Hiking to Panorama Ridge for Sunset (Top Trail in Garibaldi)

Panorama Ridge is one of the top hikes in Garibaldi Provincial Park and it’s a long, challenging trail with a huge reward. While it is one of the longest day hikes we’ve ever done, it is also located on a trail that cuts through 3 campgrounds, depending on the way you go. Many people opt to camp overnight and divide their hike in half and plenty of others choose to hike the entire trail in one day.

The two of us personally have only hiked Panorama Ridge once as a day-hike and it was an incredible adventure! I will go over the exact details of our hike, including the route that we took and how long it took us to get to each check-point. It’s also important to know about parking, day-passes and campground reservations. Keep reading to learn more about the Panorama Ridge hike and our top tips for hiking it at sunset!

Where is Garibaldi Provincial Park?

Garibaldi Provincial Park is located outside of Whistler, British Columbia. Garibaldi Provincial Park is 70 KM North of Vancouver and will take you 1 hour and 30 minutes from Downtown Vancouver. You’ll drive down the Sea to Sky highway past Squamish and reach Garibaldi before reaching Whistler. From Whistler, it is about 28KM South and will take you 30 minutes to drive.

Where is the trailhead to Panorama Ridge?

There are 2 different trailheads you can use with 3 different trails. The one that we took began at the Rubble Creek parking lot and followed the Garibaldi Lake trail until we followed Taylor Meadows to Panorama Ridge. You can choose to hike to either Garibaldi Lake or Taylor Meadows, both are great campsites and we recommend staying at Garibaldi Lake if you’re planning on camping.

The second trailhead starts at the Cheakamus Lake trailhead parking lot. You’ll follow the trail towards Cheakamus Lake until you turn right towards Helm Creek. Helm Creek campground is another great option for backcountry camping as it’s more quiet than the other two busy campgrounds, and the trail to Panorama Ridge is easier. However, the trail to Helm Creek is more difficult than to the other 2 campgrounds.

Parking & Day Passes

Parking is free for day-use at both trailhead parking lots, however, you need to book your free day-pass in advance and register your vehicle for day-use parking. You can find day-use passes on BC Parks website. Reserving your day-use pass ensures that you get a parking spot when you get there, and helps BC Parks control the amount of visitors per day.

Backcountry Camping Reservations

If you choose to camp overnight instead of doing a day hike, you must know that reservations are required year-round at Garibaldi Provincial Park. You can find backcountry camping reservations for Garibaldi at BC Parks website. The fee will be $10 per person a night and you’ll pay in advance, not in person. Booking your reservation is the only way to guarantee a tent pad and campsite and it will be first come first serve for campsite of choice. All 3 campgrounds will feature tent pads, outhouse, kitchen area, water sources and shelters. You must pack out what you pack in and leave no trace.

When is the best season to visit?

The best time to hike to Panorama Ridge would be in the summer! The snow should be completely melted in the summer and even though it’s windy at the top of the ridge, you’ll be comfortable without having to wear your jacket for most of your hike. In the Fall, Spring and Winter it can get extremely cold at the top of the ridge and you’ll find the snow takes a while to melt from the trail on the way to the peak. No matter what season you hike in, always make sure to bring a jacket along with other essentials that can be found on our post about “What to Bring on your Day Hike.”

You will notice that plenty of people also decide to hike Panorama Ridge in the summer and for this reason the trails could be very busy in the middle of the day! If you’re hiking at sunrise or sunset you’ll find there are less people that want to hike in the dark and you might have the trails to yourself. Hiking in the morning is also a really enjoyable way to avoid crowded trails.

When is the best time of day to hike?

We’re biased to say that Panorama Ridge is an amazing hike for sunset and if you feel comfortable with your hiking in the dark skills, definitely consider starting your hike with enough time to make it to the top at least an hour or 2 before sunset. This will mean that you’ll be hiking down in the dark, so make sure you’re prepared and continue reading for our top tips for hiking in the dark. The sunset at Panorama Ridge was incredible when we went and one of our top views near Vancouver.

