This is definitely the heart of Garibaldi Provincial Park. The forces of both glaciation and volcanism have shaped the landscape here forming scenes of incredible diversity and beauty. You can enjoy it all within a small area: big trees, big glaciers, and ?look-at-that" views of Black Tusk, Helm Glacier, the Sphinx, Panorama Ridge, Sentinel and Sphinx Glacier, as well as down on the turquoise glacial waters of Garibaldi Lake.
You'll wander through expansive alpine meadows, and cross the volcanic landscape of cinder flats. The beauty is raw, but it's easily accessible, and the trails are well-maintained. Try to make it a mid-week trip; even then, you probably won't be on your own.
You can start this hike from either direction: To do Helm Creek ? Cinder Flats ? Taylor Meadows, park at the Cheakamus Lake parking lot. Drive Hwy 99 north towards Whistler, and about 10 km after the Brandywine Falls Provincial Park, turn east off the highway onto a logging road. Stay right at the beginning, and after about 0.5 km turn left onto dirt and go for another 7 km to the Cheakamus Lake trailhead. To hike the other direction, drive to the Rubble Creek parking lot which you reach by going north on Hwy 99 and following the signs to Garibaldi / Black Tusk. Hike up the 9 km (3500ft elevation gain) to the Taylor Meadows campsite. The Helm Creek Trail is very well marked from either approach, so there's no chance that you'll miss it.
The whole trip, from either parking lot, is about 25 km, whereas the section in between the two campsites is about 10 km long. NTS Map: 92J3.
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Posted By: Centurion
- Mon Jun 22 14:06:37 UTC 2015
Upside- Gorgeous views of the backside of the Black Tusk - Rolling meadows and well maintained/marked trail - Some nice bridge crossings, well maintained - Helm Lake is gorgeous and great for a dip - Big parking lot - Not busy Downside- Annoying insects most of the trail CommentThis is a great trail. Although I think the reverse side is better (going by Garibaldi Lake), if you've done it this is a wonderful alternative.
The trail is easy to find and accessible by a 7KM bumpy backroad. We got there in a small city car, so it's doable. The parking lot is big with lots of spots.
The trail starts with a switch back section through the woods of easy/moderate difficulty on a well marked and maintained trail. After crossing a few bridges you enter the main valley/meadow area with stunning views of the reverse side of the Black Tusk. There is a great campsite with platforms for tents and lots of access to fresh water throughout the entire trail.
The walk through the valley is stunning with snow capped mountains on either side of you and the tusk in front. Keep going till the end and you are rewarded with Helm Lake, a shallow snow fed lake that is great for cooling off in. The trail through the valley has no elevation gain and is very easy.
We did this hike at a relaxed pace in 7.5 hours including our stop for lunch. The mosquitoes were annoying when not moving, so bring bug spray. Also, much of this trail is in the open air so sunscreen is recommended. Great trail with beautiful views.
No snow when we were there at all, except for the odd patch and on top of the distant peaks. Recommended !
Posted By: vpigeon
- Mon Jul 26 03:52:20 UTC 2010
UpsideA hike with stunning views and several options, including going to Helm Glacier and Garibaldi Lake. Try to catch the right weekend in August to enjoy the mountain flowers at Garibaldi Meadows, 2.5 km north of Taylor Meadows. DownsideIt's long, 26 kms, up 1000 m from Cheakamus, 1215 m from Rubble Creek (TH for Garibaldi Lake). The north (Cheakamus) side is rooty, rocky and can be muddy, so better to do it uphill at first, and cruise down the north side. 2 cars are required. Lots of bugs at Helm Campground and Taylor Meadows. CommentDid this hike with a group of 15 on Sunday July 15, 2010. The Cinder Flats, well over 1 km across, were still covered with approx 1/2 m of snow, so bring YackTrax or crampons. Helm Creek must be forded, it is fairly wide, so bring crocs or or other water footwear. Some people hopped from stone to stone in their hiking boots, but that's risky, 'cause if you fall in, your boots are wet. The water was extremely cold, probably not much more than 1-2 C, so you don't want to spend more time than necessary crossing this creek. Wear sunscreen and a hat, you could cook in the open areas, and they are lengthy (several kms).
