Hikes by Time Whistler & Garibaldi Park Trails
Hiking Time: 1 Minute Drive from Whistler: 30 Minutes
Alexander Falls is a very impressive 43 metre/141foot waterfall just 30 minutes south of Whistler in the Callaghan Valley. Open year-round and located just before Whistler Olympic Park where several of the 2010 Olympic events were held. There is a nice viewing platform on the edge of the cliff across from the falls which crash fantastically into the valley below. The parking area and viewing platform at Alexander Falls is one big area just 40 metres from the main road (to Whistler Olympic Park). The adventurous can find the obscure trail that leads to both the top of the falls as well as, with great difficulty, to the base of the falls. Before the Olympic remodelling of 2009, there were several campsite areas. They have now been bulldozed into one unnecessarily large parking lot with big signs prohibiting camping of any kind. The area is however, so far from civilization as to be unfeasible to police. For this reason, the viewing platform and parking lot at Alexander Falls are still, though surreptitiously, used as a convenient and free place to sleep in a magnificent setting. For a unique and breathtaking spot to share a beer on the outskirts of Whistler, Alexander Falls surely ranks quite high. Of impressive waterfalls in the Whistler area, Alexander Falls is one of several spectacular ones. Others in the area include the amazing Brandywine Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Nairn Falls. Along very difficult hike to Wedgemount Lake you will see the incredible Wedgemount Falls. Down in Squamish, 45 minutes south of Whistler, you will find Shannon Falls.
Why should you go to Alexander Falls?
Alexander Falls is massive and beautiful. It's convenient and easy - you can drive right to it with no hiking involved. It's near the end of a beautiful drive up the Callaghan Valley. In the months without snow you will see multiple bears along the road in the last couple kilometres before Alexander Falls. There are bear watching companies that specifically drive to this area on their tours. Seeing Alexander Falls can be combined with other sights such as Whistler Olympic Park, Callaghan Lake (4x4 required), and Madeley Lake.
Hiking Time: 5 Minutes Drive from Whistler: 45 Minutes (8k 4x4 road)
Callaghan Lake is not really a hiking destination but more of a drive to campsite on a beautiful lake, and gateway to some beautiful intermediate hikes. The campsite is small and looks a bit like a parking lot with about 6 spots to put up a tent. There is a proper boat launch at the campsite and the lake is large and beautiful to paddle. Surrounded by snowy mountains and nice rock outcrops the lake is good for fishing. If you have a canoe or boat of some kind you can find numerous, breathtaking places to camp. There is even a small island a short five minute paddle away that has a beautiful clearing for a tent, a fire ring and crystal clear water all around, deep enough to dive into. If you don't have access to a boat you should pick up one of those hilarious, $20 inflatable boats that you find for sale everywhere and bring it along. You could easily use one to ferry your gear/tent across to this above mentioned island as a trail leads to the island with just a 8 metre gap of 1 metre deep water. Either that or walk with your pack above your head. Either way camping at this little island is an absolute paradise when compared to the parking lot of a campsite 300 metres away. The hiking trails are minimal here due to the steepness and deep forest surrounding the lake. At the far end of the lake the rustic and steep Cirque Lake trail runs along the side of the crashing waterfall all the way to the breathtaking Cirque Lake. If you are motivated and have a canoe this is an amazing area to hike in mostly untouched wilderness where the alpine allows for hiking in several directions to countless lakes and glaciers beyond. The Callaghan Lake campsite is free to use and is notorious for being a bit rowdy during summer weekends, which does make it a friendly and fun place, but if you are looking for quiet and peace you may find it bothersome and should seek out one of the many, extraordinarily beautiful, boat accessed, backcountry tent sites.
Why should you go to Callaghan Lake?
Convenient, drive right to the lake (4x4 is recommended due to the massive and frequent potholes as well as frequent, deep waterbars). If you have a boat or canoe you can explore many beautiful areas of the lake and take several short hikes.
Hiking Time: 15 Minutes Drive from Whistler: 1 Hour
Madeley Lake(mis-labelled "Powell Lake" on Google Maps) is a well hidden, though easily drivable lake in the beautiful Callaghan Valley. Unlike the terrible gravel road (4x4 recommended) to Callaghan Lake, the relatively smooth gravel road to Madeley Lake is drivable by car (relatively easily and safely). Just a 10 minute drive from the main, paved road to Whistler Olympic Park, Madeley makes a great side-trip on the way to or from the very popular 2010 Olympic attraction. Just metres past the turnoff to Alexander Falls, turn left at the sign for . Cross the bridge and follow the terrible logging road for about three minutes, turn right at the first logging road that branches off to the right. Follow this logging road for about 10 minutes until Madeley Lake appears on your right. There is a large map board at the trailhead to Hanging Lake, Provincial ParkRainbow Lake and Sproatt Mountain. You can park here or continue past this and drive to the end of the lake and small campsite area. This is an unmaintained area and there are no facilities. This is an amazing place to camp. If looking for solitude at a paradise, mountain lake, Madeley Lake is hard to beat. Though somewhat popular with fishing, you are still likely to rarely see anyone at the lake in the summer and never in the fall. Once in a while you will see a car or two at the trailhead to Hanging Lake. If you have a canoe, Madeley is a great place to paddle around.
Why should you drive to Madeley Lake?
