Snowshoeing the Blueberry Trail in Whistler
The Blueberry Trail is a relatively unknown, though amazing trail that ascends quickly up to a cliff viewpoint, high above Alta Lake. Geographically, the Rainbow 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. See below(the 2nd map shows a 6 kilometre walking, running or biking route from Whistler Village. If it has not snowed heavily in the last couple days, you will likely not need snowshoes for the Blueberry Trail as the snow will have been packed down by others.
Blueberry Park 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, this one is a great, fun, short workout to a beautiful vantage point. Dogs are allowed here as well.
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 park covers most of the hill beyond these piers and stretches between and connects the neighbourhoods of Whistler Cay and Alta Vista(see map below). 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.
Blueberry Park was massively upgraded in 2013, which previously had been just a simple dirt trail through the forest and a faint trail to the piers. A new pier, gravel trail section, trail widening and new trail signs have been added. For most of the trail, however, it is steep, rocky, wild and natural looking. The forest is deep and dark. Massive tree roots criss-cross the trail and fallen trees and boulders are strewn everywhere. It has a wonderful remote and natural feeling to the forest that make you forget that you are so close to civilization.
Blueberry Park can be reached from both ends of Blueberry Trail. The Whistler Cay end of the trail is a bit tricky to find although it is being improved. There is a Blueberry Trail sign at the trailhead but it is not visible from the end of Crabapple Drive. To find it run all the way to the dead end of Crabapple Drive and you will see an unmarked trail. About 10 metres in you will see the Blueberry Trail sign on your right.
If you are parking at one of the Blueberry Park trailheads always be careful where you park in Whistler in residential areas, especially in the winter months. Look for no parking signs. Often you will see one side of a residential street with no parking signs. This is to allow for snow clearing and you may get towed if you block snowplows. The dead end of Crabapple Drive is currently safe to park, however, take a look before you park in case this has changed.
Blueberry Park is best reached by the Alta Vista side at the end of St Anton Way. As noted above keep an eye out for no parking signs, but at the moment parking is OK at the end of St Anton Way at the trailhead. This side of Blueberry Park is home to the three piers on Alta Lake making it the more scenic way to start the trail.
The Blueberry Park trailhead sign is easy to spot from St Anton Way and the nice, new gravel trail leads to to the three piers just a few dozen metres in. These piers are a great way to escape the crowds that you find in other Whistler parks such as Lost Lake Park, Alpha Lake Park, Wayside Park, Lakeside Park, and Rainbow Park. Rainbow Park is directly across Alta Lake from the piers at Blueberry Park. Where these other parks are beautiful with their grassy fields, beaches, kids play-parks and other amenities, none of them match Blueberry Park's wonderful, wilderness feel.
From the piers you have to backtrack a bit and take the right fork on the trail that you pass just after entering the forest from St Anton Way. This narrow, rocky, winding and steep, uphill trail takes you into the deep forest of Blueberry Hill. From one end to the other, the Blueberry Trail is just 1.4 kilometres long and fairly steep at both ends. You wouldn't want to push a baby stroller up the narrow and rocky path, but you could easily do so along the nice, smooth gravel trail to the three piers at the start of the trail. The trail ascends quickly and arrives at a beautiful viewpoint, high above the lake. Mt Sproatt dominates the view with Alta Lake far below. Out to the right you can see the always snowy Rainbow Mountain.
The trail continues through the forest and several more beautiful viewpoints just off the trail to your left. Finally the trail descends and ends at Crabapple Drive. If you are doing a circle route from Whistler Village you just have to follow Crabapple Dr for almost 1 kilometre and you will cross the Valley Trail just before Lorimer Rd.
Blueberry Park - Parking & Amenities
Parking for Blueberry Park is located at both ends of the Blueberry Trail. There are small trailhead signs at each end but no indication of where to park at either end of the trail. At the Whistler Cay end of the trail, parking can be found halfway down Crabapple Drive. Park at the edge of the road across from the trailhead sign. Be sure to take a look for no parking signs as parking rules change by the season. The south end of Blueberry Park is a bit better organized and you can park at the edge of the road at the end of St Anton Way just a few metres from the visible trailhead and Blueberry Park sign. This side of the park is also just steps from the three beautiful piers on the lake and for the most part, the nicer side of the trail. Another parking option is to leave your car in Whistler Village and walk, run or bike the beautiful 5.8 kilometre circle route shown on the map below. If you bike, however, keep in mind that you may have to walk a couple sections on the Blueberry Trail as some parts are very steep, rocky and with tree roots everywhere. Also, expect to find snow on the trail December to April every year, but it remains walkable if you don't mind a little snow.
Blueberry Park is possibly the most dog friendly park in Whistler. It is wild, remote feeling and has a deep forest to run through and three piers on Alta Lake your dog will love to jump off. With other Whistler parks such as Rainbow and Alpha, that have specific areas within them that are dog friendly, at Blueberry the whole place is dog friendly. Dogs are not welcome in the nearby Rainbow Lake trail as well as all of Garibaldi Park, so finding a hiking trail in Whistler to go with your dog can be annoyingly restrictive. For a list of dog friendly hiking in Whistler that includes the Sea to Sky Trail, Train Wreck, Nairn Falls, Ancient Cedars and many more try here..
There is one portable outhouse in Blueberry Park located at the south end trailhead. The closest washrooms can be found at Lakeside Park on Alta Lake, just a 15 minute walk south from the piers. From the north end of Blueberry Park there are public restrooms at the top end of Whistler Golf Course. Look for the sign on the Valley Trail at the 4k mark shown on the map below. These washrooms are only open when the golf course is open. There is also a nice concession stand here open to the public as well as golfers.
