Panorama Ridge is one of the most popular hikes in the Sea-to-Sky corridor, and for a very good reason; the jaw-dropping 360-degree views of Garibaldi Provincial Park from the top are unbeatable. The trail has some great scenery and several beautiful alpine lakes on the way up, but the primary attraction and namesake of the ridge is the panoramic view at the top, and it definitely does not disappoint. There are plenty of vantage points in the area that offer incredible mountain views, but this one is special.
The quickest and most popular way to hike Panorama Ridge is from the Rubble Creek Trailhead, which is also the most common access point for Black Tusk and Garibaldi Lake. It is possible to do the hike from the Cheakamus Lake Trailhead as well, which is generally less busy but slightly longer and not quite as scenic. The hike is nearly 30 kilometers round trip from either trailhead with over 1,500 meters of elevation gain, so hikers often choose to camp at one of the three campgrounds in the area rather than try to go up and back down in a day.
From the Rubble Creek Trailhead the route starts with several kilometers of forested switchbacks climbing on a trail that is wide, well-maintained, and frankly a bit boring. After 5.5 kilometers you’ll reach a junction where the left trail leads up toward Taylor Meadows and the right trail heads to Barrier Lake, Lesser Garibaldi Lake, and finally Garibaldi Lake. The most direct route to Panorama Ridge is via Taylor Meadows, though it is worth making a detour to Garibaldi Lake if time permits. At the very least, it’s worth walking the 200 meters from the lower Taylor Meadows junction to the Barrier Viewpoint to check out the 455 meter wall of rock that formed 9,000 years ago when a river of molten lava came head to head with a massive glacier.
The trees start to thin out after you pass by the Taylor Meadows Campground, and the scenery gets more and more impressive as you walk along the south flank of the majestic Black Tusk. Continue past the turnoffs for Garibaldi Lake and Black Tusk viewpoint, enjoy the views of Garibaldi Lake and Mimulus Lake below you on the right, and eventually you’ll come to the Panorama Ridge turnoff just above Black Tusk Lake. Here you’ll find an absolutely beautiful spot for a swim and a lunch break before climbing up the final 2.5-kilometer ascent. The trail leaves the shores of Black Tusk Lake and climbs an obvious route up toward Panorama Peak. As you ascend the ridge the trail gets steeper and more challenging, but the long, grueling climb has a palpable reward waiting at the end.
As you crest the top of the ridge you’ll be greeted with a truly spectacular 360-degree view, one that is unparalleled in the Sea-to-Sky corridor. It might seem silly to say that the view from a particular mountaintop could be that much better than the view from neighboring peaks, but few people who have seen it would argue otherwise. Panorama Ridge is situated right between Black Tusk and Garibaldi Lake, with Mount Garibaldi and Table Mountain across the lake, the Tantalus range visible to the south, and an endless sea of glaciers and rocky peaks to the north. Black Tusk Lake, Mimilus Lake and Helm Lake are all visible from the ridge, as well as the Howe Sound. The views of the iconic Black Tusk on the way up are worth the price of admission, but the view from the top is what makes this spot a favorite. Garibaldi Lake's vibrant blue expanse of water 500 metres below seems like a postcard, and the picture-perfect peaks and glaciers surrounding Mount Garibaldi on the far side resemble a Bob Ross painting. As mentioned, there is no shortage of amazing views in Garibaldi Park and the Sea-to-Sky Corridor, but this one ranks right at the top.