Not just for biking: Garibaldi Highlands

Trails also appeal to runners, hikers

Located between Alice Lake, Quest University and Garibaldi Provincial Park, this area is often called the best biking place in Squamish. The extensive network of trails follows old logging train beds, forest service roads, hydro lines and hand-built paths. Trails are on hard-packed road beds, loose gravel, earthy loam and gnarly roots. There is a wide choice and something to fit any level of competence. This area hosted about half of the Test of Metal race on Saturday. 

This destination area is also very popular with walkers, hikers and runners. There are many possibilities for connecting various trails and enjoying interesting loops. While most trails are classified as single track, many are often wide enough to allow for side-by-side travel. 

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The Squamish 50 race for solo runners and team relays is scheduled for Aug. 20 and 21. This race is a premier event for trail runners and has been booked solid since mid-May. 

Forestry operations from 1910 to 1950 cleared the highlands of marketable timber. These Merrill and Ring lands have since been bought by various development companies. Residential homes began appearing in the 1950s, and Garibaldi Highlands has grown into one of our busiest neighbourhoods. 

Skyline and Cheema developments north of Pia Road will start construction soon. Routing for new streets and alignment for new houses will have an impact on the southern lengths of some trails. The developers have agreed to maintain connectivity during construction and may also provide larger parking lots at some trailheads because they understand that access to our wild outdoors is a major reason for moving to Squamish. Keeping this fact at the forefront of discussions with developers – and politicians – is a priority.

Black bears have been active in the area since coming out of hibernation. There have been almost daily encounters on these trails and even in some backyards. The bear shot on April 20 was likely intruding on a residential lot in pursuit of wild food. Police are investigating after a person illegally discharged a firearm in a residential area, endangering the neighbourhood. 

Source: www.trailmapps.com

Garibaldi Highlands trails

Not only mountain bikers, but trail runners and hikers also enjoy the more than 80 trails. 

Origin of name: Mount Garibaldi named in 1860 for Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1892),  a nationalist who helped unify Italy. The mountain was first climbed in 1907. The area became a park in 1926.

Trailhead: Various entry points including Alice Lake, Coho Park and near Quest University.

Use: Single-track, multi use. 

Difficulty: Easy green to double-diamond black.

Elevation: 90 metres to 350 metres.

 

Etiquette: Keep a short leash on your pet and keep it under control at all times in wildlife country. It’s sad that a minor fine is likely to be the sole justice for the death of a native creature going about its normal tasks. We do live in their environment and are slowly pushing them away from traditional food sources. Please, be bear aware.

 

Sko’mish people have been here for more than 5,000 years and have a strong connection to all the land in our community. Squamish Nation has a custodial inheritance and a strong sense of stewardship over these ancestral lands. The wise voices of the elders are a calming influence on all activities in the “Shining Valley.” Cheekye, meaning “dirty place” in reference to brown patches showing through snowcap, is their name for Mount Garibaldi.

This area is not as splendidly isolated as it was decades ago. Word has spread about the quantity and quality of these trails, and our population has rapidly grown. 

Visitors like the available parking at the various entry points because getting onto the trails as quickly as possible is a major motivator. 

The SORCA (Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association) shelter is a focal point to share information and untangle navigation problems – and maybe even zero the GPS.

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