Taylor Meadows in Garibaldi Provincial Park
, in Garibaldi Park is an amazing place to snowshoe in the winter near Whistler. Beautiful snowy meadows surrounded by mountains everywhere you look. Black Tusk towering in the distance so close and blanketed in wonderful, beautiful snow. Garibaldi Lake is accessible as well on this snowshoeing hike. The Taylor Meadows trail forks partway up, left goes to Taylor Meadows, right to Garibaldi Lake (the trail joins again at the far side of both campsites).
Garibaldi Lake, so massive and dramatically beautiful in the winter, a huge frozen valley. The downside to this hike is the length of hiking to get to the beautiful parts. In the summer it's not so bad as the trailhead is a moderately difficult 9k from Garibaldi Lake. In the winter however, the trailhead parking lot is unplowed almost down to the highway. So just to get to the trailhead requires about a 2k uphill snowshoe slog.
If you snowshoe the beautiful route to Taylor Meadows and return via Garibaldi Lake the route is 25 kilometres long and very strenuous as a one day snowshoe trip.
Camping at either Taylor Meadows or Garibaldi Lake are great options if you can stand the cold and are well prepared. If you plan to do this trip in one day be sure to leave very early and be well prepared for winter hiking. In the winter the days are very short so always have lights with you. Although the trail will likely be tracked out by previous hikers and skiers, having a gps is an excellent backup in case you lose the trail.
If you are not troubled by a lot of exertion then it's a wonderful snowshoe destination. Like Joffre Lakes it is frequented by skiers just enough to ensure an almost constant track throughout the winter so you can concentrate more on the scenery then keeping from getting lost. Another nice attribute of this hike is the fact that you can snowshoe through the beautiful on the way up then across to Garibaldi Lake on the way back, therefore doing a little snowshoe circle route before heading back to your car at Rubble Creek.
Taylor Meadows Winter Parking:
From Village Gate Boulevard, drive south, toward Vancouver. The well marked turnoff to Black Tusk(Garibaldi) trailhead is 25km south of Whistler on your left. The 2 kilometre road to the trailhead parking is not plowed in the winter so you will have to park at the end of this road. Be sure not to block the road in any way however, as it is not unusual for huge 4x4's to drive up to the trailhead through the deep snow.
More Whistler Snowshoe Trails
Cheakamus River leads to a beautiful suspension bridge and the snowshoeing trail is located through the intersection from Function Junction. Cross the Sea to Sky Highway and after about 300 metres you will see Cheakamus Lake Road on your left. In the winter it is not plowed so you will see a clearing at the start of the road with room for several cars to park. From this parking area you walk up the snowy Cheakamus Lake Road and you will almost immediately see a road branch off to the right and cross a bridge. Snowshoe across this bridge and you will find a trail running parallel to the beautiful and wildly crashing, Cheakamus River. The trails are unexpectedly well marked and easy to follow despite being (usually in winter), metres deep in snow. At each junction in the trail you will see either a map board or a direction sign with distances to each place shown. From the trailhead to the Cheakamus River suspension bridge is a beautiful 2 kilometres. Ascending and descending gradual slopes through the deep and snowy forest. At the beautiful suspension bridge you can look down beneath your feet through the metal grating that is the bridge and watch the massively rushing river below you. Once across the bridge you can snowshoe left and follow the trails on the opposite side of the Cheakamus. There is also the Cheakamus Lake Westside Road here and if you are in a hurry you can take this quicker, parallel to the trails route back to your car. The Cheakamus River trail to the suspension bridge and back is 4k long and should take about two hours to complete. Across the Sea to Sky Highway and further along the Cheakamus River you will find a beautiful and surreal world of extraordinary paintings and gigantic, mangled wreckage. Decades ago several train cars derailed and crashed down the hillside just south of what eventually became Whistler. The wreckage was never cleaned up and has been transformed into a fantastic work of art that