Madeley Lake is a well hidden, easily accessible mountain lake. You can camp on the beautiful shores of the lake for free and often have the lake to yourselves. Good fishing and wonderful scenery. Close to Alexander Falls and Whistler Olympic Park.
Hiking Time: 30 Minutes Drive from Whistler: 20 Minutes
Brandywine Falls is one of the must see sights on the way to or from Whistler. The falls drop from a 66 metre, unnaturally abrupt cliff to the valley below. It is such a popular and beautiful sight that it is a Provincial Park complete with a large and elaborate viewing platform directly opposite the falls. Located just 20 minutes south of Whistler, Brandywine Falls Provincial Park is just off of the Sea to Sky Highway. If driving from Vancouver, keep your eyes out for the Brandywine Falls sign on your right about 25 minutes north of Squamish. The parking lot is immediately off the highway and the short 1 kilometre trail takes you over then alongside the Cheakamus River to the viewing area. The only facilities in the park are pit toilets and picnic tables and there is no charge for hiking or for parking your vehicle in the park. The gate off of the highway is locked at night and in the winter so at these times you simply park at the edge of the highway and hike past the gate. In the winter you often see people strapping on snowshoes for the short trek to the falls in the snow. Brandywine Falls Provincial Park is attached to the wonderful Sea to Sky Trail which runs between and beyond Whistler and Squamish. It is a wide, gravel biking and hiking trail that will eventually extend north to Pemberton.
Why should you hike to Brandywine Falls?
Brandywine Falls is amazingly beautiful and very easy and quick to hike to. Just a 20 minute pit stop on the drive to or from Whistler allows you to see this amazing falls. Brandywine Falls and Shannon Falls, just south of Squamish are both convenient, quick and beautiful stops on the drive from Vancouver to Whistler.
Hiking Time: 1 Hour Drive from Whistler: 20 Minutes
Nairn Falls is a wonderful, crashing and chaotic waterfall that surrounds you from the deluxe viewing platform that allows you to safely watch it from above. The beautiful, green water rushes through the deep and angular channels of rock. Though the BC Parks website describes Nairn Falls as 60 metres high, the description is misleading. The falls crash through various narrow and wide areas, and though the cumulative drop is 60 metres, what you see is a series of 10 to 20 metre falls. There are a nicely constructed railing, fence and viewing area and walkway that guides you to the best views. With such abruptly steep rock all around, the area would be potentially dangerous. Evidently there have been deaths here before. A cross, reverently placed across the chasm from the viewing platform, indicates of some tragic event. Nairn Falls Provincial Park is located just a short 20 minute drive north of Whistler. From the large parking lot the well marked trail runs along the Green River for 1.2k to Nairn Falls. The trail is very easy and is hike-able year-round. Though considerable snow falls in the winter months here, the trail remains passable. There is quite a large and beautiful campground at Nairn Falls as well. Located right next to the parking lot there are 94 vehicle accessed campsites that disappear into the forest adjacent to the Green River. The campground is open May 11 - September 30. The other months the entry gate is locked to the park and a small, highway-side parking area is used to access the park. The charge for camping is $18 per party, per night, during the months the campground is open. Outside of that window there is obviously no charge and you won't be prohibited from camping during the off season. From the parking lot, a hiking trail also goes along the Green River in the opposite direction to Nairn Falls. This 2k trail takes you to One Mile Lake excellent for swimming. Dogs are welcome at Nairn Falls Provincial Park, however bikes are not. There is a hand operated water pump, picnic tables and pit toilets. There is no charge for entry to the park or for parking. The only fees in the park are for overnight camping.
Why should you hike to Nairn Falls?
Nairn Falls is a short and easy, family friendly hike to a very impressive waterfall. Perfect for an afternoon drive/hike/picnic from Whistler. A relaxing and family friendly hike.
Hiking Time: 1-3 Hours Drive from Whistler: 10 Minutes
It is hard to say enough about the Whistler Train Wreck. It is fantastic for so many reasons. First, its location. Just a short 10 minute drive gets you to the trailhead parking, just off of the Sea to Sky Highway in Function Junction on Alpha Lake Road. The hike begins by walking south on the Flank Trail and within ten minutes you arrive at some amazing views of the Cheakamus River. The trail then runs along the river to more amazing river viewpoints before heading around a bend in the river and into the deep forest that is now home to the decades old train wreck. Once again phenomenal views of the crashing river and then the amazing train wrecks come into view. Graffiti style paint brings the dingy wreckage to life with shockingly beautiful colours. The huge wrecks are enormous up close and mangled. Some on their sides, some upside down. Each one (there are several) is an interesting adventure to explore. A sort of wilderness art exhibit. The wreckage stretches for almost a kilometre and can bring out the kid in anyone. The area is very kid friendly as the trails are wide and generally flat. There are several extraordinarily surreal places to put up a tent or, as many often do, sleep on the edge of the incredible river or even in a wrecked car. There are indications in all the cars of thousands of past gatherings which gives the place a charm that seems characteristically Whistler.
Why should you hike Whistler Train Wreck?
Beautiful, easy, relaxing, so much to see. Convenient, just off of the Sea to Sky Highway. Popular as a 5.4k trail running route. Whistler Train Wreck is one of the best places in Whistler for a picnic or glass of wine. A very kid friendly hike.
