Cairn: A pile of rocks used to indicate a route or a summit. Historically they were erected as sepulchral monuments. Popular on Whistler hiking trails as trail markers in the alpine where the lack of trees doesn't allow for tree markers. Build on ledges or on the high side of a trail they can be seen after the trail has been obscured by snow.
Glossary of Hiking Terms Whistler Hiking Trails
Some Hiking Trails in Whistler...
Hiking rails run so abundant in Whistler that many go unnoticed, neglected or taken for granted. The Flank Trail is one of these. Most people in Whistler don't even know about it, but the ones that do, love it. Officially known as the Rainbow-Sproatt Flank Trail, it runs the length of Whistler Valley, opposite Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. Flanking both these enormous mountains, the Flank Trail is the inspiration for an ever-growing number of trails that run to it, from it, and across it. From the Callaghan Valley, far south of Whistler, near Whistler Olympic Park it begins(or ends). It then stretches 40 kilometres along the flank of the massive and sprawling Mount Sproatt, then Rainbow Mountain, where it finally terminates near Ancient Cedars and Showh Lakes. Whistler is packed with tremendously beautiful hiking trails. Whistler, as a resort community, is only decades old but the enormous number of hiking trails is staggering. The huge number of trails ensures that most remain sparsely hiked and incredibly diverse. You can find hikes with majestic waterfalls, enormous glaciers, heart pounding summits, impossibly blue lakes, and fantastic views. Lots of fantastic views. Two hikes listed below even have user maintained huts that are free to use by anyone. It is of course difficult to narrow a top 5 list down to only five hikes out of so many wonderful hikes. Black Tusk tops the list mainly for the its extraordinary view and its incredible geology. It is constantly amazing. From its crumbling sides to its alarmingly dangerous looking approach, you can't help but marvel at everything about this mountain. And standing on its summit, you stare down at everything. Recalling how impossibly steep the sides look from every angle, you can barely believe it when you reach the top. Another wonderful aspect of the Black Tusk is simply the hike itself. It is really three hikes in one as you can hike to Garibaldi Lake on the way and Taylor Meadows on the return journey. Both of these hikes are worthy destinations on their own, but combined with Black Tusk are incredible. The roundtrip hike, trailhead to trailhead for Black Tusk is 30k. Wedgemount Lake comes in the top 5 here as it is such a wonderful alpine hiking paradise. There is a perfect turquoise lake, a nice, free hut to use, tent platforms everywhere you look and all with jaw dropping views from all of them. There are several great hikes that emanate from the lake and the Wedgemount Glacier is easily accessible. The hike to Wedgemount Lake is only 7k, trailhead to lake and only takes about two hours to hike but the elevation gain is huge, so you'd better be in good shape. Wedgemount Lake is 14k roundtrip, trailhead to trailhead. Russet Lake is another amazing hike listed here that has a hut free to use by anyone. Russet Lake is usually accessed via the Whistler Gondola then hiking via the Musical Bumps Trail or the High Note Trail, then Musical Bumps Trail. Either way the views are incredible. Russet Lake is located in a wonderful, usually snow filled valley and just like Wedgemount Lake, there are amazing hikes in all directions. Cirque Lake enters the list here for many reasons. Its remote feel, its difficult though, short trail is quite an adventure. It requires canoeing to its trailhead at the far end of Callaghan Lake, which is a wonderful way to start a hike. Cirque Lake is a beautiful and compact world. The cirque that the lake exists in shuts the world out and the invariably mirrored surface of the lake reflects the mountains and clouds hypnotically. Cirque Lake is also so far off the radar that it remains infrequently hiked and almost always a serene paradise far from humanity. Panorama Ridge has to be included on a top 5 list for hiking for Whistler. The hike is beautiful and challenging and the views from the ridge are unbelievable. You can see in all directions and Garibaldi Lake far below is impossibly blue. Panorama Ridge stretches for over a kilometre then descends down the valley, finally reaching Garibaldi Lake. Once in a while you see a tent at the far end of Panorama Ridge and it immediately brings to mind the thought... Where on earth could you find a better tent view? In Whistler, evidently, there are plenty of contenders. Certainly a testament to the wonderful hiking around Whistler is the runners up for this list. Joffre Lakes and Rainbow Lake are not on this list. Joffre is a bit far at over an hour to the trailhead from Whistler, but it is marvellously beautiful. You would be hard pressed to find a more incredibly coloured lake. The turquoise colour is extraordinary at Joffre Lakes. Rainbow Lake is a great hike as well. The trail on the way to the lake is quite beautiful. You see several waterfalls, two impressive bridges, and an unexpectedly wonderful meadow on the way to the picture-perfect lake. As Rainbow Lake is Whistlers water supply, camping, swimming and dogs are prohibited, so that weighs on its attractiveness as a hiking destination. It does, however have trails that extend in two directions beyond Rainbow Lake. If you take the trail that ascends to the right you will quickly arrive at a beautifully desolate landscape of huge erratics. This brutal looking scree field descends from Rainbow Mountain. A challenging and marked route gives way to a very challenging and unmarked final ascent to Rainbow Mountain's summit. Brandywine Meadows is another amazing hiking trail that does not make it to this top 5 list. Not because it is not beautiful enough, which it is. But more because of the access road to the trailhead which is at times terrible. If you have a 4x4, however, Brandywine Meadows is terrific. Not only is it wonderfully serene and usually devoid of people, but the area is wildly remote feeling and the meadows lay in an amazing valley. Lush green forests all around. Tranquil, meandering stream fed by waterfalls. Truck sized erratics strewn along the Jurassic Park-like setting. And best of all, the Brandywine Meadows trail disappears as it ascends into a scree slope that is the gateway to a bonanza of alpine hiking possibilities. Brandywine Mountain, Metal Dome, Mount Fee and Mount Brew are all in the vicinity. Brew Lake as well as the popular trail to Ring and Conflict Lake are two more challenging hikes that don't appear on this top 5 list as despite their beauty, they just doesn't have enough of the wonderful qualities that make the following, possibly the top 5, best challenging hiking trails in Whistler.