Another popular option for those who are camping would be to hike in the morning for sunrise. Again, this will mean hiking for a few hours in the dark so make sure to be prepared with your headlamp batteries charged! Sunrise at Panorama Ridge is also beautiful and can be an enjoyable hike for your backcountry trip. I also recommend starting your hike at sunrise so you can enjoy the early morning light to yourself instead of hiking in the dark.

Hiking to Panorama Ridge

The hike to Panorama Ridge is no joke, and if you decide to do this hike in one day you’re looking forward to a 28.5 KM hike with 1610 M of elevation gain. This is a long hike, and will take you anywhere from 10.5 hours to complete the entire hike. Everyone is different when it comes to their hiking abilities and we consider our speed to be pretty quick. We started hiking at 11:30AM and made it to Taylor Meadows for lunch around 2PM. We started hiking again around 2:15PM and made a lot of stops to refill our water and take pictures on the trail! We made it to the top of Panorama Ridge at 4:45PM. We stayed until the sunset at 8:15PM, and left at 8:55PM. Finally, we made it back to the parking lot at 11:55PM!

We took the Rubble Creek parking lot to Garibaldi Lake trail until we turned towards Taylor Meadows. This trail was super enjoyable and we really enjoyed our lunch break at the campgrounds. The first section of the hike towards the campgrounds is full of consistent switchbacks, but the ground terrain is great to hike up. No rocks or roots on this trail! When you get close to the campgrounds, you’ll start walking on boardwalks that take you through the camp. The Taylor Meadows boardwalks have some of the best views on the trail, and if you hike during wildflower season you’ll see plenty of colours with mountains in the background! (P.S, wildflower season was end of July – Mid August this year).

Hiking down in the dark

We get asked all the time if we’re ever scared while hiking back down in the dark, and this was one hike that we were nervous about! We took about 4 hours to hike up and 3 hours down, and we hiked down super quick. This is a super straightforward trail and it’s easy to navigate in the dark if you’re prepared with headlamps and proper hiking boots. When we were there in August, there was a trail in the snow that people used as a slide to cut some time off of your descent. I do not recommend this, but do be aware of the shortcut and assess if it’s safe for you.

Our top tips for hiking in the dark include everybody wearing their own headlamp, hike in groups, making sure you talk loud to scare away any animals that might be around the trail, bring your bear spray in an easy to reach spot, and bring extra clothes to layer up. My absolute favourite tip is that I always bring sour candy on my hikes in the dark to give me a boost of sugar and keep me alert! We also drank a coffee and ate a backpacking dinner meal right before hiking down in the dark to give us some energy, but don’t be afraid to stop for snacks in the dark.

Other Hikes in the Area

Another top hike we’ve been recommended on this trail and can’t wait to hike is Black Tusk. Located on the same trail as Panorama Ridge, you will turn at one point and head towards Black Tusk. While it’s a bit more challenging, it’s an epic view and a great hike to test yourself! I will note that helmets are recommended if you are going to climb the chimney section.

Conclusion

In conclusion, hiking to Panorama Ridge is the number one hike that I would recommend as a challenging hike with an extremely high reward. Panorama Ridge is arguably one of the top views in BC and might be one of the best views in Canada as well! I hope our photos have inspired you to add this hike to your bucket-list and prepares you to enjoy this hike to the fullest. As always, remember to leave no trace and respect the outdoors!

P.S, as an additional note to leaving no trace and practicing good outdoor etiquette I want to share our experience with wild animals in this area. While we hiked this trail, there was a problem bear at the campgrounds. It had become habituated to human food and was terrorizing campers by stealing their hanging food bags and inspecting campsites which led to the bear being removed from the area. This is why it is so important to pack away the food you bring into the backcountry as there are no garbages anywhere on the trail. By being smart with our food and waste, we can reduce our effects on wildlife and respect nature!

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