The Black Tusk is one of British Columbia’s most iconic mountain peaks. This pinnacle of volcanic rock located in Garibaldi National Park is visible from Whistler and the Garibaldi region and is a popular trail with experienced hikers. The most popular way of hiking to the Black Tusk is to follow the trail from Rubble Creek parking area passing towards Garibaldi Lake through Taylor Meadows. I did this as a day hike, it is very possible, but it is a long day going uphill all the way until you start making your way back. Many prefer to split the hike into two parts hiking to Garibaldi Lake or Taylor Meadows and camping overnight.
Black Tusk Hike Statistics*
- Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
- My total Distance round trip 25,5 km
- Distance Trail head to The Shoulder 11.50 km
- Max Elevation: Peak 2150 m
- Total Elevation Gain: 1550 m
- My Time: 6 hours 30 minutes
- Average Hiking Time: anything from 6 to 10 hours, depending on route and speed
*stats measured during my hike with Garmin Fenix 5 GPS Watch
Garibaldi National Park
The hiking routes to Black Tusk, Garibaldi Lake, Panorama Ridge and Elfin Lakes are located withing Garibaldi National Park a wilderness park located on the coastal mainland between Whistler and Vancouver. The park is named after the glacier-ringed Mount Garibaldi (2,678-meters) and is a hiker’s paradise offering over 90 km of well marked trails, including some of Canada’s top hikes. One day hikes can easily be done here from Vancouver, the park is located only 70 kilometers, about 1.5 hours drive, north of the city.
Transport from Vancouver to Garibaldi National Park
Rubble head parking area, the trailhead for Black Tusk can be reached by car from either Vancouver (70 km away), Whistler (35 km) or Squamish (38 km). To get to Garibaldi Provincial Park from Vancouver, take Highway 99 known as the Sea-to-Sky Highway. For car rental options I recommend using Rentalcar to compare and book a car from all the main reputable car rental companies in an around Vancouver.
From Vancouver the trails in Garibaldi can be reached by public transport using the Parkbus. The bus service is currently $53 for a return ticket. The Parkbus departs Vancouver fairly early and gives you about 10 hours to hike before a return bus picks you up, it is definitely possible to reach the Black Tusk and back in this time. Just make sure you turn around and start walking back to the trailhead in time since the bus cannot wait for you!
Getting to Rubble Creek by public transport from Squamish is easy with the Shred Shuttle for $CAD 22 return.
The shuttles and buses is a good place to meet someone to hike with!
Hiking to the Black Tusk – The Route
The most popular hiking route to Black Tusk starts from the Rubble Creek parking lot located between Squamish and Vancouver, this is also the primary starting point for the popular Garibaldi Lake and Panorama Ridge hikes.
The Black Tusk can also be reached by hiking from Helm Creek Trail, starting from the Cheakamus Lake Trailhead. This route is less steep with less traffic, but is longer.
Hiking to Black Tusk from Rubble Creek Trailhead
Hiking to Black Tusk from Rubble Creek starts with the same 6 km of switchbacks you follow to Garibaldi Lake or Panorama Ridge until you reach Taylor Meadows Junction, it is uphill all the way, but not too steep the gradient is moderate. The first kilometers is the steepest part of this section of the trail with a series of switchbacks from kilometer 3 to 5.
The Taylor Meadows Junction
At the junction you have two options; either keep left at the junction going to Black Tusk through Taylor Meadows or go right to Garibaldi lake, passing the Barrier viewpoint, Barrier Lake and Lesser Garibaldi Lake on the way. See our map above. Go via the lake in one direction and through Taylor Meadows the other to complete the loop. I would recommend going through Taylor Meadows on the way up and come back via the lake if you have time, a quick dip will be awesome on the way back after a tough climb! I went to Garibaldi Lake and spent some time at the lake a couple of days before doing the Black Tusk hike, since it was raining quite hard the day I hiked to Black Tusk I decided to walk through Taylor Meadows up and down.
Shortly after the 6km mark, you reach the Taylor Meadows Junction, there is a big sign board with a map of the surrounding area here. From the junction it is a little more than 1.5 km to Taylor Meadows. The walk through Taylor Meadows is beautiful, it is a fairly flat area with views of Mount Garibaldi to the east, and Black Tusk to the north as you progress further. There is a lot of flowers in this area in springtime. When I walked to Garibaldi Lake there were some black bears at Taylor Meadows. There are several intersections, all well marked.
The Black Tusk Shoulder
The Panorama Ridge junction is well marked, follow the sign left to Black Tusk. This part of the trail is more rugged and rocky. The shoulder is a little more than 6 km from the Taylor Meadows campsite, when you get to a sign saying it is the end of the maintained trail you have reached the shoulder of the Black Tusk.
From here there is a worn, narrow but clear path to base of the tusk with steep loose shale that slides down with each step, making the final part difficult. The views of Garibaldi Lake, the surrounding mountains and the Black Tusk are spectacular.
