The Cheakamus River & Crater Rim Trails Whistler Snowshoeing
Cheakamus River is located just 8k south of Whistler Village just off of the Sea to Sky Highway. This well marked, though beautifully remote feeling snowshoeing trail takes you along both sides of the wildly crashing Cheakamus River. Snow begins to fall in earnest in the Whistler area in November so the best months for snowshoeing the Cheakamus River are from late November to early April. These trails are frequently used year-round so the snow on the trail is often packed down. You may find that you don't need snowshoes for much or all of the trail.
One of the best routes is to walk/snowshoe from your car for about 100 metres following the road to Cheakamus Lake. At about 100 metres you will see a branching road go to the right and a large, vehicle bridge cross the Cheakamus River. Cross the bridge and you will immediately see a trail on your left running along the river. This trail, with Cheakamus River on your left will descend and ascend through a beautiful forest. Sometimes close to the river, sometimes 100 metres away.
Another very nice snowshoeing trail, the Ridge Trail, extends from the Cheakamus River trail. You can find it easily by several excellent trail signs at various junctures(see the map below). The Ridge Trail takes you up a and away from Cheakamus River to Loggers Lake where you can go around Loggers Lake, or just along one side before re-connecting to the Cheakamus River trail not far from the Suspension Bridge.
As these trails are popular in the summer for hiking and biking they are well marked with signs. The Cheakamus River Suspension Bridge, which is 2k from where you parked and should take about an hour to reach. There are wide and straight logging roads on either side of the Cheakamus River which ensure that you can't get lost if you stray from the marked trails.
Once you reach the suspension bridge you can cross it and return to your car from the other side of the river. You will see a trail on the other side of the bridge on your left. You can also snowshoe back via the Cheakamus Lake Westside Road which is just a hundred metres or so from the bridge (after you cross it from the side you just snowshoed). As long as you keep within the bounds of the Cheakamus Lake Road and the Cheakamus River on your way back to your car you can pick your own route as the trails branch in and out in this confined area as it ascends back to your car and starting point.
There are no facilities on the trail however in Cheakamus Crossing just a one minute drive past the trailhead you will see the large Hostel, the HI Whistler which has an amazing coffee shop where you can get a great selection of food and drinks and even a beer or glass of wine.
Cheakamus River Snowshoeing Trail Directions:
The winter trailhead parking for snowshoeing at Cheakamus River is easy to find. From Whistler Village, drive south on the Sea to Sky Highway for 8k until you reach the lights at Function Junction. Turn left and drive for about 300 metres and you will see Cheakamus Lake Road on your left. Snow covered in the winter it is undrivable and you will see plenty of room to park at the edge of the road just before the turnoff. From where you park, snowshoe up Cheakamus Lake Road for just a few metres and you will see the snow covered vehicle bridge over the river, cross it and look for the trails running along the Cheakamus River.
Mt Fee Road Parking at the Ridge (Loggers Lake)Trail:
There is also a large and very conveniently located parking area at the end of Mt Fee Road. Just steps from the Ridge Trail that leads to Loggers Lake. Loggers Lake has a beautiful trail that runs around it with various excellent viewpoints.
More Snowshoeing Trails Whistler Hiking and Snowshoeing
The Blueberry Trail is short and easy, yet you end up high on the edge of a cliff overlooking Alta Lake. Skiers and skaters are distant specks far below. The trail is fairly easy as you gradually climb Blueberry Hill from either the Whistler neighbourhood of Whistler Cay, or at the other, more scenic end of the trail in Alta Vista. This wonderful, dog friendly snowshoeing trail is well hidden despite being on all the Whistler maps you see in the Village. It is just a five minute drive away from the Village. The most convenient starting point is to drive to Whistler Cay and park at the end of Crabapple Drive where you will see a small trailhead sign in the trees. You really only need snowshoes if there has been a lot of snowfall just before you go. If there hasn't been, the deep tree cover and occasional walking traffic will pack down the snow and make snowshoes unnecessary. Another fantastic and very easy snowshoeing trail in Whistler starts at the end of Lorimer Road in Whistler Cay. 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 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.