Hiking Time: 2 Hours Drive from Whistler: 25 Minutes
Ancient Cedars often gets overlooked by hikers in Whistler. Certainly the large numbers of centuries old, massive cedars found in much of the other Whistler area hikes makes looking for them on a specific hike less of a priority. For example, hike the short 3k trail to Cheakamus Lake and you will marvel at the size, frequency and wonderful aroma of these massive and numerous giant cedars. The Wedgemount Lake trail also has some majestic cedars along the hike. You can even walk through an impressive grove of huge cedars on the Valley Trail at the end of the Whistler Golf Club. None of them compare, however, to the Ancient Cedars Trail. They are extraordinarily huge and some are estimated to be a thousand years old. The trailhead to Ancient Cedars is just a short drive north of Whistler. Just past Green Lake on Highway 99, you turn left on Cougar Mountain Rd and drive 4.5k up a bumpy logging road. As logging roads go it is not bad. If you are driving a car you should be OK as long as you take it slow. The Ancient Cedars trail is well marked and well worn and only gradually uphill for the 2.5k hike, trailhead to ancient forest. At the Ancient Cedars forest there is a short circle trail that takes you throughout the giants then leads you back to the main trail for the return journey. The whole 5k Ancient Cedars roundtrip should take you less than two hours. Unlike most other Whistler hiking trails, Ancient Cedars is dog friendly. Unfortunately snow makes the road undrivable much of the year, so you can only reliably get up there July to October. Depending on the snowfall June and November are often possible as well.
Why should you hike Ancient Cedars?
The most impressive cedars in Whistler and a nice, easy and relaxing hike. Can be combined with a scenic drive north of Whistler to see the Green Lake viewpoint.
Hiking Time: 2-4 Hours Drive from Whistler: 25 Minutes
Cheakamus Lake is an easy, relaxing hike in Garibaldi Park just a short, 16k drive from Whistler Village. The trail to the lake is in an amazing forest of giant cedars. Running along the beautiful Cheakamus River the hike is short and easy. The trail runs along the lake, passing some small, wonderful campsites, and very small beaches. The first 3k of the trail takes you along the beautiful Cheakamus River to the start of Cheakamus Lake and the first campsite area. There are 10 very nice and hidden tent pads on or near the lake shore. There is excellent water from several creeks in the area and a bear proof food hang as well as tidy outhouses here. Another 3k further on the trail takes you to some beautiful viewpoints on the ever increasingly majestic Cheakamus Lake trail. Huge trees, turquoise lake, snow capped mountains, and even the occasional bear siting make this hike one of Whistler's best and most family and kid friendly hikes around. The trail is never strenuous and constantly beautiful with the wonderful smells that come with an old growth cedar forest. The campsite at 6k on the Cheakamus Lake trail consists of another 7 tent sites beautifully blended into the surroundings, another bear proof food hang and outhouse. There are dozens of cute little beaches all along the trail which invite swimming in the crystal clear, though bitterly cold water. Cheakamus Lake has always been known for its good fishing so bring your rod and sit back in the sun. Which you will see a lot of. The entire trail and mini beaches are south facing and capture the sun the entire day. The road to Cheakamus Lake is covered in snow until about mid May every year, but from May to October it is clear enough to drive. There is no charge to park at the parking lot/trailhead, though there is a charge for overnight camping. $10/adults, $5/kid. Take a look at the BC Parks site for info on paying or just pay by cash at the drop box at the trailhead.
Why should you hike Cheakamus Lake?
Beautiful, huge tree forest, easy kid friendly trail, pristine Garibaldi Park wilderness and a spectacular and huge lake. Excellent campsites and numerous hidden beaches and wonderful, though very cold, swimming. Known for great fishing.
Hiking Time: 2-4 Hours Drive from Whistler: 40 Minutes
Brandywine Meadows is a nice hike in a massive flower filled valley high up in the Callaghan Valley. Located 40 minutes south of Whistler, this tough and sometimes muddy trail gains a huge 550 metres of elevation in just 3k (trailhead to valley). The trailhead is tricky to find and involves a fairly long gravel road journey that is passable without a 4x4, but barely. The route is strewn with potholes and some loose rock sections. Brandywine Meadows is used mainly for snowmobiling in the winter months and the bumpy ex-logging road to the trailhead is in poor condition in the summer. The hike takes you to the beautiful Brandywine Meadows stretching into the distance along a cute, meandering river. The valleys far end leads to Brandywine Mountain. The mountains in the area, including Brandywine are hike-able, though the trails, if any are faint and unmarked. There are no camping facilities in Brandywine Meadows, however, the seemingly endless valley offers plenty of tent sites. If you plan on camping before mid July, you will likely be on snow as the valley is snow filled until mid summer most years. The meadows are somewhat notorious for mosquitoes so avoiding the area in August is a good way to avoid the swarms. September and even October are possibly the best months to explore Brandywine Meadows. No snow, bugs or hikers to take away from the wonderful solitude of this great spot in the Callaghan Valley. As the Callaghan Valley is outside of Garibaldi Park, dogs a welcome in Brandywine Meadows.
Why should you hike to Brandywine Meadows? Challenging elevation gain, enormous valley to explore, cute river to set your tent up next to. Endless hiking possibilities in many directions from the centre of the meadows. One of the few dog friendly hikes around. Amazing, picturesque valley full of colours.
