Best Challenging Hiking Trails Plan Your Trip to Whistler
Black Tusk is the extraordinarily iconic and appropriately named mountain that can be seen from almost everywhere in Whistler. The massive black spire of crumbling rock juts out of the earth in an incredibly distinct way that appears like an enormous black tusk plunging out of the ground. Whether you spot it in the distance from the top of Whistler Mountain or from dozens of vantage points along the Sea to Sky Highway, its unmistakable appearance is breathtaking. Whether you see it from the highway or from closer vantage points such as Taylor Meadows, Helm Creek, Panorama Ridge or Garibaldi Lake, all views make climbing to the top look impossible. In fact, Black Tusk seems to look more impossible to climb the closer you get to it. Wedgemount Lake is one of the most spectacular hikes in Garibaldi Park. Though it is a relentlessly exhausting, steep hike, it is mercifully short at only 7 kilometres (one way). The elevation gain in that short distance is over 1200 metres which makes it a much steeper hike than most other Whistler hiking trails. Compared with other Whistler hikes, Wedgemount Lake is half the roundtrip distance of either Black Tusk or Panorama Ridge, for example, at 13.5k and 15k respectively (one way). Wedgemount Lake itself is a magnificent destination for a day hike or spectacular overnight beneath the dazzling mountain peaks and stars. Many sleep under the stars on one of the many beautiful tent platforms that dot the landscape. Russet Lake is a wonderfully spectacular and varied destination. For a start it can be accessed by trail or by gondola. By the Whistler gondola, it’s an unbelievable, yet arduous trek along the High Note Trail. The 22 minute gondola ride with its wonderful views of Whistler Village in the summertime, then from the top of the gondola, a wonderful walk to the Peak chair where the best is yet to come. Any time of year the Peak Chair is like a carnival ride, exhilarating, and wonderful, but in the summer, it’s surreal as well. Great walls of snow pass under you far below, as you glide upward at times at a shocking degree. The incline of the ride is extreme, so steep as the breathtaking scenery cannot even distract fully from the nervousness you will surely feel as you glance down, 20 metres to the boulder field below. Then you arrive, the peak of Whistler, what a magnificent way to start a hike. You are still four hours from Russet Lake, but the adventure is well underway. Cirque Lake is an unbelievably beautiful paradise high up above Callaghan Lake in the Callaghan Valley. It requires a canoe to get you to the trailhead at the far end of Callaghan Lake and therefore is seldom hiked. The trailhead is tricky to find and the 2 kilometre trail is very steep, though surprisingly well marked with flagging tape. Once at the lake you find yourself in the wind shadow of the cirque and in a world of serenity and calm. It is an extraordinary thing to have a cirque valley to yourself. Feels like you are standing in a volcano of sorts. But a giant, tree filled meadow of a volcano with a mesmerisingly still and perfectly reflecting lake at its centre. A cirque lake is a wonderful thing, and Cirque Lake in Whistler takes you as close to a hiking paradise as a place can get. Panorama Ridge is certainly one of the most amazing hikes in Garibaldi Park. Usually accessed by the Rubble Creek (Garibaldi Lake) trailhead, just off the Sea to Sky Highway 30 minutes south of Whistler. The hike to Panorama Ridge is comparatively long at 15k trailhead to ridge, but there is plenty to marvel at along the way. Though the first 5k is fairly uneventful as you gain altitude via several deeply forested switchbacks. After the switchbacks you come to a fork in the trail. You can take either fork to reach Panorama Ridge.
Best Beach Parks Plan Your Trip to Whistler
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 the also popular 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. Rainbow Park is one of Whistler's most popular swimming beaches and for good reason. The beach is south facing so every morning the sun rises from behind Wedge Mountain and the whole park seems to glow. From the dazzling reflecting from the snow off of Wedge, Blackcomb and Whistler mountains, to the amazing blue glow from Alta Lake. All this framed in the dazzling green of the forest all around. Though there are many great places to watch the sun rise in Whistler, Rainbow Park is one of the best. Blueberry Park is a very scenic park on Alta Lake that most Whistler locals don't even know about. 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. Wayside Park in Whistler is one of several idyllic parks on Alta Lake. Rainbow Park, Lakeside Park and Blueberry Park are also along the shore of this huge lake that cover much of the valley edged by WhistlerVillage.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. Canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding are all popular from Wayside Park. 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.
