November Hiking & Snowshoeing Whistler Hiking By Month
Average low/high valley temps in Whistler in November range from -1c to 5c. (30f to 41f)
November in Whistler is when the temperatures plummet and the first heavy snow falls. The hiking opportunities become limited to easier and lower elevation hikes such as to Nairn Falls, Brandywine Falls and Rainbow Falls. Waterfalls are a great in Whistler, huge and impressive. Also, most can be accessed year-round. Alexander Falls, for example, you can drive right to the viewpoint across from the falls. Even in the depths of winter the road to it is plowed and access is easy and safe.
Brandywine Falls is another great, short and easily accessible site to see in Whistler in November. It is located just 20 minutes south of Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway. Look for the sign if you are driving up from Vancouver and you can't miss it. The hike is an easy and nice trail that takes less than 15 minutes from your car to the falls viewing platform.
North of Whistler, just a 20 minute drive away you will find Nairn Falls Provincial Park and a wonderful trail along the Green River that leads to Nairn Falls. The trail from your car to the falls should only take you about 20 minutes and it is beautiful anytime of the year. Even on a rainy, November day.
All of the amazing hikes such as Joffre Lakes, Wedgemount Lake, Garibaldi Lake, Black Tusk, Helm Creek and all the rest will now require snowshoes to do.. and least mid to late in November. This makes for some tough, though very rewarding hikes. Often starting with snowshoes fastened to backpacks until the higher elevations on the trail, where they become necessary. Certainly a lot of caution has to be taken in November as getting caught out in bad weather can quickly obscure the trail and leave you lost in the wilderness.
Whistler is located along the infamous Pacific Ring of Fire and as a result has some amazing hot springs. Skookumchuck Hot Springs is open year-round and is a maintained, though very rustic facility. There is a small charge to use and quite a nice campground along the Lillooet River. The other three, well known hot springs north of Whistler are usually accessible in early November, however snow will eventually close the road access to them by late November. These three hot springs are called Sloquet Hot Springs, which is an hour north of Skookumchuck, and Meager Creek Hot Springs and Keyhole Hot Springs, both located west of Pemberton (Pemberton is north of Whistler).
Cheakamus Lake Hiking May be Possible in November Depending on Snow
Hiking in Whistler in November is an interesting month. Usually the snowfall has only been sporadic early in the month and you can still access some great hiking on foot. That is, without snowshoes. Cheakamus Lake is usually accessible to hike until mid November, but of course that depends on the 8k access road. Once it gets snow on it, it becomes difficult to drive.
Even a couple centimetres makes it difficult for cars that would have had no problem weeks before. So check the weather or look outside in Whistler Village. If the snowline on Whistler and Blackcomb mountains is up around mid-station then you should be fine to drive to Cheakamus Lake and go hiking.
Once you reach the trailhead/parking lot to Cheakamus Lake the hike to the lake only gains minimal elevation, so if you don't have snow at the trailhead, you shouldn't get snow on your hike. November does vary quite a lot for snowfall and some years you can hike to Cheakamus Lake, almost snow-free until early December.
Cheakamus River Hiking (early) or Snowshoeing (late) November
Located just off of the Sea to Sky Highway just 8 kilometres south of Whistler Village, the trailhead is easy to find. From Whistler, drive south on the Sea to Sky Highway for 8 kilometres. At the Function Junction intersection, turn left and you will see the Cheakamus Lake Rd on your left in about 300 metres.
If there is snow you will have to park here, if there is no snow you can park a few metres further up the road. (You will be aiming to walk across the first bridge across the river that you will see almost immediately).
There is a fantastic snowshoeing route that takes you 2 kilometres along one side of the beautiful Cheakamus River then crosses the wonderful Cheakamus River Suspension Bridge, then returns to where you started via the other side of the river.
This is a great 4k snowshoeing route that is full of nice, river viewpoints, gradual hills and valleys, and some great sights at the suspension bridge. This trail is fantastic on either foot or snowshoes so you can't go wrong hiking in November on this route.
Whistler Train Wreck is Great for Hiking in Early November
Just across the highway from the Cheakamus River snowshoeing trail is an amazing 5 kilometre roundtrip hike known as the Whistler Train Wreck. In November, unless there has been enough snow for the snowplows to be working the highway, the summer parking area to Train Wreck should be accessible.
