Hike to the Black Tusk Lookout Point

Black Tusk Trailhead, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

  • Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Advanced

  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    18.6 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    5700 Feet

Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
River
Romantic
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Out of this world scenery and combine it with a few days of camping / backpacking and you'll have one incredible weekend! Long day hike from Rubble Creek (30km return / 5700ft elevation gain) or shorter hike if you camp at Taylor Meadows (11km return to Taylor Meadows / 2700ft elevation gain).

The Black Tusk is a distinctive landmark just south of Whistler (the remnants of an old volcano). There is nothing else like it, and it is visible from all over the Sea to Sky area.

Depending on your experience and fitness level, you can either: climb right to the top of the Tusk (expert hiking/scrambling ability), hike up to the base of the Tusk (intermediate hiking ability), or go to the Black Tusk viewpoint (intermediate hiking ability).

Climbing to the Black Tusk summit involves a scary 4th class scramble to get up a 330ft chimney, which is a narrow chute full of crumbling rock and exposure. Hands are required to ascend the chimney! If this is of interest (it’s amazing afterall!) it should be attempted only by experienced hikers/climbers, as the rock is extremely loose and creates a rock fall hazard if anyone is above you. Make sure you follow the flagging to find the right starting point!

For the purposes of this adventure, let’s just say you’re heading for the base of the Tusk, under the chimney, which is still an incredible objective.

This hike can be done in a long day from Rubble Creek, or you can half the time and elevation by camping at Taylor Meadows or Garibaldi Lake. The camping areas have 90 sites between them, and fill to capacity on summer weekends ($10/person/night). As of 2016, online camping reservations are required for Garibaldi Lake, Cheakamus Lake, Elfin Lakes + Taylor Meadows, instead of the pay at the parking lot way it used to work.  Online reservations can be found here.

To reach the Rubble Creek parking area (paved, 2WD), follow HWY99 north from Squamish until you see Provincial Park signs for Black Tusk on your right, about 20 minutes up the highway. The trail is a well worn series of switchbacks, wide enough to hike 2 people across the whole way up.

The terrain at the top of the trail is otherworldly, as you'll be hiking on volcanic debris, making you feel as though you are on a different planet altogether. There is excellent signage and distance markers all throughout the park, so just follow the signs at the few trail junctions you come to.

A large Parks sign indicates that you've arrived at the Lookout point. From here you'll have stellar views of Garibaldi Lake, Panorama Ridge, Mt Garibaldi and the perfectly flat Table Mountain. If you're comfortable hiking a bit higher to the ridge, a look over the other side, will give you a close-up view of the spires that make up the Tusk. It is a unique and beautiful mountain, and an experience you'll never forget.

Pack List

For a day hike bring:
  • Minimum 3L of water
  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Warm layers (even in summer, mountain weather is unpredictable and it can get very cold in the alpine)
And everything you'd normally have in a day pack...
  • Headlamp
  • First aid kit
  • Lots of food
  • Extra layers
  • Camera
  • Hiking poles
  • Some people bring a climbing helmet for the chimney (to protect from falling debris)
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Reviews

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This hike definitely rivaled some of the best I've done. The first 7km include an 800m elevation gain up switchbacks and through thick forest. After you reach Taylor meadows, it's a open and picturesque stroll through a flat alpine meadow with flowers abounding. The last 4 or so km to the tusk are intense but slow but steady gets you there with ease. I heeded the advice of others and did not attempt to climb up the tusk - instead opting to take in the glory of the view from its base. The entire hike took me 8 hours from start to finish - this included a 20 min lunch break and 1 hour plop at the base of the tusk. Points to note - First time I'd ever waited in line for a shithouse. First time I'd run into millenials on the trail pumping hip hop. Good bear deterrent if anything.

6 months ago
6 months ago

As a black spire rising up from the group straight toward the sky it is a sight to be seen from the peak at Whistler and one that is known so well by the Whistler faithful. Climbing up to it from the Garibaldi basin is an amazing trip and one that anyone with the means can do. After taking a quick detour to check out the Garibaldi lake views, one gets to see it all from a few hundred meters above by climbing up the trail. Beware the black flies in the summer. Go up on a nice sunny day to enjoy the endless views in every direction.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Emily Haggar Explorer

One half mountain adventurer and one half creative entrepreneur. Live the life you want to live, not the one you're supposed to live. IG: @lifeinthemtns + farandwild.ca + mountainlove.ca

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