Posted By: arkitekt
- Wed Oct 01 04:00:33 UTC 2008
UpsideAbsolutely stunning landscapes and scenery that changes at every corner. DownsideBirds playing in my vestibule through the night not only kept me awake, but attracted a cougar to my tentside!! CommentThis was my first solo overnight hike, and definitely a winner for me. I started around noon at the Cheakamus parking lot and stopped to set up camp at Helm Creek before going another hour up the trail to see the sunset. The next day I only took a snack and a water bottle as I went all the way to the Black Tusk trail and partly up. Didn't make it all the way up as I had to go back, break down camp, and pack out still, but I would have loved to have summited the tusk. Amazing views all around. The Helm Creek side is MUCH quieter than the Rubble Creek side, and there's no parking or camping fees at that end of the trail. I'm definitely going on this one again. Oh, and bring your hiking poles - they were a life saver on this one.
Posted By: oldfolk
- Sat Apr 08 04:46:26 UTC 2006
Upsidespectacular scenery Downsidenone CommentI did this trip 20 years ago in mid-September. Woke up to a collapsed tent with an early snowfall. Absolutely spectacular trip
Do it - even if you only go up the Helm Creek side for a bit and don't do the traverse
Posted By: dmarr
- Tue Jan 20 16:06:52 UTC 2004
UpsideBeautiful, dramatic, great scenic variety. As seawallrunner suggests, spend some time in the Cinder Flats area, including a short side trip to Helm Glacier. DownsidePainfully busy, at least on the Rubble Creek/Garibaldi Lake side. CommentYou can do a return hike from either end if you can't workout the transportation between trailheads problem. This can be either a dayhike or an overnight. If you do the latter, while Garabaldi Lake and Taylor Meadows are in more immediately scenic areas, the Helm Creek site sees fewer people by a considerable margin (on the downside, the tent sites at Helm Creek are generally in full view of each other). You can dayhike from either end to the Mimulus Lake area, proceding up either the Panorama Ridge or Black Tusk trails if you have the time and energy. Admittedly it is a bit hard to pull yourself away from all this to head back down, especially if the weather gods have been kind. Also, doing a dayhike up Rubble Creek at the height of the season provides almost as much opportunity for people watching as does a stroll through Whistler. On the Helm Creek side you may only see half a dozen people.
Posted By: toad
- Mon Sep 22 01:49:36 UTC 2003
UpsideBig trees, great veiws, and awsome glaciers Downsidenone CommentDo yourself a favour and experiment at Helm pass, lots of ridge walking and scrambling oppurtunities.
Posted By: babydoll
- Sat Sep 20 19:33:54 UTC 2003
UpsideThis is one of my favorite in and aroung the Whistler area..nice and quick up to Taylor Meadows from the parking lot--lots of switchbacks!! Not too technical so you can introduce someone to hiking on this one. If you're just going up to Taylor Meadows and not doing the full traverse, hike a bit more up and on Black Tusk..trust me it is fully worth it!! It can be covered with snow during the summer as well, so remember to pack along a second pair of socks or take a pair of gaiters if you want to stay totally dry. DownsideYes the traverse is a little longer than stated, but is fully worth the amazing views!!
Posted By: seawallrunner
- Sat Sep 06 05:16:03 UTC 2003
UpsideBeautiful views, big old trees, a can't-get-lost trail... a huge variety of flowers, endless meadows, a true 'big sky' experience. The lava flats near Helm Lake are sobering - adventurous types can do a little side-hike up Cinder Cone. DownsideIt's a long hike - it is NOT 10 km or 3 hours long! Count on 8 or more hours to complete this 28km traverse. Variable weather - bring your layers. The winds in the flats near Helm Lake can be brisk, be prepared. CommentFinally, if you start from Cheakamus, the trail is a bit rougher (and shorter, and steeper), but the final stretch down, back to Rubble Creek parking lot, is very wide and level (gentle switchbacks): a pleasure for tired feet. Not for hiking beginners! But oh, the views !!!