Garabaldi Lake is a spectacular vista and makes it's way into nearly all the top 10 hiking lists for near-Vancouver trails. The trail weaves through the woods before topping out at the edge of Garabaldi Lake. It's a very popular trail because it isn't too long. The trail itself is very well maintained and a great route for newer hikers looking for a big day out. It can take from four to six hours total to hike depending on your fitness. While the distance sounds long, the downhill goes by really quickly.
Parking starts at Rubble Creek. Heading north on Highway 99 toward Whistler, look for the sign to Garabaldi Provincial Park just past Cheakamus Canyon. If you drive past the hydro dam, you've gone too far. The road winds for a couple of kilometeres up before getting to the parking lot. On a weekend, expected the lot to be full by 8 a.m. By 9 a.m., huge lines will be spilling down the access road. It's not unsusal to see more than a kilometer of cars parked alongside the road on a summer weekend morning.
The trail starts flat enough before rapidly heading uphill. It's a doubletrack trail, so there is plenty of room for all paces. You will no doubt start encountering loads of folks with big backpacks heading up for overnight trips. The trail switches back and forth 15 times before evening out to less steep terrain.
You will pass a couple of pretty lakes first before the river suddenly widens and the massive Garabaldi Lake spreads out before you. Most folks cross the bridge here and head for Battleship Island. The bugs tend to not be too bad out here, and there is also a cook shelter to take your lunch in if the weather is bad. Battleship Island makes a lovely spot to stop and have a rest before heading back down.
This is a big day out, so it's worth considering taking the 10 Essentials. The long descent will make trekking poles greatly appreciated, too.