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Rent Hiking Gear - Tents, Backpacks, Stoves..

The beautiful Cypress Mountain Resort is the location of the trailhead to the hike to St Mark's Summit. As it is one of among several hikes along the Howe Sound Crest Trail, the trailhead signs and markers don't indicate St Mark's Summit. Instead you have to follow the well laid out and frequent signs that direct you to the Howe Sound Crest Trail and The Lions. The Lions is the well known and highly visible Vancouver mountain on the Howe Sound Crest Trail and sits just beyond St Mark's Summit on the trail. So if you follow the signs for The Lions you will reach the Summit of St Mark's.St Mark's Summit Tent View of Howe Sound

Park your car at the huge parking lot nearest the Cypress Creek Daylodge and take a look inside. It has a very nice restaurant/pub and an array of beautiful and huge historical photos of the area dating back to the early 1900's. Particularly interesting are the photos of people in century-old ski gear standing at St Mark's Summit as you realize that this trail has been a cherished Vancouver recreational destination for quite some time.

You will also find nice public washrooms and water fountains as well as take-away, concession style food and drinks for the trail. As you exit the daylodge, go down the gradual stairs the bend to the right and you will see a large Cypress Provincial Park map kiosk. From there you will see, about 10 metres away, the trailhead marked with the first of many, Cypress Provincial Park trail signs. It shows an arrow pointing to the nice gravel trail stretching into the trees and "Howe Sound Crest Trail".

St Mark's Summit Hiking Trail Topo Map

 

Helm Creek - Vancouver Hiking Trails and Maps

Black Tusk is the amazingly distinct mountain in Garibaldi Park that can be seen from the Sea to Sky Highway dozens of kilometres away.  Along with the Chief in Squamish, these two mountains are probably the most noticeable peaks in all of the Garibaldi Mountain Range.

Black Tusk stands at 2319 metres and owes its distinct appearance to an odd set of geologic circumstances.  About 170,000 years ago renewed volcanic activity in what is now Garibaldi Park produced a lava dome within a cinder-rich volcanic cone itself over a million years old.  Cinder-rich simply means that the cone formed out of explosive volcanic action and hardened, to some extent, in the air and therefore filled with air pockets and evidently light and weak in structure.  The Black Tusk hardened inside this more easily eroded cinder cone so in the past 170,000 years the outer cinder cone has crumbled away to reveal the lava dome within.  The Black Tusk itself is extremely crumbly as well as can be seen in the astonishingly consistent in size pieces of it tumbling down the majestic slopes all around.

Black Tusk can be reached by two main Garibaldi Park trailheads.  The usual route is from the main Garibaldi Lake trailhead at Rubble Creek.  From here it is a beautiful, though long 15k hike to the summit, or at least the impressive areas below the summit.  The other, less frequently hiked trail to Black Tusk is from the Cheakamus Lake trailhead nearer to Whistler.  This route is in some ways superior to the Garibaldi Lake route in that it is hardly used, and quiet and peaceful.  This route is also Helm Creek Tent in Early July Snow15k to Black Tusk and passes through the beautiful Helm Creek area of Garibaldi Park.  Helm Creek is also home to a beautiful camping area.

The location of Helm Creek Campground has two tremendous advantages.  First it is just a great location.  About halfway between Cheakamus Lake and Black Tusk it lays in some amazingly scenic areas.  Beautiful, climbable mountains all around.  Amazing fields of snow that run all the way to the base of Black Tusk.  Rivers, creeks and waterfalls everywhere you turn.  And the campground area itself is very nice.  A large, grassy field ringed by trees and Helm Creek.  The area really has no trails except the Helm Creek trail that runs past it, but there are infinitely numerous directions you can wander.  Exploring in any direction takes you to more and more pristine, green fields, streams, pocket lakes and mountain views.