Hiking Time: 3-4 Hours Drive from Whistler: 0 Minutes
The High Note Trail begins high up on Whistler Mountain at the top of the Peak Chair. To get there you must buy a lift pass and ride the Whistler Gondola for 22 minutes up to the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain, then hike for about 8 minutes to the Peak Chair. Ride this beautiful and alarmingly steep chairlift up to Whistler's Peak where the High Note Trail begins. The trail begins with some narrow, rocky and fairly steep ups and downs as you hike out to the edge of a rock outcrop with amazing views to the valley and Whistler below. Though there are two small chain-assist sections, most should have no difficulty. Even if you are bringing your kids along, you will have no problem or worry at these parts or any other along the trail. After this short up and down section at the beginning of the High Note Trail, the route evens out and runs along the edge of the ridge parallel to the amazing Cheakamus Lake far down the valley below. There are signs at a couple spots along the way directing you very clearly. The High Note Trail is 9.5k roundtrip and should take about 3 hours. Partway along the trail you can take a short cut, the Half Note Trail and head back earlier and shorten the trail by a couple k's. The trail is by no means easy as it is narrow and has a few ups and downs, but aside from the fairly long distance (9.5k), the High Note Trail is family friendly. It is open from July to October depending on when the Whistler Gondola and Peak Chair are open of course. The cost can be prohibitive at around $70, however, there is so much to see and do up there, not least the Peak to Peak Gondola which shouldn't be missed on the same outing as hiking the High Note.
Why should you hike the High Note Trail?
From beginning to end this trail is amazing. The gondola and chairlift rides are fantastic as well. The trail has constant views and you don't have to hike an uneventful trail to reach the sites like almost all other hiking trails. There are restaurants at both ends of the Peak to Peak Gondola which your lift pass includes access to. The combination of gondola rides, restaurants and hiking make this the ultimate, family friendly outing in Whistler that is hard to beat.
Hiking Time: 3-4 Hours Drive from Whistler: 1 Hour 20 Minutes
Joffre Lakes is one of the most beautiful lakes you are likely to ever see. There are three lakes and they get progressively more beautiful. By the third lake the intense blue is breathtaking. The mighty Matier Glacier rises above the third lake, making the experience even more spectacular. The trail is rough and tricky in some parts, but not terribly difficult. The trail is 5.5km to the third lake so give yourself 1.5 - 2 hours(one way). Snowshoeing is easy and relaxing to Joffre Lakes. There is no avalanche danger if you keep to the trail and do not continue past the third lake. The only danger is losing the trail (mainly on the way back to your car). I've never snowshoed Joffre Lakes without seeing an easily visible trail of ski or snowshoe tracks in the snow however, the days are short in the winter and when the light fades the ski/snowshoe tracks you easily followed on the way up become harder to discern. This is a bit worrying though the contours of the land push you toward the first lake near the parking lot. To be safe you should always have a map or gps and headlight with you in the winter and be extra cautious about leaving early and returning early to get lots of light on the trail.
Why should you hike the Joffre Lakes Trail?
The drive to the trailhead is beautiful and you can see some interesting sights on the way from Whistler. Nairn Falls, the cute town of Pemberton, North Arm Farm and great views of Lillooet Lake are all convenient pit stops on the 1.5 hour drive to Joffre Lakes. The lakes are extremely beautiful and accessible for only a moderately difficult, family friendly hike.
Hiking Time: 4-5 Hours Drive from Whistler: 15 Minutes
Rainbow Lake is one of the original hiking trails in Whistler that has existed well before Whistler was called Whistler. The 8k trail is challenging though beautiful as it passes through an impressively huge forest of giant trees. There are several wonderful bridge crossings and crashing river views. Rainbow Lake itself is surreal and beautiful. An unnaturally bright, green meadow extends from one side of the lake and a field of starkly white erratics litter the landscape along the shores of the crystal clear lake. Rainbow Lake is Whistler's water source so swimming, fishing, dogs and camping are not allowed. There are, you will quickly notice upon reaching Rainbow Lake, that a trail continues past the lake then forks. The right fork takes you to the right and to the popular, though difficult scramble to the summit of Rainbow Mountain. In the same direction you can bear left on the Rainbow Mountain trail and after about 3k you will arrive at the secluded, pristine and wonderful, Hanging Lake. Camp and swim here all you want as you are far from Rainbow Lake. Back at Rainbow Lake, the left fork takes you to Beverly Lake. This is the often used campsite alternative to Rainbow Lake and is just a 40 minute hike away. Rainbow Lake can also be reached from the Madeley Lake trailhead past Beverly Lake and Madeley Lake has a nice wilderness (no facilities or cost) camping area as well. The Rainbow Lake trail is moderately difficult and there is significant elevation gain. 850 metres in 8k make this a tough hike and most will take about 5 hours for the 16k roundtrip journey.
Why should you hike to Rainbow Lake?
Challenging, beautiful hike to a mountain-lake paradise. Hypnotizing views of Wedge Mountain across the valley as well as impressive views along the trail of Whistler Village. The Rainbow Lake trail is eventful with several small waterfalls and interesting sights.
