Whistler is an incredible place to hike, unfortunately dogs are not welcome in Garibaldi Park, which most of the best hiking is. This is a courtesy to the sensitive animals such as bears and marmots that frequent the park. There are a few great spots outside the park, though less known or a bit of a drive away from Whistler. This is a summary of the best dog friendly hikes around Whistler. These are long and challenging, multi-hour hikes.
What you can't see from Whistler Village is the extraordinarily beautiful alpine paradise that lays beyond it. Lakes and tarns everywhere you look. Fields of alpine flowers and wonderfully mangled, yet strikingly beautiful forests of krummholz. Hostile looking fields of boulders and absurdly placed erratics the size of RV's. Beyond, of course, endless stunning view of distant, snowy mountains. From the towering elevation of much of the Sproatt Alpine Trail you often look across or even down on distant mountains. Rainbow Mountain looks incredible from much of the trail. Jagged grey peaks in a row(pictured left) face you from Rainbow Mountain, just 5 kilometres away. A couple kilometres closer you spot Hanging Lake and the Lord of the Rings style valley that stretches 2 kilometres from its shores to the abrupt cliffs at your feet. Click the image below for an aerial video of the Sproatt Alpine Trail from Tonic Peak. One of many easily climbable mountain peaks in the massive alpine around Mount Sproatt. Several times along the trail you see the clearly defined ski runs on Whistler and Blackcomb and once in a while you can spot Alta Lake and Whistler Village. Though the Sproatt Alpine Trail can be done in a day, it is better to take two or three days as the terrain is seemingly endless and spectacular.
Why should you take your dog hiking the Sproatt Alpine Trail?
is well off the radar for most hikers and you will rarely see anyone on the trail or in the enormous valley. The endless lakes, creeks, valleys, mountain peaks and meadows make this an alpine paradise. More difficult to access than Garibaldi Provincial Park make it virtually unknown, even for locals. You will have trouble finding a better place to put your tent anywhere else in the world.
Joffre Lakes is one of the most beautiful lakes you are likely to ever see. There are three lakes and they get progressively more beautiful. By the third lake the intense blue is breathtaking. The mighty Matier Glacier rises above the third lake, making the experience even more spectacular. The trail is rough and tricky in some parts, but not terribly difficult. The trail is 5.5km to the third lake so give yourself 1.5 - 2 hours(one way). Snowshoeing is easy and relaxing to Joffre Lakes. There is no avalanche danger if you keep to the trail and do not continue past the third lake. The only danger is losing the trail (mainly on the way back to your car). You can hardly ever snowshoe Joffre Lakes without seeing an easily visible trail of ski or snowshoe tracks in the snow however, the days are short in the winter and when the light fades the ski/snowshoe tracks you easily followed on the way up become harder to discern. This is a bit worrying though the contours of the land push you toward the first lake near the parking lot. To be safe you should always have a map or gps and headlight with you in the winter and be extra cautious about leaving early and returning early to get lots of light on the trail.
Why should you take your dog hiking to Joffre Lakes?
The drive to the trailhead is beautiful and you can see some interesting sights on the way from Whistler. Nairn Falls, the cute town of Pemberton, North Arm Farm and great views of Lillooet Lake are all convenient pit stops on the 1.5 hour drive to Joffre Lakes. The lakes are extremely beautiful and accessible for only a moderately difficult, family friendly hike.
Brandywine Meadows is a nice hike in a massive flower filled valley high up in the Callaghan Valley. Located 40 minutes south of Whistler, this tough and sometimes muddy trail gains a huge 550 metres of elevation in just 3k (trailhead to valley). The trailhead is tricky to find and involves a fairly long gravel road journey that is passable without a 4x4, but barely. The route is strewn with potholes and some loose rock sections. Brandywine Meadows is used mainly for snowmobiling in the winter months and the bumpy ex-logging road to the trailhead is in poor condition in the summer. The hike takes you to the beautiful Brandywine Meadows stretching into the distance along a cute, meandering river. The valleys far end leads to Brandywine Mountain. The mountains in the area, including Brandywine are hike-able, though the trails, if any are faint and unmarked. There are no camping facilities in Brandywine Meadows, however, the seemingly endless valley offers plenty of tent sites. If you plan on camping before mid July, you will likely be on snow as the valley is snow filled until mid summer most years. The meadows are somewhat notorious for mosquitoes so avoiding the area in August is a good way to avoid the swarms. September and even October are possibly the best months to explore Brandywine Meadows. No snow, bugs or hikers to take away from the wonderful solitude of this great spot in the Callaghan Valley. As the Callaghan Valley is outside of Garibaldi Park, dogs are welcome in Brandywine Meadows.
Why should you take your dog hiking to Brandywine Meadows?
Challenging elevation gain, enormous valley to explore, cute river to set your tent up next to. Endless hiking possibilities in many directions from the centre of the meadows. One of the few dog friendly hikes around. Amazing, picturesque valley full of colours.
