Day Hiking Vancouver Area

Photo Essay: Garibaldi Lake in Early Winter

Winter reflections at Garibaldi Lake

For the past two years I’ve hiked to Garibaldi Lake in late November.  It’s become a fun tradition.  It’s a great time of year to go since it’s a winter wonderland at the lake but the trail on the way up is not so snowy that you have to break trail.  This year we chose a beautiful sunny day that wasn’t too cold.

The majority of the trail is in the trees and before long we hit the snowline and put on our microspikes.

Garibaldi Lake trail in the winter.

Garibaldi Lake trail in the winter.

About 2/3 of the way to the lake you can take a short side trail to the Barrier Viewpoint.  The views of the Squamish valley are pretty good, the whiskey jacks are cute (but aggressive) and it’s a great place to soak up some sunshine after slogging uphill in the shade.

Barrier viewpoint on the way to Garibaldi Lake

Hooray! We’ve reached the Barrier viewpoint.

Whiskeyjack at the Barrier

Curious whiskey jacks are everywhere at the Barrier viewpoint

Whiskey jack at the Barrier viewpoint

Whiskey jacks are known for their boldness

After leaving the Barrier you pass by two small lakes before finally descending to Garibaldi Lake where you get the first views of the snowcapped mountains that surround you.

First views of Garibaldi Lake

First views of Garibaldi Lake

Crossing the outflow of Garibaldi Lake

Crossing the outflow of Garibaldi Lake

After crossing the outflow of the lake we made our way around the shoreline to the Battleship Islands area where the campground is.  The reflections were insane and we spent a long time wandering around taking photos and oohing and aahing.

Winter reflections at Garibaldi Lake

Winter reflections

Tiny islands at Garibaldi Lake

Tiny islands covered in snow

Looking across Garibaldi Lake to the Sphinx Glacier

Looking across Garibaldi Lake to the Sphinx Glacier

Looking out at Garibaldi Lake


Frozen bay at Garibaldi Lake

Frozen bay near Battleship Islands

Black Tusk from Garibaldi Lake

Black Tusk from Garibaldi Lake

Boat dock at Garibaldi Lake

The rangers’ boat dock isn’t getting too much use this time of year

Ice forming on Garibaldi Lake

Ice forming

Garibaldi Lake outflow

Heading home

A last look at Garibaldi Lake

A last look at Garibaldi Lake

Eventually it was time to leave.  The light was fading and it was getting colder so we headed back down the trail towards the car.  Along the way we did catch golden hour in the forest.

Golden hour on the Garibaldi Lake Trail

Golden hour on the Garibaldi Lake Trail

It was a gorgeous day to be on the trails and even though I’ve been here many times, I never fail to be amazed by how beautiful it is.  And in the winter you get a tiny fraction of the crowds that can plague the trails in the summer.

If You Go:

The trail is a long one even in the summer at 18km return with about 800m of elevation gain so make sure you allow yourself lots of time and realize that you’ll travel slower on snow.

It gets dark really early in winter and since the trail is all in the trees, it will be very dark so make sure you pack a headlamp and some extra batteries just in case.  On our trip we ended up helping a group who had no lights.

The trail is often very icy on the lower sections and snowy higher up.  You’ll need crampons or other traction devices and snowshoes too.  This isn’t optional as you’ll probably slip and fall a lot without them and your travel will be at a snail’s pace.

The road to the parking lot is not plowed in winter and can be very slippery or just plain impassable.  Chains and 4wd are recommended but be prepared to walk in from the highway, adding another 2km or so each way to your journey.

You’ll want to dress warmly since its cold up there, especially if it’s windy.  Read my tips for What to Wear for Winter Hiking.  And for more tips on how what to bring, how to prepare, and how to stay safe, read my blog post about Hiking Through the Cold Season.

Have you been to Garibaldi Lake in winter? Tell me about your trip in the comments.


Was this post helpful? Pin it on Pinterest!

Hike to Garibaldi Lake in winter. Garibaldi Lake is near Squamish BC. Winter hiking in Squamish, BC. Snowshoe to Garibaldi Lake. Winter at Garibaldi Lake.


  • Reply
    October 10, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    Hi Taryn!
    I really enojoyed your post. I am planning a visit to Vancouver last weekend of October and was wondering if you knew how conditions of the Gairibali Lake trail are around this time? Any advice is appreciated!

    • Reply
      Taryn Eyton
      October 10, 2017 at 10:15 pm

      Hi Deisy, It’s impossible to know what the conditions will be like in a few weeks. There isn’t any snow on the ground there yet this year, but that could change at any time. In late October you probably won’t need snowshoes but you might need microspikes or crampons as the trail can get really icy, especially in the morning. Also be sure to get there early in the morning and pack a headlamp as you will likely be coming back down at least partially in the dark. To keep up to date on conditions you can check out my post on how to find trail conditions for Vancouver as it has lots of great resources: Keep checking on the conditions in the week before your trip to ensure you have the lastest info.

Leave a Reply