Hiking Time: 4-5 Hours Drive from Whistler: 45 Minutes
is an unbelievably beautiful paradise high up above Callaghan Lake in the Cirque LakeCallaghan Valley. It requires a canoe to get you to the trailhead at the far end of Callaghan Lake and therefore is seldom hiked. The trailhead is tricky to find and the 2 kilometre trail is very steep, though surprisingly well marked with flagging tape. Once at the lake you find yourself in the wind shadow of the cirque and in a world of serenity and calm. It is an extraordinary thing to have a cirque valley to yourself. Feels like you are standing in a volcano of sorts. But a giant, tree filled meadow of a volcano with a mesmerisingly still and perfectly reflecting lake at its centre. A cirque lake is a wonderful thing, and Cirque Lake in Whistler takes you as close to a hiking paradise as a place can get. And that is just the beginning... you can hike in almost any direction. Thirty minutes past the lake and you find yourself staring at a monstrous glacier. Glaciers, mountain peaks, lakes and more lakes. You can lose yourself in the hiking possibilities in the Callaghan Valley around Cirque Lake. And one magical and striking feature of this area often goes unnoticed. The trail ends at Cirque Lake. You won't find any indication of humanity past the lake. Every hiking step you take beyond Cirque Lake makes you feel like you are the first to explore the area. So high up in the valley keeps the hiking season short with just August to October free of snow. There is no charge for parking and/or camping at Callaghan Lake where you must park at the boat launch.
Why should you hike to Cirque Lake?
Wonderfully beautiful, untouched wilderness hiking. Endless hiking opportunities beyond Cirque Lake. Trailhead must be reached by canoe, amazing! Challenging trail to Cirque Lake due to its steepness, however the trail is short and should pose no difficultly, for example, for a moderately experienced weekend hiker.
Hiking Time: 4-6 Hours Drive from Whistler: 30 Minutes
Garibaldi Lake is the centre and base for much of the hiking in Garibaldi Park. The Garibaldi Lake campsite is located on the amazing, turquoise shores of this massive and mostly undisturbed mountain lake. There are no trails around the perimeter of the lake with the exception of the small section leading to the campsite, so your view of the lake is a sea of unnaturally coloured water ringed by swaths of forest and a magnificent glacier towering in the distance. The water is painfully cold, though plenty of brave hikers swim here as well as camp. The camping area is well laid out and stretches deep into the forest with 50 tent clearings. You can, except for the busiest of days, put your tent out of earshot and sight of others. The trail to Garibaldi Lake from the Rubble Creek trailhead, just off of the Sea to Sky Highway takes about two hours. You gain a fair amount of elevation, 900 metres in just 9k, trailhead to lake. Partway along the trail to Garibaldi Lake the trail forks. Right to Garibaldi Lake and left goes to another beautiful campground, Taylor Meadows. Past Taylor Meadows you can link back to Garibaldi Lake by yet another linking trail. At every trail for there are nice and clear signs and sometimes maps, showing where and how far everything is. Beyond Taylor Meadow and Garibaldi Lake is the amazing Black Tusk. Black Tusk, Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake can be done in one long 30k dayhike, trailhead to trailhead, but expect to take 8-10 hours. The Garibaldi Lake trailhead is located just 30 minutes south of Whistler. Keep your eye out for the hard to miss highway sign. There is no charge for parking at the trailhead or for hiking. There is a charge for camping however. $10/per person. Camping season is May 1 - November 15. Outside of this time there is considerable snow, however no camping fees. The best time to hike is July to October as there is still a fair amount of snow on the trail until early July. The trail is popular however, so even with deep snow the trail will likely be well tracked out by skis and easy to follow. It is doubtful that any week of the year passes without hiking, skiing or snowshoeing occurring on the Garibaldi Lake trail.
Why should you hike to Garibaldi Lake?
Garibaldi Lake is amazingly beautiful with its huge size and unbelievable colour. The trails are beautiful and well signed and laid out in the well organized Garibaldi Park. The trails are relatively easy and there is quite a lot to see. Black Tusk, Taylor Meadows and Panorama Ridge are all withing hiking distance and some of the most amazing hikes around.
Hiking Time: 4-6 Hours Drive from Whistler: 15 Minutes
Sproatt Mountain is one of the imposing peaks in Whistler. It towers far above Alta Lake, directly across from Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. Though a hive of snowmobile and ski/riding activity in the winter and spring, Sproatt is rarely hiked in the summer. This is due to there being no well known trails leading to it. There are however, about four ways to hike to Sproatt Mountain and unfortunately none are very easy. Possibly the most convenient route from Whistler is by hiking up along Sproatt Creek from the Flank Trail. This is an entirely unmarked, bushwhacking route, difficult and steep, though somewhat easy to follow. It is so steep at times and thick with trees that it is not very enjoyable, unless you are hoping for a challenge. And Sproatt from the Flank Trail is definitely a challenge. To reach the Flank Trail an excellent place to start this hike is at the trailhead to Beaver Pass near Alta Lake in the neighbourhood of Stonebridge. Beaver pass is a well known and well marked bike trail in the area and connects to another bike route called Cheap Thrills which connects to the Flank Trail which leads to Sproatt Creek. It all sounds confusing, but the route is actually fairly easy to find. Beaver Pass is a cute trail with a monument-like sign at its entrance, Cheap Thrills is a steep and varied trail with amazing views and a great array of biking bridges and ramps along the route. The Flank Trail is very scenic with tremendous views down and across the valley to Whistler. Then of course when you reach Sproatt Creek, the real challenge begins. The route is obviously very overgrown and at times very steep. You simply follow Sproatt Creek on its right side, keeping within 300 metres or so until you reach the alpine, at which point you can see where you are going. At 1400 metres you will come to an amazingly lush, green valley. Unfortunately the foliage is chest deep at this point, but bear with it and bear left and you will pass through it in about 15 minutes and hit the alpine at 1600 metres. From this point you will see Sproatt directly to your right, though still at some distance.
