 hours
Taylor Meadows Route
This route also starts from Rubble Creek and heads towards Garibaldi Lake. But instead of hiking all the way to the lake you take a left in a trail junction after 6 km up to Taylor Meadows Campground. Taylor Meadows campground is also very busy during the summer months, although not as busy at the one by Garibaldi Lake.
Total hiking duration: 9 - 11 hours
Helm Creek Route
This route is far less popular than the two others, and if solitude is your thing then go for this route. First hike to Helm Creek Campground which is a 2-3 hours hike from Cheakamus Lake parking lot. From the campground continue on to Helm Lake and from there up to Black Tusk.
Total hiking duration: 12 - 14 hours
Rubble Creek Parking Lot
Rubble Creek is the trailhead for Garibaldi Lake and Taylor Meadows. The parking lot is found not far from Highway 99 going from Squamish to Whistler. Whether you are driving from Whistler or from Vancouver/Squamish you will see a small blue sign for Garibaldi Lake/Black Tusk Trailhead. After taking off the highway follow this road for 2.7 km until you arrive at the parking lot. Parking is free.
It is also possible to book a bus from Vancouver to Rubble Creek through Parkbus.
Cheakamus Lake Parking Lot
Cheakamus Lake parking lot is the trailhead for Helm Creek. The parking lot is situated 7.4 km off the Sea to Sky highway. From Whistler drive for 8 km along the highway until you get to Function Junction. Take a left at the stoplight by Cheakamus Lake Road, then the next left after just a few hundred meters and follow this road all the way up to the parking lot. Parking is free.
The three options for camping in the area around Black Tusk is the Garibaldi Lake Campground, Taylor Meadows Campground or the Helm Creek Campground. All campgrounds need to be pre-booked before you go.
You will find outhouses at the three campgrounds at Garibaldi Lake, Taylor Meadows and Helm Creek. There are also outhouses available at the parking lots at Rubble Creek and Cheakamus Lake parking lot. Finally, there is an outhouse by the Black Tusk trail junction. This is the last junction before heading up to the mountain.
Being so close to the ocean the weather conditions can change very rapidly in Garibaldi Provincial Park. Hiking season is short and usually lasts from July until October. Expect to see temperature 10 degrees lower up in the mountains compared to down in the valley.
Day hiking in Garibaldi Provincial Park is free, but you need to pre-book camping passes.