Whistler & Garibaldi Park in February Snowshoeing & Hiking by Month
The Average Whistler Village temperatures in February 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. The often, brutally cold temperatures in Whistler and Garibaldi Park in February make arriving at a hut very welcoming.
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.
Closer to Whistler Village, the Blueberry Trail is a relatively unknown, though nice 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. Take a look here for a walking map right from Whistler Village to Blueberry Park. Roundtrip on an average February day, should take only a couple hours and take in quite a few nice, wintery sights.
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)...
The Whistler Train Wreck is a wonderfully surreal winter paradise in February. Bizarre paintings adorn the mangled train cars, wrecked here decades ago. The Whistler Train Wreck trailhead is best reached by starting at the Flank Trail trailhead in Function Junction, just 8k south of Whistler Village. The Flank Trail, trailhead is easy to spot. A small "Flank Trail" sign sits at the edge of Alpha Lake Road just before Alpha Lake Road bends sharply right. The Flank Trail immediately runs into the deep forest as it follows the river away from Function Junction. There trail is easy to follow and well used. There is only one part of the trail that may get you lost. About five minutes into the trail you will exit the forest and walk along a wide, clear gravel area...
Rainbow Falls is a fantastic way go get yourself into some deep snow quickly from Whistler Village. The trailhead is located just a couple hundred metres from Rainbow Park on Alta Lake which is another great place to snowshoe in Whistler. The Rainbow Falls trailhead is the same as the Rainbow Lake trailhead, located halfway along Alta Lake Road on the far side of Alta Lake. The Rainbow Falls Trail is short, varied and relatively easy. This well used trail never goes in a straight line and goes up and down through a beautiful and deep forest. There are no signs to Rainbow Falls and you will just see signs for Rainbow Lake and Madely Lake. To find Rainbow Falls you just follow the Rainbow Lake trail from the trailhead for about a half kilometre until you reach the water treatment building (Rainbow Lake is Whistler's water source). Just before the building the trail forks. Take the right fork which branches off of the Rainbow Lake trail. Within a couple minutes you will hear the falls. There is a bridge that goes over the river where you can see some of the falls. But further along, without crossing the bridge, you will come to the falls and end of the Rainbow Falls trail. This area is fairly popular even in Winter so the well marked trail is easy to follow and the snow on the trail usually well packed down. Some parts are steep, but the shortness of the trail makes it suitable as a family snowshoeing trail.
For something out-of-the-ordinary to do in February, taking a beautiful 2-3 hour drive north of Whistler to Skookumchuck Hot Springs is an amazing adventure. These rustic hot springs are located on the beautifully crashing Lillooet River at the far end of the beautiful Lillooet Lake. It is easily manageable to do as a wonderful day trip from Whistler, or if you have a tent or camper as an overnight trip at the nice, adjoining campsite. In February, you will find Skookumchuck very quiet and peaceful. You may even have the entire place to yourselves. The drive to get there is mostly along Lillooet Lake, which is snow plowed all winter. There is a small charge to use the springs by day, and an overnight camping charge if you plan to stay. Open 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year. No reservations and Skookumchuck is available for camping, first come, first served.
Just a 20 minute drive north of Whistler Village on the Sea to Sky Highway is the beautiful Nairn Falls Provincial Park. A nice, easy and short trail takes you to these crashing and deep falls that have carved potholes in the rock over the years. Though Nairn Falls campground is very large and busy much of the year, in February the place is very quiet. Not open for camping, the park is desolate and serene. Unless there has been heavy and recent snowfall, the 1.2 kilometre trail doesn't require snowshoes and is easy and flat.
If you would rather just jump in your car, take a beautiful drive directly to an amazing waterfalls viewpoint, then Alexander Falls is perfect for you. Up on the mountains of Callaghan Valley, where some of the 2010 Olympic Games events were held, sits Alexander Falls. A large viewing platform sits directly across from them and you can literally park your car 1 metre from this platform. Alexander Falls are similar to Brandywine Falls in that they abruptly fall from a high and very vertical cliff to a chasm far below. Just a 2 minute drive past Alexander Falls is Whistler Olympic Park. In February this huge facility is open 9-5 and has a restaurant as well as cross country skiing rentals available for their groomed runs. Plenty of Olympic sights to see as well.
If you like waterfalls, then Brandywine Falls is nearby and even more dramatically beautiful than Alexander Falls. Brandywine Falls Provincial Park is located just south of the Sea to Sky(highway99) turnoff to Alexander Falls. The Brandywine Falls parking lot is gated during the winter, however, there is plenty of room to park outside the yellow gate. From where you park to the falls is just a nice and easy 15 minute walk. Keep in mind, however, that if there has been a lot of snow in the last couple months, you may have to climb a mountain of snow to get from your car to the parking lot. Snowshoes may be needed if there has been a lot of snow in the previous couple weeks or you will struggle in knee deep snow just getting across the parking lot.
Snowshoeing & Hiking South of Whistler Whistler Hiking February
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. Don't forget to stop at Shannon Falls in Squamish. This beautiful and massive falls is just a 5 minute walk from your car and you get so close as to feel the spray on your skin.