Why should you hike Sproatt Mountain?
If you like to get off of trails and into bushwhacking wilderness then Sproatt Mountain is for you. With many access routes, none of them are good, easy or marked well. You should be comfortable with bushwhacking and route finding to try this trail as much of the routes are in deep forest and getting dangerously lost are very possible. If you do make the hike though, you will almost certainly have the whole mountain and neighbouring valleys to yourselves. There are frequent and amazing spots to put up a tent as there are waterfalls, creeks, plateaus and clearings everywhere you look.
Hiking Time: 4-6 Hours Drive from Whistler: 30 Minutes
Taylor Meadows is a beautiful Garibaldi Park campsite and alternative to the much busier Garibaldi Lake campsite. Located in between Garibaldi Lake and Black Tusk itself. It is reached from the same trailhead to Garibaldi Lake. There are 40 very nice tent platforms, toilets, a good water source and a food cache, all in the lush forest of Taylor Meadows with the distant view of Black Tusk. Generally Taylor Meadows is not a destination, but part of a circle route. For example, trailhead to Taylor Meadows, Taylor Meadows to Black Tusk or Panorama Ridge, then return via Garibaldi Lake. This makes for a long hike at 30k, which is why tenting at this perfectly beautiful, and perfectly located Taylor Meadows Campsite, is a great idea. Taylor Meadows Campsite gets very busy at times as well with 40 campsites with full service (water, security, etc) and fees (May 1 - Nov 15). There are some small rivers close by but no swimming. The draw for Taylor Meadows camping is the wonderful location. It lays in a beautiful forested meadow full of hills and flowers and views of the towering Black Tusk. It has a less crowded feel than Garibaldi Lake does, though bear in mind that even when crowded these campsites don't feel crowded - they are just that organized and thick with trees and hills. Also, if you were to feel crowded, you could easily wander in any of several directions and become immersed in the wonderful forest and beautiful desolation in these vast meadows of Garibaldi Park.
Why should you hike to Taylor Meadows?
Though generally used as a base camp for further hiking into Garibaldi Park, Taylor Meadows is a good hiking destination on its own. Incredible views all around, Taylor Meadows can be hiked as part of a circle route, starting 5k from the Rubble Creek trailhead. The trail forks and taking either fork will eventually bring you back via the opposite fork.
Hiking Time: 4-6 Hours Drive from Whistler: 10 Minutes
If you were to search your whole life for an absolutely amazing, astoundingly perfect, alpine hiking paradise, you'd have trouble finding a place as great as Wedgemount Lake in Garibaldi Park. To start with, the lake is breathtaking. Every angle you look at it and every hour of the day it alters its appearance dramatically. From its wonderful turquoise, marble-like appearance reflecting bronze mountains at sunrise and sunset. To its startlingly vivid appearance in the darkness of night. Reflecting stars are as clear looking down on the lake as they are looking up at the sky. The massive valley that contains Wedgemount Lake is ringed by impressive mountains and the ever-present Wedgemount Glacier that continuously pulls your attention to it. The trail that leads around the lake to the glacier takes only 20-30 minutes and is quite amazing to explore. Wedgemount Glacier, at its edge, has what is called a glacier window. A huge ice cave, created out of the melting underneath this huge, crushing mass of ice. You can get right up close to this impressive ice cave and have a drink of what was just moments before ice left thousands of years ago before Wedgemount Lake was called Wedgemount Lake. Though glaciers can never really be considered safe to hike on, the Wedgemount Glacier is relatively safe. Hiking up the glacier by bearing left, close to the rocky edge will lead you after about an hours, very strenuous hiking to the top of the glacier into the Wedge-Weart Col. Wedge Mountain is the highest mountain in all of Garibaldi Park at 2891 metres, and Weart is the massive mountain to the left of Wedge if looking from the lake. The hike to Wedgemount Lake is difficult. Though no technical skill is required it is constantly steep. You gain 1220 metres in just 7k trailhead to lake! The trail is well marked though and easy to follow. There is also an amazing hut at the lake free to use by anyone.
Why should you hike to Wedgemount Lake?
One of the most spectacular hikes in Garibaldi Park. Close to Whistler, the trailhead is only about 10-20 minutes away. Though the hike is hard and steep, it is short. A fit person can hike the trail in under 1.5 hours (one way). There are endless mountains, glaciers and hidden trails to explore. Wonderful and free hut to use with a million dollar view of the lake.
Hiking Time: 5-6 Hours Drive from Whistler: 25 Minutes
Helm Creek is a beautiful, meandering creek that winds its way from beyond Black Tusk, down the valley to the wonderful campground that takes its name. From the Helm Creek Campground it descends further along the Helm Creek Trail, until it joins the Cheakamus River near where it leaves Cheakamus Lake. The location of Helm Creek Campground has two tremendous advantages. First it is just a great location in Garibaldi Park. 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.
