Helm Creek is a beautiful, meandering creek that winds its way from beyond Black Tusk, down the valley to the wonderful campground that takes its name. From the Helm Creek Campground it descends further along the Helm Creek Trail, until it joins the Cheakamus River near where it leaves Cheakamus Lake. The location of Helm Creek Campground has two tremendous advantages. First it is just a great location in Garibaldi Park. About halfway between Cheakamus Lake and Black Tusk it lays in some amazingly scenic areas. Beautiful, climbable mountains all around. Amazing fields of snow that run all the way to the base of Black Tusk. Rivers, creeks and waterfalls everywhere you turn. And the campground area itself is very nice. A large, grassy field ringed by trees and Helm Creek. The area really has no trails except the Helm Creek trail that runs past it, but there are infinitely numerous directions you can wander. Exploring in any direction takes you to more and more pristine, green fields, streams, pocket lakes and mountain views. Though most just use it as a base to extend onto Black Tusk, it is a great base for so much more. Helm Peak, Corrie Peak, Cinder Cone, Empetrum Peak as well as the more frequented Panorama Ridge, Black Tusk and Garibaldi Lake. The second great aspect of Helm Creek as a campground is that it is quiet and serene when compared with the other two area campgrounds. Garibaldi Lake and Taylor Meadows are very busy all summer long. In fact there is a posting part way up the trail to Garibaldi Lake indicating how crowded it is and if it is full.
Why should you hike to Helm Creek?
Though Helm Creek is generally called Helm Creek Campground it is somewhat of a destination on its own. Beautiful scenery, relaxing area. It is an incredible base camp allowing access to the less hiked but arguably most spectacular area of Garibaldi Park. You can hike in several directions from Helm Creek and because you are in the alpine you don't need to follow a trail. With a topo map you can venture any number of marvelous places within an hour from your tent.
The High Note Trail begins high up on Whistler Mountain at the top of the Peak Chair. To get there you must buy a lift pass and ride the Whistler Gondola for 22 minutes up to the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain, then hike for about 8 minutes to the Peak Chair. Ride this beautiful and alarmingly steep chairlift up to Whistler's Peak where the High Note Trail begins. The trail begins with some narrow, rocky and fairly steep ups and downs as you hike out to the edge of a rock outcrop with amazing views to the valley and Whistler below. Though there are two small chain-assist sections, most should have no difficulty. Even if you are bringing your kids along, you will have no problem or worry at these parts or any other along the trail. After this short up and down section at the beginning of the High Note Trail, the route evens out and runs along the edge of the ridge parallel to the amazing Cheakamus Lake far down the valley below. There are signs at a couple spots along the way directing you very clearly. The High Note Trail is 9.5k roundtrip and should take about 3 hours...
Why should you hike the High Note trail?
From beginning to end this trail is amazing. The gondola and chairlift rides are fantastic as well. The trail has constant views and you don't have to hike an uneventful trail to reach the sites like almost all other hiking trails. There are restaurants at both ends of the Peak to Peak Gondola which your lift pass includes access to. The combination of gondola rides, restaurants and hiking make this the ultimate, family friendly outing in Whistler that is hard to beat.
Joffre Lakes is one of the most beautiful lakes you are likely to ever see. There are three lakes and they get progressively more beautiful. By the third lake the intense blue is breathtaking. The mighty Matier Glacier rises above the third lake, making the experience even more spectacular. The trail is rough and tricky in some parts, but not terribly difficult. The trail is 5.5k to the third lake so give yourself 1.5 - 2 hours(one way). Lots of trail construction work is being done as a new trail replaces much of the old trail. The old boulder section between the lower and middle lakes has now been covered with a new dirt trail. Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is centred around the three Joffre Lakes. All of them are beautiful on their own and each more beautiful than the last. Frozen over in the winter, you won't be able to marvel at the amazing turquoise colours the lakes, caused by light reflecting off of the particles of glacial silt suspended in the water. At Upper Joffre Lake, there are several nice and very rugged places to camp. In a hilly, lightly forested section of paradise in between the impossibly turquoise Joffre Lake and the abruptly monstrous Matier Glacier descending from Mount Matier beyond. A waterfall cascades near the camping area. The campsite has one nice and well maintained outhouse. You will notice several clearings for tents in the gravel and boulder strewn landscape. Each one barely enough room for a tent, but the ruggedness adds to the beauty of Joffre Lakes. The park is wonderfully untouched by people. With the exception of the trail, some signs, outhouse and bridges, Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is beautifully wild and picturesque.