The day I was hiking the Black Tusk was cold and rainy and when I reached the summit it was freezing. Visibility was basically zero, but it cleared up once or twice giving me nice glimpses of the surrounding mountains. It was early September and I was not prepared for the weather wearing shorts. It started snowing as I got closer to the shoulder. Cold, wet and the only person on the mountain with little visibility I turned around somewhere between the shoulder and the chimney. My hands were so cold I could not close the zip on my rain jacket.
To summit the Black Tusk you must go up the Chimney, a near vertical passage on the south side, you climb up with loose crumbling volcanic rock. Hikers I talked to told me the climb is not difficult, you can do it without special gear but falling rocks can be dangerous and wearing a helmet is strongly recommended. It takes about an hour to get to the chimney from the shoulder. Make sure you take the right crack that leads to the chimney, I was told the south most ridge is the way to go to scramble your way to the top of Black Tusk for some spectacular 360 views of the surrounding mountains and lakes.
Camping when Hiking Black Tusk
It is a long day hiking to Black Tusk from Rubble Creek so many prefer to break it up in to two days camping at Garibaldi Lake or Taylor Meadows. Most people pitch camp and walk to Black Tusk early the next morning. Some do however pitch camp, climb the Tusk and camp for the night.
The Garibaldi Lake campsite is a beautiful spot. The campsite is very popular and fills up quickly in summer so make reservations well in advance. Make reservations here. The campsite can accommodate 50 people, an additional 40 people can stay at the Taylor Meadows campsite which must also be reserved. Both campsites have pit toilets, however there is no running or drinkable water and all garbage must be packed out with you. The campsite at Taylor Meadows has a hut where you are allowed to store food, but sleeping in the hut is not allowed. The distance from Taylor Meadows campsite is similar to Garibaldi Lake campsite from the Rubble Creek trail head, about 9 km. It is also possible to hike into Taylor Meadows from the Cheakamus Lake parking lot via Helm Creek.
- Bring your own clean water or plan to boil water for drinking as there is no clean water in Garibaldi Provincial Park. Even water from the creek at Taylor Meadows is not recommended to drink without treatment. I carried a Lifestraw filter bottle for treating water.
- There is very limited cell service in the park
- It is a national park, no dogs allowed in Garibaldi Provincial Park.
Accommodation in Squamish and Vancouver
I have hiked in Garibaldi National Park from Vancouver and Squamish, reaching the trailhead was easy from both locations.
- Highly rated accommodation in Vancouver with good location.
Packing for Hiking in Garibaldi National Park
Useful gear on this hike
Our Garmin Fenix 5 GPS Watch was great for navigation and drawing maps and elevation profiles.
We love the Lifestraw filter bottle is great for treating water if you are not sure about drinking quality.
To enjoy hiking a good pair of shoes is the basic equipment you will need.
When buying hiking boots/shoes check for the following:
- have good grip – sometimes you walk on muddy or rocky terrain
- fit good – you have some space to wiggle your toes
- good quality
Alya hiked more than 3000 km in her Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof hiking shoes before retiring them! Salomon X Ultra Prime is another good option for low cut shoes; durable, waterproof, comfortable, have good grip. For boot cut – KEEN Targhee II Waterproof or more budget option – Columbia Granite Ridge.are good shoes.
Hiking shirt – try not to wear cotton, if you sweat you will be wet and cold. For ladies we recommend breathable, moisture wicking, quik dry long sleeve shirt.
I love hiking in Columbia shirts, they do not absorb water so dry quickly and protects me from the sun if I take my jacket off.
Sport bras – they are great for hiking and outdoors, Alya says that she prefers sport bras over normal bras.
Merino wool socks – a must have especially for long hikes. In the past we didn’t pay much attention to socks – bought any random cheap socks and used to have blisters. We’ve heard a lot from other hikers about merino wool socks and finally decided to give it a go. They do work great, now we always wear them for hiking. Some advantages of merino wool socks; don’t absorb odors, protect your feet, dry quick and very durable. For even more comfortable walk check Darn Tough hiking socks they’re famous for great foot support and blister protection. Alya likes their ladies’ models; colorful and funky.
Sunglasses – bring sunglasses for hiking in the mountains with high UV protection and polarized lenses.
Pack a BUFF Multifunctional Headwear – protects your neck and face from sun burn, wind and weather. Get a funky one, mine is a South African flag, awesome for photos!
Trekking Poles – Will be helpful on this hike on the screet between the shoulder and the chimney. TrailBuddy Hiking Sticks, TrailBuddy Hiking Sticks very well rated, good value for money, aluminium trekking poles. Aluminium is strong and a bit heavier than carbon, my advice is save some money, go for these guys! Top of the line Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock Trekking Pole, 68-140cm.
Planning to do a multi day backpacking hike? I love our MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Lightweight Backpacking Tent, bought mine in Canada, camped in many different conditions, a fantastic, easy light, super quality tent.