April Hiking Whistler's Best Hikes By Month
Average low and high valley temps in Whistler in April range from 2c to 11c (36f/52f)
April in Whistler is a wonderful time of year. The winter deep freeze ends and T-shirt weather erupts. The village comes alive with the Telus Snowboard Festival and the excitement of summer. The snow in the village starts the month measured in feet and ends the month, having mostly melted, about halfway up to mid-station on Whistler Mountain.
Snowshoeing to Garibaldi Lake, Panorama Ridge, Taylor Meadows, Helm Creek, Cheakamus Lake, and many others become a lot more enjoyable when you can park your car closer, or even at the trailhead. These places are amazing if you can hike and snowshoe to them in April as you will likely have the whole places to yourself. They are tough hikes though to do on snowshoes, so be prepared.
Pristine, all white valleys, so peaceful in the winter, with the long and ever warming days of spring take hold in the mountains. The temperatures in the mountains can still get below freezing, and certainly at night they always do in April, but the days are amazing.
The various hot springs near Whistler are also great destinations in April. Skookumchuck Hot Springs is open year-round and the two hour drive to reach it is really part of the fun. It is a beautiful drive through Pemberton, Mount Currie and along the beautiful and massive Lillooet Lake and Lillooet River. Sloquet Hot Springs is an hours drive past Skookumchuck and extraordinarily beautiful and desolate. Though gaining popularity, the remoteness almost guarantees no one there but you on a typical April day. You can normally drive right to the Sloquet Hot Springs, but lingering snow on the unmaintained logging road may be too deep so always be prepared to hike up to 8 kilometres if needed from your car to the campsite. Though bumpy and with lots of potholes, the road to Skookumchuck and Sloquet are still drive-able with all types of cars.
April is also a great month to see some of the fantastic waterfalls in and around Whistler. Brandywine, Nairn, Rainbow and Alexander Falls are all within a short drive and with easy hikes to them, accessible year-round. Shannon Falls is also a must see, year-round sight in Squamish if you have the time on your drive by.
April Snowshoeing to Wedgemount Lake is Very Difficult, though rewarding
Wedgemount Lake is a steep and difficult hike in the summer when there is no snow. It doesn't require technical skill, but it is just exhausting. You gain 1220 metres of elevation in just 7 kilometres and hiking with a backpack takes about 2.5 hours to reach the lake. In the winter, on snowshoes, the Wedgemount Lake trail is considerably harder. First, the obscured trail is hard to follow, despite the frequent trail markers. Second, on snowshoes, each step on steep ground is one step forward, half a step backward. You plod on slowly and with each step slipping back part way. If you can get past the difficulty of the exhausting winter trek to Wedgemount Lake you will reach an amazing paradise in the mountains. The Wedgemount Lake Hut is an extraordinary oasis of warmth in the middle of the beautiful Wedgemount Lake Valley. Anyone can use the hut, anytime. It can sleep up to 8 reasonably comfortably and consists of two large tables on the lower level and a small loft that can fit four people. Sporadically used by skiers in the winter, though rarely used by snowshoers due to the difficulty of the trail in the winter. If you do make it up to Wedgemount Lake you will be rewarded with a phenomenally beautiful, snow filled mountain paradise of a valley. The Wedgemount Lake trail is deep with snow from late December to late June most years. If you snowshoe it November to mid December or mid June to early July, you will only need your snowshoes partway up the trail. Depending on conditions and traffic on the trail, you may get lucky and be able to follow previous tracks in the snow, however this is not reliable. The final kilometre before Wedgemount Lake between the months of November and late June is almost always deep with snow. This part is very steep and even on snowshoes painfully difficult, so consider that if you plan to go. Also, losing the trail is always a consideration worth worrying about and having a GPS with you is a very good idea. At a good pace, when the trail has snow top to bottom, expect to take over four hours from your car to the hut. Some take as long as 6 hours. You have to add an extra kilometre or two in the winter as well due to having to park far below the usual trailhead parking as it is inaccessible due to snow December to May.
Why should you snowshoe to Wedgemount Lake?
The sense of achievement in tackling such a strenuous and difficult trail is amazing. Having the whole Wedgemount Lake valley to yourself is an extraordinary experience. The Wedgemount Lake Hut in winter is a wonderful luxury in such a hostile place. Walking out to the middle of the frozen lake and looking up at the amazingly bright stars is wonderfully surreal.
Taylor Meadows in Garibaldi Park is a great snowshoe trail in April
Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake are amazing places to snowshoe in the winter in Whistler. Beautiful snowy meadows surrounded by mountains everywhere you look. Black Tusk towering in the distance so close and blanketed in wonderful, beautiful snow. Garibaldi Lake is accessible as well on this snowshoeing hike. The Taylor Meadows trail forks partway up, left goes to Taylor Meadows, right to Garibaldi Lake (the trail joins again at the far side of both campsites). Garibaldi Lake, so massive and dramatically beautiful in the winter, a huge frozen valley. The downside to this hike is the length of hiking to get to the beautiful parts. In the summer it's not so bad as the trailhead is a moderately difficult 9k from Garibaldi Lake. In the winter however, the trailhead parking lot is unplowed almost down to the highway. So just to get to the trailhead requires about a 2k uphill snowshoe slog. If you are not troubled by a lot of exertion then it's a wonderful snowshoe destination. Like Joffre Lakes it is frequented by skiers just enough to ensure an almost constant track throughout the winter so you can concentrate more on the scenery then keeping from getting lost. Another nice attribute of this hike is the fact that you can snowshoe through the beautiful Taylor Meadows on the way up then across to Garibaldi Lake on the way back, therefore doing a little snowshoe circle route before doubling back to your car.