Why should you hike to Helm Creek?
Though Helm Creek is generally called Helm Creek Campground it is somewhat of a destination on its own. Beautiful scenery, relaxing area. It is an incredible base camp allowing access to the less hiked but arguably most spectacular area of Garibaldi Park. You can hike in several directions from Helm Creek and because you are in the alpine you don't need to follow a trail. With a topo map you can venture any number of marvellous places within an hour from your tent.
Hiking Time: 6-8 Hours Drive from Whistler: 45 Minutes
Ring Lake is a fantastically beautiful and wonderfully remote lake similar to Cirque Lake but considerably farther to hike to reach it. The 10k hike takes you through a beautiful forest of cedars then to a spectacular meadow filled with ponds and ringed with distant, enormous mountains. 5k into the hike you come to Conflict Lake with trails running around it. Signs at various junctions indicate which trail to take to reach Ring Lake, a further 5k from Conflict. The trail from Conflict Lake to Ring Lake passes through a huge valley for a couple kilometres, then abruptly ascends on the right side of the valley. The trail is poorly marked in this section and you have to keep bearing right to avoid descending back into the valley. 3k of, at times very steep, but not technical trail gets you to the magnificent Ring Lake and the imposing Ring Mountain across the emerald green water. The trailhead to Ring and Conflict Lakes is very close to the Callaghan Lake Provincial Park campsite. From the campsite, drive a couple hundred metres as if returning to Whistler and you will see a clearing on the right and a very well worn trail. From this trail you will see plenty of signs to guide you first to Conflict Lake in 5k, then Ring Lake, another 5k past Conflict. The 5k hike to Conflict Lake is quite relaxed and easy as you don't gain any significant elevation. The 5k from Conflict to Ring Lake is very steep, and though marked well with flagging tape and cairns, very difficult to follow.
Why should you hike to Ring Lake?
Very wild and backcountry feeling. In Garibaldi Park you always know you are in a park, in the Callaghan Valley on the Ring Lake Trail, you feel far removed from civilization. If you dislike frequent signs and manicured campsites, you will find few here. The campsite is non-existent, which is fun in a way. You arrive a Ring Lake exhausted and see few flat areas suitable for a tent. Just wild and beautiful terrain that you don't put a tent on, but rather have the landscape consume into the surroundings. In short, Ring Lake i
Hiking Time: 6-8 Hours Drive from Whistler: 20 Minutes
Brew Lake and Brew Mountain are seldom hiked as the trail is fairly difficult and long. Both Brew Lake and Brew Mountain can be accessed in the summer via the Brew Creek Trail. The trail is well marked with orange tape, orange tree markers and rock cairns almost every dozen metres. This is well needed though as the trail is at times extremely steep, often overgrown and never in a straight line. Despite the frequency of trail markings, it is very easy to get lost, and this is a very dangerous trail to get lost on. Much of it traverses through mighty boulder fields with precarious truck sized rocks around and above you. Unfortunately a lot of hiking time is wasted squinting into the trees for route markers. If you do weather the difficult hike you will arrive at a beautiful, secluded backcountry paradise. Beautiful alpine hills and green meadows everywhere you look. There is even a hut available to use further up toward Brew Mountain that is usable by anyone. Park at the Brandywine Falls parking lot, and walk toward the falls. Just before the Brandywine Falls, turn right and follow the train tracks. After only a few metres you will cross a bridge over the falls, and after about 11 minutes you will pass under Highway 99. Follow the tracks from a 90 degree bend right, then a 90 degree bend to the left. The trail starts near then end of this left bend, about 2.5k south of Brandywine Falls (30-35 minutes from the parking lot). You will see flagging tape on the right side of the tracks and the Brew Lake Trail disappear steeply up into the trees. Overnight parking is not allowed at Brandywine Falls so if overnighting at Brew Lake you must park outside the gate along the Sea to Sky Highway.
Why should you hike to Brew Lake?
The Brew Lake trail is challenging hike with considerable elevation gain of over 1000 metres in 5k. The trail is 8.5k, however, the first 2.5k you gain no elevation. The area is rarely hiked so you will almost certainly have the whole lake to yourself. The Brew Hut is mainly used in the winter as a base for skiing and seldom used in the summer.
Hiking Time: 8-10 Hours Drive from Whistler: 30 Minutes
Panorama Ridge is arguably the most amazing hike in Garibaldi Park. It certainly is in the top 5 of the best hikes in Whistler. Usually accessed by the Rubble Creek (Garibaldi Lake) trailhead, just off the Sea to Sky Highway 30 minutes south of Whistler. The hike to Panorama Ridge is comparatively long at 15k trailhead to ridge, but there is plenty to marvel at along the way. Though the first 5k is fairly uneventful as you gain altitude via several deeply forested switchbacks. After the switchbacks you come to a fork in the trail. You can take either fork to reach Panorama Ridge. The left fork takes you through the beautiful Taylor Meadows Campground. In the summer this area is flower-filled and beautiful in every direction. The campsite stares up at the iconic Black Tusk. The right fork takes you first along the Barrier. An extraordinary buttress of rock that holds back a potentially devastating debris slide. You may have noticed the trailhead sign indicating that camping at the parking lot is prohibited as it is directly in the path of a potential debris flow. Past the Barrier viewpoint you can take a short side-trail to Garibaldi Lake or continue on and eventually the forked trail that led to Taylor Meadows meets with the Garibaldi Lake trail and the single trail continues to Black Tusk and then Panorama Ridge beyond. The trail(s) from the fork until Panorama Ridge is a continuous marvel of alpine creeks, views of distant mountains, turquoise lake views and rarely boring. The final hike up Panorama Ridge is fairly steep. Though there is no scrambling involved a couple sections of lingering snow require hiking up fairly steep, hard snow trails. Still, with the steep sections you still see people of all ages making the journey, though be prepared for a long hike as 15k one way translates into 4-5 hours, trailhead to summit for the average hiker. That's possibly 10 hours of moderate and at times exhausting hiking if Panorama Ridge is hiked in one day. Camping at Taylor Meadows Campground or the Garibaldi Lake Campground and making Panorama Ridge part of a multi-day hike in Garibaldi Park is certainly a preferable option.
