February Recommendations for Snowshoeing & Hiking in and Around Whistler
Average low and high valley temps in Whistler in Feb range from -5c to 3c. (23f to 37f)
February continues to be great for snowshoeing in and around Whistler. The days slowly get longer, but the temperatures stay consistently cold. Expect several days of -12c and of course much colder in the mountains. February is a great month for trying some overnight snowshoeing trips. There are even several huts that are available to use. Most are free and some have a small cost to cover maintenance. The Elfin Lakes Hut is one of the nicest around, boasting solar powered lights and propane stoves and heating. It does cost $15/night to stay, but well worth it. Elfin Lakes snowshoeing is featured in Whistler's Ultimate Hiking Magazine in April, and should hopefully inspire a trip to this spectacular place.. and at least a bit unexpectedly, a spectacular mountain hut as well.
Other huts around, include the Wedgemount Hut at Wedgemount Lake. This is quite a brutal snowshoeing trip, but the hut at the lake is wonderful. At the far end of the frozen Garibaldi Lake is yet another beautiful hut. These are all usable by anyone, but as a courtesy to the people that take the time to maintain them, there is a small charge for the Garibaldi Lake hut and the Elfin Lakes hut.
Garibaldi Lake and Taylor Meadows are amazing in February, though it is quite a strenuous snowshoe hike as it is consistently uphill most of the way. But seeing Garibaldi Lake frozen over and surrounded by beautiful, white mountains is just great. The fact that the trail to Garibaldi Lake is popular in the winter ensures that it is continuously packed down and easy to follow and snowshoe on with the exception of very snowy weeks. Taylor Meadows is featured in the June 2012 edition of Whistler's Ultimate Hiking Magazine.
Take a look at the top 5 easy snowshoeing trails in Whistler here... and the top 5 moderate to difficult snowshoeing trails here...
The Blueberry Trail is an easy snowshoeing trail in Whistler in February
The Blueberry Trail is a relatively unknown, though amazing trail that ascends up to a marvellous cliff viewpoint, high above Alta Lake. Geographically, the Blueberry Trail is opposite of Rainbow Park and can be accessed by either the neighbourhoods of Whistler Cay (at the end of Crabapple Dr), or at the other end of the trail in Alta Vista (at the end of St Anton Way). Either trailhead is just a five minute drive from Whistler Village. It gets its name from the hill that rises above it named Blueberry Hill. So well hidden that you won't find either trailhead unless you search for them despite being on all the maps in Whistler. The trailheads do have small trail signs and once you are on the trail it is easy to follow, even in deep snow. Though at times steep, the trail is short. The high point of the trail, about midway, is only 1.2k from either trailhead. There is a small clearing at the edge of quite a high cliff that is a great vantage point to the lake. People skating, cross country skiing or walking appear as little black dots scattered across the frozen lake. As snowshoeing trails go, the easy and short Blueberry Trail is a great, fun, short workout to a beautiful vantage point. Dogs are allowed here as well.
Why should you snowshoe/hike the Blueberry Trail?
It is close and convenient to Whistler Village and has some amazing views over Alta Lake. Family friendly (easy) and dog friendly. A wonderful place to share a beer and see the sun set over Alta Lake.
Cheakamus River is a great place to snowshoe in Whistler in February
Cheakamus River is located just 8k south of Whistler Village just off of the Sea to Sky Highway. This well marked, though beautifully remote feeling snowshoeing trail takes you along both sides of the wildly crashing Cheakamus River. Snow begins to fall in earnest in the Whistler area in November so the best months for snowshoeing the Cheakamus River are from late November to early April. The best routes is to walk/snowshoe from your car for about 100 metres following the road to Cheakamus Lake. At about 100 metres you will see a branching road go to the right and a large, vehicle bridge cross the Cheakamus River. Cross the bridge and you will immediately see a trail on your left running along the river. This trail, with Cheakamus River on your left will descend and ascend through a beautiful forest. Sometimes close to the river, sometimes 100 metres away. As these trails are popular in the summer for hiking and biking they are well marked with signs. Keep to the signs aiming for the Cheakamus River Suspension Bridge which is 2k from where you parked and should take about an hour to reach. Once you reach the suspension bridge you can cross it and return to your car from the other side of the river. You will see a trail on the other side of the bridge on your left. You can also snowshoe back via the Cheakamus Lake road which is just a hundred metres or so from the bridge (after you cross it from the side you just snowshoed). As long as you keep within the bounds of the Cheakamus Lake Road and the Cheakamus River on your way back to your car you can pick your own route as the trails branch in and out in this confined area as it ascends back to your car and starting point. There are no facilities on the trail however in Cheakamus Crossing just a one minute drive past the trailhead you will see the large Hostel, the HI Whistler which has an amazing coffee shop where you can get a great selection of food and drinks and even a beer or glass of wine.
Why should you snowshoe Cheakamus River?
