Along with Garibaldi Lake, the Panorama Ridge hike was on my “new short-term bucket list,” considering Cody and Chris chastised me for saying it was on my “Bucket List” after less than a year.
I had to see the view from this place, so around 8 am, I was up making breakfast and getting ready. The C’s were still napping (and I’d later learn Cody slept until noon). So at 9 am, I headed for the 9-mile round trip hike.
The first two to three miles were mundane as I hiked through forests and muddy trails. But it continued to gain altitude, and before long, I was jumping between non-snow patches before becoming immersed in total snow-covered trails.
A Jaw-Dropping Panorama Ridge Hike in British Columbia
What you need to know before hiking Panorama Ridge
Where is this hike located?
You start the hike at the Garibaldi Lake Trailhead. It’s a 25-minute drive south of Whistler or a 90-minute drive north of Vancouver.
How long is the Panorama Ridge trail?
To hike Panorama Ridge in one day is an 18-mile hike – 9 in, nine out.
Can you do the Panorama Ridge hike in one day?
You can, but it will be one heckuva long day hike. You’ll need to bring a lot of food and extra layers as you’ll likely be hiking in and out in the dark.
What’s the elevation gain of the Panorama Ridge hike?
The elevation gain for Panorama Ridge is close to 5,300 feet over nine miles. This comes out to 588 feet per mile, which isn’t bad. However, a good flat section is in the middle, so be prepared for some steeper sections.
Do I need a permit to hike here?
Yes. There is a free day-use permit needed to hike to Garibaldi Lake or Panorama Ridge.
Do I need a permit to camp at Garibaldi Lake?
Yes, this is a very popular place, and you’ll need to reserve weeks or months in advance to secure camping reservations.
How long does it take to hike to Garibaldi Lake and Panorama Ridge?
You should plan for an entire day to get to Garibaldi Lake. Then, if you plan to continue up to Panorama Ridge, add another 3 hours.
The Hike Up to Panorama Ridge
The final mile to a mile and a half, I’d estimate, was entirely in the snow as I traversed up what I figured was the right trail, but between you and me, I was heading up and trying not to fall down the slope.
I was surprised by the snow, as the other side of the mountain had none of it. It would have been great to have microspikes by my hiking poles, and boots did just fine. However, a group trailed me for most of the Panorama Ridge hike and did it with no hiking poles, so the danger factor was minimal.
Plus, if you did end up sliding down, there weren’t any cliffs, which means you’d slide down to the bottom and have to hike your way back up.
I used trusty Google Maps to ensure I was on the right trail, and the group behind me helped steer me in the right direction towards the end.
But the views are at the top of Panorama Ridge. Oh. My. God.
I already knew what they would look like, but, damn, I was star-struck. Stunning. It’s the only word I can think of regarding what I saw.
Views at the top of the Panorama Ridge Hike
On the right-hand side of the above photo, we camped the two nights at the lake on those little islands.
Seeing the entire lake via Panorama Ridge from this angle gave me a sense of accomplishment. I knew what I wanted to achieve. I got there. And I got to enjoy it (while also almost having a camera filter roll off the mountain. Ooops.)
Coming down from Panorama Ridge
Getting down was pretty easy outside of the initial first 25 yards, which were pretty steep. My hiking poles were an excellent comrade; someone had tied little orange bows to things that outlined the trail. (Canadian trails are so well marked, it’s ridiculous. Coming up, we had a marker almost every km.)
It started to rain on my way back lightly, and I was glad I wasn’t at the top when the storm blew in later that afternoon because there would have been zero visibility and no shelter.
I think I got back around 1:30 pm (I told the guys at 2 pm initially) and promptly moved our gear into the weather shelter they have at the lake as the rain quickly approached.
Related: Best Banff National Park Lakes
For the next 5-6 hours, we played card games, relaxed, read, and talked with the other people camping at the lake as it poured and poured.
Luckily, we caught a quick break in the rain for this spectacular rainbow that Chris spotted. We all sprinted outside to see it.
Finally, around 10:30 pm, we retreated to our tents. Due to being in a small crater, Chris had a wet tent that didn’t seem to get any better as the night progressed. Safe to say he did not have a good night’s sleep.
I promptly passed out and didn’t hear any of the rain throughout the night. After hiking for four straight days, I was utterly exhausted.
Leaving Garibaldi Lake after the Panorama Ridge Hike
We woke up at a decent hour the following day and brought our remaining wet gear into the shelter to dry it. It worked, sort of. By 1 pm, we were on the trail, hoping to do the 5.6-mile hike in two hours.
Well, we crushed it.
The gang had zero stops (minus the rangers checking our permits) and finished on time. By the end, we were understandably hungry, tired, and dirty.
Wrapping up – Panorama Ridge Hike
This called for a brewery stop in Squamish, where we stuffed our faces with food so that even the waitress was shocked. (We surprised a lot of servers on this trip with our food consumption.)
With that, the trip to Canada was over. We passed through Vancouver and settled back into Seattle, where we met Cody’s dad, stepmom, and uncle for a beautiful dinner.
The trip, one of the best I’ve ever had, created a lifetime of memories for me and the three of us. Ten days together can test friendships and strengthen and solidify them.
It honestly couldn’t have gone any better if we had tried. Minus one day/night, the weather was terrific and gave us enough sunshine to enjoy British Columbia’s beautiful views.
I’d highly recommend visiting the area, even if you don’t plan to do the crazy hikes we did. There is plenty to see without enduring 10-mile RT hikes.
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
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