Where To Go Trail Running in Whistler
Amazingly beautiful, trail running in Whistler is as good as it gets
Whistler is an absolute paradise for running. You can find easy, relaxing, paved running routes. Challenging, narrow and zig-zagging runs. Runs that take you along spectacular rivers and unbelievable sunsets over amazing lakes. In Whistler, you can even find a run that winds its way through a menagerie of decades old, train wreckage incredibly brought to life with elaborate paintings. You can even find runs that can safely be classified as brutal. The Wedgemount Lake 14k trail run is difficult, steep, rugged, yet takes you to a lake high above Whistler that will take your breath away. The unnatural, turquoise colour, the stark ruggedness of the valley and the spectacular glacier sliding down toward the lake all make the brutality of the run an unforgettable experience. Other runs are less traumatic, yet just as amazing. The Singing Pass 22k run takes you from the top of Whistler to Whistler Village by way of a staggering array of incredible views. Skirting the edge of Whistler Mountain, this running route is an exhilarating set of viewpoints. One after the other they open up to you as you run. The trail extends away from Whistler until it reaches Singing Pass. Singing Pass abruptly takes you down from the endless mountain views and ascends continuously and straight for twelve kilometres to Whistler Village. Singing Pass cuts between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains and you find yourself running under the Peak to Peak Gondola far above.
Another brutal, yet popular running route in Whistler is known as the Rubble Creek Classic. This 25k linear run takes you from the Cheakamus Lake trailhead up into Garibaldi Park, past Helm Creek, Black Tusk, Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake and finishes at the Rubble Creek trailhead. This is a running race that takes place in September every year and attracts quite a few locals as well as regional, trail running athletes.
A less brutal and still very challenging run is the Rainbow Lake 16k. This wonderful, deep forest trail takes you high into the alpine to the beautiful, Rainbow Lake. Located across the valley from Whistler and Blackcomb, the views are amazing. Along the run to the lake you pass by several waterfalls, cross a few bridges, run through a meadow on a boardwalk and then hit the magnificent alpine lake ringed with more potential running routes. The Rainbow Lake 16k is definitely a challenging run as you gain 850 metres in just 8k to the lake. This is just gradual enough to be enjoyable and just as importantly, the 8k return is just gradual enough to not kill your knees. This of course cannot be said of the Wedgemount Lake run or the Singing Pass run. Both of these brutalize even the strongest knees.
There are of course a beautiful array of relaxing running trails in Whistler. The Cheakamus Lake trail is definitely one of the most amazing, moderate runs around. You can run various lengths on this one. The trailhead to the start of Cheakamus Lake is 3k, so you can have a very enjoyable 6k run that has winding hills and river views though a forest of giant trees. If you extend the roundtrip to 12k or 14k, you will be following the trail along the edge of this beautiful lake. Always in the midst of the impressive forest of giant cedars and hemlocks, there are constant vistas that keep the run exciting and entertaining. Of all the runs in Whistler, Cheakamus Lake gives you the best views for least effort. Overall there is little elevation change, yet constant short and gradual ups and downs, and non-stop sights to take in.
The Whistler Train Wreck is a 5.4 kilometre running route that has become a secret favourite for weekend visitors. This route is very convenient on the drive in and out of Whistler. The trailhead parking is located on Alpha Lake Road in Function Junction (8k south of the Village on the Sea to Sky Highway). From your car you run through the forest away from Function Junction, under the highway overpass and eventually across the train tracks to the amazing Cheakamus River. The trail continues past a few beautiful river viewpoints then forces you back toward the train tracks where you skirt a bend in the river. Past the bend you, once again run left into a trail, this time leading to the elaborate and expansive train wreck. The amazing paintings inside and outside of the wrecked train cars are extraordinarily beautiful. Combined with the amazing river viewpoints make this run impossible to do without stopping a few times to marvel at the sights. It is because of this convenience and beauty that has made this a popular run to do a 5k lap, or two laps (10k), or three laps (15k) through just before arriving at your hotel in Whistler to start your weekend.
Closer to Whistler Village you can find various good jogging routes that take you along the beautiful, paved Valley Trail. Right from Whistler Village you can get on the section of Valley Trail that runs around the Whistler Golf Course. Once around is just under 5k, and has some gradual hills and non-stop views that include, Whistler, Blackcomb, Wedge, Rainbow, and Sproatt mountains. This is one of the most popular places to run in Whistler, partly due to its beauty and partly its convenience. It is also one of the few running routes that can be run in the winter as this part of the Valley Trail is snow plowed daily.
An extension of the Whistler Golf Course 4.8k can easily be done by following the Valley Trail off one end and continuing on to Alta Lake and circling the lake via Rainbow Park and returning to the Whistler Golf Course where you began. This running route is 7.7k long and takes you past the far side of Alta Lake and some stunning views of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.
This amazing running route takes you past the beautiful, Whistler Golf Course, then Alta Lake, though to Meadow Park, then along Green Lake to the edge of the Lost Lake trails and finally back through Whistler Village to where you began.
Of course, the Lorimer Road to Green Lake running route is amazing in its own right. It takes you along the beautiful section of Valley Trail that runs along the River of Golden Dreams and continues past the beautiful boardwalk along the south end of Green Lake before returning to Lorimer Road via Whistler Village.
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There are so many aspects of this trail run that make it exceptional. First is the terrain. It is gently rolling hills in deep forest. Not your average forest. This forest is wonderful. It's big. Big, wild and amazing. Then the Cheakamus River appears.
It's that bright, surreal turquoise that seems almost normal in Whistler. Cheakamus Lake has it. Garibaldi Lake has it. Green Lake has a more green hue to it, which gives it it's name.
After about two beautiful kilometres you run along this incredible river, still amongst the absurdly dramatic trees. Then you spot it. Through the trees. The turquoise. The impossibly blue colour. Then you now run with this surreal colour ahead, lighting up the already beautiful forest ahead.
The trail to the lake is in a forest of giant cedars. Running along the beautiful Cheakamus River the hike is short and easy. The trail runs along the lake, passing some small, wonderful campsites, and very small beaches. With the irregular shoreline and dense forest there are plenty quiet beaches to get away and go for a swim.
The Whistler Train Wreck is a very convenient and amazingly beautiful trail run. It's convenient as it is just south of Whistler with parking near the Flank Trail, trailhead in Function Junction. And it's amazingly beautiful as it runs through a wonderfully varied terrain of dense forest, train tracks, sunny clearings overlooking the crashing Cheakamus River and of course the wildly beautiful train wreck itself.
Decades ago a train derailed south of Whistler. The cost to clean up the mess was deemed too high, so seven train cars were left scattered next to the Cheakamus River. As it turns out, time and local effort has transformed this mess into a wonderful work of art, an extraordinary bike park, and a great place to trail run.
Though somewhat short, trail running to the end of the train wreck at the train tracks is only 2.7k then returning where you came, retracing your steps through the train wreck make the run just under 6k. And of course repeating the run, which allows for some variation within the spider web of trails near the wreck can enjoyably double the run distance to 10.8k.
It's recent evolution into a manicured bike park has made it into a wonderful trail run as well. It's growing use as a convenient running route from people arriving and departing Whistler on holiday is apparent, though barely.
It's still almost always wonderfully serene, and always wonderfully surreal.