Why should you go to Joffre Lakes Provincial Park?
The drive to the Joffre Lakes trailhead is beautiful and you can see some interesting sights on the way from Whistler. Nairn Falls, the cute town of Pemberton, North Arm Farm and great views of Lillooet Lake are all convenient pit stops on the 1.5 hour drive to Joffre Lakes. The lakes are extremely beautiful and accessible for only a moderately difficult, family friendly hike.
Logger's Lake is an amazing little lake hidden up in the deep forest above the more well known Cheakamus River. The lake, almost unbelievably exists in a long extinct volcano. However, as soon as you see the lake up close, you quickly come to believe it. The lake sits in an almost cartoonish looking, volcano-shaped bowl, with one side of the bowl a crumbling array of truck sized boulders leading down to the lake. The crater that Logger's Lake sits in was a volcano that pushed through the glacial ice in this valley about 10000 years ago. As the lava cooled it formed the wonderful basalt ridge that is crumbling into valley. As Logger's Lake sits deep in this ancient volcano's vent, it is sheltered from the wind and soaks up the suns rays into the dark boulders all around. As a result makes it the warmest lake in Whistler, though most other lakes around are glacier fed(via rivers and creeks), so the comparison is not entirely fair. The surrounding cliffs and forest also add to the tranquility of the lake. Located a bit off the radar for most and requiring a short logging road drive and then a very steep, but short hike to get to also contributes to its serenity. Another, though unexpected draw to Logger's Lake, is its good fishing. Occasionally the lake is stocked with rainbow trout and because of the steep shorleline, casting from almost anywhere along the shore is easy and effective. There is also an ancient and disintegrating log that is a pier of sorts that leads to a tiny wooden platform out in the lake. A good spot to cast from as well, though you will be standing in a centimetre of water as the platform partially sinks under your weight. Logger's Lake has a surprisingly large network of hiking trails around it. This is a aerial video showing the unmistakable caldera of Logger's Lake. As the area was logged quite extensively in past decades, you often hike along trails near the lake that are in fact overgrown logging roads. The ridge directly behind you, if you are facing Logger's Lake and the log pier is an excellent place to hike. Appropriately named the Crater Rim Trail, this trail takes you quickly up to a tremendous vantage point over the lake.
Why should you go to Logger's Lake?
Walking along the crater rim of an extinct volcano that now contains a serene lake is something special. Grab a $15 inflatable boat from the hardware store in Whistler Village, go to Logger's Lake on a beautiful day. Float out to the middle of the lake, stare at the sky and remind yourself that this was an active volcano, not such a long time ago!
Madeley Lake is a well hidden, though easily drivable lake in the beautiful Callaghan Valley. Unlike the terrible gravel road (4x4 recommended) to Callaghan Lake, the relatively smooth gravel road to Madeley Lake is drivable by car (relatively easily and safely). Just a 10 minute drive from the main, paved road to Whistler Olympic Park, Madeley makes a great side-trip on the way to or from the very popular 2010 Olympic attraction. Just metres past the turnoff to Alexander Falls, turn left at the sign for . Cross the bridge and follow the terrible logging road for about three minutes, turn right at the first logging road that branches off to the right. Follow this logging road for about 10 minutes until Madeley Lake appears on your right. There is a large map board at the trailhead to Hanging Lake, Provincial ParkRainbow Lake and Sproatt Mountain. You can park here or continue past this and drive to the end of the lake and small campsite area. This is an unmaintained area and there are a few old picnic tables and ancient outhouse and several good, metal fire pits. This is an amazing place to camp as the deep forest campsites open up to an incredible beach that always is sun facing. If looking for solitude at a paradise, mountain lake, Madeley Lake is hard to beat...
Why should you go to Madeley Lake?
Madeley Lake is a well hidden, easily accessible mountain lake. Though you will see about a dozen cars drive along the edge of the lake looking for bears, you will rarely see anyone at the lake. You can camp on the beautiful shores of the lake for free as this part of the world is well of the radar. Good fishing and wonderful scenery. The lake is very close to Alexander Falls and Whistler Olympic Park, making these part of the road trip. Keep in mind, however, that Whistler Olympic Park has an entry charge now just to get through the vehicle gate. Alexander Falls of course is still free to access.
Nairn Falls 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 the BC Parks website describes 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 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...
Why should you go to Nairn Falls Provincial Park?
Nairn Falls is a short and easy, family friendly hike to a very impressive waterfall. Perfect for an afternoon drive/hike/picnic from Whistler.
Panorama Ridge is arguably the most amazing hike in Garibaldi Park. It certainly is in the top 5 of the best hikes in Whistler. 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. In the summer this area is flower-filled and beautiful in every direction. The campsite stares up at the iconic Black Tusk. The right fork takes you first along the Barrier. An extraordinary buttress of rock that holds back a potentially devastating debris slide. You may have noticed the trailhead sign indicating that camping at the parking lot is prohibited as it is directly in the path of a potential debris flow. Past the Barrier viewpoint you can take a short side-trail to Garibaldi Lake or continue on and eventually the forked trail that led to Taylor Meadows meets with the Garibaldi Lake trail and the single trail continues to Black Tusk and then Panorama Ridge beyond. The trail(s) from the fork until Panorama Ridge is a continuous marvel of alpine creeks, views of distant mountains, turquoise lake views and rarely boring. The final hike up Panorama Ridge is fairly steep. Some scrambling is required to get up the fairly steep, hard-packed, final snow trail...
Why should you hike to Panorama Ridge?
Challenging, long distance hike. Jaw dropping views from Panorama Ridge. Often cited as the best hike in Garibaldi Park. Panorama Ridge is often combined with other hikes in the area such as Black Tusk and Garibaldi Lake, over several days of amazing hiking.
Whistler has an absurd number of wonderful and free hiking trails and certainly ranks as one of the most unusual. Parkhurst was a little logging town perched on the edge of Green Lake way before Whistler was Whistler. Up on the ridge where Parkhurst sits, the views are sensational. Green lake far below, a solid unnatural looking mass of green. Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains out in the distance to the left and Rainbow Mountain across and beyond the lake. What makes Parkhurst such a great hiking trail and destination is where it is located and the wonderful journey to get to it. One route, one of several ways to get to it, runs along the scenic Green River and next to the still active train tracks that run through Whistler. There always seems to be something to see. From the beautiful meadow along the train tracks, to the suddenly deep forest where you have to play a game of finding the next, pink tree marker or risk wandering off the trail. The trail markers are numerous, and though getting lost is inevitable, you can only stray a few metres before, the river or steep terrain push you back onto the marked trail. Once up on the ridge above Green Lake where Parkhurst is located, the forest takes on a spooky feel. Trees are all far apart and with branches only high up give the forest a unnaturally lifeless look...
Why should you go to Parkhurst?
Parkhurst Ghost Town is located next to the beautiful and new Sea to Sky Trail that runs high above the very scenic Green Lake just north of Whistler. This allows for including Parkhurst into a longer hike that can begin from Whistler Village, extend through the Lost Lake trails up to the Sea to Sky Trail, then descend to Parkhurst on the shore of Green Lake. Of all the routes to Parkhurst, none are boring and seeing a bit of pre-Whistler history is interesting and a bit surreal at times.
Rainbow Lake is one of the original hiking trails in Whistler that has existed well before Whistler was called Whistler. The 8k trail is challenging though beautiful as it passes through an impressively huge forest of giant trees. There are several wonderful bridge crossings and crashing river views. Rainbow Lake itself is surreal and beautiful. An unnaturally bright, green meadow extends from one side of the lake and a field of starkly white erratics litter the landscape along the shores of the crystal clear lake. Rainbow Lake is Whistler's water source so swimming, fishing, dogs and camping are not allowed. There are, you will quickly notice upon reaching Rainbow Lake, that a trail continues past the lake then forks. The right fork takes you to the right and to the popular, though difficult scramble to the summit of Rainbow Mountain. In the same direction you can bear left on the Rainbow Mountain trail and after about 3k you will arrive at the secluded, pristine and wonderful, Hanging Lake. Camp and swim here all you want as you are far from Rainbow Lake. Back at Rainbow Lake, the left fork takes you to Beverly Lake. This is the often used campsite alternative to Rainbow Lake and is just a 40 minute hike away...
Why should you hike to Rainbow Lake?
Challenging, beautiful hike to a mountain-lake paradise. Hypnotizing views of Wedge Mountain across the valley as well as impressive views along the trail of Whistler Village. The Rainbow Lake trail is eventful with several small waterfalls and interesting sights.