A few decades ago a train derailed and seven cars slid down into the forest. Their mangled remains have been wonderfully pained into quite an amazing work of art. Trails have developed over the years and it has become an amazing place to hike.
There is a large trailhead parking area located just off of the Sea to Sky Highway. If coming from Whistler, drive through the lights at Function Junction then pull off to your right at the large, though unmarked clearing/parking area. Walk toward the train tracks and turn left, walking under the highway overpass. After about 200 metres look to your left for an obvious trail. When you spot it head down this trail and then turn right and you will come to several beautiful river viewpoints that easily rival Nairn Falls.
The trail will continue further along and get back on the train tracks, rounding a bend in the river. Past the bend you will again be able to walk left into the forest. The next couple kilometres will follow a trail among the seven beautifully wrecked train cars and eventually return you further along the train tracks once again.
Directions to the Whistler Train Wreck if Snow Blocks the Trailhead Parking
November can bring enough snow, however, to cut off this parking area. Certainly in December the snowplows will have plowed a mountain of snow along the edge of the highway a couple metres high. There is another way to reach the Train Wreck, but you will likely need snowshoes.
If you don't have snowshoes then you will be hiking through knee deep snow, which can also be fun. 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/left) 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 Train 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.
Taylor Meadows in Garibaldi Park is Great for Snowshoeing in November
Taylor Meadows is a wonderful place to snowshoe in November. One reason for this is fact that the two kilometre access road to the Rubble Creek trailhead is consistently covered in snow from December to April making the roundtrip hike to Taylor Meadows or Garibaldi Lake four kilometres longer. In November, however, you can often find this access road clear of snow and even some of the trail dry as well. You will certainly need snowshoes in November though, certainly as you get higher up in the trail. By the end of November the trailhead should have snow as well.
Taylor Meadows is beautiful to snowshoe and especially nice to camp out overnight in. The brutal winter cold weather still hasn't taken hold yet, but Garibaldi Park is covered in a great blanket of snow. This makes the view of Black Tusk from the Taylor Meadows Campsite even more dramatic than in the summer.
If you do tackle this trail in November on just a day trip you will be able to travel light and should easily be able to make the circuit of Taylor Meadows then returning via Garibaldi Lake. Keep in mind that this is a 15 kilometre roundtrip journey and on snowshoes will take most people 7 hours or more. Even though the trail to Taylor Meadows is fairly well marked and often tracked out by previous skiers and snowshoers this is not a good trail for novice, unfit or unprepared.
Joffre Lakes Usually Requires Snowshoes (or Skis) in November
Joffre Lakes is an absolutely stunning place to snowshoe in November. You can drive to the partially snowplowed trailhead parking all year-round and Joffre Lakes is so popular with skiers that you can almost always rely on ski tracks in the snow to follow. The trail is fairly well marked with tree markings but having a track in the snow to follow makes the journey much easier. Joffre Lakes is a long, though beautiful 1.2 hour drive north of Whistler.
From the trailhead to the first of the three Joffre Lakes is just a few dozen metres so you almost immediately get some stunning views across the lake to distant mountains. The trail then ascends a couple kilometres to the second Joffre Lake which reveals even more amazing views. The third Joffre Lake is at the 5 kilometre mark and you will have gained 400 metres of elevation to get there. The views at the third lake are, of course, more amazing still.
Though the snowshoeing trail to Joffre Lakes is only moderately difficult a considerable amount of caution should be taken. For example, in snowy weather the trail may become obscured and wandering off the trail is a dangerous possibility. Also, the days are short and lingering at the lake too long could leave you out in the dark.
Another risk is the cold temperatures. Minus 12c is not unusual and being unaccustomed or unprepared for the cold could kill you. Make sure you know what you are doing before snowshoeing the Joffre Lakes trail and if you are unsure of the weather or anything be prepared to turn around part way through the journey.
If you have good weather Joffre Lakes is a magnificent place to snowshoe and hike and in November, depending on snowfall, you may end up doing a bit of both. If the weather is good you will likely find the Joffre Lakes Trail relaxing and almost easy. At just 5k to the third lake it can take as little as an hour in November, but with lots of snow expect 2.5 hours up and 2 hours back to your car.
Wedgemount Lake is Usually Half Hike and Half Snowshoe in November
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.
In November the trail can be, first, 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, sometimes as late as mid July. This part is very steep, and even on snowshoes painfully difficult, so consider that if you plan to go.