Best Running Trails Plan Your Trip to Whistler
For pure scenery and beauty, the Roundhouse to Whistler Village via Singing Pass trail run is hard to beat. 24km and all of it up and down. This is arguably the #1 trail run in Whistler. It is spectacular, just spectacular. Taking the gondola up to the Roundhouse start is both beautiful and a relief as you relax on a big part of the elevation gain. You still face a lot hills and valleys. Takes about 2.5 hours and of course only free of snow and doable when the alpine opens for hiking in Whistler and the Whistler Gondola is open. If the (late July to October), then this route should be free enough of snow to run. If you don't want to pay for the gondola, you can do this route in reverse for free by taking the Singing Pass Trail up from near the Whistler Gondola and return via the Whistler Gondola (they don't check for tickets when downloading).... Cheakamus Lake is a wonderfully relaxing way to get trail running in the wilderness easily and quickly from Whistler Village. There are so many aspects of this trail run that make it exceptional. First is the terrain. It is gently rolling hills in deep forest. Not your average forest. This forest is wonderful. It's big. Big, wild and amazing. Then the Cheakamus River appears. Beautiful. It's that bright, surreal turquoise that seems almost normal in Whistler. Cheakamus Lake has it. Garibaldi Lake has it. Green Lake has a more green hue to it, which gives it it's name. After about two beautiful kilometres you run along this incredible river, still amongst the absurdly dramatic trees. Then you spot it. Through the trees. The turquoise. The impossibly blue colour... The Whistler Train Wreck is a very convenient and amazingly beautiful trail run. It's convenient as it is just south of Whistler with parking just metres from the Sea to Sky highway. And it's amazingly beautiful as it runs through a wonderfully varied terrain of dense forest, train tracks, sunny clearings overlooking the crashing Cheakamus River and of course the wildly beautiful train wreck itself. Decades ago a train derailed south of Whistler. The cost to clean up the mess 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, and a great place to trail run. For half of the year in Whistler, from mid November to April, jogging and trail running becomes difficult due to snow. During this time there are only a few areas of the Valley Trail system that are plowed consistently. The beautiful 4.8k route around Whistler Golf Course is a great, scenic and convenient option to run year round, and right in the Village. Convenient and free parking can be found at the dead end of Lorimer Rd near Whistler Village. As you run around this beautiful golf course you will run through a magnificent grove of ancient cedars, see jaw dropping views of Rainbow Mountain, Whistler and Blackcomb as well as Wedge Mountain in the distance.... This is a nice 6k trail running route that runs from Whistler Village out and around Lost Lake and back. This beautiful lake is linked to Whistler Village by the wonderful and seemingly endless Whistler Valley Trail. Grab one of the ubiquitous whistler.com Valley Trail maps. You will find them just about everywhere to go in Whistler, and marvel at the running possibilities. This run is worthy of being in the top 5 of Whistler trail runs because of its beauty, convenience and variety. The route possibilities are limitless.
Driving Destinations Plan Your Trip to Whistler
Porteau Cove is well known in the Scuba Diving community for amazing diving. In fact a ship was purposely sunk in the area to increase the already amazing diving appeal. Other underwater curiosities make this a well used and beautiful place to dive. On any given day, you will see groups of scuba divers in the distance or getting in or out of the water. Their entry area by the boat ramp has a nice description of what is under the water that makes it such a fascinating place to dive. Northair Mine is a surreal little world of colourful murals on abandoned cement foundations, surrounded by an astoundingly tranquil little lake in a secluded forest. Just a short logging road off of the Callaghan Valley Road takes you to this unusual little abandoned mine. You would have driven by the turnoff if you have been to Whistler Olympic Park, which is just a couple kilometres away. Northair Mine gets its name from the Vancouver based mining company Northair Group. The mine was in production from 1976 and extracted 5 tons of gold before being abandoned in 1982. Northair Mine is tricky to find and even when you near it, the turnoff is not obvious. However, once you find it, it is quite a sight. The area that encompasses Northair Mine is huge. About 2 kilometres long, edged by a cliff on one side and a beautiful lake on the other. A nice, smooth gravel road runs through the area, along the edge of the lake toward Whistler Olympic Park. Another gravel road runs through the massive cement foundations of what must have been quite a large building. Beautiful graffiti art covers some of the cement pilings and scattered remnants indicate that this skeleton of a building