Panorama Ridge Trail was the first hike we had planned for our 2 day stay in Squamish, B.C. It was our first time in Squamish and we had no idea what to expect. When we flew in the previous day, the sky was already dark . So, imagine my surprise when I saw the mountains the next morning. Was this really part of Canada? Or was it paradise? The scenery was in a completely different league from anything Ontario had to offer. Sorry Toronto, but at that moment I really felt like I’ve been living in the wrong province.
I was still tired from yesterday’s flight, but I couldn’t help it, I had to hike. By 8 a.m. we were at the Rubble Creek Trailhead parking lot, ready to hit the Panorama Ridge Trail. I was nervous. My All Trails App rated the hike as ‘Hard’, with a distance of 30 km. round trip, and an elevation gain of up to 1,600 m. Maybe it was a bit ambitious for our first hike in B.C.? Not to mention there were multiple warnings about winter conditions on the trail. But I thought, ‘It’s ok, I can handle a little snow’. After all, this is known to be one of the most beautiful trails in Garibaldi Provincial Park.
We started on a tree lined path. It was beautiful. I felt like such a tourist gawking at the vast Canadian wilderness. 6 km later, I was still in awe but also tired from the relentless uphill. My thighs were on fire. We took a short break at a sign post with directions for Garibaldi Lake and Taylor Meadows. After catching our breaths, we continued on towards Taylor Meadows. This path would take us to Panorama Ridge.
The snow situation started to get serious. It started with patches and eventually grew to cover the entire ground. At the same time, the trees thinned out and the path flattened. It was a nice a break from the non stop incline. Along the way, we met 3 high spirited ladies from Wisconsin who had camped the previous night. They were kind enough to let us know that the trail ahead was almost non existent. They weren’t able to make it to the ridge, but they did get a partial panorama view, and it was well worth the effort. They had on crampons and snowshoes. If they couldn’t make it, what chance would we have?
We trudged on, past a beautiful creek and two mountain huts. Then we saw a sign pointing us to the Panorama Ridge. It was just 5 km away. By now the snow was so high, that only the tops of sign posts were visible. The trail was lost to us, and we hadn’t seen another hiker for at least an hour. We headed up towards the mountains, trying our best to follow the footprints and directions from the All Trails App.
The incline became steeper, the snow grew thicker, and soon we were lost. We could see that hikers had crossed over a creek covered in snow, but we were afraid we might fall through. We walked up and down looking for a safe crossing but there was no way around. We crossed the creek and continued to hike up.
Finally, we got a peek of the view. A frozen Garibaldi Lake, surrounded by snow covered mountains. It was gorgeous! We stood there for a while enjoying the view. Even though it wasn’t the full panorama, it was still beautiful.
I would’ve loved to make it to the ridge, but we were exhausted and lost. Mostly, I was scared because my leg kept falling through the snow and my foot never reached the ground. How high was this snow?
It was hard to accept defeat. We hiked back down. The sun beating down on us magnified our failure, and gave us a wicked sunburn. We were so lost in the excitement of the hike that we completely forgot to reapply sunscreen.
We walked/slid down the mountain, past the creek and back onto the dirt path. We did take a short break in a hut to eat our nutella sandwiches. It was a quick hike down. By 4 p.m. we were back in the parking lot. Our shoes were soaked from the snow and my right knee ached from the long downhill. Still all I could think to myself was, ‘What an awesome hike! Next time we’ll do it when there’s no snow and make it to the ridge’.
PANORAMA RIDGE TRAIL – Tips for hiking in May
- Bring lots of water, or water purification tablets (We had over 3 L. of water for both of us and we finished every drop)
- Wear sunscreen and reapply (We sweat a lot,and forgot to reapply. We got totally burned.)
- Sunglasses (I didn’t wear my sunglasses the whole time and my eyes looked bloodshot for 3 days)
- Bring lots of snacks and some sort of mint (We had 6 sandwiches, a bunch of granola bars and a bag of fisherman’s friend. The mint helps me wake up when I start to get really tired)
- Snow shoes (I think for the amount of snow we saw, snowshoes are better than crampons)
- GPS trail directions (We used All Trails, which really helped, except I didn’t zoom in close enough. Apparently, we were near the trail, but not quite on trail)
- Start early (We hiked from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
- Rubble Creek Trailhead location: