October Trails Guide - Whistler & Garibaldi Park
Hiking in Whistler in October is often fantastic. The days are much shorter and colder but the mountains are alive with colour from the fall leaves. On the higher elevations there is often a dusting of snow that makes everything look amazing. Picking a full moon evening to to hike in a place like Joffre Lakes or Wedgemount Lake makes for an incredible night or day hike in Whistler's mountains.
Some great places to go hiking in October are places like Ancient Cedars. Just a short drive from Whistler Village takes you up Cougar Mountain along a bumpy logging road to this 5k roundtrip hike to some of Whistler's most impressive trees. Ancient Cedars was inadvertently missed by logging years ago and has now become a cherished forest of massive trees.
Parkhurst Ghost Town is another great October hike. Best accessed by canoe from across Green Lake, this amazing piece of Whistler history is particularly beautiful with gold and orange leaves everywhere giving it an eerie calm about it. This abandoned decades ago ghost town is a relic of Whistler's varied past. Long before it was the paradise resort town it became, Whistler was a fishing and logging town. Parkhurst was a logging town, perched on the shores of Green Lake and on the rail line.
Some of the most picturesque hikes of the year can be done in October, but you do have to be prepared to deal with the cold, wet and darkness that comes with fall in Whistler. Cheakamus Lake and Rainbow Lake are amazing in October as they have such wonderful forests. Have a look at the best places to hike in Whistler here.. and the best easy places to hike in Whistler here.. Just a short drive south of Whistler in Squamish there are some great hiking trips, excellent in October. Shannon Falls and the Stawamus Chief are great and relatively easy. Roundtrip to see both from the same trailhead a Shannon Falls should only take you about 3 hours.
Further south in Vancouver there are some amazing hikes with great views of Howe Sound including, the Lions, St Mark's Summit and many more. An easy, yet amazing array of hiking trails can be found at Lighthouse Park just a short drive from the Sea to Sky Highway. If you've not seen this park and are driving to or from Vancouver you should take a look. The trails run from 2k to 10k and have fantastic ocean views across to Vancouver and the Lions Gate Bridge.
Nairn Falls Provincial Park
is a wonderful, crashing and chaotic waterfall that surrounds you from the deluxe viewing platform that allows you to safely watch it from above. The beautiful, green water rushes through the deep and angular channels of rock.
Though thedescribes Nairn Falls as 60 metres high, the description is misleading. The falls crash through various narrow and wide areas, and though the cumulative drop is 60 metres, what you see is a series of 10 to 20 metre falls.
There are a nicely constructed railing, fence and viewing area and walkway that guides you to the best views. With such abruptly steep rock all around, the area would be potentially dangerous. Evidently there have been deaths here before. A cross, reverently placed across the chasm from the viewing platform, indicates of some tragic event.
Nairn Falls Provincial Park is located just a short 20 to 30 minute drive north of Whistler. From the large parking lot the well marked trail runs along the Green River for 1.2k to Nairn Falls. The trail is very easy and is hike-able year-round. Though considerable snow falls in the winter months here, the trail remains passable.
There is quite a large and beautiful campground at Nairn Falls as well. Located right next to the parking lot there are 94 vehicle accessed campsites that disappear into the forest adjacent to the Green River. The campground is open May 11 - September 30.
The other months the entry gate is locked to the park and a small, highway-side parking area is used to access the park. The charge for camping is $18 per party, per night, during the months the campground is open. Outside of that window there is obviously no charge and you won't be prohibited from camping during the off season.
From the parking lot, a hiking trail also goes along the Green River in the opposite direction to Nairn Falls. This 2k trail takes you to One Mile Lake excellent for swimming. Most visitors to Nairn Falls Provincial Park just see Nairn Falls, however, to the left, beyond the campsites the Green River is beautiful. A short trail takes you down to a wide bend in the river and you find yourself in what looks like a large beach.
Ancient Cedars & Showh Lakes
Cheakamus Lake and you will marvel at the size, frequency and wonderful aroma of these massive and numerous giant cedars. The Wedgemount Lake trail also has some majestic cedars along the hike. You can even walk through an impressive grove of huge cedars on the Valley Trail at the north end of the Whistler Golf Club.often gets overlooked by hikers in Whistler. Certainly there are other groves of massive cedars found in other Whistler area hikes. If you hike the short 3k trail to
None of them compare, however, to thehike. They are extraordinarily huge and some are estimated to be a thousand years old. Most of these giants stretch toward the sky, but some lay along the forest floor giving you an even closer grasp of their size. If you bring kids along, they will disappear into the endless, natural playground.
The trailhead to Ancient Cedars is just a short drive north of Whistler. Just past Green Lake on Highway 99, you turn left on Cougar Mountain Rd and drive 4.5k up a bumpy logging road. As logging roads go it is not bad. If you are driving a car you should be OK as long as you take it slow.
There are no dedicated camping options in and around Ancient Cedars, however you can find some very rugged areas to put up a tent well away from the Ancient Cedars trail. The tent shown below is just a few dozen metres off of the main trail and has an amazing view over Show Lakes. Down at Showh Lakes you will find several good spaces for a tent.. but it takes a little looking, and none are exceptional. The terrain is too irregular and just not ideal for camping, however there is a good clearing in the forest just before you arrive at the far lake.
Another decent place to camp would be back down to the Sea to Sky Highway, turn left(north) and in a couple kilometres watch for the Wedgemount Lake turnoff on your right. Turn here and cross the train tracks and park next to the Green River. There are several places on both sides of the river that are very nice and perfect for a tent. If you are more adventurous, cross the river and turn right. Drive along this bumpy logging road for about 1 kilometre, pass Whistler Paintball on your left and at the yellow gate, park on the clearing on the right. You will see the Sea to Sky Trail head up along the gated gravel road. If instead you follow the old gravel road on the right. After a few hundred metres running parallel to the train tracks, you will come to the Parkhurst Trail, leading to Parkhurst Ghost Town and a very interesting and beautiful place to camp overlooking Green Lake.