has been home to its share of gatherings since being abandoned. North Arm Farm in Pemberton, just a 40 minute drive north of Whistler is startlingly beautiful in a wonderfully charming and unexpected way. And even more unexpectedly... it's free. Free to wander through the fields of strikingly colourful and organized crops laying seemingly at the foot of the wildly spectacular Mount Currie. Along with the beautiful setting and views there is an area surrounded by animals. Chickens, pigs and geese crowd around you hoping for scraps from the farm shop. The Farm Shop and Cafe are fantastic as well. A surprising variety of bakery and lunch items crowd the counters. Along with shelves and bins of farm fresh produce. You suddenly realize that you just came through what could be called Pemberton Farm Experience. All for free, except of course for all the amazing food you are inevitably going buy before leaving. North Arm Farm stretches over 60 acres along the Lillooet River and boasts a wide array of organically grown produce. From asparagus in April, to beans, peas, corn, squash, carrots, beets and their celebrated pumpkins in October. They even have seasonal You Pick berries, flowers and pumpkins. Skookumchuck Hot Springs, open year-round and located two hours north of Whistler along the edge of the huge Lillooet River.The name Skookumchuck means "strong water" in the language of the Chinook people of the Pacific Northwest. The name is associated with the hot springs because of the nearby First Nation community of Skatin, which was once called Skookumchuck. The Skookumchuck Hot Springs were also once known as St. Agnes Well during the days of the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush, but that name has fallen into disuse. They are also known locally by the Skatin name as the T'sek Hot Springs. See a short history of Skookumchuck Hot Springs here. The hot springs start in a pool which is far to hot to use so there are a network of tubes emanating from this pool to feed a ramshackle array of tubs. There are five tubs, which include one very large one under an A-frame which could hold 10 people and is beautifully comfortable... Sloquet Hot Springs is a wonderfully wild set of shallow, man-made pools fed by a small, all natural, and very hot, waterfall. The pools stretch from the waterfall to the large and crashing Sloquet River. The large, spread out campsite for the hot springs lies a short 5 minute walk from the springs. You have to follow a dark and quickly descending trail toward the crashing river. As you near, you can smell the unusual, but kind of nice hot springs scent, and you see steam rising all around you, some steam rising, bizarrely, out of the grass clearing on the edge of the river. On your left a rising cliff, on your right the crashing river. The path narrows and steepens, leading to a large fallen tree which the trail seems to run to. So huge though as to not worry you walking the length of. Then, there it is. The massive fallen tree flanks it. Nestled between the tree and a cliff, in a large triangular area, with the river forming the third side are the Sloquet Hot Springs. Sloquet Hot Springs is 142 kilometres from Whistler, which translates to well over 3 hours of driving. Much of the driving is along the In-Shuck-Ch Forest Service Road, which runs the length of the very scenic Lillooet Lake and river. This gravel road takes you well into the wilderness, far from civilization and past quite a few nice sights along the way. Rainbow Park is one of Whistler's most popular swimming, relaxing, soccer playing and socializing beaches and for good reason. The beach is south facing so every morning the sun rises from behind Wedge Mountain and the whole park seems to glow. From the dazzling reflecting from the snow off of Wedge, Blackcomb and Whistler mountains, to the amazing blue glow from Alta Lake. All this framed in the dazzling green of the forest all around. Though there are many great places to watch the sun rise in Whistler, Rainbow Park is one of the best. Rainbow Park gets its name from Rainbow Lodge, a popular stop along the train line from 1914 to 1974. Alexander Falls is a very impressive 43 metre/141foot waterfall just 30 minutes south of Whistler in the Callaghan Valley. Open year-round and located just before Whistler Olympic Park where several of the 2010 Olympic events were held. There is a nice viewing platform on the edge of the cliff across from the falls which crash fantastically into the valley below. The parking area and viewing platform at Alexander Falls is one big area just 40 metres from the main road (to Whistler Olympic Park).is a beautiful little stop on the way to or from Whistler. You will notice the lack of washroom stops on the way to or from Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway, and if nothing else, makes Porteau Cove a perfect rest stop. Aside from washrooms there is a wonderful pier with viewing platforms that hover high above the ocean of this majestic and enormous Canadian fjord - the most southerly fjord in North America. There is a nice campground that extends down the shore towards Vancouver.