As you canoe across the length of Callaghan Lake to the Cirque Lake trailhead, keep aiming toward the waterfall in the distance. The closer you get, the less likely it will seem to be the correct way. To the right the valley slopes away in a much more inviting angle. Keep toward the waterfall though and get ready for the next hour of clinging to the scarcely visible, though well flagged trail that snakes upward, often at a 50 degree incline, astonishingly close to that majestic waterfall. Your destination is one of those fantastic forces of nature, a cirque lake. A perfectly arranged glacier is required to form a Cirque Lake. A magical combination of size, a certain slope and more unexpectedly, a certain angle away from the sun. In the northern hemisphere, this means the glacier must be on the northeast slope of the mountain, away from the suns rays and the prevailing winds. Thick snow protected in this way grows thicker into glacial ice, then a process of freeze-thaw called nivation, chews at the lower rocks, hollowing out a deep basin. Over a thousand winters you are left with a magnificently circular lake with steep slopes all around.
If you arrive at Cirque Lake, on a favourably sunny, summer day, you will almost certainly fall silent, gaze in wonder at this spectacular place, and feel in that moment that this place is as perfect as it is possible for a place to be.
Why is Cirque Lake one of the best hikes in Whistler?
Spectacularly beautiful and incredibly remote feeling, this hidden lake is a challenge to get to and a paradise to arrive to. Wonderfully beautiful, untouched wilderness hiking. Endless hiking opportunities beyond Cirque Lake. Trailhead must be reached by canoe, amazing! Challenging trail to Cirque Lake due to its steepness, however the trail is short and should pose no difficultly for a moderately experienced weekend hiker.
Brew Lake and Mount Brew are well hidden in the mountains beyond Brandywine Meadows. More often frequented in the winter by skiers, the area is slowly becoming noticed in the summer months. The barely marked trailhead that lurks next to the train tracks just south of Brandywine Falls has given way to a much better access point further up the trail. The Brew Main Road off of the Sea to Sky Highway just north of the turnoff to Brandywine Falls takes you high into the hills to the well concealed Brew Lake trail. From your car to the lake you just have beautiful two hour hike packed with sights and thoroughly exhausting. There are no facilities at the lake, just a beautiful wilderness paradise. If you want civilized comfort, hike up towards Mount Brew and you will come to the Brew Hut. An elaborate two level hut that is insanely well equipped and capable of accommodating a dozen people! The Brew Lake trail is challenging hike with considerable elevation gain of 745 metres in just 5k!. The trail is well off most people's radar and takes you well out of civilization just minutes after exiting your car. The trail is difficult yet constantly changing. Views, dramatic boulder fields, more views, bizarre forests, more views and a wonderfully remote lake.
Why should you take your dog to Brew Lake?
The Brew Lake trail is challenging hike with considerable elevation gain of 745 metres in just 5k!. The trail is well off most people's radar and takes you well out of civilization just minutes after exiting your car. The trail is difficult yet constantly changing. Views, dramatic boulder fields, more views, bizarre forests, more views and a wonderfully remote lake. Your dog will go insane with excitement when he spots the bizarre little swimming mice that can be found on the far shore of the lake amongst the boulders. They run around in pairs, oddly not taking notice of humans. Chasing each other along the shores and in and under the water remarkably fast providing an unusual show.
More Dog Friendly Hiking Trails Around Whistler
Madeley Lake(mis-named "Powell Lake" on Google Maps) is a well hidden, though easily drivable lake in the beautiful Callaghan Valley. At Madeley Lake you will find a nice trailhead, parking area and mapboard for the Madeley-Hanging Lake trail. This is a moderately challenging 10 kilometre roundtrip hike to Hanging Lake and back. Very dog friendly and very far from civilization. Unlike the terrible gravel road (4x4 recommended) to Callaghan Lake, the relatively smooth gravel road to Madeley Lake is drivable by car (relatively easily and safely). Just a 10 minute drive from the main, paved road to Whistler Olympic Park, Madeley makes a great side-trip on the way to or from the very popular 2010 Olympic attraction. Just metres past the turnoff to Alexander Falls, turn left at the sign for . Cross the bridge and follow the terrible logging road for about three minutes, turn right at the first logging road that branches off to the right. Follow this logging road for about 10 minutes until Madeley Lake appears on your right. There is a large map board at the trailhead to Hanging Lake, Provincial ParkRainbow Lake and Mount Sproatt. You can park here or continue past this and drive to the end of the lake and small campsite area. This is an unmaintained area and there are no facilities. This is however, an amazing place to camp as it is both very close, yet feels very far from civilization. If looking for solitude at a paradise, mountain lake, Madeley Lake is hard to beat. Though somewhat popular with fishing, you are still likely to rarely see anyone at the lake in the summer and never in the fall. Once in a while you will see a car or two at the trailhead to Hanging Lake. If you have a canoe, Madeley is a great place to paddle around and laze in a wilderness paradise.
Why should you take your dog to Madeley Lake?
Madeley Lake is a well hidden, easily accessible mountain lake. You can camp on the beautiful shores of the lake for free and often have the lake to yourselves. Good fishing and wonderful scenery. One of the few nice and challenging, dog friendly trails around Whistler.