It is very beautiful, the trail is extremely varied. One minute you are looking down on the chaotically beautiful Cheakmus River from above, the next minute you are snaking through a beautiful forest of massive trees, the next minute you are high above the river in the middle of the impressive suspension bridge looking beneath your feet at the river. The Cheakamus River snowshoeing trail is moderately easy though impressive and fun. The snow gets very deep and untouched in the area so that you can literally jump off the trail into waist deep powder snow. The trail length is perfect for a relaxing snowshoeing outing as it is just two or three hours trailhead to trailhead. Great for kids as they will be constantly jumping off the trail, down into the deep snow.
Taylor Meadows in Garibaldi Park is great for snowshoeing in February
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).
Train Wreck is an easy snowshoeing trail in Whistler in February
Decades ago a train derailed south of Whistler. Over the next fifty years this wreckage has evolved into an absolutely amazing place to snowshoe, the Whistler Train Wreck. The cost to clean up the wreckage was deemed too high, so seven train cars were left scattered next to the Cheakamus River. As it turns out, time and local effort has transformed this mess into a wonderful work of art, an extraordinary bike park in the summer, and a great place to snowshoe in the winter. The Cheakamus River winds its way, crashing and emerald green along the length of the Whistler Train Wreck, and there are several spectacular river vantage points that shouldn't be missed. To wind your way in and out of the trails between the Cheakamus River and the train tracks runs for 2.7k, then you have to follow the same route back to your car or walk along the train tracks. So the whole Train Wreck snowshoeing trek should only take about 2 hours, and is mostly flat, so quite leisurely. In the winter the parking for the Whistler Train Wreck is buried in snow and inaccessible so you have to park in Function Junction somewhere close to the train tracks. The road adjacent to the Re-Use-It Centre (turn into Function Junction and the Re-Use-It Centre is the first right) is ideal for parking as you can freely park along the side of the road very close to the tracks. You have to walk along the tracks (south) for about five minutes until you pass under the highway, than continue for a couple hundred metres until you see a gap in the trees on your left. The first two gaps in the trail on your left lead to some amazing views of Cheakamus River and the third, fourth and fifth gaps lead to various areas of the magnificent Whistler Trail Wreck. Be advised that walking along train tracks is potentially dangerous so take care to move as far from the tracks as possible if a train is heard or seen.
Why should you snowshoe to the Whistler Train Wreck?
Easy and beautiful. One of the nicest, easy snowshoeing and hiking trails in Whistler as you see both an amazing train wreck, turned work of art as well as the amazing Cheakamus River. Family friendly (easy), and close and convenient to Whistler Village as it is just an 8k drive away.
The Whistler Golf Course is convenient snowshoeing trail in Whistler Village
Whistler Golf Course is an easy, fun and beautiful place to snowshoe in Whistler. Whenever there is snow on the ground in Whistler (Dec-Apr), you will find people having fun in the snow at Whistler Golf Course. Cross country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, snowman making and even ice hockey all take place here in the winter. Located just a five minute walk from Whistler Village, the Whistler Golf Course is circled by the beautiful and well signed, Valley Trail. This part of the Valley Trail is regularly snow plowed, but at various spots you can leave the pavement and get onto the beautifully scenic and snow filled Golf Course. Streams, ponds, hills and little forests are scattered throughout the area as well as trails in the snow in various directions. If you do the snowshoeing/cross country skiing circuit around the inside edge of the golf course (hemmed in by the Valley Trail), you will cover about five kilometres. You can of course veer off the trails at anytime making the route shorter or longer. Depending on the snow conditions of course, snowshoes my be unnecessary and you can often just walk the Whistler Golf Course on foot. If you snowshoe most of the 5k route expect to take a couple hours from start to finish, though much longer if you build an igloo. To find Whistler Golf Course is easy, just look at one of the Whistler Village maps you see everywhere in Whistler and you will spot it. It is just on the other side of the Sea to Sky Highway via the pedestrian and car underpass near the Whistler Conference Centre.
Why should you snowshoe the Whistler Golf Course?
It is just a five minute walk from Whistler Village, the most convenient way to get into a winter wonderland. Amazing for kids and a very romantic setting for couples. Beautiful after dark and an amazing place to look up at the stars the Whistler Golf Course is about as convenient as it gets for a winter walk or snowshoe in Whistler Village.
February Recommendations for Snowshoeing & Hiking South of Whistler
If you are interested in driving south to Vancouver there are some great places to snowshoe there. Certainly a lot warmer than Whistler, and most have great ocean views. The Lions, West Lion Trail is only an hours drive south of Whistler in Lions Bay between Squamish and North Vancouver. It's a fairly long, though well marked trail, 15k roundtrip with an elevation gain of 1282 metres in 7.5k. You can't actually reach the summit of the West Lion in the winter, but the plateau before the summit has spectacular views of Howe Sound. For something a lot easier and with views just as amazing further south towards Vancouver is an amazing snowshoeing option. Only 1 hour, 20 minutes from Whistler in the beautiful Cypress Provincial Park, this trail is well marked, though at times, a steep 7k roundtrip. It is easily done as a pit stop half day on a trip to or from Whistler or Vancouver. in Vancouver is another great snowshoeing destination not terribly far from Whistler. Just 30 minutes further south in Vancouver at the Seymour Mountain Ski Resort. This is another easy, half day snowshoeing trip as it is only 2.2k from your car to the beautiful views at the summit of Dog Mountain.