Great Hikes: Black Tusk Trail, Garibaldi Park BC
Featuring alpine flowers and lakes and an iconic lava dome
In southwestern British Columbia, the massive volcanic Black Tusk looms over Garibaldi Park. Standing between the two largest lakes in the region, Cheakamus and Garibaldi, there are unprecedented views from the summit (or, for the less adventurous, just below it).
The origins of Black Tusk began 170,000 years ago when a now-extinct volcano produced a lava dome within a cinder volcanic cone. While the Black Tusk hardened, the cone around it slowly eroded away. Today, the lava rock of the Black Tusk is itself loose and eroding.
In the indigenous Squamish language, the mountain is called “Landing Place of the Thunderbird.” The Squamish people believe that the shape of the mountain and its dark color come from the Thunderbird’s lightning.
Once you reach the bottom of the black tusk, you can enjoy the view and turn back, or you can start the final climb to the top. The shale is very loose and parts of the rock can come off as you climb. Because of these hazards, the climb is considered dangerous and is discouraged by BC Parks.
While you can complete this trail in a day, many people choose to hike to Garibaldi Lake or Taylor Meadows and camp overnight. These areas are also great to visit for a quick dip on a hot day. From the lakes, you have a clear view of the glacier.
Distance: 29km (approximately 18 miles) RT
Elevation Change: 1,735 feet
Difficulty Rating: Moderate–difficult (the final ascent is difficult and dangerous)
Duration: 8-12 hours
Best Time to Go: July–October (snowshoe November–June)
How to get there: The trail is located off of the Rubble Creek parking lot in the Garibaldi Lake area. To get there, fly into Vancouver, Canada and rent a car. Take Highway 1 (Trans Canada Highway) west toward Horseshoe Bay. Merge onto Highway 99 North (Sea to Sky Highway) and drive until you reach Squamish. Continue north toward Whistler and keep your eyes pealed for the Garibaldi Prvincial Park signs on your right (the turnoff is easy to miss). Once on Rubble Creek Road, continue until you reach the parking lot.