Ring Lake is a fantastically beautiful and wonderfully remote lake similar to Cirque Lake but considerably farther to hike to reach it. The 10k hike takes you through a beautiful forest of cedars then to a spectacular meadow filled with ponds and ringed with distant, enormous mountains. 5k into the hike you come to Conflict Lake with trails running around it. Signs at various junctions indicate which trail to take to reach Ring Lake, a further 5k from Conflict. The trail from Conflict Lake to Ring Lake passes through a huge valley for a couple kilometres, then abruptly ascends on the right side of the valley. The trail is poorly marked in this section and you have to keep bearing right to avoid descending back into the valley. 3k of, at times very steep, but not technical trail gets you to the magnificent Ring Lake and the imposing Ring Mountain across the emerald green water. The trailhead to Ring and Conflict Lakes is very close to the Callaghan Lake Provincial Park campsite. From the campsite, drive a couple hundred metres as if returning to Whistler and you will see a clearing on the right and a very well worn trail. From this trail you will see plenty of signs to guide you first to Conflict Lake in 5k, then Ring Lake, another 5k past Conflict. The 5k hike to Conflict Lake is quite relaxed and easy as you don't gain any significant elevation. The 5k from Conflict to Ring Lake is very steep, and though marked well with flagging tape and cairns, very difficult to follow.
Why should you take your dog to Ring & Conflict Lake?
Very wild and backcountry feeling. In Garibaldi Park you always know you are in a park, in the Callaghan Valley on the Ring Lake Trail, you feel far removed from civilization. If you dislike frequent signs and manicured campsites, you will find few here. The campsite is non-existent, which is fun in a way. You arrive a Ring Lake exhausted and see few flat areas suitable for a tent. Just wild and beautiful terrain that you don't put a tent on, but rather have the landscape consume into the surroundings. In short, Ring Lake is wild and desolate feeling and in a marvellously beautiful setting.
More Dog Friendly Whistler - Beaches & Parks
Not included here is the wonderful, 40 kilometre Valley Trail that runs in several directions from the Village. Around the Whistler Golf Course, out to Green Lake, Alta Lake, Alpha Lake and Nita Lake as well as the spider web of trails in the Lost Lake area. All the Valley Trails are dog friendly and well laid out and very convenient from the Village. For less challenging, short and easy hiking trails to take your dog take a look at the top 5 easy and short dog friendly hiking trails here. These include the beautiful and very dog friendly 33 kilometre section of the new Sea to Sky Trail which takes you through some amazing Whistler scenery and sights. Here are some of Whistler's amazing and dog friendly beach parks. For a list of the best short and easy hiking trails to take your dog, take a look at the top 5 easy dog friendly hiking trails. Lost Lake Park is one of several beautiful beach parks in Whistler on the Valley Trail. You can reach all these parks by car or better yet you set out on foot or by bike from Whistler Village. Blueberry Park is a very scenic and somewhat hidden park on Alta Lake just two kilometres from Whistler Village. If you have been to Rainbow Park you would have noticed three piers across Alta Lake surrounded by forest. These public piers sit at the edge of Blueberry Park, with the Blueberry Trail running from one side of the forest to the other. The beautiful, deep forest trail runs from the shores of Alta Lake in Alta Vista, up and across Blueberry Hill and descends again to reach Whistler Cay. Along the trail there are several beautiful viewpoints of Alta Lake in the foreground and the enormous Mount Sproatt beyond. Lakeside Park at Alta Lake in Whistler is a beautiful beach park just a short distance from Whistler Village. Located on the Valley Trail, it is just 2 kilometres or a 30 minute walk, or 10 minute bike ride away. Similar to Rainbow Park across the lake, Lakeside has a concession stand for food and drinks, picnic tables, BBQ stands, canoe and kayak rentals a huge grass field, pier, a sandy beach and an elaborate little kids play are. Swimming and relaxing are the main draws to Lakeside Park, but fishing off the piers is a common sight as well. Wayside Park sits near the bottom end of Alta Lake and at just 3 kilometres from Whistler Village is just an hours walk or 10 minute bike ride away. In the summer months, swimming and relaxing in the sun are the main attractions to Wayside Park. The piers are a fantastic way to view Alta Lake as it stretches north, edged by forest, hills and mountains in the distance... Lost Lake is a tranquil and secluded lake that hides in the forest extending from Whistler Village. Just a 20 minute, leisurely walk or 5 minute bike ride along the well signed Valley Trail will lead you to this beautiful little lake. The wide and paved Valley Trail turns into a wide and gravel trail as you enter Lost Lake Park. There are plenty of nice viewpoints along the main trail as well as quite a few short trails that lead to several access points to the lake, some with great places to sit and relax in the sun and take in the view. Alpha Lake Park aka Arfa Lake Park is a beautiful and very dog friendly park on the shores of Alpha Lake in Creekside, just 5 kilometres south of Whistler Village. The park entrance is located partway along Lake Placid Road just past the Husky and Nita Lake Lodge. The abundance of trees and the irregular shoreline make the relatively small size of Alpha Lake seem quite a bit bigger than it is. Trails run around both sides of Alpha Lake. The wide and paved Valley Trail runs along the shore on the near side and a gravel trail runs along the far side.