Why should you snowshoe to Taylor Meadows?
It is a challenging, strenuous snowshoeing trail in the winter that is usually easy to follow due to its frequent use by skiers and snowshoers. If you enjoy winter camping, the Taylor Meadows Campground is a winter paradise for you. Amazing views all around and you have the option of snowshoeing a different route for part of the way back to the trailhead (via Garibaldi Lake).
Rainbow Lake is a difficult and beautiful snowshoe trail in April
Rainbow Lake is a tough and beautiful snowshoeing trail 8k, high up in the mountains across the valley from Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. The trail is generally well marked and easy to follow, however some sections are tricky to follow as the heavy snow bends the bushes down obscuring the trail. The trail is a constant, fairly steep ascent and you may notice ski tracks along the route. A somewhat popular skiing attraction in Whistler is to get heli-dropped on Rainbow Mountain and skiing back to Whistler. Rainbow Falls is a nice detour near the beginning of the Rainbow Lake trail. When you come to the small water purification building you will see a distinct fork in the trail and a sign directing you to Rainbow Lake turn left. If you go right however, in just a few hundred metres you will come to the beautiful Rainbow Falls as well as a nice picturesque bridge over the river. You of course have to backtrack to get back to the Rainbow Lake trail. Though Rainbow Lake is only 8k from the trailhead, on snowshoes it will likely take nearly four hours to get there. You can snowshoe around up there for quite a while so you have to be careful with the time as in the winter the sun goes down before 5pm. The Rainbow Mountain trailhead is easy and close to Whistler Village. You just need to drive to Alta Lake Road on the far side of Alta Lake, just a 15 minute drive away. There is a big sign for the Rainbow Lake trailhead on your right if coming from the neighbourhood of Alpine. The trailhead is about 200-300 metres from the Rainbow Park parking lot.
Why should you snowshoe/hike to Rainbow Lake?
Rainbow Lake is a tough but rewarding snowshoe hike through a thick and beautiful forest. There are several viewpoints looking across the valley to Wedge, Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains as well as Whistler Village. It certainly is a good idea to combine this snowshoeing hike with a look at Rainbow Park and Rainbow Falls as both are nearby.
Joffre Lakes is an incredible snowshoeing/hiking trail in April
Joffre Lakes is yet another amazing snowshoeing trail near (kind of) to Whistler. About 1 hour and 20 minutes north of Whistler gets you to the Joffre Lakes trailhead. Located up on the Duffy Lake Road north of Pemberton, Joffre Lakes is well known for its incredibly surreal, turquoise water. In the winter of course all three of the Joffre Lakes are frozen over but the trail is popular with skier and snowshoers between the months of November and early June (depending on snowfall). Though the trail is fairly well marked and often snowshoe and ski tracked in the winter it is possible to lose the trail after dark or after or during heavy snowfall. So caution should be taken on this trail. Make sure you don't go snowshoeing to Joffre Lakes immediately after heavy snow. Pick a nice, sunny day and leave yourself lots of daylight and be prepared with headlights as the winters bring very early sunsets, especially in the mountains. The trail is sometimes steep as you gain 400 metres of altitude in just 5k trailhead to the third Joffre Lake. On snowshoes expect to reach the third lake in about two hours. On a sunny day the frozen lake is beautiful and almost warm feeling. However, as soon as the sun goes behind the mountains the temperature gets bitter cold so be prepared with very warm clothing on any snowshoeing adventure there. You do occasionally see people camp overnight at Joffre Lakes in the winter. The usual campsite area is buried in snow as it lays at the base of the mountains so people usually put their tens directly on the frozen lake. Extraordinary!
Why should you snowshoe to Joffre Lakes?
The trail is challenging though very beautiful. The constantly winding trail takes you past and to the three beautiful lakes that all have spectacular, distant mountain views. The trail is relatively short at 5k one way to the third lake but the first lake is just metres away and makes for a worthy destination if you are just after a quick and easy snowshoe to an amazing mountain lake. The drive to Joffre Lakes is beautiful on its own. From Whistler you pass by Nairn Falls, a convenient and beautiful snowshoeing or hiking trail on the way to Pemberton. Pemberton is a cute farming town in a wonderful glacial valley. Past Pemberton you drive along the huge Lillooet Lake before ascending quickly into the mountains to the Joffre trailhead. A very nice drive from Whistler any time of the year.
April is a great time to hike to the Whistler Train Wreck
In the lower elevations the snow line will have risen above Whistler Village by early April and some great hiking areas open up such as the Train Wreck. 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 south of the intersection at Function Junction. The hike begins by walking south on the train tracks and within five minutes you can descend into the forest on your left to arrive at some amazing views of the Cheakamus River. The trail then runs along the river to more amazing viewpoints, then forces you back to the train tracks. Around a bend in the river, another trail, visible from the train tracks again heads into the trees on your left. Once again phenomenal views of the crashing river and then the amazing train wrecks come into view. They are amazing. 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. The Train Wreck is a spectacularly beautiful and interesting place, just like 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.