stretches through the forest for over a kilometre. The Whistler Train Wreck is easily accessible in the winter and makes for a spectacular 5 kilometre (or less) snowshoeing route in the deep forest that runs along the Cheakamus River. The train wreck itself is just part of the beauty of this great place. The serene, yet chaotic Cheakamus River is wonderfully viewed from various points along the riverside cliffs that skirt its edge. The Brandywine Falls to the Whistler Bungee Bridge is a beautiful 6 kilometre, roundtrip snowshoeing adventure that takes you to two amazing Whistler area sights. Brandywine Falls, though extremely popular in the summer and fall months, hides behind a massive, snowplow formed, wall of snow from (usually) December to March. The gate to the parking lot is closed and buried. Attempting to hike to the falls on foot is tough as you find yourself thigh deep in snow right from the start. But if you have snowshoes this trail becomes a winter paradise. The snowplows intentionally clear a winter parking area for the park near the (buried) gate. There are plenty of Sea to Sky Trail signs and even a beautiful mapboard in the parking lot. Just across the bridge at the parking lot you will see the first sign for the Sea to Sky Trail. Turn right here and in five minutes you will see the amazing Brandywine Falls from the viewing platform. From the viewing platform you have to return from where you came and turn right at the Sea to Sky Trail sign indicating the Cheakamus Bungee Bridge in 2.6km. The snowshoeing trail is wide and easy to follow. After a few hundred metres you come to your first viewpoint of the valley and distant mountains. The trail ascends fairly quickly and then opens up to some more views before reaching the amazing Bungee Bridge high above Cheakamus River. Whistler of course has its share of amazing, more difficult and strenuous snowshoeing trails. The Diamond Head trailhead in Squamish is a wonderful snowshoeing area. The amazing 11k trail to the Elfin Lakes Hut is fantastic for so many reasons. First, it is a well defined, easy to follow trail, even after dark that trail and trail markings can be seen with a good light. Second there are two huts on the Elfin Lakes trail. One, the Red Heather Hut is located 5k into the trail and is equipped with a wood burning stove and a ready supply of free wood. The second hut, the Elfin Lakes Hut is located at the end of the trail and is massive. It can sleep 33, is two levels, solar panels power the lights and there is propane heating. The third reason the Elfin Lakes trail at Diamond Head is amazing is that the views from 5k onward are breathtaking as you snowshoe along the ridge into paradise. Expect to take three or even four hours to reach the Elfin Lakes Hut on snowshoes as snowshoeing is much slower than hiking and the route to Elfin Lakes is consistently uphill and at times exhaustingly steep. Joffre Lakes is yet another amazing snowshoeing trail near (kind of) to Whistler. About 1 hour and 20 minutes north of Whistler gets you to the Joffre Lakes trailhead. Located up on the Duffy Lake Road north of Pemberton, Joffre Lakes is well known for its incredibly surreal, turquoise water. In the winter of course all three of the Joffre Lakes are frozen over but the trail is popular with skier and snowshoers between the months of November and early June (depending on snowfall). Though the trail is fairly well marked and often snowshoe and ski tracked in the winter it is possible to lose the trail after dark or after or during heavy snowfall. So caution should be taken on this trail. Make sure you don't go snowshoeing to Joffre Lakes immediately after heavy snow. Pick a nice, sunny day and leave yourself lots of daylight and be prepared with headlights as the winters bring very early sunsets, especially in the mountains. The trail is sometimes steep as you gain 400 metres of altitude in just 5k trailhead to the third Joffre Lake. On snowshoes expect to reach the third lake in about two hours. On a sunny day the frozen lake is beautiful and almost warm feeling. However, as soon as the sun goes behind the mountains the temperature gets bitter cold so be prepared with very warm clothing on any snowshoeing adventure there. You do occasionally see people camp overnight at Joffre Lakes in the winter. The usual campsite area is buried in snow as it lays at the base of mountain slopes, so people usually put their tents directly on the frozen lake. Extraordinary!