Blueberry Park is not designed for camping so setting up a tent in the park would be a little weird and technically prohibited. What you do see on occasion is the wonderful Whistler phenomenon of pier bivouacking. With dozens of beautiful, public piers in Whistler. All of them on serene lakes and most of them in remote feeling areas of Whistler. You often see a pair of sleeping bags on one of these piers. A bivouac is a primitive campsite or simple, flat area where camping is possible. Often used interchangeably with the word "camp", however, bivouac implies a shorter, quicker and much more basic camp setup. Where putting up a tent would be obnoxious in a Whistler park, bivouacking on a pier is is not.
If you want a place to put up your tent you have to look a little further out from Whistler Village. Train Wreck is a great place to try. Green River has some amazing spots for a tent near the turnoff to Wedgemount Lake. Parkhurst Ghost Town is amazing for camping, located on the far side of Green Lake not far from the Sea to Sky Trail. These are free places to camp so don't expect visible camping facilities or signs.
Blueberry Park - Map from Whistler Village
Printer, smartphone and tablet friendly. Designed to fit standard printers and copiers. To print: Right click on the map below, save image as, save to desktop, then open the image and print on standard size printer paper. Cell coverage is reliable everywhere in Whistler so you will be able to access the internet if you have a data plan, however saving this map to your smartphone or tablet may be a good idea as Blueberry Park can be tricky to find. "Start" indicated on the map is located in Whistler Village at the pedestrian and car underpass off of Whistler Way. If you walk between Buffalo Bills and the Conference Centre you will come to Whistler Way and see this underpass under the Sea to Sky Highway. This is where the Valley Trail in Whistler exits the Village heading south. Walking/biking/running under the underpass you will come to the Whistler Golf Course parking lot and clubhouse with the Valley Trail branching both left and right. On the map below this is where the 5.8k route shown in red starts and finishes. Here you will find a nice mapboard showing the Valley Trail and the Sea to Sky Trail(both trails follow the same route in this section of Whistler). The Valley Trail is wide, with two lanes divided by a yellow line and with frequent directional signs, so once you are on it it is easy to follow.
More Snowshoe Trails in Whistler
Whistler has an amazing selection of easy snowshoeing trails. Some are easy and obvious to find, but most are well hidden and just known locally. The less than five minute drive from the Village gets you to a free parking area at the dead end of Lorimer Rd and the Valley Trail runs in three directions from here. One direction goes to the Whistler Golf Course, another goes to Meadow Park and the third direction goes to Rainbow Park. These sections of the Valley Trail are never plowed and are beautiful for snowshoeing and cross country skiing. There is a very obvious and nice signpost directing you where Rainbow Park is and it is just a short, .8k snowshoe walk from where you park. Rainbow Park is in a beautiful setting on Alta Lake facing Whistler and Blackcomb mountains in the distance and even Wedge Mountain further left. Near Rainbow Park is another wonderful place to snowshoe. Rainbow Falls is about a 20 minute walk from Rainbow Park. You go through the parking lot and then turn right on Alta Lake Rd. After about 15 minutes you will see the trailhead and parking to Rainbow Lake on your left. You can drive here directly by taking the Alta Lake Road by either joining it from just south of Creekside (4k south of Whistler Village) or by going through the neighbourhood of Alpine which is north of Whistler Village. From the trailhead to Rainbow Falls is just a short and beautiful hike through deep forest along a crashing river to the picturesque, winter wonderland that is Rainbow Falls in the winter. These are the main easy snowshoeing trails that are very close and convenient to Whistler Village. If you don't mind driving a bit further there are three more snowshoeing trails that are as good or better. Certainly considered easy snowshoeing trails, but longer, more to see, and closer to what might be called moderately difficult snowshoeing trails. The first is Nairn Falls. This beautiful park is a 20 minute drive north of Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway. Easy to find even in the winter. The parking lot gate will be closed and buried in snow so you just have to park on the edge of the highway and walk/snowshoe to the falls. The beautiful trail is 1.2k long and runs along the beautiful Green River to Nairn Falls where there is a fantastic viewing area. Back through Whistler and just 10 minutes south of Whistler Village are two amazing and easy to moderately difficult snowshoeing trails are located. The Whistler Train Wreck is an amazing area of train wreckage that has been painted into an amazing art exhibit of sorts. A 5k (roundtrip) trail takes you through the amazing wreckage that lays along the beautiful Cheakamus River, which is an attraction on its own. In the same area, though across the Sea to Sky Highway there is a beautiful snowshoeing route that takes you along the amazing Cheakamus River for 2k, then crosses this massive, crashing river by a suspension bridge then back to the trailhead/parking on the other side of the river along beautiful forested trails. This is a beautiful trail that goes relatively unnoticed for most of the winter in Whistler despite being well marked, signed and convenient to snowshoe. Further down the Sea to Sky Highway, just 20 minutes south of Whistler Village is Brandywine Falls. This spectacular waterfall is visited by tens of thousands of people in the summer, yet just a handful in the winter months. The entrance gate is buried under a mountain of plowed snow from December to March, but it is very accessible if you have snowshoes. There is a plowed area near the mountain of snow where the gate is with lots of room to park and once you climb over this snow you find yourself in a beautiful, mostly untouched field of snow and a 1k trail to Brandywine Falls.