Though most just use it as a base to extend onto Black Tusk, it is a great base for so much more.  Helm Peak, Corrie Peak, Cinder Cone, Empetrum Peak as well as the more frequented Panorama Ridge, Black Tusk and Garibaldi Lake.  The second great aspect of Helm Creek as a campground is that it is quiet and serene when compared with the other two area campgrounds.  Garibaldi Lake and Taylor Meadows are very busy all summer long.  In fact there is a posting part way up the trail to Garibaldi Lake indicating how crowded it is and if it is full.

Cheakamus Lake Hiking Map - Vancouver and Garibaldi Park

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Black Tusk from the Helm Creek Campground

The reason that these two campgrounds are so much more busy than Helm Creek is not that they are nicer, but simply that their trailhead is closer to Vancouver where the bulk of the hiking traffic emanates from.  The trailheads are only about 30 minutes apart, but that makes all the difference.  For the serenity and accompanying beauty, Helm Creek Campground is well worth the extra 30 minute drive.

The trailhead for Helm Creek is the same as for Cheakamus Lake, so a beautiful multi-day hike can easily be done from here.  Camping at Cheakamus Lake one day, then Helm Creek another, then Taylor Meadows another as you explore the huge array of spectacular sites in Garibaldi Park.  If you are ambitious for a tougher hike you can link several hikes together, and in fact begin your hike at the Whistler Gondola.  From there hike the amazing Musical Bumps via the High Note Trail out to Russet Lake.  Another gorgeous mountain paradise and has a similar hut to Wedgemount Lake.  From Russet you can descend down Singing Creek (rough, not well Helm Creek Campground in Mid July - Vancouver Hiking Trailsestablished trail) for 3k and arrive at the Cheakamus Lake Campground furthest from the Cheakamus Lake trailhead.  Then you can hike 9k to Helm Creek.

If you can manage to park cars at Whistler and another at the Garibaldi Lake trailhead at Rubble Creek, you can do this wonderful array of trails linearly and take in a staggering array of stunning sights.  Russet Lake, Cheakamus Lake, Helm Creek, Black Tusk, Panorama Ridge, Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake are the more well known highlights of an amazing route like this.

If just hiking from the Cheakamus Lake trailhead the trail has little elevation change for the first 1.5k.  At 1.5k you will see a sign directing you to the branching trail to Helm Creek.  This takes you down to the huge and gorgeous Cheakamus Lake to cross a nice suspension bridge.  Then the steadily uphill grind begins, and doesn't end until you reach the Campground.  The deep forest of towering Hemlocks and Cedars keeps the views to a minimum on the trail until about 5k after the Cheakamus River crossing where you run closer to the Helm Creek which can be heard crashing near the trail before it comes into sight.  The total distance from the Cheakamus Trailhead to the Helm Creek Campground is 9k.

Helm Creek Trail Map - Vancouver Hiking

The campground is wonderfully laid out.  With nine well designed and located, wooden tent pads.  Most are steps from Helm Creek.  If it took you 1.5 to 2 hours to hike to Helm Creek, then it will take you about the same to hike to Panorama Ridge or the summit of Black Tusk.  Corrie Lake is another interesting hike from Helm Creek.  If you have ever hiked the High Note Trail on Whistler Mountain you will no doubt have noticed the surreal looking lake, well above Cheakamus Lake and looks to be almost hovering in the forest.  Though a bushwack from Helm Creek, it is well worth the couple kilometres to reach.  If nothing else, to say you stood on the shores of this remarkable lake.

Black Tusk Trail Map - Vancouver Hiking

A good idea if hiking to Helm Creek is to grab a topo map of the area then just pick a mountain and go.  Every mountain you can point to on the map is a reachable and almost certainly, an amazing potential hike.  And with the staggering array of choices, you will likely spot more bears than humans in such an unexpectedly secluded part of Garibaldi Park.

Wedgemount Lake Aerial Video - Vancouver TrailsRusset Lake Aerial Video - Vancouver TrailsParkhurst Ghost Town Aerial Video - Vancouver Trails

Panorama Ridge Aerial Video - Vancouver TrailsPanorama Ridge Aerial Video - Vancouver TrailsRusset Lake Aerial Video - Vancouver Trails

Whistler Trails Guide and Map

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