Why should you hike to Panorama Ridge?
Challenging, long distance hike. Jaw dropping views from Panorama Ridge. Often cited as the best hike in Garibaldi Park. Panorama Ridge is often combined with other hikes in the area such as Black Tusk and Garibaldi Lake, over several days of amazing hiking.
Hiking Time: 8-10 Hours Drive from Whistler: 0 Minutes
Russet Lake, in Garibaldi Park is the wonderfully expansive hiking area located just a few spectacular kilometres from Whistler. Among the various ways to reach Russet Lake, possibly the most impressive are the approaches from either the Musical Bumps Trail or the High Note Trail. Both begin from high up on Whistler Mountain. Musical Bumps starts near the Roundhouse on Whistler and the High Note Trail begins at the top of Whistler near the Peak Chair. Though Russet Lake is not terribly impressive in terms of size or colour, the valley around it is remarkably beautiful. The colours change from moment to moment in and extraordinary way. The distinctive colour of the Fissile and the stark grey of the mountains around contrast amazingly with the blue of the lake and green grass in the valley. So many different factors fill the place with colour. There are, in fact, several ways to get to hike Russet Lake. The Singing Pass Trail from the base of Whistler Mountain near the Whistler Gondola. The Musical Bumps Trail that begins near the top of the Whistler Gondola. The High Note Trail that begins at the top of the Peak Chair on Whistler Mountain. There is an increasingly popular route that begins from Blackcomb Mountain. And finally, a very infrequently hiked route from Cheakamus Lake that runs along Singing Creek. Russet Lake is a beautiful place to camp. It has a wonderful hut available to use by anyone. It is a basic wooden hut with no facilities, but surprisingly comfortable. It holds up to 12 crowded or 8 comfortable. There is also an outhouse and a beautiful stream that runs along the massive camping area. There are no tent platforms but over a dozen tent clearings. There is a considerable amount of exploring available in the valley around Russet Lake. The fissile is a difficult but very feasible hike from Russet Lake. Below Russet Lake is a very accessible glacier as well as a bonanza of glacier formed landscape features, inviting hours of interesting exploration. Above Russet Lake there is a beautiful snow covered ridge that commands incredible views all around and if you have the energy makes for a spectacular tent site.
Why should you hike to Russet Lake?
Russet Lake is certainly one of the most amazing places in Whistler to hike. The various routes to reach it allow for not retracing your steps and instead doing an interesting circle route. Though you have to pay to ride the Whistler Gondola if hiking there via Musical Bumps or the High Note Trail. If you hike in reverse via Singing Pass Trail and returning by the Musical Bumps Trail you can ride the Peak Chair and Whistler Gondola for free. 's
Hiking Time: 8-10 Hours Drive from Whistler: 30 Minutes
Black Tusk is the amazing pinnacle of volcanic rock visible for hundreds of kilometres and located near the centre of Garibaldi Park. Black Tusk, along with the Chief in Squamish are the most astoundingly noticeable peaks in the Garibaldi Range. 170,000 years ago the Black Tusk was created when a lava dome formed within a million year old, volcanic cinder cone. The cinder cone is crumbling away, revealing the starkly black, hardened lava dome within. Looking at the Black Tusk from a distance, two things seem incredible. First, that such an unusual thing formed, and second that there is a trail that takes you to its peak. With a little sketchy and dangerous, though non technical climbing, you can get to the top of Black Tusk. It is a fairly long dayhike as you cover 30k on the roundtrip hike. There are three very nice campgrounds in the area allowing for a beautiful, multi-day hiking trip to the area. Helm Creek one one side of Black Tusk and Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake campgrounds on the other side provide dozens of beautiful places to put up a tent. The final ascent of Black Tusk is a bit scary and dangerous so be prepared. You have to climb a narrow, steep and crumbly chute up about 10 metres to reach the top. Quite a few people don't climb this last part and instead just take in the extraordinary views from the base. Either way, Black Tusk is unquestionably one of the best of the best hikes in the Whistler area and in Garibaldi Park. Though it is best hiked July to October, many people brave the hike during the snowy months.
Why should you hike Black Tusk?
Hiking to the top of Black Tusk is certainly one of the most extraordinary and memorable hikes around Whistler. It is a tremendous hiking workout as you gain 1735 metres in the 15k from trailhead to summit. It is an exhilarating hike as the last summit chute requires some courage and daring.